Remember the mural painting sketch from last week? My plan was to paint Krishna playing his flute in a serene place (Vrindavan) by the river (Kalindi). I love how they paint the skies and water in the Kerala mural paintings and was dying to do add one to my mural too. The waves in the water and the fish are so whimsical. Was super excited to transfer my sketch onto my 22 x 28 canvas.
I think I have told you before, I have this tendency to run out of luck in the middle of a project, switch to Plan B, C, D etc…., and then finally pull it all together by some stroke of ‘more’ luck. So yes, sticking to this tradition, by the time I drew Krishna’s figure on the canvas I ran out of space at the bottom to add anything else. Plan B: No river more creepers…..maybe he is sitting under a tree in a jungle.
Some background for the uninitiated; Krishna’s body is blue unlike everyone else in the Hindu mythology. And the blue is more of a thunder cloud blue than a sky blue. Getting that right shade of blue with the acrylics took me two months! Halfway through I would forgot the colors and the proportions that I mixed to paint some part of the body by the time I reach another part. Note to myself: finish up the entire body at one stretch especially when there is so much mixing involved.
Anyway here is the original sketch.
And the finished one, Krishna in all his glory. I am still debating whether to put it up on Etsy for sale or to keep it. I know, he kinda looks more serious in the finished one. Still I love him.
PS: The blue doesn’t photograph well. It is not this bright or light to the naked eye. It is more of a darker thunder cloud blue.
Canvas (22 x 28) – Michaels -$5.98 after using a 40% off coupon (Bought the set of two for $19.99 brand. Check the website for 40%-50% off coupons every week.)
Blue Paint – $3.99 –Michaels (I had the rest)
Total – $9.99 + 4 months of labor
After my somewhat successful first attempt (by my standards ) at a Kerala Mural painting and ample support from all my friends and family I got the courage to try my hand at it again. This time my empty foyer screamed out for a picture. Ganesha, the elephant headed god, is considered to be the Lord of Beginnings in Hindu Mythology. What better luck than to have this remover of obstacles adorn my foyer?
I researched several pictures online studying the color rules (yes, there are a set of rigid rules like lighter shades for gods, darker ones for the bad guys etc) sizing up the pictures to see what I could attempt next. Most of the pictures were pretty complex so I had to weed out bits and parts from some and combine some techniques from others to come up with my version.
This Ganesha is the first thing you see as you enter our house.
Not bad right, especially for a 2nd timer who didn’t even know that she could paint? I know there are a few flaws but I just love him. The more I stopped by to take a glance at the painting (literally every time I walked by) the more I was getting hooked. I wanted to attempt even more challenging work. Again the research continued for days, stripping out, resizing, integrating, and finally ending in my next trial run sketch.
This was the most time consuming work yet. Took me almost 4 months off and on to finish it. For the first time I was able to appreciate the Kerala mural artist’s patience and dedication to this great art form. Reveal coming soon…
Canvas (22 x 24) – Michaels -$6.50 after using a 50% off coupon (Check the website for 40%-50% off coupons every week.)
Orange Paint -$3.99 – Michaels (I ran out of orange after the first one)
Brushes & Pencils – $6.00 – Michaels
Frame – $40.75 -Ebay
Total – $57.24
More details of how to make a Kerala mural painting here.
Mural paintings have been part of Kerala (my home state at the southwestern tip of India) temple culture since time immemorial. The present day artists were kind enough to mainstream this beautiful art form by painting them on canvases with acrylics. In an instant the whole of Kerala fell under the mural painting’s spell. Like any loyal, artistically inclined Malayali (people from Kerala; our mother tongue is Malayalam hence the name) I too was spell bound at their beauty and the liberal use of bright colors. By now, you would have guessed….ya on my last trip to India I went mural painting shopping. I met a very talented artist Saju Thuruthil and loved his paintings. But there was one problem. The house wasn’t built yet and we didn’t know where exactly we would hang the painting. We couldn’t even specify what theme or how big a painting we wanted. That was the end of the mural painting hunt.
Back to reality; I painted my powder room SW Hopsack, which is on the darker side. The dark shade made the windowless room appear stuffy. Changing the light blubs to fluorescents brightened the space up while saving us some energy costs. Still it needed something to jazz it up. I really really needed something colorful to distract folks from the blah oval builder mirror (We will change that some day, but not now). And I thought “How about a mural painting? Maybe I can try my hand at painting one?” I was not even sure of where that came from. I hadn’t taken even a single art class or painted anything other than walls (and some small canvases that I tried to paint after seeing Bob Ross’s how to videos during my early US days) in my life.
So what was the problem? The Kerala mural paintings usually have religious themes. I felt really uncomfortable about putting anything religious in a bathroom. As it was the first time, I wanted to paint something easy that I couldn’t mess up easily. After some research on the net I found this one:
Location: Bharath Tourist Home, Cochin, Kerala pic by http://sandeep.pixelring.net
Here is my take on the same painting, lady in orange.
Here she is all framed up.
Keeping in mind my lack of training, I broke the process down as follows. Beware….this is the amateurish equivalent of the actual technique.
Draw a rough sketch on paper so that you get the confidence to attempt it on canvas
Using a pencil (preferably a lower grade, B or 2B) sketch the picture on canvas. You can use the eraser when needed just be careful not to smudge the drawings too much.
Fill in the orange background using a stippling technique. Stippling is where you load your brush lightly (key….otherwise you will end up with blobs of paint on your canvas) and just dab all over your canvas gently. Usually takes two coats.
Now fill in the rest of the colors.
Finally, trace over the pencil with a fine point (not the super fine one) Sharpie/permanent marker. I know this is totally against the rules, but I don’t have a steady hand with the fine brush yet.
Once the painting is cured for a few weeks I apply a coat of acrylic sealer.
For folks unfamiliar with acrylics, use only small amounts of paint each time. It dries super fast. Black Sharpies/permanent markers come in different shades. Use the true black ones not the ones with traces of indigo in them (these may have a tendency to run when the sealer is applied).
That said, I really hope to learn the art form one day and paint it with the dedication and piety that it deserves (aka not taking any shortcuts).
Canvas (22 x 28) – Michaels -$10.99 after using a 50% off coupon ( There are brands were you can get a set of two for this price. Check the website for 40%-50% off coupons every week.)
Paints & Supplies –$10 (I didn’t have a single thing)- Michaels
Frame – $42.99 -EBay
Total –- $63.98