Art is the supreme expression of the human soul. It inspires, illuminates, encourages, surprises, excites, provokes, calms, elevates emotionally as well as spiritually and helps reach out to fellow beings in a way that’s beyond formality.
Ballpoint pens are reputed to be the biggest spoilers of one’s handwriting but as they say, things are not as they are but more so, the way you make them to be. Shirish Deshpande, a well-known artist from Belgaum uses these elementary devices to give life to his expression. The communion of the canvas and subtle strokes and streaks of the ballpoint pens is a treat to the eyes, a pleasure to behold and appreciate.
In 2008, when Shirish revived his childhood love for colour and canvas, the ballpoint experiment was the first thing that happened. One day, with his one-foot by-one-foot hardboard waiting, he readied to approach it with his brush but instead picked up a multi-colored ballpoint pen and started criss crossing his way towards a new found love. Several layers and one and-a-half day later, he finished his first ballpoint ‘painting.’ Shirish wants to work in all styles, delve through many subjects and draw conclusions at his own pace. Right now, he quite literally, “Paints with the ballpoint pen”. Some may also call it a drawing or an illustration but the nomenclature is just a formality. He has found that the simple ball pen with its fine line has a huge potential in allowing the artist to express his or her thoughts and emotions. Unlike painting with brush, where a single stroke can cover a large area with color, pen lines are very thin and there is a sense of creation at every stroke. It is very challenging to create innumerable tones by combining the limited available colors in ballpoint pens. He needs a perfect blend of thousands of strokes to make his work come to life!
His content varies from with landscapes to portraits to stylizations. Light plays a very important role in creating the required drama to draw the viewer into another world. It could be a rustic village home or then dancing crops against a dramatic skyline. Towering boulders astound him and sometimes a coy girl in all her innocence finds her way on to his canvas. He paints with the motive that he will finally achieve the result he initially had in his mind. Simple subject matter, good composition, boldness of forms, delicate line work and a little dramatization play a key role in the impact, on the viewer.
Shirish did his schooling from Beynon Smith High School, Belgaum and then passed out with a G.D.Art in Applied Arts from Abhinav Kala Vidyalay, Pune. For about 27 years he has worked in the field of Communication Design and applied his creative talent in rendering a variety of art works for a number of clients which included Graphic design in all its variety, Architectural delineations, 3D models etc. He was also involved in creating some of the world’s best software user interfaces at Deltra Software.
After years of designing for varied people, he concluded that he needed an outlet that would help him realize his creative potential in a more satisfying way. Art for Shirish like for many other people became the most meaningful part of life and a source of much fun and relaxation.
Awestruck with his innovation and mesmerized by the deeds of his ballpoint wonders, we wish him plentiful strokes of success.
What has changed since we last interviewed you in 2009?
Shirish ——-> For me, there has been a lot of change in the past three years. One of my artworks was chosen for an international table calender of 2010 by artwanted.com.
I participated in group shows in Mumbai and Bangalore. I also had solo shows in Taj Palace, New Delhi and in Shahu Kaladalan, Kolhapur.
I am also very active on FaceBook and enjoy sharing my work with my 2600+ FB friends and art lovers all over the world.
My artworks were exclusively featured on a 12 page table calender by Renuka Sugars Ltd.
I was also featured in TV shows on ETv Khadyabhramanti and Zee 24 Taas in Zara Hatke.
Have you taught this art to others if yes how many and share experiences?
Shirish ——-> This year I had a lecture/demonstration of using ballpoint pen as a medium for creating art in GIT college of architecture in Belgaum.
I also had a three days workshop in Pune in May 2012. There were about 70 students in the age group of 11 yrs to 75 years who learnt the technique from me.
It was a great experience for me to see others making use of the simple ballpen to create superb artworks. I have now offers from Mysore and Ahmedabad for the same.
Narrate some interesting incident from the past year at your exhibitions?
Shirish ——-> My solo show in Kolhapur received great appreciation of the art loving people there. More than 3000 people visited the show in 7 days. Almost everyone mentioned their astonishment about the use of ballpoint pen. There were many memorable moments, but the most memorable was when an elderly lady came to me after seeing all the works and asked me if I was the artist. I said “Yes, I am.” She came near and took my hands in her hands and said “ I wanted to touch the hands those created these wonderful artworks…..”. I was so much humbled. I could not really react at that time. Since then, I have always felt that I am only a medium for the God’s art to flow through me. At times even I become a spectator while my hands are working with the pens.
What recently has been the trend in the paintings or art collectors market?
Shirish ——-> In my view, the social networking site FaceBook has changed the way visual art is displayed. FaceBook has also enabled art lovers to have exposure to a wide range of artworks like never before. But all this activity still remains largely non commercial.
Whereas in real life exhibitions, there seem to be more people aware of fine art. People do think of having a painting on a wall in their drawing room if it is affordable. But the affordability changes from family to family, town to town etc.
Belgaum is advantageous or otherwise, you had in 2009 said it is both has anything changed?
Shirish ——-> Yes it is still the same. Belgaum has not changed in the last three years for an artist like me.
There is now an art gallery in Belgaum, your thoughts on it.
Shirish ——-> It is absolutely a great facility for the artists, art lovers and for the fine art community to show case the work in a professional order. The only important thing is it should be affordable for the artist and the expenses should be proportionate to the size of available art market in the city. I have so far not had a chance of putting up a show of my works there, so I am unable to really comment on this.
Do you feel Belgaum also needs to have a ART fare as held in other cities to boost the morale of the local artists?
Shirish ——-> Looking at the success of Chitrasanthe, the annual art fair in Bangalore, many cities are thinking of organizing a similar event. We will not know how Belgaum will respond until we have a real art fair here.
Your suggestion to upcoming artists from Belgaum?
Shirish ——-> I suggest all artist to be part of facebook, become a member of many artist groups which are spread all over and show thier work and get feed back from art lovers all over the world. This broadens our horizons and we can see what others are doing. We come to know our own strengths and weaknesses. I feel it is essential to be fluent in English for better communication globally.
If you could tell where all your paintings have been commissioned?
Shirish ——-> My paintings are in collection of art lovers in USA, UK, Canada, Australia and India. I am very happy to mention that Rotary Club of Belgaum has gifted one of my artworks to an NGO in Canada.
From where do you get so many colors of ball point pens?
Shirish ——-> Many people ask me this question. I know how difficult it is to get all these colored ball point pens. I have seen that most people do not know that the ballpoint pens are completely different from gel ink pens.
I have got my pens from various sources. I got some from my cousin who stayed in England. Then I got some good pens from my son’s friend who stays in Japan. I have also received some refills from some wonderful people from USA.
But now we can get a ten colored ballpoint pen set from Montex made in India. It is available in stationery shops. But it still does not have a yellow ink pen.
What is the best thing about Belgaum you like?
Shirish ——-> I have never been out of country. But I have traveled a lot in India right from Ludhiana to Coimbatore.
People of Belgaum are unique in a sense that they make you feel at home. They are not rude. But overall the city is now growing up and we see many unknown faces walking down the road. I love the calmness of the city.
Your thoughts on this site(AAB) and what has changed or needs to be changed?
Shirish ——-> AAB’s contribution is absolutely adorable. There is no doubt that so many people of Belgaum who are scattered all over the world feel connected to their home town through AAB… I wish AAB a great future.
One can follow Shirish on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ArtistShirishDeshpande
Concept & Interviewer: Uday