Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sleepless for Seattle - A world Record of Many Things for us :D

Hello All,

LONG POST ALERT!

This post is for a project that took us 368 man hours to finish, so I wish to spend at least 2 hours writing it! :D


Basic facts about the painting:

Size: 5.5 feet by 3 feet
Time taken to finish: 368 hours
Total number of quilling strips used: ~ 27000
Total beehived surface area: 4850 square centimetres
Artists: Nitesh, Richa & Pritesh
Other material: Gesso ~ 750 ml, paints (all volumes combined) ~ 500 ml

In a true thesis style, let me split this into "Chapters"......

Chapter 1: The Beginning

When I finished the Rapunzel Project and sent the preview images to my friends, I received a call from Suchitra saying her family wouldn't believe it was quilled. They were really impressed and would like me to make something for them when they returned to US. I was glad to hear such kind words and didn't give it much thought until she followed up on it, asking me for suggestions for the project she wished me to make. I suggested many things but nothing really struck us as unique enough. A Bangalore move happened and the thread was lost again, only to be resumed and "Seattle Skyline" emerging as the preferred image.

One look at it and I went, "I can't make THIS, it is too complex and not translateable to quilling". But as far as Suchitra is concerned, I have no right to say no. And then started a long process of decoding the image and planning for it. To do justice to the painting, it needed to be made on a large scale and what scale! I zeroed in on 5.5 feet by 3 feet and ordered the plywood base......

Caapter 2: Hurdles

Once the plywood base arrived, there arose the challenge of printing the reference image in such a large size. Being unfamiliar with Bangalore and its printing circuits made the task of locating a printer tough. Throw in a toddler and it was compounded as I couldn't leave the house for any reasonable length of time. With luck, I managed to spot a printer who was close by and off I went with my son in tow. Unfortunately, all he had was black and white printing in those sizes and in the middle of trying to keep my son from destroying his expensive equipment, the print came. The full intensity of the work ahead hit me full force yet again, and I did have cold feet. But well, a commitment is a commitment :)

I had never worked with wood as a direct base for a quilled painting. Rapunzel was on wood as well but there was a paper to buffer the wood-quilling gap. After struggling with various permutations and combinations for how to get the outlines on to the board, I gave up and just drew the "skyline outline". This is pretty much the biggest canvas I ever handled and the inexperience was a real problem. Naively enough, I painted the sky directly on wood, which led to a dull blue colour (much like someone had splashed mud on the sky). You can see the dullness very visibly here......



And just then, came a blessing in the form of Hussena's post. She mentioned the use of gesso (a primer) and voila! That is when light bulbs went off! I immediately went online and read about the chemical composition of gesso (a compulsive need to know the chemistry is hard to get rid of! :D) and how exactly it functions. I read reviews after reviews of which gesso primer is better and zeroed in on my favourite Art Material brand - Daler & Rowney. The cost was much steeper than the local brands but well, Daler & Rowney has never disappointed me. It turned out that ordering was the easiest bit! The product is imported from UK, so it took almost 3 weeks for it to come :( Time was slipping out of my fingers at an alarming rate! I did the gesso layers (it took 4 coats to cover the blue and wooden colours completely) and boy! The painting drank up almost 1 litre of gesso!

Then, came the painful task of painting the sky! I had not painted with acrylics in years and never on that scale! So, I had to once again go online and see what skies looked like, how I could merge colours and saw one video on Youtube as well (I have no patience for video tutorials but desperate situations call for desperate measures). After a few iterations, I kind of got the blues right. For the sky, I have used Mont Marte Cerulean Blue, Daler Rowney Ultramarine Blue, Daler Rowney Titanium White, Sullivans Titanium White Satin Finish (shade 104), Mont Marte Brilliant Red and Daler Rowney Lemon Yellow. Since I ran out of white paint somewhere in between, a bit of patching up had to be done with Fevicryl White paint. Search as I may, I couldn't find PLAIN WHITE paint anywhere in the neighbourhood for almost 5 days!!!! So, there went 5 days more!



Chapter 3: The Making

The painting did scare me for a while and I was stuck at this stage for quite some time! :( A flurry of orders wasn't helping either! It was around this time that I decided that if the painting had to be finished, I would have to ask for help! When I left from Pune, the thing that hurt me to MOST was to let Richa go! And there is no one else I had ever met who had the commitment, capability and drive to undertake something of this magnitude! I asked her if she could come and help me with the painting, and she did! She stopped her own work and came to Bangalore to help. We didn't make much progress during that stay of hers though, solely because my fear was still holding me back from working with the painting........

And then, walked in my sister! She scolded me for not having progressed and imposed on me that I should send her a daily update! God bless small sisters! In true sister style, she sat with me and got me working on the painting all the time she was here.........




Within 4 days, we had made progress that I didn't manage in 4 weeks! We had finally gotten STARTED properly! And this was May 4th! Exactly 3 weeks from the May 25 deadline.........I had told Richa I will let her know if I need her help by 10th May. By 10th May, I not only needed her help, I needed her to rescue me from an impending crisis!!!!! But Richa being Richa, came once again (without a return ticket date specified) and we got cracking.............

As of May 15th, this is how the painting looked, less than 10% complete..........



Chapter 4: Race against time............

It was then that Richa and I took on a full-fledged war against time...........we were racing, and racing to lose, by the looks of it. The painting had to be built in layers, to get the three-dimensionality of the real city on the canvas.

I hope I have taken layer by layer photos. This is Layer 0, the buildings that are made with just sticking strips of paper directly on the board, the ones farthest away from the viewing point.


In order to build layers, the most daunting task was to make thousands and thousands of tight coils, which were to act as 'spacers' and elevate the buildings. Richa rose to the occasion and worked at a break-neck pace!

Around 15th May, we were working 10-11 hours a day each. By 20th May, it was 12-14 hours and by 23rd May, the work would never stop. We were taking turns sleeping (in bursts of 3 hours at the most). Everything in my house came to a stand-still. Cooking was reduced to "One pot cooking" with every bit of nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and vitamins) thrown into a single vessel and cooked. For the first time since we got married, Ananth and I ordered food 3 times in a month! And I can never apologize enough to Richa for feeding her this riff-raff!

It was at this junction that I saw the Richa and I shared this common dream - the dream to see the painting finished and nothing would stop us, even tiredness. Towards the end, we even had C grade movies to keep us company, so that we wouldn't sleep! Ever watched Desi Spiderman? If you haven't, it's heavily recommended, for its sheer brainlessness.........

We were in a state of constant delirium by May 23rd and would talk utter non-sense but the work continued. The progress was phenomenal but our fingertips were dead (from all the beehiving) and our brains, fogged. The tight coils took a large chunk of our time as we got higher up in layers because of the increase in height. It was then that the idea struck. We should use taller tight coils instead of layers of 3 mm!

Some interesting photos from the "pre-revelation" and "post-revelation" stages :D



We were using 2 cm tall coils by this time, instead of 7 layers of 3 mm coils needed!!


Some more interesting work-in-progress images......

The only way to stay awake was to listen to Music

At one time, we were BOTH working on different parts of the painting

Laughter that springs out of sleepiness :D

Reviewing the tight coils.......


Richa, in her half-awake avatar

Antics to get the Space Needle in place

Juggling many things while trying to get the needle to stay
While the painting was being made, we had News 9 reporter and cameramen coming in for running a feature on it. This was our first experience of a news piece recording but we admit, Raghu and Pavithra did an amazing job of the feature that was telecast on News 9 on May 27.


To mark the occasion, my husband got us a (a gooey dark chocolate) cake reading "Congrats Girls" :) 




Almost simultaneously, the painting was covered by Deccan Chronicle and Darshana gave us a front page coverage (so utterly unexpected and heartily appreciated)





Finally, on May 28th at 5:30 am, the painting got over! Richa had to travel back to Pune on 27th May and boy! How I missed her for the final photoshoot! But Richa, you were very much there, this painting is as much yours as it is mine :) You were the true Hero of this painting, because for me, this was an obligation. For you, it was a sheer choice you could've walked away from!

It was just a coincidence that Sarah Yakawonis asked me jokingly, "Do you plan to set a world record?". That set the cogs in my brain working and well, I decided to register this painting as the largest beehive quilling painting :) I hope we make it, don't you too Richa? :)

Some "finished painting" photos now :)

Photography courtesy: Ananth









Photography: Abner Oswin Francis (Grooveab Photography)





















And now starts my (rather long) list of thanks! :)

The first person I have to thank is Suchitra, for being a great friend, for being a great client and for putting her faith in me! :) It couldn't have happened without your faith lady :)

Next in line is Richa! Richa, there are NO words that can ever thank you enough. Thanks would be too small a word. All I can say is, you saved my life :)

I have to thank my husband and my son, for being the kind of support one can only dream of. Ananth took the kitchen over completely for almost 10 days (Richa will vouch for that!) and my son even understood I was busy. He kept my morale up with an occasional "Mumma, you're so beautiful". Baby, you mean the world to me, truly! :)

A huge and special thanks to Baba, my baby sister (not so baby anymore, I think), for persisting, for scolding me, for getting me started and for always expressing the most honest opinion one can get for one's work.

A big thanks to Pavithra Gowda and Raghu of News 9, for taking the time out and making a fantastic video of the painting. The only way to highlight the 3-dimensionality of the painting was to scan through it and Raghu, you did a SPLENDID job of that :)

A huge thanks is due to Darshana Ramdev of Deccan Chronicle, for having faith in us enough to get us a front page coverage :) We can never thank you enough for that Darshana :)

A big big thank you to Manuela (just Manu for me), for constantly giving feedback during the making of the painting.

A very big thanks to Abner, for taking time out of his manic schedule to come over, doing the photoshoot and sending the images promptly! Our painting looks completely different through your lens Buddy :)

Thanking all my friends and relatives, who supported in various ways, starting from appreciating to baby-sitting........all of it made a difference :)

And last, but not the least, to my maid, who somehow managed to clean the room in the middle of all the chaos :D :D

Happy Quilling

Pritesh

PS: If my posts inspire you to create something on similar lines, I feel highly flattered. But please, do respect the effort I take in conceptualizing and executing, please give a direct link to my work when you are inspired by mine. Thanks for understanding........:-)

37 comments:

Krati Agarwal said...

Mam. I just cudnt stop myself to look to your creation. Its just wow. First thought in my mind nowadays is this. I need to watch it daily and understand. Its so beautiful that it is nw becoming my daily dose. Thanku for such an amazing creation. I m so very inspired by this and wish to make sumthing atleast 5% like dis.

Henna Singh said...

Hello Pritesh,

Really an Amazing piece of Art. Unbelievable, Inspiring and just Awesome. Could you please share how did you made the Skyline.

Best Wishes.

Geethu Sathiyan said...

Lovely Pritesh!!!U r so lucky to have such wonderful people around u :-) U r the one in a billion,never seen such a talented person in my life,be it art or studies,u r jus amazing!!I love u girl....-geethu :-)

Uttara Ramkumar said...

I'm speechless after goin thru ur blog....the amount of work, time, energy n dedication u have put in creating this master piece is unmatched n unparalleled to any compliment I can think of rite now. Truely mesmerising and highly inspiring for all the quillers across d globe. All the best pritesh

gayathri v said...

Hats off to you. Wonderful write up. It literally took me through your endeavor.

Ann Martin said...

I can only imagine the impact of this piece when seen in person! Congratulations on your endurance and well-deserved publicity.

visalakshi iyer said...

Pritesh, this is a great achievement and I have seen you sacrifice a lot of things to complete this. Your zealousness, vision, creativity , focus , commitment and most of all, your research and knowledge gathering, before getting into the implementation mode is most admirable and I am sure you will get the due recognition from across the world. Cheers and God bless.

Bhanu Raman

Divya N said...

wow - it was both inspiring and humbling to read this post - your single minded dedication and focus is awe inspiring. I hope that you'll go on to create more such wonders

Eliza Art said...

Amazing! Great art. Beautiful, wonderful picture. It delights. I am full of admiration for your talent. I cordially greet

Handmade Cards by Archana said...

I m speechless pritesh!! It is fantafabulous. Hats off to your creativity, imagination and patience.
Congrats for being published!!
Hugs
Archana

Richa Kapre said...

What a big big big deal this is! I don't know how to thank you for making me part of this project. :) Until next time sweety!!!

bohemian said...

Insane! I am utterly amazed. So incredibly proud to know you, Prits! CONGRATULATIONS!! :)

SUGANTHI said...

Truly inspiring Pritesh. Thanks for your detailed post on your progress. I am not surprised , I expect such unbelievable feats from you.Congrats again .

lulu_ma said...

Congrats on the work! It's really an enourmous work, which i think is almost like the process of thesis writing itself. A salute from me!

lulu_ma said...

Congrats on completing this enormous piece! It sure needs a lot of determination and effort - similar to the process of thesis writing. A salute from me!

quilled paper paradise said...

After everything I've been told I can only repeat: Congratulations on masterpiece! You are an inspiration to the entire world of quilling! You've proven that nothing is impossible!

DDey said...

CONGRATULATIONS Pritesh!! Hats off to your focus and commitment! Congrats and hats off to Ananth as well for being such a supportive hubby!! Keep going and creating waves. Love...DDey :-)

luckman said...

Hearty Congratulations !!

Awesome work.. very challenging.. and lovely write up .. all the best for the future..!

ManuK said...

Congratulations, Pritesh! So lovely to see you girls at work! :D I truly enjoyed reading all the behind the scenes info and the photos and video. A well deserved publicity, indeed!

I am almost blushing having seen my name mentioned there! I am just happy you kept me up to date with your work!

Many hugs!
Manu

Helen said...

OMG, what an amazing piece of art! I can't wait to see the world record result.

paperzen said...

That is a staggering project Pritesh! I think anything you tackle now will be a breeze in comparison! Congrats to you for hanging in there for the long haul. Amazing!
Cecelia

paperzen said...

That is a staggering project Pritesh! I think anything you tackle now will be a breeze in comparison! Congrats to you for hanging in there for the long haul. Amazing!
Cecelia

Lakshmi Tangella said...

First Reaction: Just Staring
As i kept reading: My God such a big project

Finally:
Wow, Amazing, What a Team Work, and i kept looking at it ....

Nikita Pasan said...

Wow Pritesh..I have never seen such a beautiful piece of art. I can imagine how hard you must have worked for this..cheers..!!

Aiswarya.S.Balaji said...

Dear Pritesh, Seattle skyline looks magnificent and mind blowing :-) Great effort by you n your team :-)Proud to be your student.

Regards,

Aiswarya.S

Pl do pay a visit to my blog @ http://yoursquillfully.blogspot.in



Aiswarya.S.Balaji said...

Dear Pritesh, Seattle skyline looks magnificent and mind blowing :-) Great effort by you n your team :-)Proud to be your student.

Regards,

Aiswarya.S

Pl do pay a visit to my blog @ http://yoursquillfully.blogspot.in



Sathyapriya Murugu Karthi said...

First of all congrats for your World record. Really amazing to see your work. Needs lots of patience to do this. Your team is great..

Sathyapriya Murugu Karthi said...

First of all congrats for your World record. Really amazing to see your work. Needs lots of patience to do this. Your team is great..

Regards,
Sathyapriya Karthi

Nimisha said...

What a timely treat for me. Just returned from Seattle and I see this. An absolute amazing piece of art. Totally admire your work Pritesh and I agree painting is a crucial step in such art. Loved the picture with your completely satisfied and proud of the creation expression the most.Kudos to you and your team !!

Meghana said...

Glad to have stumbled upon this post. You have created a masterpiece! Just one word to describe your work "GENIUS". Wishing you all the very best! Cheers and good luck!

Gopika Krishnan said...

Wow this is just awesomee....I had goosebumps while reading it. Could feel the tension, the joy and all the hardwork while reading it.

You have magic in your hands....the way you write, the way you draw, the way you make...just steal our hearts...

Awesome and good luck to all your future ventures :).

God bless....

Gopika Prashanth :)

paulina winnicka said...

Oh my god, you are amazing artist and your works are genious ! 💗💗💗

Mayuri said...

Hi Dr. Pritesh,

I will not write too much about u, bcz everything in one word is " U R Quilling Guru"..............

Hats of to u ......... Your Imagination is awesome............ That's a God Gift to you.

Mayuri

Gayatrisudheer said...

After seeing ur work i burst into tears.what a work....i can understand how hard it is.... U r treating ur work as divine....i want to say something....but words are not enough for u.....all i can say is wow..........u r a true inspiration for me.thank u for inspiring me.......love u......

ann musings said...

I recently started quilling and have been reading and looking at a lot of designs to get some ideas and inspiration. And I came across your name a couple of times. So, I decided to check out your work. And it is truly awesome. I hope I would be able to create even one third of what you've done.
Please continue the good quilling work.

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