First BBT Art Seminar - 2007
With support from Friends of the BBT, the first BBT art seminar took place in Vrindavan during the auspicious month of Damodar, from Oct 20 till Nov 12.
Veteran BBT artists, Dhriti Dasi and Rama Dasa Abhirama Dasa traveled from California to lead 18 devotee artists from around the globe in this ground-breaking effort.
Devotees came from France, Portugal, India, Germany, U.S., Australia, England, and Mauritius. This first group approached the seminar with great enthusiasm, determination, and a desire to truly grasp the essence of devotional art, through Srila Prabhupada's eyes and wishes.
Dhriti and Rama dasa prabhus were also very enlivened by the group as they gave rapt attention to stories of BBT art production, reading and discussing Srila Prabhupada's views on Krishna art.
For most students it was their life dream, to be able to paint Krishna. Many were budding artists and some had some experience in art but all wanted to dovetail his ability and interest in Krishna's service.
The seminar focused not only on technique, but on the blessing of this service, how the possibility for meditation on Krishna's form was so sweet and intense in this service.
Already the nature of the artist is to have a strong desire and love for his art, but then to compound it with a desire to depict the Supreme Lord, and His pastimes is a potent combination.
A wonderful large, bright studio space with many large windows was found to accommodate everyone with room for easels and a platform for life drawing.
The days were full of activity. There was so much to cover in a short amount of time. Each day began at 10a.m. with life drawing from a model for 2hrs, followed by lessons on anatomy and form.
In the afternoon the painting segment continued, covering topics of composition, values, color, transcendental form, aesthetics, drama, and painting technique.
All students, and teachers too, had a project to do of a painting of their choice from sastra, depicting Krishna. Dhriti and Ram dasa reviewed and corrected and helped with everyone's sketches and development of their ideas to try to produce an oil painting on canvas.
For many this was their first time painting with oils and developing a finished
work. But the rate of improvement was amazing. Perhaps it was the influence of the Dham, intensifying everything.
They went over with everyone the process used in the BBT art dept. for developing paintings, which was from idea thumbnail sketches to development drawings to tonal drawings to color sketches to studies, to photographing models for references for their paintings. Again, lots of areas to cover.
The methods used in the art dept. were traditional classic techniques used by old masters for centuries. Ram das and Dhriti put together a book, distributed to all the participants of the seminar, showing the progression of some of the BBT painting they had done in the past. This was interesting and eye opening to many, seeing the amount of preparatory work that went into each painting.
A special feature off the seminar was "parikrama painting." The group started going out in the early morning hours, meeting about 6:30 and heading out to paint outside in the early morning mists of Vrindavan. This turned into a favorite and sweet activity. To paint outside and seeing the sights and hearing the sounds of Vrindavan was filled with nectar.
One evening included a boat ride out on the Yamuna, to the other side, chanting and singing till arriving at a nice location, and painting Madan Mohana temple, as
the sun was setting.
Everyone came back with the peace and happiness of meditating and trying to depict this holy place.
The paintings continued and there were some remarkable results. There were about 4 or 5 nice quality paintings produced by the students, far exceeding the BBTs expectations from this novice group.
All in all, the response from the students was absolutely positive and many hope to return for future seminars.
And the BBT directors, whose Kartik meeting coincided with the seminar, were equally positive, seeing the potential of a whole new generation of devotee artists.
With more seminars planned, the BBT looks forward to a new expansion of Krishna art for the pleasure of devotees everywhere.