Social media platforms have come up with various forms of popular challenges of late. Many talented netizens have took up a new challenge on Facebook dubbed '#100 days of drawing'. Anu K, a resident of Perinthalmanna in Kerala's Malappuram district, too responded to artist Nandakumar's New Year’s Day initiative on FB and is now creating waves by showcasing her artistic skills. This undergraduate student, who is a self-taught illustrator, now feels the applauds she gets for her works indicate people are recognising her skills.
Such a challenge, Anu says, is not new. Many people earlier have organised such challenges which tested skills of art, craft photography etc. Noorudinavarakal (100 days of drawing), in her opinion is just another online challenge, but it has helped her to polish her skills and gain confidence to freely draw anything.
Anu came to know of this online challenge on the third day when one of her Facebook friends, Midhun Vijayakumari, mentioned about the contest in her post.
"I initially accepted this invitation merely for the sake of formality just as anyone accepts any other challenge on Facebook," Anu says.
Anu has so far drawn illustration for 10 published books. She used to draw pictures and post on social media platforms. Seeing her skills, it was Unni T R of Vicharana Publications who contacted her and thus she committed her first book 'IIanjipookkal' (Bakula flowers) authored by Kurungatt Vijayan. Thereafter, she sketched for Harikrishnan Thachadan’s self-published short story collection 'Kanapp', B Indira’s novel 'Poochayude Kannanthirivukal', children’s literature 'Ammomma Kathakal' penned by M S Susheelamani and 'Leopald Rajavinte Athmagadham,' a translation of Mark Twain’s works.
Other illustrations were for 'Unnikkinavukal', a poetry collection of Madhavi Menon; 'Kochu Kochu Karyangal', a collection of Subash Moonumuri’s poems; 'Mambazhakalam', a collection of Latheesh Keezhalloor’s poems; 'Mannil ninnu aakashathek peyyunna mazhakal', a collection of short stories by 25 online writers; and 'Party' a novel written by S Jayanchandran Nair.
Initiation to art
Anu is not a trained artist. She started drawing like any other child by drawing on the walls of her house. She has received guidance from online platforms and from her father’s friends on aspects like the choice of brush or medium of paint which were greatly helpful in shaping the artist in her. Seeing her skills, she was sent to a painting course during a summer vacation when she was in Class 5. However, Anu did not like the idea of art class, as she found them to be stifling.
"In typical art classes it is mere reproduction of works or drawing as per the prescribed subject, and they don’t allow the comfort of drawing at one's choice of time," Anu notes.
She also felt that they did not provide one the choice of drawing what one loves, what one feels or what one dreams but emphasised on training students to draw what they want within a prescribed time limit and as per their concepts. From her point of view, drawing is a self-driven thing and it depends much on one’s perspective. Each person’s art therefore will be definitely distinct and versatile. A drawing teacher might find many mistakes in his or her students’ artwork but one need to recognise their versatility as the students' unique freedom of expression.
Anu does not believe in the concept of permanent right or wrong in giving shape to one’s imagination. To stand independently as an artist Anu points out that it is always better to learn oneself.
She also finds similar drawbacks with painting and drawing competitions too. She recollects that she last took part in a competition when she was in Class 10 and found them straining. She says that she is unable to perform under such constraints. Moreover, Anu does not prefer to evaluate her own talent in a competitive way.
Anu said initially she had some fears to draw. Definitely, art tools were costly and coming from a middle-class family, she used to think twice before using a colour or drawing on a canvas. Even though her father used to get her whatever materials she asked for, Anu remembers that the cost of the materials used to worry her much earlier. But slowly she was able to overcome this fear, as soon she found buyers for her works which helped her to be economically independent in procuring art materials. This was actually a new-found freedom for her.
"When I started drawing with the materials I procured with my own sweat, I felt that my works looked much prettier to my eyes," Anu beams.
Anu was also initially worried over the scrutinising comments of the morality watchdogs in the society.
"It was heartbreaking when those dear to me came up with the questions like ‘you are a woman who should ultimately go to another home, have you ever thought what others will think of you if you draw such pictures’?", Anu recalls.
She admits that initially she was tensed by what her near and dear ones would think of you.
"I even tore off some pictures as I was affected by such comments," Anu confesses.
She laments that some of them cannot even be recreated. Anu sees such criticisms as due to generation gap and for her the only way to find happiness is by totally ignoring discouraging comments.
"One should not do anything to impress others. I prefer to stand independently," Anu revealed her mantra.
Anu's skilled hands can transform almost anything on her canvas. Checking her Facebook page, you can find even eggs and broken pots magically reshaped by her creativity.
She still finds it difficult to fix a price for her work. Every work, she says is the result of hard work and is dear to her and she seeks the advice of senior artists when it comes to finalising a price. She believes that its always better to charge a price for drawing as that to an extent will ensure that the buyer takes enough care of the work. Giving away a work free of cost always runs the risk of denial of respect to the creator.
Anu remembers that initially she found it difficult to part with her work. As the person who gave life to the picture her works definitely were close to her heart. She tries to ensure that the new owner will also take care of the painting as she does. After all, putting creativity to work definitely comes at a cost.
Anu, who beautifully portrays female feelings, believes that it is necessary to classify drawings into male or female drawings like one does in literature. She points out that some men appreciably give life to female emotions than women artists on canvas.
Anu is not much interested in portrait drawings as a lot patience is required to finish them. She gives higher value to creativity.
Anu did her schooling from Pathaikkara school till class seven in her locality. She fondly remembers her teacher Sreeja who taught her there and gave her immense support and motivated her to go ahead in her artistic journey. She later went to the Technical Higher Secondary School, Perinthalmanna, and finished her higher secondary in GHSS, Anamangad. There Anu was able to conduct small exhibitions, however with increasing academic burden Anu found little time to draw. It was during the holidays after Class 12 that she took up drawing seriously.
All credit to parents
Anu says that if not for her father’s support she would not have been able to develop her skills. Her mother too gave her ample freedom.
"I never troubled her with the responsibility of household chores when she is greatly involved in drawing," her mother said.
Anu is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Malayalam from NSS College, Ottappalam. Her mother works as a librarian and her father owns an auto. This gifted artist is a budding writer too.
Her works are available on her Facebook page.