I was pushed to go for painting classes by my mother when I was around 14. I was good at sketching and equally bad at colouring and shading. The idea of mixing colours to make new shades never occured to me. That was how I was years back---scared to experiment and take a risk. Once you mix two-colours, you cannot separate them. The colours lose their identity. I remember trying to make a particular shade of lilac and not succeeding.
My art teacher (I owe a lot to you aunty) taught me to experiment with colours. She used to give us or make us choose from a box full of cards and miniature paintings by other artists and asked us to try and imitate them. Often she used to point at one corner of the sky and tell one of us "Look carefully, this bit of sky has a little more crimson than the adjoining areas. Mix and shade. Use feather touch". Sometime no matter how carefully i peered into the picture I never saw the correct shade. At such times I just sat and looked at her instructing other kids and wonder how is she able to see something which is totally invisible to me.
I think I was the most obedient one of the lot. Other students used to choose their own cards to paint (many a times they used to be very ambitious and then spoiling the end product) while I always used to ask her which one would help me learn more. I was keen on increasing the difficulty-level gradually. Enthusiastically, she used to pull out one of her favourite paintings (often not strikingly beautiful) and asked me to paint it.
Since the day I had laid my eyes on that box containing the miniature cards, I had selected the painting of the "Red Barn by the Sea" and told myself that I will paint it one day. After 4-5 paintings I gathered sufficient courage to ask Aunty whether I can paint the red-barn-painting (The hidden question was whether she considers me capable enough to paint it). To my surprise she said yes. That day and the day I completed this painting are amongst the happiest days of my life.
This was the first painting I chose to make. Somehow it seemed close to my heart, my life, at that point of time. And after all these years when I look at this painting today, I still see a part of myself in it.
And when i look at the sky and the sea together (I am lucky to be at TIFR) often i see that shade of lilac with a little more crimson than the blue and sufficient white and sometimes a touch of lemon yellow.