Two sisters speak about their creative works that are slowly catching people’s attention

Asha Raj is constantly finding new ways to make art. Her latest craze is the tint paper crushed craft. From a distance, it resembles a heavy metal work but is only waste paper painted in bright metallic colours and nicely crushed before given a shape.

Asha displayed a rack full of crushed paper art works from a palanquin to miniature dolls and Radha-Krishna at a city exhibition recently and created a buzz. Says the young artist, “May be people are finally starting to seek me out. It is an incredible thrill!”

From murals to canvas painting, fancy gift boxes and decoration pieces, miniature artificial bonsai in Thai clay, murals and paper craft, the art works from the 24-year-old and her younger sister Priyanka Devi managed to evoke curiosity among the visitors.

“We did not make much money, but we made lots of contacts,” beamed the two self-taught sisters.

It is indeed credit worthy that with no formal training, the naturally gifted girls have picked up the nuances of different forms of art from the internet and different teachers in different cities.

“Best way of learning is by doing,” they say. Once Asha attends a crash course or any workshop, she first produces a small batch of quality products with intense attention to detail. If it is liked by her family members and friends, who are also her best critics, she dares to put them out for sale and simultaneously starts teaching the same art to interested students.

“Art is a beautiful medium to keep your senses in balance and be happy. I believe everyone should not only learn art but also spread it,” says Asha, who runs art tuition centre called the ‘Know How Arts & Crafts’ from her house on Tamil Sangam Road.

Asha lives in a world of ideas. “I made art very early on. Ever since I could hold a pencil, I loved drawing. I had very supportive parents, my mother is a rangoli artist and my father excels in pencil drawing,” she says.

Asha of course had the flair which she coupled with her imagination to always come up with something unusual and different. She was naturally her school’s first choice for all drawing competitions and never returned empty handed. “I do all types of traditional art like painting and sculpting,” she says, “because I feel my work should not be conventional.”

Learning to work with different concepts, designs, compositions and combinations is beneficial she says, because when you evolve as an artist it is important to work in multiple genres.

At 24 she has trained herself in quilling, stamping, decoupage, Thai and deo clay work, stack card craft, stocking, basic drawing, pencil shading, all types of paintings and murals, Tanjore painting and rangoli. “I find inspiration from a lot of different sources,” she says, adding, “creative work is complex, fatiguing and exclusive.”

“I become excited by just thinking about art,” she says. It is her spirit that keeps driving everybody in her family. Having always doodled from the time her sister Priyanka can remember, she too feels art is good for brain and soul. “We need to utilise our talent to full optimum,” she says.

The two talented sisters always glean any information about other artists and their art. Both love the girly things from jewellery to decoration pieces, hand bags, clocks and fancy gift items.

The different disciplines we have learnt feed each other, says Asha, the more talkative of the two. She is also protective about her sister, who she feels can deliver much more with her striking art craft.

“But she always drags her work beyond the deadline. I get worked up and we fight,” says Asha.

“But the moment we immerse ourselves in our work we forget everything,” follows up soft spoken Priyanka.

Both have taken a strong liking to paper quilling work and wall clocks and photo frames based on this art are a big hit.

“The requirement is minimal, only coloured paper strips that are shred and pasted with fevicol with the help of a needle on the desired surface. The pieces of paper are meticulously assembled creating a feather effect that constantly evolves.

Art starts with a simple idea but the end product always emphasises mood and depth of the artist. Whether it is an interior wall mural or the orange tree bonsai, their work is minimalist in style and design. Yet there is boldness in simplicity.

Asha and Priyanka want to turn their passion in creative design into full time business. “Hard work, continuous learning and improvement,” are what they are always chasing because they believe it is about taking initiative and constantly pushing oneself to improve as an artist.

Their honesty and sincerity is their greatest virtue and time is on their side.

(Making a difference is a fortnightly column about ordinary people and events that leave an extraordinary impact on us. E-mail soma.basu@thehindu.co.in to tell her about someone you know who is making a difference)