WiP_Indian Army Competition...50 years of 1971 war

edited July 30 in Post Your Paintings
I'm trying to paint this competition painting to remembrance of 50 years of the 1971 Indo-Pak war and birth of Bangladesh. Problem that I'm facing is lack of Indian Army photos probably due to secrecy of the operations. I have to rely on this Getty image below which is the most exemplary and there aren't many sources like this. Most of the times it is about Indian Army arriving at Bangladesh but not going to Bangladesh.

I have changed considerably but the overall structure still is indicative of the Getty image. Any suggestions are welcome to move it away from the Getty image.

Changes that I made:
  1. changes to the landscape, but need to change the fundamental structure. Will look for more photos.
  2. Land's surface
  3. Personnel's posture (sketches below)
  4. Changed tire tracks into heavy caterpillar tracks of the tanks
  5. added mass exodus of people
  6. Added tanks as vehicles
This is a Adobe app sketch based on my observations. But any suggestions regarding this are welcome esp. about changing the overall composition.



  • Would some of the civilians had animals with them? Donkeys. dogs....?  Hand carts?
  • edited July 30
    toujours said:
    Would some of the civilians had animals with them? Donkeys. dogs....?  Hand carts?
    @toujours no because genocide was going on there and life and small belongings were the only things to take to move fast. There are a few photos with cattle but here my focus is to change the landscape or the structure a little.
  • I have been flipping some of the historic pictures I have been using as reference material lately as well as changing the background and adding foreground and figures.
  • @kaustavM

    IMHO rather than thinking of this as changing "the image", I think you should think of the Getty image as historical reference only.  Which seems to be how you are actually approaching it anyway.

    The Getty image is a collection of random individual soldiers, on a random road, in a random countryside, of a particular War, there is little to no reason for you to copy it or think anything you are producing is anything like a copy. What you've done is not a copy (except perhaps the road).

    As for suggestions, I think you can come up with your own road and countryside composition which is as effective or more effective than the historical shot.  Rely on your own excellent compositional skills (we've all seen them).  As long as the scenery is historically plausible.  Take your queues from the photo for such things as the kind of gear the soldiers have and how they hold, wear, and carry it, and generally how soldiers walk in formation.

    There are many possibilities for a road receding to your distant battle.  Currently the road looks a bit too much like the one in the photo.  All you need is to make that road your own, and I think you are already there.

    This will be your image regardless of the fact that you referred to this Getty image as historical reference.

    Make that road yours, and don't let anyone intimidate you into thinking you took anything Copyrightable or even remotely artistic, from the image.  No attribution required for work which is solely yours.
  • What you've done so far in the way of sketches is great, Kaustav. You're approaching it very professionally. I look forward to seeing what you do with it.  :)
  • Thanks @toujours There are some other photos about this. I'll consider adding a few if possible at a later stage. 
  • edited July 31
    @CBG Thanks very much. Without that road there's no connection. I'm now going with whatever I have gathered. I'll try my best to make a good picture of this thing.
  • @tassieguy Thank you. It's now time to execute fast.
  • Moved a little further today.

  • Umm, what direction is the tank going?   Presumably away from the direction the soldiers are going, but there is only one track mark it could have made?  Perhaps I am reading it incorrectly?
  • edited August 1
    @toujours don't worry...everything will be clear when it takes shape. I found the structure yesterday. So, it will take some time to look clearer.
  • kaustavM said:
    @toujours don't worry...everything will be clear when it takes shape. I found the structure yesterday. So, it will take some time to look clearer.
    Phew!  Looking forward to seeing it....
  • edited August 11
    This is the update. Couldn't work on it for the last few days as life happened in between. I thought of even quitting art's business. Lost purpose really...but gathered some strength and continuing. :+1:

    I think it looks amateurish and cartoonish. I will focus on making things more realistic and correct the errors till 20-25 August. After that I wish to submit this.
    Please let me know if you see anything wrong with the structure. I need to refine the figures from today.

  • edited August 11
    I don't see anything much wrong with the structure, @KaustavM. It looks good as a composition. The figures are taking shape nicely.  And it looks far from amateurish.  The horizon, sky and smoke are great. Keep going.  
  • I am trying to decide if the second soldier from the bottom looks like he could fall over.  I think it’s because of the position of his left leg.   But I am not sure that I would change that because it could make the painting too stiff an static.  
    Everything else about it looks great, 
  • hey kaustav.  I like your work and am inspired by your dedication and craft.  I like how you’ve painted the figures and landscape, they each seem to be done by two different painters.  The tank is awkward and to me seems on a different perspective plane than the people.  Perhaps remove it and place another figure in the open field on the right?   I don’t know, just my thoughts, but it’s a good piece and you make very good art
  • @Kaustav I agree with @Alan_Cangemi about the tank, for me it looks a little awkward and its size in relation to the people near it looks off, making me wonder if it is a very small tank.

    Would the tank work if it was in the middle distance on the side the soldiers are on, I wonder.

    Keep going @kaustav, it sounds like you are maybe hitting a bit of the dreaded artist curse we all do from time to time, it will pass.

    One of your most recent works the 2 trees with the shepherd and animals was, I think, my favourite of yours that I have seen.
  • edited August 11
    On looking at it again, Kaustav, I think that @Alan_Cangemi and @MichaelD may be right about the tank. Or at least the gun on it.  I might get rid of or reduce the gun on the tank as it seems to hem the people in a bit and cuts the left corner off the landscape. Or you could move the tank elsewhere. There's room on the right side of the track for it. As it is it has an uncomfortable feel to it. Of course wars are uncomfortable so maybe that is your intention. If you decide to move it you could keep the tank tracks. No doubt there was more than one tank and the people would obviously be following one that has passed out of view. Everything else looks good to me. 

    Don't let the artists' curse get you down. Your work is fabulous. :)
  • I like the column of refugees.   
    Second soldier from the front (bottom) looks like his legs have turned to jelly a bit (understandable given the circumstances!).
    I still have difficulty with the tank.    It is leaving 2 tracks, so is it travelling in the same direction as the refugees?  That is the opposite direction to the soldiers.   Why is the tank going the opposite way, I wonder, as I read the story unfolding in front of me?  The 2 tracks do not seem to line up with the tank?  I am not familiar with tanks.    I thought the gun was on top, but perhaps there is one each side on top of the tracks? 
      Perhaps the tank is going the direction of the soldiers, in which case, why have the refugees walked directly up to it?   That seems unlikely to me?   If I were at the head of a column of refugees, scared and exhausted, I would wander past a tank coming towards me,   Not directly at it.   
    No, I don't feel comfortable with the tank where it is.   I think it would look excellent in the lower middle distance on the right.

    I have spent the last 2 weeks struggling with 3 paintings and the composition of them as well as the execution.    I am finding it worse because what I am painting, does not quite match what I have in my mind and there is a time frame.

    I hope you are able to resolve any bits you are not fully comfortable with before you have to enter it in the competition.    I do like the way you have done the people and do not think them cartoonish.
  • Hi guys. Thanks for the suggestions @tassieguy @GTO @Alan_Cangemi @MichaelD @toujours
    Couldn't reply yesterday due to lack of time. Tank bit is a big problem area. But it's too late and difficult to remove anything completely. I need to submit the photo by 27-28 August. I scraped that part yesterday and will work in sometime to correct the size and perspective. Looks comical! 

    I want to keep the people in front of the tank so that it becomes clear that their lives and honor are hanging in the balance. A sense of risk and discomfort must always be there considering the genocidal history. Working now on the people. After that I'll start modelling the Indian army. Will do the minor error corrections when 90% is done. 
  • This is like a rough photo before some minor error corrections. I will do those and send the final image when it is ready to be photographed. I'm aware that this might not be a satisfactory painting as this is literally my first 'history painting'. So, there's always a room for error. Also, lack of relevant sources and worries about plagiarism accusations etc. got onto my nerves. This is the best that I can do in a month with the present level of skill-set. 

  • @kaustavM
    Though I like the illustrative nature of this there are a few composition issues I see. The tank entering from the corner is a spoiler.
    I loved your sketches. War and armies are about solders and the hardship they endure. As the citizens flee the soldier slogs into the fight. They do so a an act of duty. Your studies are expressive of individual soldier.
    I don't see much heroic in war. But in the individuals that who do the heavy lifting.
  • I still feel the same about the tank as I mentioned above, the queue of people look well done as do the soldiers.

    Why not leave the front of the queue as is, remove the tank, paint in the bottom part of the 2 people at the front, as well as the rest of the tracks.

    I think the tank would go well in the distance in the space above the clump of shrubs (just above and right of the 2 foreground soldiers)  and slightly to the right.

    Or just totally remove the tank.

  • This is an impressive painting. I personally find that trying to paint above my abilities improves my skill level, even though it produces some failed paintings. Also, your skill set is FAR above mine! I hope you continue painting and developing as an artist. Persevere! 
  • I appreciate your struggles with this picture and your technique has improved the tank and figures since last time.   However, I have to agree with the above comments and stick with what I originally mentioned about the composition.
    I do understand your vision to a degree, and how you want the work to emphasise the juxtaposition of civilians and soldiers in a war zone.  I just don't think this particular composition is getting your message across as well as another composition may have done.
    I will be keen to hear how the judges view it as I am sure it will have an appeal to some people, perhaps in a more illustrative sense,
    Best of luck.
  • @KaustavM, I think the figures and the landscape are wonderful and a good example of your style and technique. The tank could have been moved but I understand that you have time constraints with this one. Still, by any measure it's a fine painting.  :)
  • edited August 22
    Thanks very much for the comments @KingstonFineArt @MichaelD @Desertsky @toujours @tassieguy I tried to put as much information as possible in this. I hope that Army office will recognize those. I won't make any bigger changes at this now. Either they'll accept or reject. Whatever I could do with this is done.
  • I think you’ve done a great job on this.  The tank does not bother me at all.  I think it adds IMO to it.  And I like the smoke from its cannon.  You’ve got the soldier stance looking excellent now.  Well done!  Best of luck with the competition.
  • edited August 23
    @KingstonFineArt Thanks for understanding the illustrative nature of the work. This certainly has some elements of schoolbook illustration.
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