Indian Miniature Painting Method

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Traditional Indian Miniature
Traditional Indian Miniature

I had the pleasure of attending a five-day workshop on Indian Miniature Painting by Artist Mr Sohan Singh Billawria at Srinagar. Being a student, follower and Teacher of Art: different styles, their nuances, variation in execution and materials from different areas is a matter of curiosity. To watch the execution of the different stages of a painting before the final emerges is a learning experience. The artist used stone colours against the commercial colours used by most miniature artists. The preparation of these colours is tedious and a long drawn-out process. The final colours, when used, have a brilliance incomparable with commercial watercolours. The composition is drawn on Vasli a special paper prepared by sticking various layers together. The entire painting is executed using very watery coats and shading is done using a fine brush. The pictures below are of different stages as it is painted to completion at the workshop.

The traditional stone colours used in their raw form

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The stone colours crushed to a fine powder

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The colours refined and ready to use.

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The hand made brushes used for painting.

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The composition is drawn on Vasli paper and covered with white colour in two thin coats. A faint impression of the drawing shows through.


The painting being burnished from the reverse side.

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The entire composition is now drawn with a fine outline brush using a very diluted mixture of lamp black and red.

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The flat colours are filled in using very diluted two to three washes of the required colours.

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All the colours have been laid and the outline of the composition continues to show through. the shading is achieved using the fine brush and fine parallel lines.

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The yellow background is covered with fine horizontal light green lines.

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Tree trunks are shaded and the tree leaves outlined and shaded.

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Rest of the details added and a little bit of pure liquid gold is applied

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The painting is complete.

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