By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/19/2018 9:08:22 AM IST

 A genius nurturing future champions 

Art was never Sentiyanger Longkumer’s cup of tea as a student.  Till class 10, he made his friends do all his home assignments or projects that required any drawing. He vaguely remembers taking part in 2 to 3 drawing competitions where he did not win any prize.  As a student, being an artist was the last thing on his mind as he simply detested the idea of drawing or sketching.  He said, in case he had any drawing to do, he would use kerosene to copy a picture onto his book. 
And much like his aversion for arts, handwriting was another area he struggled with as a student. He in fact recounted how his teachers would give him minus marks for his handwriting which was barely legible. 
Today, all of that is a thing of the past.  He is at par with the best in the business and his works have received rave reviews. As fate would have it, from being a student who made his classmates do his home work, he now teaches  Arts at Livingstone Foundation Higher Secondary School. He also runs the Wandering Minds Institute of Fine Art and Calligraphy at Army Supply Road in Sematila and those under his tutelage are now teaching Arts subjects in different schools in Dimapur and have also made a name for themselves. 
Born and raised in Dimapur, 32-year-old Sentiyanger specializes in a form of art that requires reproducing a portrait in shades of black and silver which is as sharp as the original with the same finesse using just the bare minimum; special pencils ordered from outside Nagaland and charcoal. The form of art is called realistic or hyper realistic art. It is a highly specialized skill in which it takes 15 days to a month to sketch a picture. It is an arduous skill that requires an endless reservoir of patience and close attention to every minute detail.  In other words, it is like making a printed photograph using just pencils and charcoal.
How it all changed
Arts caught his imagination after watching animations on television and wanting to reproduce those characters on paper. This was when he was a class XI student of Greenwood Higher Secondary School in full Nagarjan.  Very soon, his fascination turned into a hobby, and as the years rolled by, he perfected his skills.  He then pursued a diploma in Fine Arts and now specializes in hyper realism (photo realistic) painting and calligraphy.
His favourite realistic art
A picture of an old Naga man is what he considers his masterpiece. He had put in 6 hours for 27 days to complete this masterpiece.  Like other realistic art that look like a black and white photo, Sentiyanger sketched this picture using just special sketch pencils and charcoal. 
A new type of notebook to improve handwriting
Talking about handwriting, he said, about 80 to 85 percent students have bad handwriting and he discovered the root cause for bad handwriting which was a flawed method of teaching/learning handwriting.  He revealed that students are directly pushed from four-line to two-line notebooks and this has resulted in bad handwriting. 
According to Sentiyanger, four-line copies, popularly known as handwriting books are good during the initial stages (Grade 2 and below), since at this point, a child is still in the process of developing his/her motor skills to handle complex tasks like writing. The large spaces in four line copies are good for this stage, but as the child matures, four line copies become obsolete, as by this stage a child aims at speed and precision in writing. The large spaces now becomes only a hindrance as it slows them down and the long strokes creates imbalance and distorts the angles- a key factor in the art of writing.
By the time a child is promoted to a higher class, these four lines copies shifts to just being a minor subject, viz. Handwriting; while for the rest eight or so subject two line copies are implemented. Thus, expecting a child to improve his/her handwriting with just one or two classes in a week in four line copies, while major part of his writing is spend on two line copies is completely impractical.  
To overcome this challenge, Sentiyanger came up with a special three-line handwriting book which has proven to be very effective and will soon be used in some schools in Dimapur. He has also approached schools in Dimapur and they have given him the responsibility of helping students from lower classes to improve their handwriting.   
Sentiyanger’s methods are tried and tested which can be proven from the fact that his student from Holy Cross, Krishna Kant won an international award for good handwriting. 
‘I don’t seek awards and I know very little’
Speaking to Nagaland Post at his institute, he said he does not hanker after awards but the growth and successes of his students are his awards.  Sentiyanger has been training students ranging right from school students to even those pursuing their post graduation for the last 9 years.  He was however finally able to open an institute of his own, Wandering Minds at Army Supply Road only recently in April this year. 
What makes Sentiyanger even more interesting is his approach towards his trade.  Just a look at some of his sketches is enough to get you spellbound but he never considers himself an expert. In fact, he goes on to say, “The more I teach, I realize I know very little about art. When I study the work of other artists, I realize that there is so much more to learn and that I know very little.”
 ‘I learn a lot from my students’
Sentiyanger’s approach towards student-teacher relationship is a very refreshing one.  He believes the process of teaching is not a one-way traffic where the teacher only imparts knowledge and skills and the students merely assimilates what is taught to them.  He also knows the strengths of all his students and is unfazed by their drawbacks. 
One student in particular who has mightily impressed him is Aryan Thapa who started off by drawing apples and in a month’s time graduated to realistic art. Another student who has impressed him with both her skill and perseverance is Mansi Karwa from Delhi Public school who has taken two-long months to work on a realistic art of an old Naga man.  He also highly praised another student; Hinoka Awomi, who he says, has a great understanding of different textures of pastels.  
The walls of the classroom where he trains his students also have the sketches of his students and not his. Some of the sketches made by his students in recent times, Moa and Asung are proudly put up on display. 
Sentiyanger also stressed on applying a very scientific method in training aspiring artists. He emphasized on the need for understanding student psychology to help them hone their skills and overcome their weaknesses.  He says that art is not just sketching but there is colouring and painting which are also useful skills. 
Upon completion of the course at Wandering Minds Institute of Fine Art and Calligraphy, students are provided certificates from the Tripura Arts Society registered under the Tripura Government and recognized by Institute of Mass Communication Film and Television Studies, Kolkata and Academy of Arts Universe, affiliated to Kalyana University, West Bengal. 
Competition and Professional level
Sentiyanger says there are two levels when it comes to arts; the competition level and the professional level. In the completion level, an artist is expected to complete a picture in a timeframe of 2 hours, whereas in the professional level, it sometime takes a month to complete a sketch. The 3D effect and the realism or hyper realism aspect comes into play in the professional level. 
Attracting aspiring artists from beyond Nagaland 
Sentiyanger’s skills have also attracted the attention of aspiring artists and art aficionados beyond Nagaland.  There are people flocking to learn from him from as far as Guwahati, New Delhi and Rajasthan. You never know where your inspiration can come from. In Sentiyanger’s case, it was watching animation on television.  His passion for art started as a hobby and he did not stop at it. He made it into a profession.  He has taught us all to know what we are good at and become the best at it. 

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