Debashish Sahoo is one artist who has made innovative creations using this art form
'My father being an artist I was naturally drawn towards drawing and painting. Six years ago I came across palm leaf paintings. I found them different from the normal paintings and started training under Basantha Maharana an exponent in that style of art',’ recalls Debashish
The Patta Chitra painting as the art is called consists of engraving artistic designs on palm-leaf. The palms are cut and boiled with turmeric powder so that they become soft , flexible and immune to fungus. ‘This process helps to preserve the leaf for decades. They will not give way as they did in ancient times explains Debashish.
The palm leaves are cut to the required length, the maximum being 22 inches. Leaves of the same size and length are stitched to get the required size. A full length sticker is stuck on the top and bottom of the piece. The design is then engraved using iron pens. It is not visible to the eye immediately.
Charcoal soot is applied to the entire piece. The piece is then dried in the sun and washed. The soot settles on the engravings and then the design stands out distinctly. Knives are used to scrap portions on the border to give it a more artistic look.
‘The painter has to be very careful while drawing for if there is a mistake r the entire piece becomes a waste and has to be discarded. There are no means to correct the mistakes’ points out Debashish.
Most of these paintings depict figures of Gods and Goddesses and mythological stories and incidents. Engravings of animals, birds and plants can also be found. Vegetable and mineral colors are used with the help of a paint brush in recent times to add a dash of colour to the paintings.
Debashish is innovative and has used his creative skills to fashion palm leaf diaries and book marks. He has also done paintings with glass colours embossed with lac and chisel powder.
Palm leaf paintings are durable. They can be washed and kept clean. The engravings never fade and since the raw material is processed they withstand the test of time’ he says.
Debashish has exhibited his paintings at Shankara Hall, TTK Road.