The origin and evolution of Indian painting can be traced to pre-historic times as evident in the art works at Bhimbetka caves in Madhya Pradesh.
But over the span of centuries painting as a medium of expression continued to evolve and engendered different styles across India and of which the Mysore Traditional Painting is one of them.
It is said to be an offshoot of the style patronised by the Vijayanagar kings who ruled between the 14th and 17th centuries.
After the downfall of the empire, the Wodeyars who were the feudatories of the Vijayanagar rulers in the Mysore region, filled in the vacuum and encouraged artists during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Art historians say that the Mysore Traditional Painting flowered in the beginning of the 19th century and Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar — whose regime extended from 1799 to 1868 — was responsible for it.
The theme of Mysore Traditional Painting is generally drawn from mythology and religion and the artists drew various gods, goddesses, while court scenes were extremely rare.
The raw material for Mysore traditional painting include drawing sheets, gold leaf foil, cloth, glue, and the production process entails preparing the canvas using plywood sheets. A thin white cloth is pasted on it.
Drawing is rendered on sheets pasted on the canvas, embossing is done using gesso and gold foil is pasted on the gesso work. The background is laced with different hues to make the artwork rich in colour.
During the Vijayanagar period natural colours were extracted from flowers and plants, but today artists use colours available in the market.
Though Mysore traditional painting has a hoary past, it is confined to a few craft pockets in Mysore and Bangalore in the present times and there are not more than 50 to 60 artists practising this art form seriously.