Mumbai : Pin drop silence marked the creative session at Artist’s Centre on the seventh day of the Kala Ghoda arts festival, as enthusiasts got busy tracing the pre-drawn sketch of a royal couple provided to them along with stationery including pencils, paint brushes, colors, tracing papers. While some struggled with the eyes, others tried perfecting the curves and lines.

“You are not supposed to use an eraser,” warned Prakash Joshi, the conductor of the two-hour long class based on the traditional Phad style of mythology-based painting. While the participants tried perfecting their strokes, Joshi demonstrated it step by step onto a larger board.
“Phad is an ancient form of art. It is different than its contemporaries, in certain elements such as round noses, large eyes, round face, all of which remain standard. If these change, the art form changes,” says Joshi, who hails from Rajasthan and embraced the legacy of Phad art from his ancestors who practiced it for three centuries. As he helps a student by shaping a woman’s nose and eyes, he advises being patient and focused in order to get perfection.
“You cannot finish a Phad painting in a jiffy. Because you have to get those elements just as they are. A little mistake can change it from a Phad art to some other type of art.”
Once all students are done with the sketching, Joshi distributes seven colour palettes viz. orange, yellow, green, brown, blue, red and black to groups of five and insists that the colors in Phad art are constant and cannot be changed.
“Only these seven colours must be used for Phad art. No combinations and no other type of colours.” An hour and a half into the session and most of the participants are ready to give their paintings black outlines, but all complain that their borders are nowhere near to perfection as are Joshi’s.
“The black border is the most important part of Phad art. It gives character to the painting,” says the artist who had won the National Award among others for his paintings. Geetha Sundar, the first to complete her painting in time, was ecstatic for having done something totally different. “Initially I was apprehensive of attending the session since I had never heard of this form of art. But now I’m absolutely thrilled and will continue to indulge in Phad art,” said the 45 year old art hobbyist. Although Nirmal Lodha, 62, could not finish his painting in time, he was happy to have atteneded the session.
“It has been a rewarding session for me, especially since there are such limited options for people of my age, I’m glad I invested my time in the right manner.”

Pooja Biraia

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