Saturday, May 22, 2010


Traditional painting in a country as diverse as India can be Madhubani or Worli on the one extreme and Tanjore and Mysore Schools of Paintings on the other. These are not the typical Raja Ravi Verma type of calendar art of gods and goddesses but a stylised form of using certain elements.

Chandrika, daughter of renowned Palace artist Ramanarasaiah, who resides in Kuvempunagar, is a proponent of Mysore Traditional painting.

Chandrika is not only specialised in Mysore Traditional paintings but is equally good in Tanjore paintings and also an expert in micro-miniature Mysore paintings. This facile artist who has done her BA in fine arts learnt the basic strokes from her father Ramanarasaiah who was an artist in Mysore Palace for more than 50 years.

Understanding the traditional values and improvising its ancient techniques, modes of drawing and propagating its form, Chandrika has participated in about 60 workshops and training programmes all over India and has trained people to paint my-thological and historical figures. She has been working with this style for the past 15 years through teaching and exhibiting her works.

Chandrika is a recipient of many prestigious awards including State Award and Mysore Dasara award as well as a certificate from the Government of Karnataka.

"Mysore traditional paintings are created according to a set pattern of rules that have been followed for decades. The Mysore style Painting is derived from the Vijayanagar style. In 16th century the boards were prepared using the artist papers and a white sheet on which to sketch was created and later it was painted. Natural dyes like oxides were used as paint after mixing with Arabic Gum. This ensured longevity of the colours. Pure gold leaf was used to enhance the richness of the painting."

"A sketch is made on the paper with a pencil. Earlier, the sketch was made with charcoal prepared by burning tamarind twigs in an iron tube. Colours were made from the minerals by grinding the minerals in a stone mortar and then putting them in water to make a paste. Brushes were made of different material including squirrel, camel and goat hair. Sometimes, grass blades were also used to make sharp lines. Now, brushes available in the market are used for painting," says Chandrika.

"Once the sketch is made, Gesso work is taken up on the area earmarked. Gesso work is normally done where there is a need for embellishments. Design work is carried out on jewellery, attire, etc., with a specially prepared compound and a brush. On completion of the work, after the compound dries, gold foil is placed over it and stuck firmly. The painting is done subsequently. After the painting is completed and is dry, a thin paper is placed on top of it and rubbed with a smooth stone to bring out the richness in the relief work done with gold foil."

"The themes of these paintings are largely religious and are taken from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The most popular themes of this painting are traditional deities of the Hindu pantheon, including the famous Goddess of Mysore Chamundeswari. Stories from the epics of Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata Purana and Jain epics are also depicted in traditional Mysore paintings."

"A typical Mysore Painting today is usually sized between 11"x12" and a maximum of 30"x40". The pricing depends not only on size but also the intricacy involved in the subject," adds Chandrika.

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