Bengaluru artist Kausalya Santhanam scores classic comeback on canvas

In the second innings of her life, Kausalya Santhanam has found her calling in art where she paints stories on household items
Pebbel paintings by Kausalya Santhanam. (Photo| Instagram)
Pebbel paintings by Kausalya Santhanam. (Photo| Instagram)

A graceful sketch of Andal facing the Srirangam temple dressed in her bridal attire of nine yards, and holding a garland, on a pebble; a black and white acrylic portrait of poet Bharathiyar on a wooden coaster, exuding a sense of patriotism; a painting of Krishna and Radha in Vrindavan, sharing an intimate moment, on a chopping board.

Murals on walls, miniature portraits of gods and goddesses on dried leaves, folk art forms on coasters, flora and fauna on cheese boards, sceneries on handmade paper - a visit to Kausalya Santhanam's home is no less than a trip to an art museum.

Like many pandemic-induced budding artists, Kausalya too unearthed her artistic skills during the lockdown, and looks like the patent attorney has finally found her calling. "After a break of 15 years, I resumed my ties with art in 2017; during my second innings. While it was on and off, I started pursuing it full time in the pandemic. Art has replenished my creative thirst. These days, I look forward to late evenings when I can wind up my work and indulge in my favourite hobby," shares the Bengaluru resident.

Inspired by nature

Most of the inspiration for Kausalya’s artworks come from her lush garden that's home to an envious collection of flowers, plants and succulents. And so do the objects that double as a canvas for her sketches and paintings. Like pebbles, for instance.

"I took to pebble art when I was suffering from vertigo. Working on a four-to-five-inch object seemed easier and less stressful to my eyes. I source my pebbles from Jodhpur because the ones in my garden have started yellowing. While there aren’t many Indian pebble artists that I know of, a couple of them abroad do an incredible job and inspire me," she details. 

A larger part of her designs show women clad in a vibrant palette of weaves and younger girls in pattu pavadai. "There's a lot of attention to detail that goes into a woman’s braid, her choice of flower to decorate it and even the way she drapes her sari. Eventually, my drawings evolved and I started drawing Andal, idols of gods and traditional art forms from other parts of India that deserved attention. While I've done quite a bit of commissioned work, I'm not fond of it right now due to time constraints. Sometimes my followers also suggest ideas," notes Kausalya. 

Weaving a new world

Besides using art for recreational purposes, Kausalya wields it as a tool to document the lesser-known weaves of India. Some of the weaves featured in her series are Pasapalli, Kotpad (Odisha), Patteda Anchu (Karnataka), Telia Rumal (Andhra Pradesh), Dongria (Odisha), Sungudi and Sikalnayakenpet (Tamil Nadu). Her fondness for Rajasthan's Pichwai art is also reflected in her artworks.

"Margazhi and Navaratri are busy times. I love narrating stories through my art. They are mostly tales of Krishna and Thirupavai. I’m only a self-taught artist and I have my limitations. But that has not deterred me from exploring different mediums of art," she says.

It is the appreciation and admiration from her 20K followers that have goaded her in this pursuit. "Many ask if I can teach, but I’ve not decided yet. If you are inclined towards any form of art, then go for it without second thoughts. It can add a new purpose to your life at any age or point in time. We all need that diversion from mundanity," she suggests. 

Gardening, her second passion, finds an equal space on a separate Instagram account where posts information on her botanical collection. "It's true that the two important pastimes in my life indeed influence each other and I hope this connection grows stronger," she shares. 

(For details, visit @heartinarts and @heartingreens)

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