Aditi Agarwal Paints ON Feathers, And I Tried It Too!
- IWB Post
- July 25, 2015
Yesterday, I set on yet another expedition to bring to you all an intriguing story. The story of a woman who paints!
Meet Aditi Agarwal, a professional charcoal artist, who paints on feathers! Yes, you heard that right. She paints ON feathers. When our photographer, Shashank, and I were on our way to her home, we wondered amongst ourselves, “Painting on feathers? Is that even possible?” Well, after a bit of patience, our mystifying query was evidently answered.
As we entered her house, Aditi showed us some of her super-cool painted feathers and both of us gawked at them in awe! Well, this was a lucky day for me, for even I was going to try my clumsy hands at Aditi’s beautiful art. Perks of my work!
Did I mention that I love my job?
Me: Aditi, this painting-on-feathers thing is so out of the box! How did you get into it?
Aditi: I once saw a beautiful painting of a feather while browsing on the internet. So I just wondered why not make a painting on a feather. Also you get a lot of feather merchandise these days, like earrings, neckpieces, etc., but most of them are made using fibre feathers. This was one more thing which got me thinking about creating something out of real feathers.
Me: Oh! Given your artistic background, that mustn’t have been much of a hardship!
Aditi: Umm, I am actually not a trained artist. I have a Bachelors degree in Science and a Masters degree in Economics. After my education, I worked three years at Genpact.
Me: Wait, what? B.Sc, M.A. Economics, Genpact and now painting? Where’s the connection?
Aditi: My dad is the connection. It is all because of him that today I am an artist. He noticed the creative spirit in me and forced me to nurture it. So I joined Kalaneri Art Academy for 3 months during which I also participated in Kalamela exhibition, as a student. My art received much appreciation and my teachers at Kalaneri suggested me to work with charcoal.
Shashank: Okay ladies, let’s get down to the real task and save some talking for later. I think you both should use this bench as a table…
Me: … and sit down on the muddy grass? Yeah why not! We’re down to earth people! *Smirks*
Aditi: *Laughs* So, what do you want to paint, Priya?
Me: Umm, heyyy! Why don’t we inscribe our JWB Logo on the feather? *Digs the now muddy purse for visiting card* Here it is, do you think we can make this?
Aditi: Why not? Let’s start! So first, we need to outline the feather on the paper, and draw a rough sketch of the subject on that. You want to say something Priya?
Me: Just one little warning, I am horrible at drawing!
Shashank: *In a humorous tone* Among other things.
I gave him the cold stare while Aditi motivated me and ignored him. I like this girl!
Aditi: We draw it on the paper first so as to get a rough idea of how it should appear on the feather. And feel free to use the eraser.
I did use it, over-used it, actually. As we finished drawing, came the most exciting part! Painting our logo on the feather!
Shashank: Aditi where do you get these feathers from?
Aditi: Some, I get from my terrace. But most of them my father gets for me. Every morning he goes to a nearby building to feed the pigeons. These pigeons stay there overnight and shed a lot of feathers.
Me: That is so sweet!
Shashank: You know Priya what’s not sweet? Your sketch! Look at hers! So perfect!
Aditi: It is very important to have a good hand at drawing to be able to create a beautiful piece. That is the base of everything. And being a non-artist you have done a good job, Priya!
Me: Thank you! Speaking of beautiful pieces, tell me about some of yours which have gathered fame?
Aditi: Yes there were some! A Delhi client purchased one of my feather artworks for gifting her daughter on her anniversary. Another one was purchased by Kolkata art gallery. One of the charcoal paintings was selected in All India Women’s Contemporary Exhibition, Chandigarh and Delhi International Film Festival. There was one that made its way to State-level Competition organized by Lalit Kala Academy.
Oh, I guess I forgot telling you all an important bit of information about her. Aditi is known for her charcoal paintings, especially those of horses. Horse has become her signature artwork. As I asked her the reason behind this, she told me that horses signify strength, and most of her paintings were based on them.
Me: I can feel my fingers shivering as I am painting this ultra-delicate feather.
Aditi: Keep going! You’re doing well. Also the consistency of the paint needs to be taken care of. Too thick, and the brush won’t move, too thin, and the feather won’t hold the water. It has to be just right!
Along with teaching me, she had already painted the outline of the logo and it was oh so neat!
Aditi: People often come up to me and say that these pieces should be priced low, because they’re just feathers! How do you explain to them that it is not easy as they’re so fragile! And also, this is a new concept. There’s no one in Jaipur who makes this except me. Abroad, sure there are some really good artists exploring this field.
Me: You have a monopoly here! That’s another feather-in-your-cap! But how do you deal with such people who say rude things?
Aditi: I don’t. My mother does. I just devote myself to my creativity. My mother takes care of the other things for me. She’s my backbone! Quite often, people come up and ask weird questions about this art, like for example, “How do you know the birds weren’t killed to get these feathers?” My mother takes over in such situations and answers them.
Me: I am so happy to know that both your parents have supported your art always! You owe your success to them, don’t you?
Aditi: *Smiles* Absolutely! I’d still be doing that previous job if it weren’t for them.
Me: Tell me about your plans for the future.
Aditi: Currently I am pursuing interior designing and I’m being trained under an architect. It is beneficial because architects and interior designers often require paintings and unique artworks. So I get a lot of exposure. For the future, I want to try my hand at feathers of different species of birds. I want to make a Krishna-Leela scene on a female peacock’s feather.
Shashank: It sounds great! Don’t you also teach people, like you’re teaching this clumsy girl in pink?
Aditi: *Chuckles* It is just the beginning right now. People aren’t very aware about this creative avenue. But, I have a Facebook page. I get most of the orders through that. So yes, slowly and steadily people are coming to know of it.
And just as our conversation came to an end, our masterpieces also witnessed their completion. Hers was a neat and pretty feather bearing our stache logo. Mine, well, it would be safe to conclude that it was un-neat and not-so-pretty! But hey! At least I tried! I’ll myself pat my back!
We carried the multihued tools and headed back to Aditi’s home, where I now got the chance to meet her mother. Let’s make the most out of it, I thought, and asked her a question which had been bothering me since quite some time.
Me: Ma’am, Aditi tells me that you’ve been her support system through everything. I dearly appreciate that. But tell me one thing, didn’t you feel a tiny tinge of insecurity when Aditi left her secured job at Genpact and got into this not-so-stable art field?
Her Mother: *Smiles* Not at all! I think one should do what they feel happy doing. She is very talented. I want her to explore her talent as much as she can, and I will always have her back.
Her answer left a wide smile on my face. I wondered to myself that Aditi was actually like those butterflies that were pasted on the wall in their drawing room where we were seated. Beautiful and unafraid to fly high!
Of course these butterflies were also her creation to decorate the room!
Picture Courtesy: Shashank K. Tyagi