Artist & Teacher Syed Asif Ali

Artist & Teacher Syed Asif Ali

Forty is definitely a milestone in our life. If people opt for lavish parties or an adventurous holiday, I decided to enroll for an Art course of 4 years at Mahalasa College of Visual Arts. And I am loving it with peers two decades younger. Best decision ever, as I meet and get to learn from artists in Mangalore and Coastal Karnataka. My lecturer Mr. Syed Asif Ali is my inspiration and mentor for watercolors, a medium I am in love with. His work is a reflection of the lush landscapes of the coast and will transport the viewer right to Mangalore. Let’s meet Artist Syed Asif Ali at Mindcraft studios housed in the beautiful Guthu Mane at KodialGuthu.
Syed Asif Ali is a versatile artist who is accomplished in the different mediums of art with more than 30 years of experience. He attributes this variety in his work to his profession as a teacher and his role as a mentor to his students. Though he is naturally drawn to the translucence of watercolors, especially capturing the beauty of nature in plein air, his contemporary works in oil portray the feminine in nature. His landscapes in watercolor showcase coastal vibes, tiled homes and lush greenery. These paintings bring the experience of the coast to the viewer.
Growing up in the village of Molkalmuru, he was surrounded by skilled artisans and colors of silk sarees handwoven on primitive pit looms. These decorative forms from his childhood capturing nature, his skill in landscapes and portraits which won him accolades in his youth, all paved the way to forging his identity as an artist.
His love for his craft and strive for simplicity and excellence in his work comes through shining in his artwork.
As we chat, I picture a young boy, surrounded by colors and design. Growing up in a joint family with sisters proficient in applying mehendi and embroidery on curtains, Syed Asif Ali was fascinated with designs. Always on the lookout for fresh new designs, at 8 years, he was bringing in fresh ideas for his sisters to work on. Molkalmuru being a hub of handloom silk sarees, every house had a handloom with sarees being woven, silk threads being dyed and colors in the air. Being in this environment of colors, it was natural for the gifted child to pave a life of art. Any festival or fair the child would be in great demand for applying mehendi and creating new decorative forms and designs. Forms from nature were his favourite. His surroundings became his inspiration.
By age 11 in school, he would illustrate his subjects and notes, gaining popularity and recognition among teachers and peers. By this time, he had formed his own identity as an artist.
When he was in high school, he won a District level prize and was mentioned in the newspaper. This further motivated him, to make a name for himself in the field of art.
Grappling with financial issues, his only option was free education in a government organization. Mr. Syed fondly remembers his older brother, a Kannada Pandit, who guided him and helped him secure a seat in Ravindra Kala Niketan Art college in Tumkur in 1990. He opted for DMC (Drawing Master Course) which was a 2-year course and would allow him to be a drawing teacher in high school. The art education in college opened up the entire repertoire of art and the different mediums. Seeing his result after 2 years, he was allowed to continue his education. In his final year, based on his progress and talent, he was offered a position in Mahalasa College of Visual Arts in Mangalore. Though everyone resisted his move to join a private institution instead of a government position, Mr. Syed was motivated by the learning of art itself, and felt that a position in college would give him more of an immersive experience.

When I bring up his love for plein air paintings, he fondly remembers his jaunts as a student to Hampi. He laments that the group from college was huge – to the tune of 100s and they would end up wasting their time in mundane chores such as, firewood collection and cooking, rather than painting. Sleeping under the stars, they were like a huge family. Though fun, they could not paint as much as they would have liked. From their second year onwards, they formed a group of eight and decided to do plein air camps. Once they even did this for an entire month, in a village Ganjam near Srirangapatna. With meagre resources, this was a rich experience with healthy competition among themselves. Any holidays, they would go for plein air camps, practically living art. During the Mysore Dasara competitions, he was awarded every year for 5 years, in portrait and landscapes. He also got a Lalita Kala Academy scholarship award which helped him tide over the last 3 years of his education. He remembers his mother pledging her earrings for his education in the first year, but with the scholarship, his educational needs were taken care of.

The move from Tumkur to Mangalore was a turning point in his life and shaped his art in the following years. He was always attracted to watercolors as a medium. His watercolor art teacher Mallappa Halli was always enthusiastic and spirited to teach him the nuances. His work, especially plein air metamorphosed from the rocky arid terrain of Tumkur to lush greenery in Mangalore with coconut groves, seascapes and tiled homes. This was also the time he got married to Ms. Tanveer Kausar. His wife would always encourage him and wished to see him succeed as an artist. With sadness in his eyes, he recalls her unstinting support especially on the home front and with their children, before her untimely demise. Even today, as he works on a piece, he remembers her and dedicates his work to her memory.

Speaking of his experience as a lecturer in college, he attributes his own growth as an artist to his interactions with the students. In his words, “In order to teach them, I need to get better as an artist every day. This helps me have an immersive experience and my work gives me the greatest satisfaction.” Attracted to nature from the beginning, his work, be it naturalistic, realistic or contemporary the subject of the mother, female and nature is the running theme. Nature captures all the aspects of colors, tonal values, aesthetics and the life supporting aspects of nature call to him, as an artist and a nature enthusiast.

His advice to the upcoming artists, is to leave behind the profit and loss aspect of work. In his words, “Our work should do justice to the images that we dream of, our work should be a reflection of our imagination rather than external expectations. It should be motivated from within and our own aesthetic sense. Everything does not go as per plan, but we need to have a plan in place, and work with any and all the incidentals that happen along the way.”

Our conversation ends on this note and I continue to stay inspired not just by Syed Sir’s words but also his work ethics and talent. Inspite of great personal loss and hardships, he continues to stay invested in his students’ growth and his own art journey. Lucky me, I get to learn from the best!
You can see more of his work on Instagram and also contact him for commissions or purchase of his work.
Twinkles until next time…
Koppikers Mumbai Home

Koppikers Mumbai Home

The home that we speak of today is bang in the middle of a busy road in Mumbai. As I look for the address, I am quite sure that I have come to the wrong place. The pictures that I had seen could never be in such a prime busy part of the city. And guess what!

I am in for a huge surprise!

Spacious living room

As I open the gate I stand there stunned. Not just for the lush greenery that I see but also the beautiful entrance, the Oasis of calm that it appears. The look is no less than a palace. The entrance is Royal and has stolen quite a few hearts. The home that I speak of today belongs to Nivedita and Nitin Koppiker.

Nivedita Koppiker

Flashback to a couple of months ago…when I saw this beautiful entrance in one of the saree groups, I immediately messaged Nivedita if I could do a home tour. All it took was a phone call and one question on the entrance. We walked down memory lane…. It was on a trip to Kerala and coconut lagoon that Nivedita decided that she wanted an entrance with old wooden pillars. They were renovating their home and the trip was a deciding factor on the look and feel of the home. Having made up her mind, when she found the first two antique pillars on sale, she immediately booked them. But they seemed incomplete without a base and after several trips to Chor bazaar she found the exact match for the base. The brass details on the pillars were added later. The main door was another important feature and after hunting everywhere for the perfect door, she decided to get it done. Sitting with the carpenter she would give him sketches and instructions. Not letting him be until he got it right.

Dining overlooking the garden

The kitchen

But after our initial rapport we could not go ahead with the home tour blog as she was not sure of what pictures I will need. So when I needed to go to Mumbai on work I decided to happily pop in at her place. The gracious hostess that she was, I was invited for lunch.



The most amazing aspect of this house is her involvement in every piece of design that became part of her home. Right from the entrance, the feel and look, to the motifs of lotus used on wooden panels and chairs. Purchased in 1994, the duplex row house was renovated in 2005. With the help of architect Mr. Ganesh Shenoy she was able to bring her dream house to life.

As we enter the home, we get a view of the staircase, with doors to the kitchen and passage to the dining. The area below the staircase has been used very well and leads to the dining. The best part here is that beautiful lush front yard can be seen from the living, kitchen and Dining room. And it has my heart. Such an idyllic scene to look at the whole day. The verandah also has comfortable planter chairs for some relaxing. The pergola is a recent addition and I can imagine the treat its going to be in a couple of months.


The Koppikers collected different pieces of furniture over the years and some were very lucky finds. The heavy wooden antique book case, the sofa sets in wood were mostly bought in the US during their stay there. Most of the furniture is in wood with cane backing and they bring an organic ambience to the home. The distressed wooden sculptures she picked up at different places gives her home an antique vibe. The Kamadhenu on the landing, the ducks in the entrance foyer are all such finds. The Hanuman in Kinhal is a recent purchase and she smiles fondly remembering the struggle it was to convince the airlines to allow the transport and all the packing it involved.

Family room

View from the kitchen

The kitchen was definitely a favourite with me. The rooster collection, the ceramics, plants in pretty planters, baskets and glass with the quaint seating for two ….all of them are picture perfect. The kitchen also overlooks the lush greenery outside. Though I am not a big fan of cooking, I could cook here forever. On second thoughts maybe I would just sit with a book and a cuppa looking at all the greenery.

At the kitchen entrance

Nivedita has put in a lot of thought into every aspect of designing the furniture, wardrobes and even frames. The cane weaves from Assam that have been sandwitched between glass , the jute backing for brass figurines are just some examples in this lovely home.

Bedroom vibes

Family room on the first floor

Staircase landing wall

Coffee table decor

Where the neighbours have used every inch of available space to extend their homes, she has ingenuously used the extended walls to bring in some old world charm in her green space. The old wooden shutters with lamps hanging at different levels, gives this space a vintage look.

View from the gate

The drawing room

The Verandah

As we sit down for lunch and I relish a home cooked meal, I don’t want to leave and wish I could remember this place forever. And I think I will…. wouldn’t you?

PS- I had so many beautiful images from this home that I was at a loss on which ones to keep from this post. So will put up a video soon.

Lots of twinkles to all of you


Heritage home Mayagundi

Heritage home Mayagundi

Heritage home Mayagundi

Kinhal finds a home at Mayagundi

Even before I enter the Heritage home in Mayagundi my eyes chance upon a beautiful Kinhal doll as big as me. Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat tells me that he found it washed away on the beach with just the leg showing up from beneath the sand. He had it dug up and got the doll home. It used to be part of a temple and was left into the water when damaged. Though a lot of superstitions are attached to old things, Mr. Bhat only sees the aesthetic value and the heritage it represents.
Organic heritage home

Traditional architecture style

Mangalore tiles and rafters with open courtyard

Peek into the Heritage home Mayagundi

He started collecting old materials from homes being demolished nearly 20 years back. That was when he dreamt of constructing an organic home reminiscent of times gone by. This heritage home at Mayagundi is just that. As he takes us through the different sections, he recalls what it was like so many years ago. He would go to homes being demolished in the interiors of Karnataka with a truck and people would bring antiques , old boxes, vessels,furniture and fill up the truck. He shows me a beautiful wooden chest given away. A carved panel he rescued before it was burnt as firewood and many such gems. Off course when he got them they were not as beautiful. It takes a connoisseur to recognise their value and Mr. Bhat restores them to their lost beauty.
Building materials from demolished homes

The kitchen and open dining

There are many stories and memories attached to each and every piece in his collection. The beautiful statues of the thirteen Tirthankaras are one such memory. These were part of a house bought by Muslims and guessing it must be a deity, Mr Bhat was given a call. He also has a collection of musical instruments, old books and books on art and heritage. This heritage home gives us a glimpse of life as it used to be a mere fifty to hundred years ago.
Heritage home Mayagundi


Heritage home Mayagundi
The beauty of this Heritage home is it’s organic structure called the ‘chaukmalle’ or the central courtyard surrounded by pillars and the rest of the home. The courtyard which is open to the elements in nature is not only energy efficient but also the Brahma Sthan or the place of divinity. In traditional homes this was the place to plant the holy basil. After the porch area which is an open forum for informal conversations, there is the verandah and then the inner courtyard which is bright and airy. I can only imagine what bliss it must be to sit here and be part of nature even as you enjoy the cool home. The roof of this heritage home is made of Mangalore tiles on wooden rafters, all rescued from old homes. The kitchen is fully furnished with all the old vessels which would have been a part of our ancestors’ lives. Vessels made of stone, mud and kanchu. Having a bathroom as well, this is a fully furnished home. He tells me that during the day he invariably spends his time here, with a book and a cup of tea.
Heritage home Mayagundi

The library nook. Image credit Preethi Prabhu

As we step out onto the backyard I notice that the window has no panels and I ask about Intruders or animals getting in. Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat smiles and shows me how the whole set up works. The window is a complete set with a wooden bench and this can be lifted to close the window. Such a beautiful concept and so sturdy I was truly stunned.
The amazing foldable window seat

The amazing foldable window seat. Image credit – Preethi Prabhu

We talk of the engineering concepts incorporated in design hundreds of years ago and the beauty and details which were a part of any design or work. Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat proudly tells us that the house was constructed without the use of cement, glass or iron. Laterite stone powdered, limestone and jaggery is mixed and used between the bricks to put them together. Preethi asks about reinforcement and he tells us that this can be used for slabs as well. The plastering was done by hand with organic materials such as limestone and jaggery. An old man who knew the work was brought in to supervise the construction.
The organic texture of the walls
The organic texture of the walls
Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat recalls how he had a tough time getting someone who knew this work to supervise the construction. It was finally a man in his seventies who would sit and oversee the work. The uniqueness of this house is in the fact that all the materials were restored and reused from houses being demolished. He goes to the interiors of Kundapur to look for such treasures. He has a business concern of such old materials, but pieces that touch his heart find a home here.
Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat at the Heritage Home Mayagundi
Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat
It is not surprising that many are unaware of this beautiful home. Mr. Krishnamoorthy Bhat always discouraged any commercial use of the property. It is only for the art lovers and those who value heritage that the doors open. A beautiful musical has also been shot here and he loves to organise classical musical evenings here. Very recently there was a live watercolour demonstration by artist Mr. Somayaji as part of the cultural art program organised by Drishya school of art. This was one of the many events which take place here.
Heritage Home Mayagundi

Heritage Home Mayagundi

Heritage home Mayagundi
Heritage home Mayagundi
Heritage home set amidst nature
He also shows us the unique lock and key on the front door. As he locks the door I wish I could stay here forever. But luckily for me he says I could come again. So until next time.

Lots of Twinkles to you.


Girija Hariharan @2flatbrush

Girija Hariharan @2flatbrush

When I wanted to do something related to art, I just looked around me for ways in which I could include it in my life. Giving up a comfortable job, it was time to network, meet artists and conduct workshops in art, in collaboration with artists. It was in one such collaboration that I met and was introduced to Girija Hariharan by my friend, Preethi Prabhu. And we could instantly connect. Every time I meet her, I am in awe of her. You will be too, when you read of her journey and understand all that is Girija @2flatbrush. No wonder all her paintings call to me….her thoughts and emotions translated to vibrant colours and forms.
Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush with her mural in the background

Strings of heritage- What was your ambition as you were growing up?

Girija @2flatbrush- I always used to wonder about children living in railway stations, pavements and under bridges when I was a kid. I had made up my mind around my tween years, to provide a safe and secure place for them to be educated and provided for, when I grow up. When I had a chance to return to India after my education and work stint abroad, I hastily started a foster home for kids and ran it for a while despite being quite naive and inexperienced.

Girija @2flatbrush
Girija @2flatbrush Pic Credit- Preethiprabhu
Strings of heritage- What changed and how did you plan the way ahead when the orphanage was no longer feasible?

Girija @2flatbrush- In Karnataka, the orphan children are given to government institutions. Private institutions like my ‘Annai Charitable trust’, would be given single-parent kids who can’t afford good living conditions. The kids I was given by the child welfare committee for my foster home, had a mother and she simply wasn’t able to support them. As the kids started missing their mom, I realised I was making orphans in order to run an orphanage. It was during my foster home experience that I realised it was important to see the big picture and help others the way they wanted to be helped, not the way I wanted to help them. So I let go of the foster idea and sponsored the education of those kids and they were happily resettled with their mother. From then on, for the past 14 years, with the helpful donors of my trust, I have been sponsoring at least 10-12 single-parent and orphan kids each year to complete their education. I am very proud of each one of those kids. Some have moved on to jobs after their degrees and are inclined to help other kids like themselves. I have some big things planned and have been saving up for it, to launch in a couple of years.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Was art always part of your life?

Girija @2flatbrush- Yes! Strangely enough Art has followed me everywhere, and sneaked up on me at the right time 🙂 I used to scribble a lot of colors on walls and floors from a very young age. My mom’s idea of baby-sitting was to give us (me and my brother) a bunch of sheets and pencils and color pencils and we would be occupied for hours. An artist who lived opposite our house was my inspiration to draw and paint. I used to watch him work with great focus and it was meditative. Incidentally he used to paint on walls too!
I had been painting a lot in my college, three hours a day during our cultural programs, and made some lifelong friends there. Every pleasant memory I have, is associated with some art in the mainstream or background. We used to paint humongous posters and backdrops and I was in love with big canvases and larger than life artworks. I always had a painting brush in my handbag, for as long as I had a handbag. I am not sure I ever used it, but it was the universe’s plan for me, I guess.

Strings of heritage- How did you make the transition from software engineer to an artist?

Girija @2flatbrush- It wasn’t a planned transition. It developed organically. When I did my first mural for my home I just put out a Facebook post asking for volunteers to lend me their walls for mural practice. Strangely enough I had a taker and I did my second mural and I started considering mural art as an alternate career. Meanwhile I was more and more dissatisfied with my job. When it got to be too much, I just decided to quit the company. I was thinking of going solo or start my own firm. I still love technology and I keep myself up-to-date

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Was it a planned change or sudden?

Girija @2flatbrush- As soon as I drafted my resignation, I remember going to a job portal site to look for alternate jobs in freelancing. I must have spent five minutes and I got incredibly weary of reading the same job descriptions over and over again. It was then that it struck me, ‘I could be a mural artist!’ It was a no-brainer, as I had the initiative, interest and some basic experience for me to build upon! I didn’t even have three or four pictures for my Facebook page for 2flatbrush:) when I started. It was a crazy adrenaline rush and I launched my business on Facebook. I had steered away from everything comfortable, in just a couple of days. I remember brainstorming with my friends about the name of the business. We had several favorites. There was this brush in my college that I had reserved for painting, it was an ugly flat brush which used to be blue, and I loved it to bits. And it came to my mind at the right time. I looked at the brush in my handbag, and it was size 2, Flat.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Did you get the support of family when you decided on the transition? What were the challenges you faced?

Girija @2flatbrush- They were already used to my spontaneous decisions, I guess. My parents were used to me, but this time I had in-laws! They were super supportive as well. There were apprehensions from my near and dear ones, but there was encouragement all around. Everyone for some reason already knew I would be a good artist. Even if they hadn’t seen my works! My husband for one was so excited and there was not an iota of doubt in his mind. I have a great friend circle, and a great family who support me in everything I do.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- When you look back today, would you have done something differently with your life,education or decisions?

Girija @2flatbrush- I would probably be more polite and less rowdier I guess 🙂 Art has softened me and made me much more empathetic than I ever was. I wouldn’t revise any of my decisions or education.

Strings of heritage- How do you decide on what to paint next when it is not a commissioned work?

Girija @2flatbrush- It is not a decision, it is just coming into being, I think. I believe I am a medium, and the paintings flow through me, not from me. I have lots and lots of ideas that always come to me while day-dreaming:) I note some of them down, forget many, and forget what the note is about sometimes too! I read a lot, and I am tuned into many social issues as well, and it inspires me and gives me a lot of new ideas all the time. I want to paint every day, and I never run out of ideas. If I ever feel out of my element a quick meet up with my friends or a good book will put me right back in my studio.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Why do you love murals?

Girija @2flatbrush- Firstly, because it shares five letters with my husband Murali. 🙂 I know it’s a tacky answer, but maybe there’s a pattern to how the universe matches us with things.

Jokes apart, I have always been an introvert, and I get intimidated by outgoing, confident and assertive people. Large paintings are a way to assert myself, it’s my little way of showcasing who I want to be. Little things blown up larger than life give us a unique perspective on things, and give us a sense of wonder. I think any artist looks for this wonder, ‘elusive wonder’ that we try and package into music, dance or art.

Strings of heritage- Your favourite subject to paint?

Girija @2flatbrush- I am forever obsessed with faces and hands. I love thoughtful paintings that add layers to it than just a visual appeal.

Strings of heritage- Any favourite medium ?

Girija @2flatbrush- Acrylic for life. On everything. (Canvas, walls, doors, skin)

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Your thoughts on experiments in art, your favourite artist and contemporary art.

Girija @2flatbrush- I am so psyched about art installations. Larger than life art installations that just literally make you walk in to the art. I love amalgamation of several art forms and collaboration of artists.
There’s no single favorite. But I love the lines of MF Hussain, the fearless Frida Kahlo, Acrylic techniques of Milind Nayak, an old man in Jayanagar who doesn’t sell his works but just wants to express himself in inks, and displays art just for pleasure, my brother who was the first portrait artist I knew, and a million others I follow on Instagram who inspire me every day. I love oil painters who have the patience to layer and glaze. I love a lot of illustrators and comics who comment on social issues relentlessly. Most of all, I love sculptures and our traditional nameless painters of Indian Historic murals of all religions.

Strings of heritage– Do you think an education in art is relevant to ones success?

Girija @2flatbrush- Success is a dicey term. It is set by one self. I don’t see art as a means to an end. Art is itself success, to be able to express yourself creatively is a success, and to package wonder is a success. Art itself is an education. Having said that,I see tremendous improvement in my work in the last three years working full time. So if art education lets you practice for years, I am all for it. I am for anything that’s a focused approach to practice your craft without you having to look over your shoulder for validation all the time. So a formal education is both bad and good in some ways.

Strings of heritage- Where do you see yourself five years down the line in terms of your evolution as an artist?

Girija @2flatbrush- I have my cake and I am eating it too. In five years, I want to be able to do what I am doing right now:) Live, love and paint! If I am able to bring about some social awareness through some public art, it will be the cherry on the cake.

Girija @2flatbrush

Draupadi, the five elements expressing her life and emotions

Strings of heritage- Any advice that you could give from your own experience? Be it in terms of changing career tracks, to art or otherwise. This is especially so as any change comes with its own challenges.

Girija @2flatbrush- I am not a big fan of advice. Giving or taking. But these are what worked for me.

  1. Integrity. Do what you say. Say what you do.
  2. Build a network. You can’t sit around in your studio if you are making life changing decisions.
  3. Trust yourself. Be your own warrior, even if you stumble.
  4. Learn relentlessly.
  5. If you are changing careers don’t expect comfort. If you want comfort go back to your old job.
  6. Be comfortable with your finances. You might earn less than, or minimum wages (there’s no such thing in India, another political issue) for a long while. You should be ok with cutting down costs while you are building a client base.


Thank you Girija,for sharing so much of yourself with us.

Girija @2flatbrush
And that was Girija @2flatbrush for you. You can follow her work @2flatbrush in instagram and facebook. If you want to contribute towards educating a child, contact Girija on her profile.

Write to me and share your thoughts or challenges you faced with transition.

Lots of Twinkles to all of you.


Cherial Art

Cherial Art

When I meet artist Sai Kiran Varma, what strikes me every time is his love for Cherial art and passion to take it forward. Young and dynamic, he has chucked all other opportunities to work in the revival of Cherial Art. His degree in Fine Arts from Venkateshwara College of Fine Arts has enabled him to take this forward, innovate in product design and also spread the word for this art form which is at the brink of its survival. He fondly mentions Smt. Vani Devi, the Prinicipal at the Venkateshwara Fine Arts college, who gave him the opportunity to take up the course at the college and encouraged him. Having learnt the artforms of making Cherial dolls, masks and scroll paintings from his parents D.Nageshwar and D Padma, both state awardees, he has innovated by making a lot utility products such as pen stands, key chains, frames and stands for shades. His flair for the art form and expertise shines through as his workshops are conducted in an effortless manner. Accompanying his father from a very young age to all the workshops, he is a pro at it.
Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma

Mask making

Cherial Scroll Painting-

Though literacy was not very common in ancient India, most of the people were educated. The oral traditions of story telling, plays and performance arts ensured that people in the villages were well versed in the scriptures, rules and principles of society and the religious practices. Scroll paintings played a major role in this education. Known by different names in different states, the artistic style and stories varied to suit the audience but the essence and spirit remained the same – The spread of our culture and traditions. Scroll paintings from Telangana are the Cherial scroll paintings, unique in the particular motifs, village life scenes and dressing. These paintings were traditionally 3 feet wide and 35 to 40 feet in length, opening up like a scroll or a film roll. Accompanied by some music, this was the only entertainment for the villagers. The stories such as epics of Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Puranas, Devi Mahatme were depicted in the scrolls by artists, scenes were separated by floral borders and opened up to reveal the story in a linear manner. Intricate and beautiful, with bright red background and colours made from natural sources, this was widely patronized. But now with increasing affluence, unfortunately we don’t place enough value on this precious art form. For the lack of patrons, this has now dwindled to single panels for home décor.

Cherial art scroll painting

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

The preparation of this scroll painting is a laborious process, where the base is the khadi cloth which needs to be prepped before painting. Rice starch, white mud, tamarind seed paste and Arabic gum are mixed to form a paste and this is then applied on the cloth. Each layer needs to be dried before the next layer is applied. This is repeated atleast three times to provide some stiffness to the material. Thereafter, it is painted.
Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial Art -Mask making Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial Mask Making-

Cherial art is not only about scroll painting but also masks and dolls. From these scroll paintings, characters were adapted for masks, general characters such as man, woman, cow, tiger etc which were used in plays and for story telling. These masks are again prepared on a base of tamarind seed paste mixed with saw dust. The features are made in free hand, allowed to dry thoroughly, covered with a cloth, painted a base coat in white, after which they are painted in bright colours of green, red, blue or yellow. A fun activity for kids and grown up alike, the material is much like clay and easy to work with.

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial dolls-

Cherial Dolls are made from the locally available light weight wood called ‘Poniki’. The three dimensional figure is created with tamarind seed paste mixed with saw dust. These are used to create features on the dolls. This is then wrapped in cloth pieces and a coating of liquid white lime is applied. This is the base over which colours are applied. The colours bring in the beauty of the work with the stylized features and ornaments.

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage. Pic Credit- Spandana

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial Art Sai Kiran Varma. Workshop with Strings of Heritage

Cherial art needs patrons to spread the word and preserve the art form. In the olden days with the kings and kingdoms there was also the love for art. Otherwise these art forms would have died a natural death. But now, with our prosperity we are leaving behind the artists who are preserving this legacy. Let us learn Cherial art fom artist Sai Kiran Varma, bring home these pieces of art and our heritage and spread the word.

Lots of Twinkles to all of you.


PS- Strings of Heritage conducts Cherial mask making and scroll painting workshops in collaboration with the artist, Sai Kiran Varma.