#5 Art1st at Compound 13 Lab, Dharavi: Shades


Step step clap, knee knee clap clap, chest step clap, knee knee clap.

Were the Dharavi Rock trainees practising a new choreography? No no- this was their basic drumming practice of various rhythms.

We handed out cartridge sheets, ‘Vertically fold the paper in two halves…’
This started a discussion on lines. What is a vertical line?
We asked them to close their eyes and began to imagine different kinds of lines. Using their hands they demonstrated vertical, horizontal and diagonal and zig – zag. Of course, there was a lot of peeking and checking to see if they had the right answer. Eventually, we returned to folding our A5 sheet so that we had 16 rectangles in total.

Everyone had a brush, a bowl and the three colors: Vermillion Red, Lemon Yellow and Cobalt Blue in their palette. This was a common starting point from which each had a unique experimentation. They started mixing to create new shades which they filled into the blocks. Some chose solid shades while others played with opacity. Others were patient and precise in their mixing while others kept adjusting the colours.


The children remembered previous lessons about mixing primary colours. They were already developing their own styles. Divakar began marking single dots at the back of the sheet to test the colours before paintings. Shahabuddin, enamoured by cobalt blue, wrestled with dark shades until he discovered the magical brightness of yellow.


Finally, we laid everyone’s shade cards on the floor, ‘Can you put them in order from light to dark? It was fun to see how when one person would come and place a sheet in the row with darker shades, another would put it back in the brighter section. There was a constant to and fro in the process. To make it more clear, we asked them to make a third row on sheets which they thought was a combination of darker and brighter shades.

Rather than memorise the colours, we drew attention to how one can look at the colour and figure out what colours might have been combined to make it and in what percentage.


Notes from Compound 13 Lab
By the Art1st Team
Priyam Mehta, Artist Mentor and Nisha Vaghani, Intern at Art1st






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