Artist Mridul Chandra has discovered a love for watercolours and is helping the art-inclined find the inner muse
If you’ve ever dreamed about picking up a brush and painting scenes from your last travels, artist Mridul Chandra can make those dreams real. The artist (www.mridulchandra.com) has recently started watercolour painting classes in Bengaluru. On the sunny terrace of 16 Squares in the heart of town, Chandra conducts sessions and no, you don’t have to be an art student to participate.
For Chandra herself, a well-established artist who paints primarily in oils and acrylics, painting started as a form of therapy after she lost her mother. A student of architecture from the JJ School of Art, Mumbai, she turned to painting 20 years ago, once her children had grown up. “I could travel more, so I’d visit the Valley of the Flowers, Dalhousie and Dharamsala, and I’d sketch or do watercolours wherever I went as it was most convenient to travel with — creating a pictorial travel diary of sorts,” she recalls. Over time, she got busy with her solo and group shows and only fairly recently turned to watercolours again. Falling in love with the gentle expressiveness of watercolours, she then decided to go one step further and teach other art enthusiasts what had captured her own imagination and worked so beautifully for her. “I discovered there are very few watercolour painting classes for beginners,” she tells me. “These workshops are meant for the uninitiated; those who want to learn a new skill or indulge in a long-dreamt-of passion for art. I’m getting an interesting mix of students, from retired tech professionals to mothers with free time on their hands, even design students looking for quick brush-up modules on technique.” To set her students at ease, there’s lots of interaction, and batches are kept small and intimate, never larger than 6-10 students.
But don’t watercolours call for well-honed brush skills and a quick hand and eye, I ask her. This is also true, she agrees. “But with a few easy techniques learned, it’s not difficult to create a composition from a photo, for instance, taken during your travels. And the watercolours equipment is minimal and easy to carry and inexpensive too.”
The simple techniques help even total beginners control the colours they use, and “not allow the medium to get the better of you,” as she puts it. Chandra starts sessions by demonstrating the how-tos herself, dividing each picture into sections to fill in, after which her students compose and paint their own. The three-hour long weekend workshops can be signed up for in batches of two or four sessions at `1,000 per workshop. What then? “The Internet is a great provider of information. Once you have a headstart and a few simple tips, it’s easy to follow instructions and learn to produce simple landscapes.”
And then, who knows, you might just find your own inner John Singer Sargent.