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My Blog | Artist Geeta Pattanaik

Painting at Warrendety, Melbourne

Painting at Warrendety, Melbourne

Painting at Warrendety

On a recent trip to Melbourne, my sister, Pushpita, and brother-in-law, Sanjaya, planned lovely plein air painting venues for me and for her. She did sketching and I did sketching or painting. This was a scene near the Yarra River at Warrendety, a very leafy area. There was a bridge with lots of tree stumps and broken branches to add to the beauty of the place. I always pack my painting things before my clothes and this small set up is good enough to complete some finished pieces. I had about an hour to pick a suitable view, find a seat and get a small painting done, while talking with the lovely passers by, and be congratulated by a group of 14-15 year olds for my painting (one of them giving me gentle pats on my shoulder for the work I was doing). One merges into the spirit of the place when one observes all the details of the scene, the smells, the sights and the sounds and how they fit into each other to form the unique place. I always remember and acknowledge J. Krishnamurthy for his encouragement to actually open one's eyes and not just "see" in a passive way.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see and do some unique things in this gracious city, thanks to Sanjaya and Pushpita, who found out what we wanted to do and made it possible, and not just take us to the usual spots tourists see. My mind and my camera are still brimming with the images from this memorable trip my daughter and I took to mainland Australia and the extended trip to Tasmania. It is one of the most memorable trips I have ever been on.

Three pots (plein air painting)


Plein air painting in my backyard

Geeta's painting of three pots

One does not always have to travel far to get an inspiring subject. This one is in my backyard. I liked the different colored flowers planted in different sized pots in the natural setting, but the shadows with the holes where the sun came through the stands and the single solar light, spoke to me… somethings were natural and somethings man-made. Just the right mix. Many of the principles of composition just came together very easily in the painting.

I spent three mornings painting it from the shade of the patio, so the sun was not in my eyes, but the shadows under the subject were the same each day. It is done in watercolor and is 24" x 18". I did not paint the entire background, but blurred it with suggestions of plants by painting negatively, so they are not the exact same things as they are in the setting. I thought it came out as well as I could paint it in 2016, and who knows, I might try it again in a couple of years from photos to get a totally different result. As long as it was my best effort and I did not skimp on time or energy when I did it, I am happy. I loved the flowers in the varied pots so much that a photo I took, went on my e-mailed Christmas card for 2016.


Painting of John Salminen


My painting of master watercolorist John Salminen

John Salminen

I was lucky enough to take a workshop with John Salminen In February 2016, please see more on my blog by clicking here. During the five days of the workshop I asked his permission to take a few photos to paint his portrait. I usually do not do portraits, but I wanted to give him a gift for all that I have learnt, reading all the articles about his work. I have pored over the articles about him and seen the step by step progress of his paintings, in many art magazines. Needless to say, I admire his work greatly, as they touch one emotionally, not just cerebrally. But during the workshop, he showed us the process he follows as a watercolorist, by planning in detail ahead, doing a detailed drawing and executing the painting swiftly and with confidence at first, then going in to do the really fine and painstaking work.

I took my time to paint it, as it would not just do to paint something that did not quite look like him. After I sent it to him, he and his lovely wife, Kathy, sent me a picture of John holding his portrait, which I painted in watercolor (16" x 12").

Signature Membership of the National Watercolor Society

Signature Membership of the National Watercolor Society

"Daily Duties" was accepted for the 96th Annual International exhibit of the National Watercolor Society. As a first time exhibitor, I submitted three more pieces for the judges , so that it would let me proceed to the next level of membership. I was an Associate Member, and was awarded Signature membership, after the judges viewed my additional matted pieces. It was a real honor to be chosen for this status, but it took me so much by surprise, that I kept mulling over the entire process and came to the conclusion that painting all four pieces was the easy part, to get all the paper work done, the pieces chosen and matted and then submit them at the NWS gallery was more time consuming and scary. What if they were not accepted? What if I did not get this opportunity again, when I would be in the show and only then become eligible to go through the entire process again?

I nearly did not submit anything to this exhibit, as I did not get in before. But to go through the two stages of judging, by four judges, was not an easy process, and 96 pieces were chosen from over a thousand entries. How could I even imagine that mine would be amongst them? But I am glad that I did, since one does not know how one will fare, if one does not even try. That is one of the reasons. The other was that, I thought my painting was the best I could do at this stage, and if it did not get through, I would take a couple of years off to better my work. If anyone reading this ever wonders about giving up before trying, please don't. Keep trying, and sometime it will be your turn.

96th Annual International Exhibit of the National Watercolor Society

Geeta's painting "Daily Duties" has been accepted into the 96th Annual International Exhibit of the National Watercolor Society

Daily Duties


It is an honor for my painting called "Daily Duties" to have been accepted into this exhibit. It is approximately 29" x 21.5" and is of a scene in the Basilica in Granada, Spain. The grandeur of the setting is magnificent, but what brought the idea of the painting to my mind were the workers, who were sweeping and cleaning the floors. Individuals such as the one depicted here, were responsible for keeping their heritage alive. This painting is a study in contrasts and perspective.

I drew one person from behind, and put her in the foreground with a broom. The person was a conglomeration of many individuals, so I did not actually have one image to draw from. The view of the Basilica is also composed from many images. I committed a lot to memory, did value sketches and color notes for the painting to accurately transfer my ideas on to the paper.

The painting is composed, slightly off center, with different elements on either side, so they are not mirror images of each other. The pale grey walls in the front are lit from the right by windows and outside light, so the left walls are brighter than the ones on the right. The grey walls and columns frame the interior gilded and warmly lit area. This area is lit entirely by artificial light, but higher up, the cool outside light can be seen through the stained glass windows. The main figure stands on tile work that lead the eye in towards the inner arch, which is one of the darkest spots of the painting, but there is also a flash of outside light on the floor by her. She is set there within the warm colors, which in turn are framed by the cool colors.

The painting is done with very few colors and layers. I wanted some areas to have a light, airy touch, like the stained glass windows, and some to be laden with the depth and darkness of an old historic building. History is present, without all the detailed brushwork.

It took me several years after seeing the place to start this painting. I wanted it to be thoroughly settled in my mind and have all the ideas sorted out, before embarking on the painting itself. I knew what I wanted it to look like finally, so it was a question of trying to work towards that.