What happens when a paintbrush stands in the way of the artist and the artwork. Chuck the brush, of course.
Vini Venugopal from Thrissur has done just that. The young artist paints with her fingers, without interference from any external tool. She dips her fingers to oil paints to bring to life the canvas in front of her. The result is a collection of brilliant paintings that would put a photographer to shame.
A recent exhibition of Venugopal’s paintings in Thrissur was noted for their three-dimensional qualities. The young woman had spent a year completing the 31 finger paintings. She has spent years before that perfecting her art. She owes her fame to her latent talent and hard work.
The young Venugopal was enamored by colors like any other child but when she painted the works heralded a promising artist. She was never trained professionally. She did not even consider her a professional painter with a distinct style. She just scribbled pictures with her pen during her school and college years.
She joined a fine arts course in Bengaluru after completing her plus-two course. Still, a career as an artist was a faraway prospect. She moved abroad with her parents. She kept on painting until she organized an exhibition of her works in Thrissur in 2012. That was a collection of “pen paintings”.
Colors burst into Venugopal’s life again after the birth of her son, Gahan. The young mother was thrilled to see her toddler drawing and painting. She encouraged him but experimented with colors that would not harm the child’s health.
She made colors for him by mixing food-grade colors to flour. The child who could hardly hold a brush had a lesson for his mother too. The natural way of painting with the hands impressed Venugopal. She imitated her son’s style and got hitched to it.
Initially, she dabbed colors on outlines on canvas. As she grew confident of her fingers, she did not have to sketch outlines anymore. She painted scenery, fantasies or even photographs with her fingers. Her family and friends prodded her along.
Children are the masters of finger painting. It is a method of innocent minds. They paint whatever they saw in their minds. It was a model worth emulating but not many people wanted to try it. The method was innocent indeed but complex too. Venugopal was committed though.
She opted to wear a couple of gloves to keep her hands clean. Now she does not even feel like picking a brush. She even signs her works with her fingers.
Venugopal said she had not come across many people who paint with their fingers, except a couple of artists in Mumbai and London. She is yet to meet them.
She is keen on pursuing the skill. Finger painting was a chance discovery for her but the method has come to be her signature. Her paintings have evinced the interests of art lovers. She even receives online inquiries through her websites.
Venugopal is enamored by scenes of nature and wildlife. The moment she comes across an interesting animal picture, she finds her fingers irresistible. She wants to paint them in their natural surroundings.
Splashing drops of water is another leitmotif in her oeuvre. They are as life-like as a photograph. The people, plants and animals in her paintings seem to breathe.
She plans to organize more exhibitions in other Indian cities. A Bengaluru exhibition is on the cards. Gahan, now two and a half years old, is constantly with her at her house at Karuvankad near Thrissur. Her husband Sanish is an expatriate worker in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.