“It is great that art by children is being displayed publicly. Some of the pieces show a lot of maturity,” said Hari Naren, a 25-year-old artist from the city, as he viewed an exhibition of paintings by children.

The intriguing works of art at the atrium of the Alliance Française de Bangalore (AFB) at Vasantnagar were by 16 children, created over the last three years during the art classes conducted by renowned multidimensional artist and research scholar Balan Nambiar every Sunday morning.

The exhibition celebrated the 40th anniversary of the classes.

A member of the administrative staff at AFB observed, “It is an honour for us to display paintings done by Balan's students.”

Seeing the colourful expressions of the young was a privilege for this reporter. And, meeting the great artist at his house — a work of art in itself — was an awe-inspiring experience.

Balan has conducted free art classes for over 2,000 children between the ages of 6 and 12 since 1971. According to him, some children continue to learn from him even after the age of 12. A few have studied art at places such as the National Institute of Design and become professional artists.

While some children including Aaina, Siddharth and the teenager Poorna have been with him for over four years, 7-year-old Avishka joined recently.

“Children are children,” the artist said. “I do not bother about their background or reveal the identity of the parents.”

Balan Uncle, as the children affectionately call him, gives his young students as much paper as they need. They use the media they prefer — oil pastels, watercolour, poster paints or pencils. “I believe that children respond to colour intuitively and begin to develop a sense of perspective after the age of 8 or later. Also, I take them to the terrace to see the sky, birds and trees and sit or kneel to reach their eye level to teach them.”

No child is allowed to copy from another picture. And Balan never tampers with his students' pictures. Small wonder that the great man's methods have carefully developed the individuality and creativity of the budding artists.