15 Watercolor paintings by Prartho (all available as prints) and their story.
What I love about painting in watercolor is that water gets away from you. It has its own song to sing, and so the watercolor painter becomes, first of all, a listener. Water has its own persistent, rock-melting ways, as the Taoists call it: the Watercourse Way. And so the watercolorist must allow the water in her body to run together with the water on her brush. And if she gets out of the way, she is amazed at how easily the paint pours itself into form: not only seashores and puddles, not only leaves and faces, but silverware and galaxies.
I paint to let go of my predictable world, to see what is hidden beneath. Most of my paintings are attempts to walk two worlds—as the director Peter Brooke counsels: One foot in the Known, one in the Unknown. If I meditate on a simple image, strange situations inevitably arise: Frogs celebrate a man’s leap of courage, a giraffe drops in for tea, a tuxedoed bear and his exotic-bird sweetheart tango through the moonlit forest.
Though I have loved to draw and paint for as long as I can remember, I was nudged into a deeper experience in Pune 2, when it was my outrageous luck to have a “job” painting greeting cards and clothing for sale in the Commune boutique. I remember those endless hours in the studio on Krishna House Roof as some of my all-time happiest moments. When I returned to the US, a single parent of two beloved and wild daughters, I managed to squeeze a bit of painting into my very busy life. But when covid shut down my live teaching gigs, I was suddenly able to give more time to my favorite meditation. All but a few of the paintings in this virtual show were painted since the lockdown, which was, for me, one of many life-blessings in disguise.
From the beginning, it has always been wonder that I was after – my life a pursuit of the lost continent of awe. With my brush as an oar, sometimes painting takes me there; I hope it takes the viewer there too.
I have always loved the colorful fabrics women wear in Africa, along with those amazing knotted headscarves… also, lately, I am more and more grateful for friendships – what can be shared around a wam cup… I felt the scene might be inviting enough to attract a gentile giraffe (one of my spirit animals) to join in…. And she did!
This image began when I fell in love with a photo I saw of a badger running with all 4 paws off the ground. Later, I found a strutting crow and thought they’d like to get to know one another. To round out the group, I gave a monkey figurine from my desk a ride on the galloping badger. I wanted to make a tribute to friendship and also to play around with green skies and gold leaf.
I decided to explore my love of these vulnerable and energetic creatures: Frogs! Look how eagerly they celebrate the proverbial courageous leap.
As is often the case, I don’t know exactly where this image came from, other than being drawn to a photo of a woman walking up a trail, very bent over with a hypnotic age-softened face. An imaginary frog volunteered to show up to meet her, wearing (of all things!) a ski hat (with a pattern matching the woman’s skirt)! I was also interested in exploring a palette of purples and greens – one of my favorite combinations.
I am captivated with gesture – the way a moment caught in time can say so much. Dance is in some ways the ultimate gesture. In this painting, I was interested in letting sweetness & sorrow dance together as partners.
As I notice my increasing love of the wind, I’ve become interested in painting it. (Not an easy feat!) I also like to paint imaginary places as a way of visiting them. I loved having the chance to walk with these windblown ladies into their day, anticipating a quiet stop at the temple for a bit of solitude.
This was a commission for a friend who is the caretaker of a beloved tortoise. I paid close attention to the tortoise’s face and his method of movement, and then added the native peoples’ legend that our earth is a tortoise who carries us through the cosmos… as we create our little worlds on its back. I hope you enjoy the journey through your own imagination that this image is meant to ferry you on.
I love a starry night, and miss the intensity that I remember as a child before light pollution eroded our night skies. This was an attempt to bring those stars back. Could this be the Wise Elder whose job is to stir them up? She is one of many imaginary friends, who appear as I splash around with colors.
I don’t know exactly where images come from. I fall in love with certain movements: a tortoise making his slow way, a young woman carrying all her possessions on her head. They come together and a certain magic arrives.
This image was commissioned for the cover of an anthology of poems about life on lockdown: Pandemic Puzzle Poems. It’s a beautiful collection of work from 92 poets, including such US poetic luminaries as Ted Kooser, Naomi Shihab Nye, Dorianne Laux, Stephen Dunn, & Jane Hirshfield. I wanted to reflect the main mood of the poems that were included in the book… Didn’t all of us spend many hours looking out the window? And didn’t the birds bring us a little inspiration each day? In this image, they are bringing us pieces of the puzzle!
This is a redo of an assignment I was given in an illustration class back at Syracuse University—to pick an era and create a family portrait of animals, dressed for the age. I wasn’t happy with the first version, but once I completed this one, the animals seemed to emerge as imaginary playmates. I used it for my Christmas card in 2019… a playful twist on family portrait cards.
This was my Christmas card for 2020 – I love painting animals and watching them come alive. I often wait to paint in the eyes, and then am astonished when they look back at me.
I painted this as a wedding gift for my niece & her husband, Laura & Chris. It’s one of my favorite animal portraits. To me it captures both warmth & nobility.
This painting was an assignment to myself to loosen up. My first step was to spill coffee onto a very expensive paper (Arches) and let it drip around. I then tossed green tea bags at it. Against this background, a mystical figure broke free from the thickets to pole his boat down river. (My sweetheart and I both love boats. He requested this painting on a shower curtain for Christmas… It came out fabulous!)
I am sometimes lost in dance… my body almost dissolving in movement. This painting is my attempt to express the rapture of being lost in dance and music. It was experimental in many aspects… the square format, as well as trying to use the full spectrum for my pallet. My hope is that you’ll get as lost in the image as I did in creating it.
Prartho’s Watercolor Paintings are available as prints, on cards, notebooks, pillows, bags… even shower curtains! From fineartamerica.com
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