Lady At The Well

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The oddities of life in the village are vast and engaging to the urban mind. There is so much the simple image of a lady at the well could contain - her unusual attire, the enigmatic composure of countenance, and her askance stare directed straight at the viewer. The subject stands next to an aged brick wall, given away by the hollows between the bricks, seemingly on the verge of picking up the noose to wind around the neck of her kalash. Yet, the painting gives off aura of great mystery and uncertainty.
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Item Code: OU61
Oil Painting on CanvasArtist: Anup Gomay
Dimensions 48 inch X 24 inch
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This exquisite oil by Anup Gomay depicts a snatch of rural life in India. A lady stands next to the household well, her hand around a big brass kalash. The brick well is of just the right height, so as to allow the womenfolk to bend over and fetch the water - fetching water is woman's work, a ubiquitous norm. The rope that works the pulley lies upon the stones by the well, which the lady is supposed to pick up and wind around the neck of the kalash before she lets it plunge into the depths of the water. Pools of pristine, underground water gather amidst the surrounding stones; she stands on one of them, her feet balanced ever so carefully that she does not slip and fall, her hands slightly lifting her kapdaa so that its hem does not get soaked.

Despite the natural order of Indian village life this painting seemingly depicts, there is something amiss about the subject. She looks eerily askance at the fourth wall, almost as if she somehow knows she is being painted and is leisurely posing for it. Her hand rests on the kalash like she would embrace an old friend, not like how she would hold it in place while she makes for the rope. Her composure of figure does not in the least suggest that she is about to go for the rope. The twin expressions of discomfiture and relief compose her youthful, moon-like countenance. It is probably the dramatics typical of severely patrilocal households that has driven her into the courtyard, seeking some respite from the same on the pretext of this chore.

Her attire betrays the situation to some extent. The coarse, household saree that she has hurriedly draped - hurriedly, because there are no pleats - is in stark contrast to the pink silk-and-brocade blouse she is wearing. Additionally, a plethora of gold jewels graces her person - ruby-studded jhumke on the lobes, smaller studs across the rest of the ear, a glittering dangling nosepiece, at least two necklaces visible beneath her kapdaa, and chunky gold and glass bangles. Her  luxuriant toerings and anklets are fashioned from silver instead of gold (gold, the very manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi, is not to be placed around the feet). Her dense, black tresses rest uncoiled at the nape of her neck, even though the parting is filled with sindoor. It is almost as if she was getting dressed to go out, when there had occurred some sort of a water emergency and caused her to run out half-undressed.

Behind the subject is the wall demarcating the courtyard from the rest of the house. The colour of raw earth caked over a brick framework, as could be deduced from the chipped portion to the right of the painting, the way natural light falls on it is superbly lifelike. The soft glow of daylight illuminates the upper part of the wall at a realistic angle, whilst a sombre shadow bathes the rest of it. It is the skilful projection of daylight in the background and on the shimmering kalash that renders this a masterpiece of Anup Gomay.

Crafting Masterpieces: An Insight into the Making of Indian Oil Paintings

Oil painting is the most interesting technique in art. Unlike other paintings or art forms, oil painting is a process in which colored pigments are painted on the canvas with a drying oil medium as a binder. This medium helps colors blend beautifully to create layers and also makes them appear rich and dense. Several varieties of oil are used in this painting such as sunflower oil, linseed oil, etc., and depending on the quality of the oil, a particular consistency of the paint is developed. With the use of an oil medium, the painting gets a natural sheen on the surface which appears extremely attractive. India is famous for its old tradition of making oil paintings. This art form was brought by Europeans in the 18th century and is now practiced by almost all well-known artists. Nirmal, a small tribal town in the state of Telangana is the center of traditional oil paintings in India where the local people practice it with dedication. Most Indian artists still use the traditional technique of oil painting.

Canvas of the required size is prepared

The artists use either a wood panel or canvas made from linen or cotton. Sometimes the canvas is stretched onto the wooden frame to form a solid base, or cardboard may be used. The canvas is coated with a layer of white paint or chalk mixed with animal glue. This mixture is then smoothed and dried to form a uniform, textured surface. The wooden panel is more expensive and heavier but its solidity is an advantage in making detailed paintings with ease.
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Sketch is drawn on the canvas

Now the artist starts to draw the subject of the painting on the canvas using the actual charcoal or a charcoal pencil. Sometimes, he may sketch with thinned paint as well.

Oil paint is applied using paint brushes or palette knives

Now that the rough sketch is prepared, the artist is now ready to paint. Oil paint, a special paint that contains particles of pigments suspended in a drying oil (usually linseed oil), is again mixed with oil to make it thinner for applying it on the canvas. Proper consistency of the paint is maintained to avoid its breakage. The most important rule for the application of oil paint is “Fat over lean” in which the first layer of paint is thin and later, thicker layers are applied. This means that each additional layer of paint contains more oil. This results in getting a stable paint film. Traditionally, paint was applied using paint brushes but now the artists also use palette knives to create crisp strokes. To paint using this technique, the edge of the palette knife is used to create textured strokes that appear different from that of a paintbrush. Sometimes, oil paints are blended simply using fingers for getting the desired gradation.
Smaller oil paintings, with very fine detail, are relatively easier to paint than larger ones. The most attractive feature of these paintings is the natural shiny appearance that is obtained on the surface because of the use of oil paint. The blending of colors looks extremely realistic and this is the reason why oil paintings are loved by everyone throughout the world.
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