Do you use technology for painting outdoors? This artist has found the balance – see how.
by Laura Vailati
Art enthusiast and Editor at Miami Niche
The association between art and mathematics is a well-known topic in art history, and artist Raj Chaudhuri, who will be among the faculty members of the Plein Air Convention and Expo (PACE), will present his interesting approach to art by which, through the forma mentis applied to mathematics and software design, he defines and addresses individual compositional process.
Born and raised in Rajasthan, India, Raj Chaudhuri has lived most of his life in Denver, Colorado. There, he made the choice to set aside his bachelor’s degree, a master’s in economics, and a long career devoted to software design to devote himself full-time to painting. In Denver, years later, the artist would punctually find himself painting outdoors on a weekly basis with a sizable group of friends, consisting of the “colorist” Mark Daily, his first teacher and mentor; the “tonalist” Daniel Sprick; and Quang Ho, an artist who by Chauduri’s definition, represents “ten artists in one.”
The weekly outdoor painting meeting not only represents a time of socializing and sharing as opposed to the usual isolation that being an artist implies, but also constitutes a very important formative moment for Chaudhuri, who reiterates the importance of participating in plein air painting events such as PACE. “Plein air painting is fundamental to the knowledge of nature and its laws,” he said. “[Art] cannot and should not be limited to the mere copy reproduction of a fleeting photographic image.
His pronounced creativity since childhood, together with his personal career path, have led him to identify parallels between software design and the artistic process. Both disciplines are united by the presence of “patterns” that help the artist in the identification of a “big problem” and the ability to reduce it into many “small problems.”
“Patterns is the keyword because through the patterns you are able to solve how to find the shortest way from point A to point B,” he said. It’s “how you look for a match and how you see the dominant patterns in relation to something else.”
According to Chaudhuri, drawing and painting, with all that these encompass, represent “old technology” while software represents “new technology.” One does not replace the other, but on the contrary, software can be a valuable tool in the execution of compositional studies as it allows one to create a composition more quickly and accurately. Working by hand alone is laborious and time-consuming for the artist, especially for beginners.
His rigorous and highly organized artistic process consists of different steps that the artist, who tends to paint outdoors as much as possible, considers necessary for the successful execution of the final painting. In addition to the preparatory sketches and compositional, tonal, and chromatic studies carried out on-site, he combines photographic shots that he takes with different devices and from multiple points of view so as to have as many useful references as possible in order to make the final composition solid and truthful.
His palette, which is rich and bright, is primarily functional for the artist and the composition and is based on the indications provided by Richard Schmidt in the style of “alla prima” painting: it consists of three shades of red, three shades of yellow, and several shades of green and blue. The creation of the final work takes a few days to a few months, depending on the size. Recently Chaudhuri finished three paintings measuring 6 feet by 4 feet.
The idea of the “great American West” of cowboys, horses, and ranches influenced both his decision to go and live in America and his choice of subjects to depict. His use of color, though, is undoubtedly affected by his love for the homeland. India’s culture and traditions reign solemnly in his works through the depiction of ordinary people devoted to their chores and immersed in colors and textiles, which he knows how to render on canvas with dramatic correspondence to the real thing.
Chaudhuri’s art represents an “attempt” to portray, in an honest and authentic way, the subject he is painting, be it a landscape, an animal, or a figure.
In the compositional process, he considers it important to “refresh” the eye, so that he never loses sight of the psychological and technical focus of the painting. The first one is represented by the human element that characterizes most of his works and it is something that captures the emotions, such as a figure, a hand, or a face. The second one is the point where light and darkness meet, allowing the viewer to enter into a dialogue with the work.
To help himself in this task he works simultaneously on several paintings – a method toward which artists tend by their very nature, for as Chaudhuri states, “The compositional process is something that consumes the head: the more you paint the more you want to paint because for a painter the compositional process is much more important than the final painting.”
The above is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who will be joining us on the faculty of the Plein Air Convention & Expo, taking place May 21-25, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. Each action-packed day includes indoor demonstrations on four stages by the world’s leading artists, including specialty sessions for oil, watercolor, pastel, and acrylic. It’s a chance to sample the techniques for painting outdoors from over 80 painters, including Raj Chaudhuri.
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