An IT professional who took up art and creative pursuits full time, Mandar Marathe has devised M3 method of painting for those who are at beginner and intermediate levels. His workshops, usually held on weekends, are divided in three steps – composition, blocking and focal area.
“The people who attend my workshops are hobbyists. They have not studied art after school. I can’t adopt the method and approach of art school teaching, because they have time constraints. I can’t expect them to sketch first, paint in two colours and then add some more colours. So I have devised a simplified method called M3 — M is the first letter of my name and 3 because I teach in three steps. It got shaped through trial and error during these week-end workshops,” says Marathe.
Step by step
The first step is composition. Any artist needs to be aware of what s/he is painting and why s/he is doing so? What does s/he intend to show through it, or who is the hero of the story. What or who is the focus and who are the supporting characters…
“I tell my students that they shouldn’t try to capture all that they see on the canvas because the viewer will be confused about what s/he has to see in the painting. That’s why composition is important. Both the artist and the viewer have to be a part of this storytelling experience. The road (or a dirt track), the picketed fence evoke some memories amongst the viewers,” says Marathe, who runs Mandar Marathe Fine Art School.
The next stop is blocking. Imagine a landscape with two hillocks, skies above it, a tree and some dried grass. “All these objects have a basic colour, the skies are blue, for instance, the dried grass and the soil is brownish-yellow and the hills are greyish-blue with a little red in between. In blocking stage, you apply one layer of colour in all areas which creates the base of the painting. This is similar to building the foundation of a house. You can’t concentrate on one room, you have to think of the entire structure,” he explains.
And, then comes the focal area, or the focus, the hero of the story and the supporting cast. “Amidst the hillocks and dried grass and a tree, I decide that the tree is my focus, for instance. Here, the detailing follows. The supporting cast doesn’t need that much detailing. That’s how you work on a picture. As a result of my software background, I have devised the framework. I primarily teach watercolours in this format, because it’s popular with everyone. But you can even learn still life or portraits through these three steps, the specifics and detailing would vary from form to form. For instance, in portraits, the focus should be on eyes,” adds Marathe.
In his previous workshops, Marathe demonstrated how gouache technique can be used in watercolours. “Watercolours are usually transparent, but if you add white to any colour, opacity can be achieved, a little like postercolour. We don’t use gouache as a medium widely because companies which manufacture paints don’t make them,” says the artist, adding, “Using gouache is helpful for the beginner and intermediate learners of watercolour form. When you are learning watercolour painting, you put brush to the canvas directly and therefore can’t correct or rectify any mistakes. But the mistakes can be rectified if you are using gouache. You also get more realistic touch to your artwork if you are using gouache.”
Explaining more about the lesser-known mediums, Marathe says gouache and casein are similar, but we don’t get those colours here.
“In all mediums, the pigments – red, blue, green and so on – are similar. The binders or the vehicle to carry the colours are different, like in watercolour you have water or gumarabic, gouache also has gumarabic, but it is used in opaque format. The function of the binder is to hold colours. If you add water to pure pigment and then paint the canvas, the water and even the colour particles evaporate. In gouache, the density of pigments is more, therefore it is also possible to add layer upon layer, which is not possible in watercolour. Thus the paper (or canvas) is not visible in this format and you get an oil painting like effect.”
Casein is a milk-based protein and we get its powder locally. But we don’t get colours made from the powder.
“It is believed by a few people that the wall paintings in our caves are made from casein. Its USP is that the painting made by casein, upon drying, doesn’t get affected by elements. In the past, when oil paints were expensive, the first layer of the painting was done in casein, whereas the final layer was in oils. Not much is known about these two mediums, because they are not popular, leading to their unavailability. For the medium to become popular or widely-known, it is important to have at least one artist working in that medium. Milind Mulick and watercolours is a long and recognised association,” he adds.