Warli art is a beautiful art form practiced in tribal areas of the state of Maharashtra in India. The joyful stick figures drawn on the walls of the village homes with white clay lend so much vibrance and movement to the decor inspite of the human figures not having the conventional shapes or expressions. This is what amazes me the most about this art form. The second thing that I love about this art form is the variety of lovely sceneries that are drawn, whether it is the depiction of a typical day in the life of a villager, or scenes that show the merriment, solemnity and vibrancy of a festival or event all at once.
One such event is due in our family in a month’s time. My third sister Neela’s daughter Divya is getting married in November. The countdown towards her wedding date reminded me of this wonderful form of art and I floated the idea among my creative family members to attempt a Warli painting depicting a wedding scene. The one I chose was a simple “bidaai” scene that shows the newlywed bride being transported to her husband’s home with troupes of musicians accompanying the procession. My neice Anisha decided to take it up a few notches and attempted a panel of wedding scenes including the arrival of the groom and his family, the actual wedding and then the post-wedding procession.
We chose a dark drawing paper to be able to draw in white colour, in order to get the same effect as you would on the brown mud-caked walls of a village home.
Since we started these workshops back in 2020 as a way to cope with the isolation and lack of social contact brought on by COVID-19, we have attempted many different art styles but the opportunity to try out a Warli had not presented itself until now. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, and still continue to be fascinated by how much vibrance and joy one can coax out of simple traingular stick figures!
Our source of inspiration was this drawing I came across on Pinterest.
We started with outlining the basic sketch using white colour pencil:
This is my sister Lakshmi’s version, she used white gel pen over the outline:
My cousin Goma took another direction and used white charcoal pencils to draw the sketch. Her result for me looks closer to a genuine Warli drawing on a call due to the chosen medium:
I used gel pens for the outline and the more intricate work but then switched to acrylic paint pen in white shade to fill the figures as well as the horse:
My niece Anisha’s three-panel version was the cherry on top of this very fun cake! She also used white gel pen but went with navy blue chart paper, which gives yet another dimension to the effect of white ink on navy blue paper:
I for one will surely be attempting more of these in the near future. I experienced a wonderful sense of joy and a lot of fun watching each of these figures come to life, whether it was the bride, the groom or the musicians.
This workshop was a great way to usher in the wedding in our family and shower our blessings on the happy couple through these sketches.
For our next workshop, where we picked an intricate mandala-style drawing of Ma Durga in honor of the Navratri festival. Until next time!