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A brush with divinity

ARTISTIC TALENT is seen as a divine gift. And what better way to use it than to depict divine figures. K. K. Velayudhan, a peon at Canara Bank, Mulanthuruthy, paints in his spare time. And his paintings now adorn a number of Kurisupally's or the small shrines attached to churches at Mulanthuruthy and its neighbourhood.

Though a Hindu by faith, Mr.Velayudhan has done mostly pictures of various Christian saints. His paintings include a number of paintings of Geevarghese Mar Gregorious (Parumala Tirumeni), Elias Thrithian Patriarch, St. Mary and also that of St. George and the Dragon. The reason for this is that at Mulathuruthy, a predominantly Christian area, paintings with a Christian theme, are in great demand, especially during pilgrim seasons.

Mr. Velayudhan has also painted a few pictures of Hindu gods. But he finds sketching the Christian figures more challenging, "These figures are tougher to draw as there are photos of some of them and one has to draw exactly like it. And the others are based on pictures, which people want copied just the same way. Whereas, in the case of figures of the Hindu gods, all that is demanded is that they look perfect and good," says the artist.

Mr. Velayudhan has never had any sort of formal training, apart from a six-month part time course, which he attended at the Cochin School of Arts. "That short term training was quite useful as I learned about colours and styles from eminent artists like M. V. Devan. But apart from that, whatever I learned is from my days as a lorry painter,'' revealed Mr. Velayudhan. As a youngster he used to paint those intricate designs on lorries for a living. "Unlike now, in those days lorries used to be really colourful. All bright colours and lots of pictures all over it.''

Always keen to talk to artists and others who can give him information about his passion, Mr. Velayudhan, 49, still has plans to learn painting professionally. "After retirement I plan to study this subject properly from a eminent artist,'' he says.

Though he is at home with mediums like oil and enamel, most of his work that he gets to do nowadays is enamel paintings. "I'm mostly commissioned by middleclass people who want the pictures to last long and done at an affordable rate. Enamel paintings are just the thing for them as they are sturdy, last long and the paint is relatively cheaper too.''

For him, painting is a hobby, which he tries to pursue without incurring much of an expense. "With my income I cannot afford to pursue painting as a hobby. So I paint only when someone asks me to do a picture. Painting is simply a passion it is my bank job that earns me my bread," says the artist with a sheepish smile.

Mr. Velayudhan stays at Mulanthuruthy with his wife Shamini and his two children Dhanya and Sandeep. Dhanya also paints quite well. "I have told her to make use of her talent in some constructive way that will fetch her a job. To become successful in fine arts, one has to be very talented, really lucky and very persistent and her priority should be a job, '' feels Mr. Velayudhan.

This talent seems to run in the family. His elder brother, Narayanan, also used to draw quite well.

As for Mr. Velayudhan, he always had an artistic existence. As a youngster, he used to do a lot of glass paintings. He was also active as a stage artist and used to play the tabla at ganamelas. But now he finds no spare time for such pursuits. His only connection with art is through the palette. And he has plans to fine-tune his talent as soon as he gets the time. Till then he remains content, painting those divine figures.


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