Recently we were published on Tricityvoice magazine:
Kalamandir, school of traditional
By Arathi Satish
A popular art form in India is traditional Tanjore and Mysore
painting. For those interested in learning about these magnificent
works born from the Vijayanagar School of Painting in the early
1300s, classes by local artist Kala Ghaty are now open.
The Tanjore art school originated in Tanjore, South India and became
famous due to the royal patronage of the Maratha kings. Tanjore
paintings are jewel-encrusted using a special gold foil that depicts
Hindu gods and goddesses.
Mysore paintings date back to Ajanta times and Vijayanagar Kings.
This style is noted for delicate lines, graceful figures and gold
foil work. Bright vegetable dyes were used as paint and the results
are elegant and attractive. These works also depict Hindu deities.
These paintings usually have one central figure with a well-rounded
body and almond shaped eyes with a background of either an arch or
curtain. Over time, the style has changed to include more figures.
The paintings are well known for their adornment of precious and
semi-precious stones, pearls, glass, mica, ivory and gold. Rich and
vibrant color paints are used. The background is usually red,
Originally, the paintings were restricted to Hindu deities, but this
changed in the 20th century. Now representations have been altered
by personal influences expressed by use of more proportionate
figures, replacing precious stones with artificial ones, and
including figures from various religions, paintings of birds,
animals and flowers.
Creation of this wonderful art form includes dedication and several
stages of planning. The first step is to prepare a board or wooden
plank. Originally Jackfruit wood was used but has been replaced by
plywood. A layer of unbleached cotton cloth treated with chalk
powder and glue is pasted with gum to the board. Next, the selected
picture is traced on the treated board. This is followed by affixing
precious, semi-precious stones and glass pieces to form jewels,
garlands, etc. The outline is then painted with chalk powder and
arabica gum. The lavish use of gold foil adds opulence to the
paintings. Finally, bright and striking colors are used to enhance
Instead of vegetable dyes, chemical paints are now used since they
provide better shades of color. Traditionally, blue depicts Lord
Vishnu; white is used for Lord Nataraja and yellow for goddesses.
Tanjore and Mysore paintings are beautifully framed using plain wood
or an ornamental Chettinad style. Instead of glass, transparent
acrylic sheets are often used to avoid breakage during transit.
These time-honored techniques are taught by the Kalamandir Art
School in Fremont where Ghaty, a Fremont Unified School District
special education teacher, began teaching the ancient art style in
2001. She conducts classes for both adults and children. Besides
Tanjore and Mysore styles, Ghaty gives instruction in one-stroke
painting, ceramics, murals, watercolors, acrylics and oil painting.
Ghaty also teaches a summer camp program for children with special
needs. "Painting has been a passion with me. I've always wanted to
teach art to children. I have kids who like to participate and I
meet excellent parents who give honest feedback," she said.
Kalamandir Art School
43363, Debrum Common, Fremont CA
(510) 668 1494
Classes are held on selected weekdays and weekends