Sunita showcases her oil paintings she made these last three years in her adopted country, Bali.
Since oil painting has become a serious and yet unserious passion for the past three years, late in life, I have come to find it almost an obsession I crave constantly. Having lived on Bali for over 27 years, amidst beauty, a creative environment, rich colors galore and magic in the air, it has been an easy transition from being a business woman to a painter.
It has been a learning process of starting over, since I did dabble with paints all my life. Learning techniques about using paint, itself, has been an adventure of mixing colors, varnishes, and brush types, etc. Then learning about lighting techniques, shading, perspective, composition and studying the master classical painters. This was all possible by finding my teacher, which gave me the structured time incentive to study and paint every week. Of course, my main focus has been on Bali and its people, tradition and beauty.
My earliest painting during this phase of life, three years ago, started with learning the classical way of using paints with color mixtures and studying the best of the best of painters. The ones I liked.
I learned about form and composition. Then, I proceeded to paint more of what surrounded me and with some traditional flavors of Bali itself. Dancers, temples, Balinese in traditional garb and some seascapes. Once in a while, I would experiment with some idea that is not related to Bali at all, just to push my limits. There can be so much play too.
Now I spend time at home painting in my studio, which used to be my former office for my real estate business. It is a ‘play room’. Here I play with painting ceramics, coloring dead coral to create flowers, yet always going back to the canvas with oils. The more time I give it, the more I want to do. It is a delightful process of discovering my style, which I think is still in development. I feel like I am just touching the edge of the iceberg with the few paintings I have completed. My dream now is to make a collection.
I have faced some blocks too, which have taken me on inward journeys of understanding my hesitancy to spontaneity, letting go and dealing with myself and my issues on subtle levels. It has been the best therapy for practicing patience and evolution.
One creative block I experienced that lasted for two months was due to the fact that every scene I looked at, every moment looked like a painting. It was so overwhelming, I became confused by the fact that I could really observe every shade, reflection, curve, the play of light, the softness, the raw edges in everything I saw, and I could not paint for a while.
To paint a human figure with tone, depth and aliveness has been a learning experience about people. To paint a landscape or still life has been an exercise of shapes, forms and color. I love painting fabric, drapery and have learned a lot about the shadows, the curves in fabric, and how light casts shades between the folds and light on the creases, almost like movement itself.
I have still a long way to go, but I am getting closer to know my style and have more confidence to paint, paint, paint. Painting is a solitary experience. It is just me, the canvas and the paint. So sometimes, distractions like having fun with friends, which I consider high on the priority list, can sometimes cut into the painting time! I understand why many great painters were so solitary. But it is all a blessing and for me a balance of doing art and living art.
American-born Sunita (aka Anita Lococo) has been living on Bali for decades. She took sannyas in 1982 in Rajneeshpuram, and is the author of the photo book ‘Living in Bali’ – showing Balinese homes in harmony with nature. She has just recently retired from running an exquisite Bali Tropical Villas venture. She is presently involved in community projects with the Rotary Club of Bali Seminyak (17-year member and Past President) and really passionate about painting and feeling free.