Miniature Painting Lessons
While sipping chai at Cafe Namaste, we accidentally stumbled on to the adjacent store, Ashoka Arts, which not only sells miniature paintings but also offers lessons in them. Inside we were warmly greeted by the manager and ushered into an open courtyard behind the store. It turned out that the store and cafe were part of Hotel Gangaur Palace, which is an old, authentic Mewar Haveli offering budget rooms and a roof-top restaurant. The courtyard is in the center of the hotel building. Here sat Madan Salvi (email@example.com), their resident artist who offered classes in miniature painting. It costs Rs.100 per hour for painting on paper and Rs.150 per hour for painting on silk. We opted for paper. The manager of the store then asked us to select a design that we would want to paint. We were shown small miniature paintings of horses, elephants, camels, women and much more. He advised us that we should opt for something simple as it takes hours to make a painting. So Madhu opted for his favorite animal (other than a dog, of course), horse, and I opted for my favorite animal (other than a dog, of course), an elephant.
Madan started off by giving us each a small rectangular piece of white, chart paper and a pencil, and then asked us to draw a square the same size as the one in which our ‘inspiration’ painting was made. Once that was done, he then showed us a relatively easy way of drawing the animals. It looked very easy when he did it but, needless to say, when we tried the same, it didn’t turn out quite as good. However, the thrill of drawing something after so many years (the last time must have been 20 years ago in school) was so high that we forged ahead with our efforts. Madan watched us intently and offered suggestions, even correcting small mistakes himself, along the way. Once the sketch was completed to our satisfaction, the painting began. At first, the background was painted and then slowly each detail of the original was copied on to our version. Madan mixed all the colors and gave us the right brush required for the painting. It was so much fun! We took 2 hours for our little animals but the end product was very satisfying and absolutely thrilling! Obviously, it was nowhere close to the original but the fact that we were given a chance to attempt something like this was really, really nice. More artistically-talented people like Venu (brother-in-law) would not only enjoy this whole experience enormously but also be able to produce something fantastic as a unique souvenir.
Madan and Ashoka Arts’ manager (didn’t catch his name, unfortunately) are very warm people and they treated us like old friends. In the 2 hours we spent there, they talked to us about Udaipur, about themselves and the store. It was quite clear that they didn’t consider us as much of ‘customers’ or ‘tourists’ as the foreign visitors who stopped by – it felt nice. Madan mentioned that many artistically inclined foreigners spend hours with him learning this art. He showed us his own work and they were very impressive; he must have spent hours on them. He also showed us his visitor book, which was filled with visitors’ comments on their experience of learning the art of miniature painting. We added our comments to it as well.
We highly recommend Madan Salvi’s lessons in miniature painting to all Udaipur visitors. It is a unique experience and also an opportunity to chat with the friendly owners of the place; not to be missed!