I’ve known many wildlife artists, and usually I think of them as people from urban centres, who paint and exhibit in the city. Surprisingly, what was in front of my eyes for a very long time, I had not really noticed…until Sunday, when I met this wildlife artist.
We’d gone for a drive, and at the temple where we decided we’d turn back, we stopped to look at some Hill Mynas. That was when I noticed the artist, hard at work.
I asked him his name, and it sounded very much as if he said "Parmesh"...but his signature, in Kannada, on the hoardings, says, "Dhanush" (Bow, or actually, the Bow-wielding God, Rama.)
Well, I started talking to him, and I admired the leopard he had just finished, and the gaur he was working on.
Two more empty hoardings stood nearby. I asked him how long he'd been an artist, and he said, "About ten years." He is from H D (Hegga Devana) Kote, and he says he is commissioned by the Forest Department to do the paintings of animals and other creatures that the Forest Department will display all over the forest, by the roads.
He said he got about Rs.4500 per painting, and the cost of the materials came to about Rs.1000 or so.He uses oil paints. "But still," he said, "With the rains,the paintings don't last very long."
He asked me to see the tiger painting put up a few steps down the road:
And here is his signature at the right bottom corner:
He says he gets work the whole year round, there are no "off-seasons" for him. It seemed a wonderful life, painting contentedly in the temple premises, not more than a few feet from the forest whose denizens he depicts...
But I am sure that, like all professions, this too would have its ups and downs...yet, to paint for a living somehow seems very satisfying to me!
Here’s Dhanush, still engrossed in his creative work:
These are some of the unsung heroes of our forests. I will not go past another hoarding or painting on the forest road, without looking at it carefully…and it’s good to know that the Forest Department is still encouraging artists and not going in for screen-printed hoardings. Long may the likes of Dhanush last!