SEEMA MUNIZ experiments with impromptu art, letting the mood of the moment dictate her strokes. Strangely, enough, she found it deeply inspiring and very liberating
Sofia’s hand jerked, creating a storm big enough for the coffee to spill onto the table and make a puddle. She let it be, not bothering to wipe it. After she let the last sip trickle down the oesophagus, she sat the empty cup on the brown puddle, picked up a paper napkin from the holder, and began stamping coffee rings on it…randomly. The process relaxed her, and the neatness of the individual rings against the erraticness of the emerging pattern was liberating in itself. Taking a quick snap of the stamped napkin, she posted it on her Instagram as the artwork of the day for the 15-day art challenge she had accepted to give an impetus to her creative self during this lockdown period.
‘Coffee Stampede’, she wrote under the caption, feeling pleased with herself. A task was out of the way, and the coffee had been delicious, anyway. “Maybe, next time, I should try it with black coffee: spill some right on the napkin, make a stain!” Her mind was already jogging, adrenaline rushing….
It was Sofia, a ceramic artist by profession, who made me thrill to the idea of non-judgmental art. “Everything one creates is art,” she philosophised. “For, it is an expression of oneself in a fleeting moment…a circumambulating memory wanting to leave an impression”.
As for me, after years of being a proud miniature artist with love for packing in minute details into a tiny space, espousing Sophie’s philosophy literally felt like shaking myself off of my back. From creating intricate paintings on pistachio shells, sea shells, tree bark and pebbles with 1 and 0 size brushes, to embracing the freedom which comes from using thick paint-smeared brushes was a matter of ‘letting go’.
The next step entailed running the paper under the tap and squeezing tubes of watercolours over its soaked surface, smudging it all up and letting the streams of colours determine their own course — invent and re-invent themselves infinitely. With the sole objective of loosening up, I indulged in several mindless quick paintings, letting myself get carried away by the leftover colours on the palette, and by the mood of the moment. Sometimes, it was the criss-crossing courting calls of the crow pheasants which dictated the strokes, and sometimes a sudden rush of wind toppling over the cashew boughs…and sometimes it was just the lazy afternoon silence stretching across the porch which quietly stole into the artwork.
In the wake of the recent lockdown, which kept getting extended further, ‘loosening up’ took on a greater significance. One just needs to let go of all self-imposed prejudices, mental limitations and breathe deep and slow, discover, re-discover, and un-cover oneself, and revel in those thousand and one facets of one’s being which are purposefully kept shut; take this opportunity afforded to us by these innumerable lockdowns, to unmask the Truth within and unlock our hidden Self, and waltz with It.
Seema Muniz, a feature writer with the Times of India group in the nineties, is an avid reader and educationist, who homeschooled her son until tenth grade, while drifting between New York and Alaska with her family. She is also an artist, with a few solo and group shows in Albany, NY, to her credit.