Art

Prasad Natarajan talks about his love for wildlife art

Prasad Natarajan

Prasad Natarajan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Prasad Natarajan is a crusader for wildlife art and hopes more and more artists will take it up more seriously

Prasad Natarajan was wrapping up a bird watch at Lakkavalli, Karnataka when he spotted a lone bird perched on a wooden stump at a distance. He zoomed in with his camera.“I saw the white and brown feathers of the Ospray and almost jumped out of my skin with excitement. It was my dream to spot it and that was a moment of fulfilment. I sketched it for an hour and by the time I was done, there was a heavy downpour and the bird was gone, ” recollects the wildlife artist. This-36 year-old from Bengaluru was recently in Chennai to conduct a workshop organised by Canopy Nature Academy.

Brown winged kingfisher

Brown winged kingfisher   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Prasad confesses that when he began drawing in his school days, “I drew only landscape and Gods. I am self taught and learnt through trial and error.” It was his time spent at an uncle’s farm in Tumkur where he began to enjoy Nature. There was a forest next door and it was there, he was exposed to a number of plants and animals. “I loved the experience so much that I visited him every year,” he says. But it was not until 2005 that he started to draw animals. “I followed the blogs of Pip Mcgarry, a leading wildlife artist from the UK. I was so impressed that I sent him a mail asking him for tips. He advised me to do regular field trips and to practise my art everyday. I follow those instructions to this day.” Prasad also attended an online course by US based-artists, Jan Martin Mcguire and Carel Pieter Brest van Kempen in 2017 and that inspired him to experiment with acrylic colours. “Till then I was working with pencil, water colours and pen and ink.”

Chameleon

Chameleon   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Getting the details right is important for a wildlife art. “It is a lot of work. I generally paint birds that I have seen and photographed. This helps me get the colours and anatomy right. I also check with experts if I have any doubts,” he explains.

His favourite subject is the Southern Oriental Kingfisher that he first spotted in 2018 at Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary. “It is the size of a fist and is the smallest kingfisher that can be found in India. The bird is orange, purple and blue. It was such a joy to watch it fly, perch and feed on lizards.” One of his paintings features two spotted owlets.“I merged two photographs, one taken by well known wildlife photographer Vipul Ramanuj and another taken by me for the painting. I sent him a print of my work and he loved it.”

Thanks to painting from Nature, he learnt a lot, says Prasad. “I learnt about a lot of species in depth and about their habitats.” Prasad believes that understanding Nature automatically makes one conserve it.

Artists for Wildlife and Nature (AWN)
  • Prasad is the founder of the Bengaluru-based trust called Artists for Wildlife and Nature. He started it in 2017 to “bring artists from around the country to showcase their works, meet other artists and share their knowledge”.
  • In the past three years, the trust has organised eight shows in Bengaluru. “The trust provides awards and cash prize for the best works. AWN also has an online community with 1300 members from across the world. Of this 800 artists are from India,” he says.
  • For details visit http://artistsforwildlifeandnature.
  • blogspot.com/

He wishes more galleries in India would promote wildlife art. But he admits that it is not yet mainstream. “This could be why acclaimed artists like Carl d'Silva from Goa was not an active participant in exhibitions in the country. The paintings do not have many takers and therefore artists are hesitant to take it up as a full time profession. Those who do it also confine themselves to a few species like lions, tigers and elephants,” he rues.

Prasad is on a mission to change this trend and his paintings are of birds, reptiles and butterflies. He is now planning to organise a national level wildlife art exhibition at Coimbatore. “It will be in June. I am also working to build a museum with at least 200 wildlife paintings. I have started my collection for the same,” he smiles

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 6:53:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/prasad-natarajan-on-his-love-for-wildlife-art/article30971240.ece

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