Colouring childhood

easely achieved

Battling the Bangalore traffic right after hosting a workshop for the winners of a Disney-sponsored competition, Gaurav Juyal, host of Disney Channel’s Art Attack, showed no visible signs of exhaustion as he sank into a rickety chair next to mine

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Artist : Gaurav Juyal, in Disney’s ‘Art Attack’.Enthusiastically, he recapped his day’s main event — a workshop where kids could openly exercise their artistic skills without the looming fear of judgment and pick up a few tools and techniques along the way.

Every child was free to experiment with their art, for art, after all, is taking the very real things we see around us, and lending them an almost unrealistic touch.

Which is why it wouldn’t matter if your leaves were purple, and your dog, blue, as long as you’ve had some fun by letting your wild imagination run.

Encouraging this ‘free’ art philosophy is Art Attack, a show now in its second season, that teaches children between ages five and 15 (and the occasional adult) an innovative way in which to pursue their artistic passion. Interesting materials come into play, mostly stuff that you would find lying around at home.

Grab hold of your basic stationery like a pencil, ruler and an eraser. Add a little glue and some inexpensive colours to your collection. Rummage around the kitchen drawers for a few abandoned bottle caps. Get hold of some old newspapers or cardboard and voila — you have yourself a game of tic-tac-toe!

Art Attack works on the principle that recyclable materials found at home can be used to create objects of both artistic and/or practical value. So, it’s not just bottles and bottle caps that come into use, needle-point threads, rag cloths, empty cardboard boxes, old newspapers, bubble wrap — just about anything really — also find interesting applications.
Kids can be a difficult audience to work with, what with their high energy levels, rapid thought processes and sometimes, impossibly short attention spans.

Gaurav, it would seem, has his work cut out for him. But with a strong art background, sound knowledge on how to work with different media and an animator’s eye for detail, he always manages to stay one step ahead. It’s not easy, he says. There is the constant requirement to innovate, and yet simplify.

To challenge oneself and ideate. And that, he says, can only be achieved by attempting the difficult, nay, the uncomfortable. For instance, while Gaurav’s strength might lie in his drawing, he feels that he is yet to capture the true essence of watercolours. The challenge he presents himself with is one where he doesn’t shy away from the paint box, but takes it up one way or the other, episode after episode.

Sophisticated simplicity
Excitedly, Gaurav fishes out his phone from his pocket to show me a picture that an avid watcher had sent him of a sumo wrestler-shaped book ender, based on one that Gaurav had made in an earlier Art Attack episode. Press him a little further on the relationship he shares with his audience and he reveals that he tries, as much as possible, to answer their queries or doubts through Facebook and other such platforms, and to share in the little joys of accomplishment.

The show’s simple approach and interesting format is possibly what keeps the kids keen on this weekly morning show. In the making of different objects,
Gaurav’s primary audience is introduced to some seemingly basic skills like painting and sticking things together to something a bit more intermediate like paper-mache. There are other tips one can pick up — some that caught even me by surprise — like running a wet brush over a piece of sketch-penned artwork to give it a watercolour effect.

Wondering what else might be on offer, I, all of 24, tuned in to one of Art Attack’s latest episodes, only to find Gaurav twisting and curling various bits of coloured tape to decorate an outline of a clown etched out on a piece of black cardboard; a welcome sign for a child’s birthday party. Suddenly, my everyday roll of tape had an all-new purpose.

Now, I don’t know if you know, but Neil Buchanan originally presented this show as a part of a British children’s television series. Following in his footsteps are hosts like Gaurav Juyal. The show, in more or less the same structure and format, is also aired in other parts of the world, albeit with their own hosts and, in some cases, in the language of the home country. The
Indian version is presented in Hindi, and there is a promise that dubbed versions (in southern languages) of the show will soon hit our television screens.

Just as in Buchanan’s Art Attack, the show includes a fascinating feature on ‘Big Art’; art done on a huge scale with the help of various items and mostly assembled on a large expansive area. There is a certain sense of excited anxiousness as you watch the artist, at eye level, put together many objects, and wonder what it would eventually turn out to be. And as the drum roll on the screen and in your heart escalates, the camera zooms out for an aerial shot, leaving you in a state of awe as you take in the final ensemble.

And so, Disney does it again. Every Sunday morning at 9.30 am, it sprinkles the magic dust that takes you back to your crafty childhood.

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