Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ashtapathy Series 4

Supreedha Pithambhara

Kerala Mural - Poster colors on Tanjore board.

Supreedha Pithambara means  He who, pleased by the devotion of his devotees, bestows upon them the pithambhara. This painting depicts the Kalyana ashtapathy. Radha is united with Krishna and there is happiness all around. This painting is done in Kerala mural style with poster colors on Tanjore Board. Calligraphy reads Supreedha Pithambhara in Malayalam.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ashtapathy Series 3


Akilesha Keshava

Aklesha Keshavan means 'He who protects Brahma and Shiva'. The description portrayed here is taken from the verses

 chandraka chAru mayoora SikhanDaka manDala valayita kESam
prachura purandara dhanu ranuranjita mEdura mudira suvESam

His curly black hair is decorated well with peacock feathers like a black cloud encircled by rainbow ! He eternally dominates my mind !
gOpa kadamba nitambavatee mukha chumbana lambhita lObham
bandhu jeeva madhurAdhara pallava kalita dara smita SObham
See Him dally with young Gopis ! His lips are red like Bandu flowers. How radiating is His smile! He may ignore me but He is my Lord !

vipula pulaka bhuja pallava valayita vallava yuvatee sahasram
kara charaNOrasi maNigaNa bhushaNa kiraNa vibhinnata miSram
  The Gopis were close to His heart. Darkness was dispelled by the light emanating from His ornaments !
jalada paTala chaladindu vinindaka chandana bindu lalATam
peenapayOdhara parisara mardana nirdaya hrudaya kavATam
A sandalwood dot decorates His face which chides the moon among the clouds ! I cant forget Him. He dominates my mind but He still neglects me !
maNimaya makara manOhara kunDala manDita ganDamudAram 
peetavasana manugata muni manuja surAsura vara parivAram
His cheeks shine because of the gem-studded fish shaped lovely ear rings ! Robed in yellow He is adored world wide By Bheeshma, Narada, Prahlada and Indra. He sways my mind !

 viSada kadamba talE miLitam kali kalusha bhayam Samayantam
 mAmapi kimapi taranga dananga druSa manasA ramyantam

He stands under a spacious mango tree, removing the fears arising out of the sins in the kali era. He maddens my mind by His captivating deceitful glances!

Styles of Painting Followed:

Patachitra: This style originated from Orissa. Patta means canvas and chitra refers to drawing/painting.There is a mix of both folk and classical elements in this style. Krishna figure, the tree, cow etc in this painting belong to this style. The blue border on the two sides and the lotus seat are typical patterns in patachitra paintings.

Warli:  Warli is from Maharashtra. It is a tribal art which effectively portrays events using stick figures, lines and dots. It gives the art work a rural charm and is very easy to learn. The red borders in this painting belongs to the warli tradition.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ashtapathy Series - 2


Samodha Damodhara (Blissful Krishna) Poster colors on kansen sheet.

This painting is based on the 3rd Ashtapathy which describes the spring season and Krishna playing with the gopis. The poem chosen for this painting starts with 'Lalitha Lavanga'. The descriptions
are followed from this poem which translates in english thus :

Radha is beautiful and delicate like vasanti flower in Spring season. She was pining in love for her beloved Krishna. 
She was hit by Cupid and was roaming in Brundavana in search of Krishna. Her confidante comforted her with these words.
Oh dear friend Radha, cool breeze of spring season from clove bushes is gently blowing. Cuckoos are cooing sweetly. 
Bowers and cottages are echoing with humming sound of bees.Sri Krishna is strolling and dancing with Gopikas delightfully. 
Come on, let's go there..
Young maids are suffering  because of their intense desire and passion for Krishna.The ambiance is surcharged with fragrance of Vakula flowers and humming bees.
Perfume of musk is pervading around 'Tamala' and 'Kinsuka' trees. Fresh and fragrant flowers are intoxicating. 
Redness of Kinsuka flowers resembles Manmadha's nails which turned red because he pierced the hearts of lovers with his nails.
Fully blossomed 'Kesara' flowers are shining like golden umbrella of Manmadha the king of love. 
Swarm of black bees and bunches of flowers are like quiver and arrows of Manmadha. 
It appeared as though Manmadha was at war with Gopikas in love.
Young women are showing their love for Krishna. White flowers of 'Karuna' tree appear to be laughing at them. 
Sharp blades of 'Ketaka' flowers are like Manmadha's weapons shearing hearts of maids in love.
Fragrance of 'Madhavika', 'Malati and jasmine flowers intoxicates even the minds of hermits. 

Style of painting :  

Miniatures: The style followed in this painting is the miniature style. This developed in the northern India with a lot of mughal and persian influence.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Ashtapathy Series 1

Geeta Govindam by Poet Jayadeva attracted me with its beautiful descriptions. I wanted to attempt compositons based on these poems using various pan Indian art techniques. Here is a list of paintings I have done so far with the related poems from Ashtapathy.

Ashtapathy - Dhyana Shlokam


This painting is based on the Krishna Dhyana Shlokam of Ashtapathy. The calligraphy is from the verse :
Yadhgopi vadhanendhu Mandanam abhooth Kastoorikaa Patrakam 
Yellakshmikucha shaatha kumbhakalashae vyaakocham Indheewaram 
Yennirvaana vidhaana sadhana vidhau siddhanjanam yoginaam 
Tannahaa Shyaamalam aavirasthu hridhaye Krishnaabhidhaanam mahaha.
I chose these verses to start the series as these are the first shlokas coined by Jayadeva.  I also wanted to start my series with a prayer to Lord Krishna, the essence of Geeta Govindam. 

The styles used in this painting :

Gond Art:  Gond art originated in tribal Madhyapradesh. Bright colors, child like drawings and decoration with lines and dots are distinguishing features of this form of painting. The decoration with dots and lines bear striking resemblance to aboriginal art of Australia. The borders in this painting and the tree are created in this style. 

Lepakshi Style: The domes in this painting and the white flower garlands falling from the domes represent this art style. Originally from Andhra, this art form was created to revive Hinduism after a period of Islamic rule in South India. This is the base from which many south Indian art forms such as Mysore paintings and Tanjore paintings evolved.

Phad Painting: This is a folk painting style from Rajasthan. These were done on long scrolls of cloth to act as backdrops for the music and dance performances. The Radha and Krishna figures in this painting are done in this style. The characters in phad paintings always face each other instead of the viewer.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Silapathikaram by Illango Adigalar is a classic epic in Tamil covering the three great south Indian empires of Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas. I picked out a few of my favorite verses  from this epic and tried to compose them into paintings.

This painting is  depiction of the verse 'Vadavaraiyai matthaakki vasukiyai naanaakki'. made famous by M.S. Subbalakshmi who sang this song frequently in her concerts. The song is sung in the epic by a group of girls who dance together for entertaining Kannagi when Kovalan goes to sell the anklet. This narrates the churning of the ocean episode and extols the virtues of Lord Krishna.The painting contains Vasuki, the serpent whose head is held by asuras and the tail by the devas while churning the ocean, the seven dancing girls in Silapathikkaram representing the saptha swaras, the climax in the epic where the two anklets are broken, one scattering pearls and the other rubies.

A link to the song :

  Another part of the same poem

A description of Madhavi

 Preaching of Buddha in Silapathikaram

Saturday, April 2, 2016


'Kalam' refers to pen and 'kari' refers to an artisan. Kalamkari is an art form from Andhra using natural dyes drawn into shapes using a hand made pen called the kalam. The cloth is first processed in milk and nutmeg to absorb colors and after the painting is done using the kalam and various natural dyes, the cloth is boiled in water with added ingredients to bring out the actual colors. The colors, if mixed properly, are bright and beautiful. But the success of the painting depends on the preparation of the dyes. Even a minute fault like dipping the kalam for the red color in the blue dye can spoil the outcome and make the painting dull and lifeless.

My teacher sketching a typical kalamkari design

Kalamkari work after painting with the kalam and before washing for the colors.

Natural dyes on cloth

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Painting on Marble

I never thought marble would be such an excellent surface to paint. The smoothness of the surface and the soft white color and the hardness of the material makes it an ideal surface for miniatures. Delicate lines appear with amazing clarity and it is a joy to paint on marble albeit expensive. A copy work done to illustrate jewellery design in my college exam.

Mughal King - Poster colors on marble