Experiments inspired by Folk Art

Madhubani art, from the region of ancient Mithila, modern-day state of Bihar, Eastern India. Childlike forms, gods and goddesses, story glimpses flash in my mind. The landscape of Indian folk art is vast and Madhubani art is a popular artform, familiar, seen in paintings, on sarees. Now on Pinterest and You Tube videos, it is obvious that the art form is practiced by traditional artists and creatives from India.

As an artist, I continue to learn and experiment with forms as I “find my voice” – this ongoing (never-ending?) journey. Madhubani art depicts themes of religion and the everyday, both of which are also topics of my interest.  In my quick study of the topic it becomes clear – a border to the drawing is key, a gentle symmetry rather than a rigid kind and a lot of therapeutic repetition in forms and patterns are present. 


I’ve experimented with two drawings so far in the spirit of Madhubani art, both shown here. One follows a religious theme mixed with the everyday – the figure of my favorite God Krishna, apparently on the banks of the sacred Yamuna in nature and in Krishna’s hands on his lap, a rabbit, admittedly looking rather like a rodent. The piece, titled in my mind: “Krishna – The Protector of Rabbits.” A secret…the large rabbit shown is our family’s snow white rabbit, Angel, who spends hours on the mat in front of our family altar with our Krishna deities in it. The religious connected to the everyday.

The second drawing is of a tree (a study for a tree focused theme for a collaborative project I am working on) growing even as its roots spread into the earth and birds sit and flit around its branches, and pick for worms under its shade. The earth has many sections. The repetitive hatching of the earth reminds me of Zentangles and the new, popular obsession with coloring books and patterns world-wide.

Post the experience I notice….storytelling is potent in this artform, as is the deliberate evolution through the artist’s decisions made in the process. I chose to keep the drawings in my favorite color scheme of black and white but expect that coloring would reveal more possibilities. Unlike the fast, responsive, spontaneous sumi-e ink drawings I am accustomed to making, these drawings had a slower pace, evolving and therapeutic quality. They also embodied the Japanese notion of wabi sabi, in which imperfection itself embodies quality. Where to from here? Not sure but a promising step in the journey, I’ll say.


‘Krishna, The Protector of Rabbits’ by Virajita Singh

‘Tree’ by Virajita Singh


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