Patua paintings are special narrative scrolls based on sacred themes. They are traditionally made on a piece of cloth known as a pati or patta. The painters, called Patua, are part of an artisan community that wanders from village to village and sings folk songs while unrolling the scrolls, also called Patua, in front of their audiences. Traditionally, Patua painters used a brush made of bamboo and goat hair. Colours were naturally derived from herbs and plants.
Today, Patua scrolls also depict current affairs, history and other subjects apart from more traditional themes. Painters use vegetable dyes with vegetable gum fixed on paper. The paintings are sewn together and fabric from old saris is glued to the back of the paintings to strengthen the scrolls. The scrolls usually depict a scene or panel from a larger story, images of animals or scenes from the artist’s imagination.
Here’s how you can make your own Patua painting at home on canvas.
- Natural or acrylic paints
- Fine brushes
- Make an outline of a fish using any colour of your choice. Avoid using very dark colours as details on the painting are added with black paint and these need to stand out.
- Paint the inside of your fish using strokes in one direction. Remember to use enough water to get the right consistency.
- Use a dark colour to define the shape of the fins and scales.
- Use blue paint with enough water for the background.
- Draw any musical instrument next to the fish once the background has dried.
- Use black paint to add details to the fish and the instrument.
- Use white paint to highlight and accessorise elements in the painting.