To get to the above layout – in the photograph above, I had to decide to do a dance between how many paintings I wanted to show and how many paintings I actually HAD available to show. I was able to visit the location about a month prior to the festival and then once I had a rough idea of what all I might be able to accommodate, I starter working toward finishing the half-finished pieces and I even decided to start on the largest canvas I’ve ever painted. I knew it would fit – I would make it fit. The others I could decide to leave out towards the end, depending on the space.
About 10-15 days prior to the festival, I was able to go back to the location and measure the exact wall space and dimensions and then plan the layout accordingly. Photoshop document with the exact dimensions was created and then it was a matter of fitting stuff in. And then an overlay on the photograph of the actual wall, to make sure I got everything right.
This was such a new thing for me that I wasn’t even aware of the questions I should be asking. Thankfully. Windmill Furniture and Pure Ghee Designs were immensely helpful. They were quite tickled by what they thought was my enthusiasm. It was actually, my anxiety.
My goal with this exhibit was to see my art in a different perspective. Looking at separate pieces at home – on the walls, on the easel, etc – don’t really give me a feel of what this would look like if I ever decided to take it out into the world. The exercise was to prove to my brain and I could do something like this. That I could, indeed, create a cohesive series of art pieces.
It was a learning exercise, which I am grateful for. While I was in the process of painting and setting up, “Are you sure you want to do this? Seems like so much effort for what exactly?” kept cropping up. One day, I even almost decided to cancel my participation. “Who cares!”
The self-doubt and anxiety kept rearing their heads till I had firmly decided on my goal. Once I knew that I was doing this for ME, nothing else was important. And I would use it as an excuse to hang out with the family. So, I tool the brother-in-law, the husband and the father to help set up the wall. And the sister and the husband were recruited to assist over both the days of the festival. And on day two, even the mother made an appearance as support crew for more than a few hours at the exhibit.
The first blunder that I made, which we thankfully caught in time, was that the canvas that I was painting, which I thought was 48 inches in diameter, was in fact, 56 inches in diameter.
I had no idea how to transport the large canvas to the location without having it packed professionally.
You have to keep in mind that after many years of saving up, I was able to actually start utilizing the savings in 2018 to invest in building an art practice. After exhausting said savings – liters of varnish, gesso, custom-sized canvases, dozens of types and brands of paint, dozens of paint brushes, wood bases for the brooches, magnets, etc – I wanted to recover my investment before spending any more money on it.
While I did want to participate in the exhibit, at this point, I chose not to hire a professional art packer or even someone who could assist in displaying the art, planning the exhibit or even doing PR for it. The goal was to do it myself to the best of my ability, with help from the family.
My Dad and I spent about a day calling up Tempo services to figure out how best to transport the 56 inch piece. Quotes ranged from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 14,000. My BIL ( brother-in-law) has a large car but even that could not accommodate the 56 incher. I asked on social media if anyone would be willing to lend me their ISUZU for two rides to and from Delhi.
Finally, one of the BIL’s friends came through. His ISUZU was available on the day we had to setup the exhibit but we didn’t have the time or the convenience to test whether the canvas would fit in the back. So, I was prepared for transporting the canvas laying flat in the back and also transporting it propped up on one of the side walls of the ISUZU. Mom supplied a spare foam mattress and I pulled out hard foam pieces from the Google Nest box that I had been saving for exactly this kind of scenario.
The exhibit was also a good excuse for me to actually photograph my art pieces – the canvases and the brooches. The brooches on a white background and the canvases with me posing with them. That was the idea. A small camera tripod setup at home a day before the exhibit for the brooches. And the paintings I planned to photograph on the day after the exhibit while I was taking them down and bringing them back. The Windmill Place has a lovely green space with bricks and I thought it would be ideal for the photographs.
Onto the transport and the setup at the Windmill Place.
I would have spent maybe the entire day trying to hammer nails into the wall, measuring exact distances between each nail and I also would have lost my mind by the end of it. Bharat had these amazing stainless steel nails that would support even the largest of the paintings. And the walls of the Windmill Place are astonishingly strong. The only mistake we made, in hindsight, was that we didn’t pay attention to the hammer and nail size ratio. We could have done with a larger hammer.
Aman, my BIL, basically took charge and went at it. I kept showing him the layout and hanging the canvases and he kept hammering away. There were MANY sparks.
We ended up using the measuring tape sparingly and not sweating in centimeters. Just like that, it was all set. I was going to bring the smaller paintings – the brooches – with me on the morning of the exhibit. I was also going to hand-write the labels of the paintings and stick them up in the morning.
It was important for me to document the process and I was happy I got in these photos on the Pixel.
I had decided on some minimal marketing material – a small two fold with a brief artist profile and contact details and a poster with the KhaosPhilos logo.
A few of the smaller easels in my possession were also used on the table for display.
A couple of clothing brands had asked me if I would like to wear their garments / shoes for the art exhibit but I was too pre-occupied with painting the canvases to consider what clothes I was going to wear. When I don’t want to think too much, I wear a white tee and blue jeans and sneakers. I added a white jacket and wore the first brooch that I had ever painted and slapped on some makeup – after 2-3 months of going without make-up because I just did not have the time!
The blog post about the Windmill Design Festival is currently in the works and I will also be sharing more from my two days at the exhibit in a separate blog post.
On packing up and coming back, since the Isuzu wasn’t available immediately, I sought permission to leave the larger canvases on the wall till the next day. I was EXHAUSTED. We packed up the smaller canvases and brooches and all the marketing material etc on the night of the last day.
I went back the next day, alone, in my Maruti Alto and brought back the 24 inch canvas, the 30 inch canvas and the 36 inch canvas. They all fit in the Alto after some seat juggling. The main thing to keep in mind is that nothing should touch the surface of the paintings. Then they are ok.
Bharat and I went back the day after this with the ISUZU, to bring home the 56 inch piece.
Always balanced on shoes, held from the frame in the back. Bharat, waiting for the ISUZU driver to back up so that the 56 inch could be loaded flat in its back.
And that’s how we set it up and brought it back down and I don’t think I want to do it again. At least not anytime soon. To folks who do this sort of thing regularly, WOW. I tip my hat to you. At the same time, I am glad that I did it. Now I know that I can do it, if required. I learned about new things to consider if I do this again. How to communicate better with onlookers, how to answer questions, how to initiate conversations, etc.
Blog posts about my art, see #KhaosPhilos
Blog posts about the Windmill Design Festival
For the latest Art Catalog, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you.