Shrink's Views

ramblings of an unknown psychiatrist

Agora: a painting

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 29, 2013

ImageTitle: Agora

Size: 18 X 27 cm

Medium: Watercolor on Handmade paper

16.05.2009

It is wise to plan things, but it is also true that many good things in life happen accidentally. It was by chance I struck upon the website of artist Don Andrews. He is a watercolour artist. I love his bold use of colours. I was inspired by him and I have taken the liberty to copy some of his work. I have even written to him about it. Of course I did not get any reply. J

I have called this painting “Agora” which in Greek means marketplace. Psychiatrists use the word agoraphobia to mean general fear of open places. I gave a Greek name simply for the novelty in it.

This painting took more than 6 hours to complete. It was because the overall size was small and the subject matter was quite complex. I allowed the painting to dry before I touched adjacent areas so as to not allow bleeding into unnecessary areas. I also painted few areas in a layered approach.

I had posted it on a social network. I got the following comment from a friend. The comment was “ Hi Dheeraj, … this one is amazing, you are far far better than me in water color painting. It is really difficult spreading the colors accordingly the value of it. You got a very good control and command on the brush strokes. You maintained the perspective also very well, the person in the front is bigger in comparison to the people standing in the far. It is really lively because of the bight and contrast colors. You did a good job on the details of the decorative stuff. Even though you didn’t add any details on the human figure, that is the good part of it, otherwise it would have killed your painting. That’s it. Keep going, no one can stop you now……….GOOD LUCK.”

It was my school friend, Sruthi, a professional animation artist, who works for Hollywood movies. Her comment increased my confidence. She might never realize what impact her words have had on me. The beauty is we too could have magical effect on others, if we do take the time and initiative to encourage others.

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Crucifixion : pencil sketches

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 29, 2013

Image

Image

My predecessor in the hospital I was working had banned TV in our hospital. It made sense in a way. The TV belonged to the hospital. We were all on-call 24X7. So if someone were to ‘enjoy’ TV, there is a possibility of compromise in patient care.

I had a different opinion but I followed the rule. When my predecessor left, I changed the rule slightly. We could watch movies in TV with a DVD player but not watch TV serials. The logic was:

  1. The staff could watch a movie together and later discuss issues in the movie.
  2. If there was a call from a patient, we could pause the movie and resume later without patient care being compromised.
  3. Movies could be a weekly affair and not daily the way TV serials are.

In April 2009, during the lent season we screened the blockbuster “The Passion of The Christ” in our TV. I was inspired by it. I sketched the following from the stills in the picture.

These were done on paper with pencil. A black and white picture can communicate a lot through line, margin and value. It is very important to be conscious about the source of light. This way we can create highlights where light hits objects.

Shadows are important too. It is through the play of highlights and shadows that a third dimension is created in the viewer’s mind. One should be careful about the values of the darks he uses. If you look at the leather band in the helmet of soldier, you would notice that the shadow it creates is too dark. It is a mistake. It attracts undue attention due to heavier contrast between light and dark.

I chose an odd angle for the position of Jesus lying flat on a cross. I chose with a purpose to create a different effect. I feel that there are errors in the size. Lesson to be learnt is to be consistent to perspective even if it ‘feels’ wrong and not draw whatever you feel is right.

I gifted these to a nurse in our hospital Sis. Karabilata Curtis. She was an asset in our team. She cared a lot for staff and patients. She was young but was motherly. She reminded me of Mother Teresa. When she is asked how is it that she can love and care for everyone to the extent that does, she replies that it is nothing compared to love she has received from Lord Jesus Christ.

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Transformation of Saul: a painting

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 28, 2013

Image

Title: Transformation of Saul

1998 – 2001

Medium: Watercolor on Handmade paper

Stories of transformation are inspiring. I love to hear these. Psychiatrists long to create these. The process of transformation in psychotherapy takes a lot to time and energy. It is still worth all the effort. Even in psychotherapy there are few sessions where one feels there is greater progress, when an insight is received and a strong resolve to change is made.

In life I have seen sudden transformations too. My friend’s father quit smoking when my friend at the age of 5 asked his dad, if he could try the same. We have all heard of such men who give up things like drugs for something greater like love for the family following a life changing event.

The picture here is that of Saul. He was a Roman citizen by birth, Pharisaic Jew by religion and was a student of Greek philosophers. He persecuted followers of Jesus Christ with missionary zeal. He had a life transforming experience on the road to Damascus. He witnessed God and heard from Him. His life was never the same. He became known as Apostle Paul. He became part of the community he persecuted. His knowledge and skill became useful to build, what he wanted to destroy. He suffered imprisonment, humiliation and finally death for his faith in God.

I started this painting in year November 1998 and finished it in June 2001 [most likely]. It is an art work I had kept pending for the longest. It is one of the two paintings I have done during my MBBS [Medical Schooling] training years. It speaks of how busy I got in college stuff and how non-serious I was about art during those days. However a couple of years later, there was a transformation in me, a change I cherish.

May your life be transformed too for the better towards the more meaningful and eternal.

Blessings…

 

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The Good Shepherd : a painting

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 28, 2013

Image

Title: The Good Shepherd

Medium: Watercolor on Handmade paper

It is said that you come to Christ alone but you can only grow along with others. I understand this well. I was nurtured in MMC students’ fellowship during my undergraduate days. I maintain contact with my UG fellowship friends. I am sure I would look to them in times of trouble.

During my PG days a couple of friends in CMC started the “Sheep Fellowship”. I was part of it for a short while at the time of inception. I had to leave as I had completed my course. I was touched by the hospitality of Dr Julie Hephziibah, in whose house we used to meet for fellowship. Fellowship is not just a place where you sing songs, pray and study the Bible. It is a place where we share our lives.

I gifted this painting to Julie akka* as a token of love for all that she does for us.

———-

* akka – Sister in South Indian languages [ Tamil, Telugu and Kannada]

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Sunset : a painting

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 28, 2013

Image

Title: Sunset

Size: 18 x 27 cm

March 2009

Medium: Watercolor on Handmade paper

I returned from the BITS, Pilani to Baripada in February 2009. I was excited about art after getting the prizes in BITS. You can read about that story here. BITS had given me assignments to do. I had a month to complete my assignments. As soon as I finished my assignments the art fever took over. I painted the “Winter trees”. The story behind it can be found here. I painted the “Sunset” in the same week.

It would be good to read the story about winter trees where I describe the variegated wash. In ‘Sunset’ I began with variegated washes with Prussian blue. I wanted to give the feel of coming night. I wanted to mix a shade of yellow to signify the setting sun. The yellows were allowed to blend with red and brown in the lower part of the paper. Unfortunately the top two colours mixed and gave a shade of green in the sky! I have warned about this in “Winter trees”. However this can be used to ones advantage if one is using blue-purple-red-orange- yellow sky by using variegated washes of blue, red and yellow in a proper manner.

I diluted off the green by pouring water and let the whole thing run across the page by hanging the page side-on. By the time the paper is nearly dried I poured extra water and allowed it to take away some pigment and form the formation of clouds. I dabbed a little bit with a old handkerchief. Doing it too much can spoil the paper.

Once completely dry, I did the distant trees with light shades of yellow and brown. The building was painted with grey. A part of it was made with transparent wash allowing the sunlit sky to shine through the building.

The fence was drawn with linear perspective. The oddities in the structure signify the rickety road to the Church. The dark silhouette of a tree in the foreground ‘pushes’ the rest of the painting behind and brings about the depth required.

I was careful to add the shadows of the structures away from the light source.

Hope you liked this and have learnt something from it. Happy painting.

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My Art in BITS

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 27, 2013

“The Path” [ June 2008] was appreciated by my family and friends in a social network. My interest in art resurfaced, but I did not paint for the next 7 months as I got busy. I was in BITS, Pilani in the month of January 2009 attending a contact program. The students of Andhra Samithi were holding art competitions. I had a BITS ID number, so I participated. I had about 90 minutes to complete both entries.

I got 1st place for painting “Stop Terror” and 2nd place for sketching “Towards 100 % literacy”. I was thrilled. BITSians are very talented bunch of students. They have a very strong Arts club. Winning in BITS meant, I too was part of – a league.

I decided to start painting again when I got back to Baripada, the place where I was working.Is there anything I learnt during this competition? Yes!!! Not to feel ashamed of asking for joining ‘others’ !

1. I was an outsider, who was visiting BITS for a contact program.

2. I was around 10 years older than the youngest participant and 5 years older than the oldest.

It was embarrassing to go and ask ‘kids’ if I could compete with them, but I did it. What gave me greater joy than winning a prize was participating with young people who were pursuing art even after getting into professional courses. I am glad that I was with them.

The following are the prize winning entries in the competition.

 Image

Title: Towards 100% Literacy [ 100 % Aksharasyatha Disavaipu ]

29.1.2009

Pencil on Paper

Image

Title : Stop Terror

29.1.2009

Watercolor

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Winter Trees: a painting

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 27, 2013

winter trees

Title: Winter Trees

Size: 18 X 27 cm

Medium: Watercolor on Handmade paper

March 2009

After I painted “The Path”, the feedback I received motivated me to paint again. Of course I was a getting busy as in the hospital where I was working. So, there was a gap of about 9 months between ‘the path’ and this.

I had seen a couple of videos made by a self taught artist Bob Davis. He has a website which can be found by clicking this. You could access these videos and teach yourself too.

The “winter trees” was made using a layered approach. By this I mean I have painted this painting in layers. There is a wash which covers the entire sheet and then after the paint dried I painted over it.

The first was a variegated wash. By this I mean I load a brush with blue paint and run it on the top of the paper and I progressively move down by diluting the lower border of the layer with water till it is just plain water by the time I come to the middle of the painting. This gave the sky a smooth appearance. I added yellow on the lower border and took it to the middle in similar fashion till it is plain water in the middle again. This is pretty important. If not done properly the two colours could mix and give out a green at the horizon!

Once the layer has dried, I painted the distant trees with a random touch of yellows and light brown allowing some amount of mixing to happen on paper. I keep those colours light in value as it adds perspective of depth. Farther objects are lighter and nearer objects are darker in value.

Once these distant trees dried I painted the brown tree. I first painted the tree and the branches. The source of light is from the left side of the painting. So I saw to it that the opposite side is darker due to shadow. I painted the leaves with dry brush techniques running the strokes from periphery to centre of the tree. It is important for us to know the outer limits of a tree when we paint them. It is a common mistake for beginners to start from centre of the tree and keep on going without knowing limits. It is quite tempting indeed to do that.

I painted the grey tree after the brown tree dried. I added green to the foreground. A tint of brown was added to green and was used in areas beyond the road. I added the grasses on both sides of the road. This brought contrast and brought the road ‘out’. I painted the shadows for the trees. This helps to root the trees to the ground. One should not forget the source of light while painting the shadows. I carefully left a patch of non shadow area in between the trees. This added to the sense of depth. The tree shadow falling on the road in the foreground pushes the rest of the stuff ‘behind’, further adding to depth. The tree which is not in the field of painting but casting its shadow adds drama to the painting.

After I framed the painting I felt that adding few birds could have been better. I must add that absence of ‘life’ better depicts winter. So maybe this is just fine🙂

Hope you learnt a couple of techniques and principles reading this post. Happy painting,

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The Path: a painting

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on April 27, 2013

the path

Title: The Path

Size: 18 X 27 cm

Medium: Watercolor on Handmade paper

June 2008

I have never written about my development as an artist. I might write that in detail in a future post. Shortly I can say I painted in my secondary school. I had done well and had won many prizes. I pursued science and not art as I felt contribution through science is long lasting and more meaningful. Of course this idea is not completely true. Everything can be very meaningful.

I painted only 2 paintings during my MBBS years [ Medical School]. I worked for three years before going into studies in Psychiatry in CMC, Vellore. I never touched brushes in those periods lasting more than 5 years.

I joined Graham Staines Memorial Hospital in May 2008. The hospital was developing. The challenges here were different from running a fully established setting. I had to learn to relax. I also had time to reflect and enjoy. I watched a couple of paintings being painted on youtube. My long lost love for art got ignited.

I bought a set of watercolours and paper and painted this. I called it “ The Path”. I posted this in orkut, a social network like facebook with the following note.

Life is a journey.Take the walk.
There may be scorching sun,
keep walking.You would soon find shade.
With anyone around talk,
This journey could be fun.
Keep walking.Thats why we are made.

My friends liked it, The encouragement received prompted me to continue painting. I am glad, I took the time out to search for watercolors and paper in the market. I have improved a lot since then. It has happened because – I had started.

All of us have had interests in our childhood and adolescence, which we give up in pursuit of the more ‘practical’ things. May be we should not.  They could add meaning and beauty to life, something that could be missed in success and accomplishment.

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Fight the Bull : a painting

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on May 20, 2012

Fight The Bull

Title: Fight the Bull

Medium: Watercolour on Handmade Paper

Size: 27 x 36 cm

Date: 19.5.2012

I was born in the month of May. It makes me a Taurean. The zodiac sign is that of a bull. I am not a believer in Astrology. I believe there are more important factors which determine our future like socio-economic status, quality of parenting received, access to education and healthcare etc. I have been compared to a bull in my childhood. This was for being lazy, stubborn, willing to engage in argument and of course being plump.

I have changed a lot, in fact I had to change a lot. I would love to be lazy but CMC Schedules do not give a chance. I cannot be stubborn as I see my own view as a spot in the dimension of truth/ falsity. I still love argument as the test of clarity of thought.The word argument is a bad word socially as people take things personally, so I intentionally exit after making initial remarks. I still remain on the right of normal curve when it comes to body weight. In other words I have been fighting the bull and I still need to.

I got reminded my self of the concept of fighting the bull and I thought I ll paint a bull fight scene around my birthday. The painting above is the product of that. I loosely applied chrome yellow and lemon yellow on few spots on the wet paper. Then I added yellow ochre, carmine and vermillion to blend along the sides. I then added burnt seinna in corners and did some blending with brush. I then did the same with a bit of burnt umber too. I was adding these colors into the body of the bull with brush strokes following the body contours of the bull. I preserved some whites for the bull’s horn and fighter’s dress.

I worked on the fighter’s dress with a small round brush but kept it loose. I added thick paint of burnt umber and then black on the bull following the earlier brush strokes. I also added a bit of white to add texture. Once the painting dried I splattered the painting on the top corners and the bottom with different colors. Some splatter went and fell on the bull and the fighter. This gave the feel of dust and an atmosphere of action.

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The Spy Who Knew Himself : a story

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on May 18, 2012

They were those times when terror occupied the consciousness of common men. Even though the fringe elements were successful in creating mayhem, fear psychosis lasted only a short while. Life just goes on for a common man, till death comes knocking at his door. It is a privileged few who fight for causes higher than themselves. I believed that I was one such person. So I sharpened my awareness of what was going on around me. I was still a student of Electronic Engineering.

I received a message, if I would like to cooperate with the CIA as an agent. I took time and then agreed. I had to leave my home without informing my parents or my brothers. It was a secret assignment. I went to Mumbai and kept track of the movement of Taxi’s in Mumbai Central station. I learnt to communicate in a specific code. I dropped the messages in the waste paper bin near the railway reservation counter. Other agents would pick them up from there. I did my job well. They could verify the information that I was sending was true. However they can never know what is in my heart. I was serving my own national interest.

I never got paid for my services from the CIA. Occasionally they sent agents to give me messages through food packet covers. They would give me these as leftover food. The food was a bonus in those cases. I was pretty busy with my tasks at hand. I sometimes didn’t shave for weeks and understandably many mistook me for a beggar. The cops never asked me for a platform ticket. They probably knew I was a double agent. They just let me do my job. I occasionally napped in the platform itself.

Few years into the job, I realized Indian scientists perfected the BINTAAR technology, a wireless technology with which they could read my thoughts. They could know the messages I was sending the other agency. It was then that I started feeding misinformation to my primary recruiters. After all they were not doing the job they were to. There was enough knowledge in open space to know the origin of terror in the region, but they were not acting. I thought it is better to let the company waste resources by chasing some of my misinformation. I had to do this in right mix. Everyone knows that a complete liar is easily found.

I realized that even the Indian intelligence agency was not right in its intent. Some of the agents who were supposed to pass me cigarette butts would grimace looking at me. I noticed them chat about me and even make fun of me. There wasn’t a need for that. I was doing field work and was not under cover like them. They ought to have treated me with respect. I know I should not personalize issues and jeopardize national interest. I informed my handlers through BINTAAR that I was not interested in Mumbai anymore and would rather work somewhere where stress would be lighter. I wanted a break from work. I was working 24 x 7 x 12 for 10 long years. I did not want to be disturbed by any agents.

I took a train to southern part of India. I just hopped and changed trains so as to not leave a track. I posed as a beggar in town in Tamil Nadu. I lived on a street and people helped me with food. I was at times irritated with few agents moving around. I sometimes lost my cool and shouted at them. I was once approached by a nice looking guy. He offered me food. He called me to his office which he said was nearby. He walked with me at my pace. He had a genuine smile. I wondered if Intelligence agencies were recruiting psychology majors for their debriefing work. If they were doing so, it was a good thing. I was quite stressed. He made a ‘free chart’ and offered me to stay in a home in a nearby town. I agreed. Few men came in an hour’s time and took me to a home for homeless people. I qualified for it as I did not have a proper home. In a larger sense India is my home and I was free to be anywhere. They gave me medicines to help me. They also did some blood tests and found them to be normal. The detailed procedures they went through, I thought they were trying to size up a double agent. You could never trust a betrayer, no matter if he has betrayed others for you. I was in no mood to protest or even think deeply for my conscience was clear.

In a couple of days the guy who saw me came along with his seniors to our home. They were all very excited to see me. It was after a long time that I saw someone happy seeing me. They asked me about a variety of things and then finally asked me about if I had a family. I always knew about my family but it was sort of in the background. This break from work, living with a community of homeless people reminded me of the joy of family. There is nothing like the own family.

I had made our telephone number into a musical mnemonic. I rattled the number out. They made a phone call. Apparently my family left the village, but had given their new contact details. In couple of phone calls my family was traced. They came in a week’s time to the homeless home. My mother was bent with age but she mustered enough energy to come all the way. I was surprised to see how much my brothers had grown up. They told me that my father had died two years ago. It was his last wish that my brothers never give up looking for me. I bid good bye to my new friends. Before we left for our home, I visited the office of guy who debriefed me. He was in fact a psychiatrist. He wrote a letter to a local psychiatrist to follow up my care.

I have been following up locally in my town for five years now. I take an injection once in two weeks and a couple of pills. I have no interference from any intelligence agents these days. They have disconnected me from BINTAAR. I live with my brothers. I help my eldest brother in his mobile shop. I have done a course to deal with mobile repairs. I am now in mid thirties. My family wants me to get married. I feel shy but I too long to have a family of my own. I would reveal the fact that I need to take these medications for a long time before I marry anyone. One who would accept me as I am, deserves my love and commitment for life. Now I too live the life of a common man, enjoying life till death comes knocking at the door.

———————————————————————————————————————————

This is a fictitious story of a homeless mentally ill person. References to people and agencies were coincidental.However the story is inspired by the work of CMC Vellore’s Department of Psychiatry Unit III ‘s work along with an NGO Uthavum Ullangal in caring for the homeless mentally ill.

This patient is a case of Paranoid Schizophrenia. He was a homeless mentally ill person living around the Mumbai Central Railway station. He had no links with any spy agency. It was a grandiose belief that he held. He later developed persecutory and referential delusions. He had ‘thought broadcasting’ phenomena. He also used neologism called BINTAAR meaning ‘without wire’ to explain his experience. He developed partial insight especially regarding the need for treatment. He recovered well with medical management and family support.

Mental illness is treatable. Homeless people can be reunited with their families with some effort.

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