I’ve been doing these portraits of fanciful Indian Space People for a year or two now. Inspired by everything from Orthodox Christian iconography to Tanjavur paintings & Soviet murals, hence their space helmets evolving from simple bubbles to abstract ‘halos’ in this set. Mostly I wanted to finally get to grips with some gold paint I had tried previously with uneven results; I suspected diluting it slightly would work, and indeed, a drop of water in a pea-sized glob was enough to produce smooth results.
I started off this set with no plans, just an evening with a blank page and pure practice with sumi-e ink and brush in mind. I set these up on a very formal grid, diagonals and diamonds framing the entire page. It works for something like this, though I think this first one came off too stiff. Still, it was just practice. The curly-haired lady from previous space people paintings made a return, purely because I like drawing her hair.
The second portrait was even more formal, but formal in the style of Indian medieval court paintings, official-looking things in profile. I even went with a man this time, for a change.
The third is my favourite, and frankly, if I were to consider the others warm-ups for this one, that’s fine by me. I started off with a few pose references from around the internet, mixing in a hand from here and hair from there. Of the three this certainly succeeds the most at what I wanted to achieve with these: something that looks familiar but is just off-centre enough; Indian but not cliché, Science Fiction but not hard and dark and brooding, and fantastical as only Art Deco could be.
I’m happy that what started as a practice session led to these three, and they are by no means my last visit to this corner of space.