Traditional Wall Art from India

Knowledge

We take a journey through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala to bring you tips on creating four different kinds of wall art: Gond, Warli, Lippan and fresco-secco.

 

GOND ART

The Gond art of the tribals of Madhya Pradesh consists of magical figures, dreamy shapes and contrasting colours, all painted using dots or dashes that seem almost threadlike. The paintings are themed around birds, trees, reptiles and insects and are painted on the walls of houses using natural colours. This unique artwork was developed by the forest-dwelling Pradhan-Gond tribals. Due to the tribe�s proximity to the wild, its paintings always reflect a relationship with nature.

Here�s how you can create your own Gond art using dyes you can make at home. You can add glue to the mix to make the paint permanent and long-lasting.  

Yellow: Mix together gram flour (besan) and turmeric (haldi) to make a brilliant yellow. Use a little water to get the right consistency.

Red: For the fiery red, boil beetroot in water. You can also soak kokam in a bowl of water overnight. In the morning you will have a deep red colour.

Brown: Boil coffee with water to get a deep shade of brown. Sandalwood and multani mitti can also be mixed together to make brown colour.

Orange: Take some kesar (saffron) and boil it in water. It will give you a bright, shiny orange colour.

Green: Boil turmeric and neel (indigo) in water. Or boil neem leaves in water to get a fresh green colour. Mehendi can also be used to make green colour.

Blue: Blue can simply be made with indigo. Mix indigo with water to get a true blue colour.

The Technique: 

1. Choose a design.

2. Sketch the outline on your base.

3. Fill in the colours as required.

4. Remember, this art form always uses dots or dashes to create shapes and figures.

 

WARLI ART

Warli paintings are geometrical patterns made on the walls of mud houses in the Thane district of Maharashtra. The origin of this art form is still unknown but it is believed to have evolved around 10AD. Warli art was used as a way of transmitting folktales to the next generation. This art form also depicts celebration. The figures and traditional motifs seen in the paintings are repetitive and highly symbolic. The paintings also showcase a love and respect for nature. Human beings are usually drawn as two triangles with stick-like hands and legs. The paintings are made using white colour on walls plastered with mud, charcoal or cow dung. Here�s how you can create your own colours for Warli art at home.

Colours:

The best way to create Warli art at home is by using two colours, red and white, where geru (available at shops that sell rangoli colours) is used to create the red background and white is used for line drawings and accents. Create the white colour by finely grinding rice and mixing some water into it to give it the right consistency. Sometimes accents of yellow are also used to make the painting attractive. Yellow colour can be created by using haldi (turmeric) or besan (gram flour).

The Technique:

1. Paint the base with geru using an even hand.

2. Choose a design.

3. Sketch the outline on the base.

4. Highlight the outline with white colour.

5. You can use accents of yellow to make the painting more attractive.

 

LIPPAN

Lippan work is a traditional form of wall decoration done by women in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The beauty of this art form is that it requires no tools. The entire design is created on wet cow dung or plaster of Paris using the pinching method. Glass pieces are then stuck on the wet backdrop to create beautiful designs. Birds, trees, animals, peacocks and human figures are often the central elements of this art form. As this art form evolved in desertlike conditions, the first ever raw material used to create the background was a mixture of clay and camel dung. Traditionally, this work is done on a white background and round, diamond-shaped or triangular mirror pieces are used to embellish the designs.

The Technique:

1. Find a simple design.

2. Use a board which is freshly plastered with plaster of Paris.

3. As the plaster starts to set, use your fingers to pinch lines as per your design.

4. Stick the mirrors to highlight the pattern.

5. Let it dry.

 

FRESCO-SECCO

During the early 16th Century, fresco-secco, a fresco painting technique, was used to decorate walls in Kerala. �Fresco� is the Italian word for �fresh� and the term fresco is used to identify a method of mural painting in which water-based paint is applied to plaster. The actual process of creating a true or buon fresco is painstaking and laborious. Over time, a second style of creating frescoes evolved and this was called secco or dry fresco. The painting is rendered on a finished wall that has been soaked with limewater before it is painted. The colours do not penetrate into the plaster but form a surface film like any other paint. The fresco-secco method has always held an inferior position to true fresco, but it is useful for retouching a true fresco.

Colours:

The colours used for a fresco are dry-powder pigments mixed in water. Commonly used colours include white, yellow, red, black and brown. Different shades may be used by mixing these colours. The art form is created using only five types of brushes of various shapes and size. The brushes need to be made of animal hair but grass fibre is also used.

The Technique:

1. Soak a portion of the wall you wish to paint with limewater (chunna) or create a base out of plaster of Paris.

2. Choose a design

3. Sketch the outline on the base.

4. Colour the painting in with water colours while the plaster of Paris is still wet.

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