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The ‘blogger/writer’ avatar of Shail is well known among her circle of family, and friends. The same people though are not well acquainted with ‘artist’ version of Shail. Not their fault though because unfortunately (or fortunately for them, it’s all a matter of perspective!) that side has been languishing in anonymity these past years.

Not any longer. But before going into my recent forays into the world of art, let me take you on a brief journey back in time.

When I was six, the nuns in my school decided that I should attend the drawing competition being conducted by the Rotary Club for the children of the district. Perhaps they had seen potential in the squiggles I made with colour pencils in my drawing book during art class. Anyway there I was one day, speeding along in the school bus with a few other schoolmates.

Apparently the house among the hills that I drew, and the well to draw water from, the trees, the sun, the grass, the flowers, not to mention the strategically placed birds in flight in the blue sky among other things, impressed the judges. Who would have thunk? Not me. And yet, I won first place for my effort and was gifted a small orange coloured miniature ‘suitcase’, its insides lined with silky dark blue cloth. I still remember its every detail.

Father made a fuss about that small win. After all he himself used to do pencil drawings. He must have been pleased to think that the progeny had inherited his talent. For a while he was interested enough to get me drawing books and colour pencils and on my part I put them to good use. But somewhere along the line school life became all about studies and I gradually lost touch with the ‘drawing’ artistic side of me.

True, in later years I was applauded for drawing a nearly perfect India by the Social Studies teacher, and also by the fabric painting teacher the very first time I tried my hand at it. ‘Have you done this before?’ she asked. I hadn’t and I wondered what made her ask. That certainly was my last brush with art. With no new opportunities, focus soon shifted. Books and reading took priority.

Life happened in the following years and as the sole available parent, taking care of family became my top priority. Everything else had to be pushed aside. Art had long ago been dropped by the wayside. Drawing? What’s that? That is, apart from the brief interludes of drawing locomotives for the train-fascinated toddler, the First Born. There was of course the painting on pots and vases done with the Second Born. All were but minor excursions into the field of art.

My art devoid life changed all of a sudden when I came to know of a Madhubani painting class happening at a friend’s studio, and on an impulse, decided to attend. Proficiency in drawing was not a pre-requisite, the description of the class read, putting my self-doubts to rest. If that’s the case, why not, I thought. That’s how I happened to find myself with a vibrant group learning the ropes of Madhubani painting from our teacher, Smriti.

Sip a little and you want to guzzle more. That’s exactly what happened to me. Next I heard about Aruna’s (of Colors and Creations fame) coffee painting workshop. Intrigued I googled to find more about coffee painting. The pictures that came up had me enthralled. This I simply HAD to do. ‘I’ll be there with my hair in a braid’ I texted her. ‘Oops,’ I added, ‘not enough hair to braid, but I will be there nevertheless with the one centimetre hair I do have.’

I must admit it was a wonderful experience. This was followed by a wood-painting (acrylic) workshop and then a watercolour painting workshop, both conducted by Aruna. No prizes for guessing who was at both enjoying herself to the hilt. Yes, moi, in case you were wondering.

And here’s proof of it all:

So that’s where I have been these past weeks, apart from attending an all-girl get together and also being laid up twice, incapacitated with hypotension. But hey, here I am. Bouncing back is what I do, with panache! 😉

[Yes, the above is all amateur work, by an absolute amateur. The ‘art critics’ among you may please keep your criticisms to yourselves. Not interested in your ‘what can be done to improve these paintings’ opinion. I do this for the joy it brings to me, not because I am going to be the next Picasso or M F Hussain and least of all to impress the self-appointed ‘critics’.]

Shail Mohan 2023