An artist’s love letter to India through a virtual painting

Virtual Reality is the future — a resounding prediction that springs up in every discussion about the evolution of technology across the AVGC community with its growing application in visual effects. When Jon Favreau’s live-action retelling of Lion King got nominated in the Oscars’ best VFX category, the world learnt about the wonders of virtual production technology — and the way it allowed the filmmaker to ‘watch his movie before even making it’ Its notable how this technology continues to open newer frontiers of creativity in other sectors too.
 “I remember you, India, the festivity of colors, characters, smiles, beauty and craziness. Your endless mysteries, variety and fascinating minds. Who once touched you, will never forget.” 
Donning her headset while gracefully grooving to a typical Indian song, french virtual reality artist Anna Zhilyaeva recently poured the pleasant memories of her stay in India right into her painting — what stood out was that — those brushstrokes were on a virtual canvas. With traditional dance moves, her hands glide and splash across seemingly-cryptic patterns with a dash of layers and colours. It eludes you until she progressively pieces it all together. Wisps of smoke, elephants, ships and the architecture — all come together, casting a love spell on you — Colour Souvenirs is what she calls it.
The three-dimensional touch to it is nothing short of phenomenal and you are left wondering if only Vincent Van Gogh had used this technology to make his starry night more immersive. While her previous painting titled Feline Empire celebrated her love of cats with towering images of the whiskered pets, the most recent one titled Colorful souvenirs featured her observations in India. She shared: “The people I met one day; you are with me when I’m alone. You are my past, present and future: unbelievable, kind, lovely and brutal. You all teach me, sculpt my personality, make me wonder and feel alive. Your reactions, your behavior and your ideas. You are all unique, fascinating and different. I brought you back in my home, in my heart. Any time, good and bad, you give some energy, some ideas. From these moments, we create our life. The thousand sketches I made using different techniques, in different countries, bring back colors, details and smells. They recount the stories; touch my soul. I remember you, India, the festivity of colors, characters, smiles, beauty and craziness. Your endless mysteries, variety and fascinating minds. Who once touched you, will never forget.” Applying her background in traditional art to create 3D works, Zhilyaeva uses Tilt Brush to bring her imagination alive. With the aid of green screen capture to generate a composite, mixed-reality image, the artist seems to be replicating brush strokes directly onto the virtual canvas. The output gives a sense of a ‘live’ painting in augmented reality, allowing the artist to view a virtual version of her real acrylic painting inside the VR environment with adjustable scale, calibrated area and precise positions. We hope to introduce you to more applications of this technology which continues to notch up the creativity of artists around the world.