Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Memoirs of Tanjore Painting Workshop

Today, while I was browsing randomly, came across a very creative video on Tanjore Painting:
And, I was reminded of my own version of it! Yes, it was at Saarang. True to its name - the event meant to add colors to life - and colors to my strokes. This time it was a two-day Tanjore painting workshop, to learn the native art-form from the ancient city of Thanjavur. It began with a usual lecture, "Tanjore paintings are known for their richness and compact composition. Typically based on Puranic themes depicting Hindu deities....". So it was time to choose one, and the first name that came to my mind was the Goddess of Knowledge, Music and Arts - Saraswati.

What followed is a meticulous art-work - making a preliminary sketch on a cloth pasted over plywood, applying chalk powder to make the embossed parts, decorating the jewelery and apparels with Jaipur stones. And for the beginners, ready-made boards are available to save all this trouble.
We spent the rest of the day pasting gold foil using Arabic gum. With only two small gold-leaves provided to complete all the embellishments, we had to take extra caution not to waste a micron of the 22 carat gold! No doubt, these paintings appreciate in value over time and the glean of the gold lasts generations.
The canvas was now ready for painting, and dyes were used to add the finishing touch.

The way a couple of portraits came out of the workshop, didn't look like those were done for the first time by amateur artists! What was common among all of those was: figures centered inside beautifully decorated arches; round bodies and almond shaped eyes; conventional colors - white, light blue for Gods, light yellow / pink for Goddesses; and ornate dresses. 

What made the workshop more entertaining was the terrific company of my friends. After spending the previous night hooting at the pro-show, my throat wanted some rest. Seeing me in complete silence, unable to utter a word, gave my gang a wonderful chance to gossip! Nevertheless, credit is due to my working partner for all the help.

So that was my modest attempt to learn this rich heritage and here's how it came out of the shop!