Tulip, acrylic painting in progress by Manab Kundu.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
In the time we are dashing about trying to stock up on our groceries, take care of our health and that of our loved ones, count our blessings and finances and finally, quarantine ourselves, art teachers are also trying to figure out how to switch from hands-on teaching to virtual classes. Enter Internet art classes (or Net art classes), which has circumvented the traditional dominance of one-on-one art classes, delivering aesthetic experiences and training, via the Internet. Dubai-based Palette Art Training and Consultancy, a KHDA licensed art school which began operating in 2016, according to its Founder Director Ritwika Chaudhuri, was also one of the proponents of the traditional practice of teaching art face to face in studios. “However”, she says, “as time and situation dictated, experimenting with online classes started from late March with the coinage of the new word called ‘social distancing’.
“We started providing online classes on a regular basis for all age groups in the areas of drawing and painting, teaching both regular and advance photography, jewellery design and a very exciting course of portfolio building for college admissions”. Palette was one of the early adopters to begin full scale online teaching, once it realised that the scope and reach of this mode of teaching was enormous. “It is almost like taking your teaching to the doorsteps of students, with the added convenience of sitting in the comfort of one’s home and maintaining social distancing and ensuring one’s safety”, Chaudhuri says.
She adds: “We started first with our regular students, whom we encouraged to try the online version in drawing and painting, and then gradually broadened the scope with other offerings like photography, jewellery designing and portfolio making. Soon, fresh students started pouring in as the experience was satisfying as well as rewarding”.
The online drawing and painting classes are taken by Saira Riaz, an award- winning artist specialising in charcoal, oil and acrylic painting, with equal expertise in Arabic Calligraphy. Recalls Riaz: “I am an art instructor in Palette Art Gallery since 2017, as all the classes were conducted physically before.
“Suddenly, we faced this era of isolation because of Covid-19. In this period of stress, isolation and difficulties, it is our passion that helps maintain our sanity — it is also the best time to be creative. So, Team Palette discussed the issue and came up with the idea of online classes. “The results are overwhelming and have crossed our expectations. Students have taken on more responsibility and are giving their best and I would like to give all the credit to Palette owner Ritwika, who encouraged me in this great idea. I also appreciate my students who have been extremely cooperative and dedicated”.
Rachida Nasser, who started as a regular student, has described her journey the following way. “I started my courses on sketching and painting not a long time ago at Palette. I really enjoyed my courses! “Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the centre closed its doors temporarily, and we were requested to continue online. To be honest, I was not excited, since I couldn’t imagine taking art lessons via Zoom! “But I said to myself: ‘Give it a try’. I am now really enjoying the online courses with Ms Saira and I have decided to continue lessons online”.
Manab Kundu shares his experience as a first-time learner who loved painting but did not know how to paint. “Beginning of March ‘20, I joined The Palette Art School at Al Barsha, which provides support to the beginners like me. Soon after, the Covid-19 lockdown forced the closure of live classes. But it has opened doors for online classes, which is a blessing in disguise!” he says. For Sachin Jain, a jeweller and design instructor, online jewellery design class is “a new experience, since I used to teach face to face. In jewellery design, there are a few technicalities involved, which are easier to teach physically.
“However, the online option opens new opportunities for students to learn from the comfort of their homes as well as choosing a time when they are at ease, not only in the same country, but also across the globe. So, the potential and reach are tremendous and not limited by location.” His student Hiba Chaouia from Algeria, who was the first to take the jewellery design class online, endorses his views.
Logeswari KM, a Dubai-based professional photographer and teacher, began with Palette as a photography instructor through live classes, and has completed the advanced photography course online. For her, “it was exciting and at the same time a different kind of experience to share the knowledge and train the students using the Internet, which is usually considered a distraction for the student. But I am now looking forward to train more aspiring young talents through the new mode of education”.
Chaudhuri began sketching, drawing and painting at the age of five, on floors and walls, as happens with so many children. But she did not have the opportunity of being exposed to the world of Art, since she grew up in a small town in eastern India. However, she dreamed of becoming an artist someday…
Her childhood hobby and determination became a reality with Palette — with a slight twist, however, since she is now not a full-time artist herself, but has built an institute to foster arts and design, helping groom others become artists.
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