Updated: Jan 21, 2019
Office. Sleep. Repeat.
This had been my schedule for quite a while now and I was sick of it. I’m a part-time artist, but couldn’t get my creative juices flowing for quite some time now due to the monotony of the routine. I desperately needed a break. I wanted to live in the moment, detached from the bothers of life – even if for a moment. And that moment came soon enough.
I came across TravelTroovel on the internet and decided to sign up for their Art Trail. The concept seemed interesting to me – art + vacation. Like killing two birds with one stone. All planning done, we were set to go on 24th June.
Day 1 We all met at Chandigarh. This is where our wonderful journey started. It was a small group – Arunima & Manika, the founders of TravelTroovel; Gagandeep – our very knowledgeable art mentor; and the rest of us.
Since we hardly knew each other, our mentor suggested that we introduce ourselves. But there was a twist – we had to draw about ourselves and the others had to guess who we are according to what we had drawn. A pretty cool way to get to know the others! We made our sketches on the way and exchanged our sketchbooks when we stopped for breakfast. This activity helped us instantly gel with each other, eliminating the initial awkwardness.
Now we had stuff to talk about and the remaining journey passed quickly. We reached – our destination was a beautiful home-stay in Palampur. It was aptly named ‘Seclude’ – situated in the middle of a small village, far from the madding crowd. The view around us was breathtaking, with mountains all around us and rain clouds circling above.
We had some homemade lunch, took some rest and got ready for the activities planned for us. First up was sketching basics. Gagan took us through the very basics of sketching – from how to move our hand while drawing to practicing basic shapes and finishing the session with still life object sketching. Next up was a session on calligraphy basics. In this, we learnt about the different kinds of tools and techniques used in calligraphy. It was definitely everyone’s favorite activity (or at least it was mine!). There was so much room for experimentation. We tried our hand at making calligraphy art using dip-pens, brush-pens and paintbrushes.
By the time we were done, it was late evening and the clouds were looking very dramatic. So we took a walk, explored the village nearby on foot. The rest of the evening went by quickly – came back, played Taboo, had dinner and exchanged some ghost stories. A very well spent Day 1.
Day 2 Next day, at 10:00 AM, we were en route to the Museum of Kangra Art in Dharamshala. There we got to have a look at some of the displayed miniature Kangra paintings and related art. There was also a workshop planned by the Kangra Arts Promotion Society to teach us the basics of the miniature Kangra painting technique. This style of painting is an ancient one and has seen a recent revival recently thanks to the efforts of KAPS. We had highly skilled artists teaching us the painting and material preparation basics. We also had a hands-on session and it made us realize how tough this form of art was. Before leaving, we also managed to have a brief chat with the secretary on the future plan for the Kangra Arts Promotion Society and how they’ll to spread the word about this form of art.
Next on our list was the Norbulingka Institute nearby. This is an institute dedicated to the preservation of the Tibetan culture and gives a glimpse into the literary and artistic world of Tibetans. A very clean and serene place – it has a temple, a doll museum, shop and a restaurant inside, helping us experience all aspects of the Tibetan culture for a moment in time.
Tired but satisfied, we went back to our home-stay where we had another session planned: Tie and Dye. Manika was our Tie and Dye expert and she taught us several techniques to dye our piece of cloth. A lot of thought goes into planning how to tie the cloth and pour the color as this affects the outcome. All of us managed to not spoil our piece of cloth and create something we liked.
The night was upon us and so was the dread of having to leave tomorrow. We had plans for our last night there. It was time to let our hair down over a round of drinks, some scrabble and some stories. The funny thing about time is that it passes so fast when you don’t want it to. I checked my watch, it was 5 AM and some of us were still awake. Oh well, might as well see the sunrise, we decided. And we not only saw the sunrise, but also witnessed an epic rain shortly. It was as if the clouds were making up for the 2 days they didn’t rain. Satisfied, we went to sleep, whatever little was possible. It was Day 3 already.
Day 3 New day, new plans – not a lot of them though as we had to leave by noon. The last two sessions were Marbling (taught by Manika) and Coffee Painting (taught by Gagan). These were some techniques I had heard about but never tried. And their results were are amazing!
By noon, we were done and it was time to say finally say goodbye to this place!
What next? To conclude, I would say that the amount of thought and work put in by the founders to organize this trip was amazing. I just came to relax and make some art, but left with some new and amazing friends and memories. Until next time, TravelTroovel!
By Ayush Kumar An Arty Trooveler