Monday, May 17, 2010

One Story - 4 story tellers

Actually it was 4 Stories, 16 story tellers in 2 Continents.
Yes you read it right, two continents. It was art (with help of technology of course) that built a colorful bridge across two cultures. 

It was a unique experience facilitated by David Black at the Mystic Art Center, CT. Two Groups of Artist created Tunisian Style collaborative paintings. I initially stopped by to play the role of an observer, but when asked to join, I gladly jumped in with a brush and an open mind to explore, experiment and enjoy! While we painted we had the opportunity to stand back and observe two other groups energetically working on their canvases in Tunis through video conferencing and they could observe us. 

The Tunisian collaborative painting was pioneered by Hechmi Ghachem in the late 1980's. Its a concept with 4 simple rules

  1. One person is given the honor to begin the painting.
  2. Anyone can paint anytime and anyone can erase anyone else's work
  3. Another member settles any disputes concerning the painting.
  4. One member of the group decides when the painting is finished. 

It's best to have at least three artist working on the same canvas.. more is merrier (depending on the size of the canvas). Once begun no additional members can join the group and the group has to work together until its finished. Acrylics becomes the choice of medium because of its quick drying time.

Mr David Black was initiated to this process in one of his trips to Bouabana Art Space in Tunis. He experienced how art bridged all boundaries of culture and language as he and his collaborators worked on a single canvas to narrate one colorful story. He instantly knew that this was something he wanted to share with the world. 

Mr Black asked me how did I feel, my answer was a single word "Liberated". I am used to having total creative control over my paintings, letting go of that control to work within a group was a challenge by itself. Though a little difficult at first I slipped into the role of a collaborator very soon.

In this post are pictures of the canvas that my group worked on in various stages. The one above being the completed image and the picture below is the completed image of the other group.

If you saw one of these paintings hanging in a wall, would you ever guess that multiple artists worked on it simultaneously?

Thats the MIRACLE, the harmony that we had achieved as a group.

What did I learn? I learnt to let go and be open to ideas. To see the big picture and readily accept my role as part of the big picture. And more importantly I learnt to make more daring choices and not be hesitant in erasing something I feel doesn't work.   


  1. What a fun and GREAT learning experience--I love it!!

  2. Wow! It seems like it was a very powerful experience for you. I love the fact that the work transcended personal styles and egos which is something that we steadfastly hold on to as individual artists. Bravo! I am glad that you had fun and I am looking forward to hearing all about it.

  3. Millie, that was a very important part of it all.. learning to let go. Plus now that I have been part of a team to paint a canvas which was 6ftX5ft.. I feel confident of painting a big piece. Something which I was scared to venture into so far.

  4. Joyita,

    It's exciting to reading about your explorations into the soul painting and the Tunisian Art. I love the idea that by working together with a few simple groundrules those painters involved synchronize, and arrive at a sort of visual "voice". Do you think its something you will continue to do?

  5. Definitely Yes Hannah! Mr Black plans to do more of these around and he put me down in his list of participants... looking forward to the next date which will bring more adventure.
    I also did a couple soul paintings after the last post. And it was a whole different experience to do alone. But I wasn't really alone, I had the company of my inner self:)

  6. Joy, you summed up the experience so eloquently! It was a pleasure painting with you.

  7. Thanks Eleanor! It was a pleasure painting with you as well. Looking forward to more of it in future:)

  8. Joyita, It was all said in the above comments. What an experience! It's funny how sometimes things like this happen to be able to let us lose some of the "control" we all have. Great post!

  9. Thanks Dora! I really liked your post on the workshops.

  10. Hi Joyita
    I must admit I feel a bit uneasy as you began to explain and show the work inprogress BUT what an exciting really is a very stimulating idea ;-)

  11. Donna.. it was! you should try it sometime.

  12. Dear Joyita,

    Loved your Blog. Please send me your email address so I can give you the latest news of Tunisian Collaborative Painting.

    David Black


Search This Blog