Water supports all our endeavors, from sustaining our life to making colors flow. Watercolor is a medium that can be as demanding and temperamental as those who choose to paint with it. But it is a colorful and exciting medium all the same – well suited to describing the many moods of the subject, as well as those of the artist wielding the brush.
It might seem daunting at first to have no room for error but when you start with watercolors, you get lost in the beauty of it. The art community is brimming with talented folks, masters of the medium, but we are here to shine light on our very own maven who inspired this post.
Anurag Mehta, the man was born to paint. Through an illustrious journey with a professional degree in MSc. Agriculture to finding his true calling in a palette of colors. You are going to fall in love with his dramatic paintings just as we did. He was born and brought up in the historical, scenic city of Udaipur. With palaces and forts standing tall around him, mesmerizing him with stories from a era gone by, he got enchanted by the beauty of Indian heritage and old structures. He started romancing the archival monuments with the poetry that comes alive with watercolor paints. From temples to forts, he has managed to make water flow onto paper and instead of the paper becoming weak, it just made the forts in the painting look stronger and the temples more beautiful.
Anurag picked up the brush when he was merely in third grade. He was inspired by his art teacher’s wall paintings. In the attempt to recreate some of those paintings, he fell in love with the technique. His father encouraged him to learn painting formally from the art teacher, Manohar Singh and ever since, Anurag has considered him to be an inspiration. Without receiving any formal education in art, he has an authoritative command on watercolors that only a few can achieve. He initially worked in pharmaceuticals but the lulls of sales could not contain him and he decided to quit his job to pursue his dream career of being a full-time artist.
The learned folk here is no stranger to the deploring state of the monuments across borders. Our heritage is suffering and dying in the modern world due to ignorance, arrogance, the lack of appreciation and well, global warming. Anurag’s compassion to make his daughter see more than just tainted demolished building compels him to keep these palaces and temples alive in his paintings. He does other subjects like birds and flowers but painting monuments is his forte and we think quite a love-affair.
Time and again he studies and follows master artists like Milind Mulik, Vijay Biswal, Prafull Sawant Samir Mondal and Vasudeo Kamath to keep those creative juices flowing.
Watercolor painting already being as daring a pursuit as it is, doesn’t seem to be challenging enough for Anurag as he aspires to paint the Taj Mahal while trying to keep the beauty, architecture and the symmetry intact.
Fun fact, Anurag is a man with quirks. You see Taj Mahal is white (just incase you missed that!) and did we mention, white is next to impossible to work with in watercolor so Mehta considers it as an adventure he wants to embark on, someday.
He has done a solo show in 2016 with exclusive watercolor paintings at City Palace titled “Udaipur and Eternal beauty” where he displayed 40 paintings and gained a lot of recognition and support.
When asked where he sees himself in the next 10 years, he passionately talked about his dream of achieving international recognition and as a little step towards that dream, Koonchi provided him with a platform to portray his talent.
The watercolor medium was not as popular as oil painting initially. Oil colors being the first family of the mediums, watercolor was quite late to the party.
A lot of struggle and hard work of some very dedicated folk is involved in taking watercolor to the level that acrylic and oil are at today. Initially, watercolor was confined to miniature and folk art only.
Anurag, for his works, sticks to Indian/Pune’s handmade paper for his routine practice. He uses other brands like Arches watercolor paints, Fabriano and Waterford, UK. He started with Camlin but now he also prefers foreign brands like Mission Gold, Korea and Winsor & Newton.
Mehta has been quite generous in sharing his craft secrets with the Koonchi team. “It is important to master strokes and know the flow of paint in watercolor because once the brush touches the paper, there’s no going back. Even if you try correcting your mistake, it might cause the painting to look patchy which is something we want to avoid. Better to acquire finesse than to toss it in the bin.” This kind of mastery is so obvious in Mehta’s paintings.
Watercolors are usually translucent and if you don’t have a good perspective and a great sense of angles and symmetry, that bin we talked about, isn’t very far. The amount of precision this medium requires makes you feel a different level of respect for art and the artist who dared to work with it.
To conclude, we would like to quote Irwin Greenberg,
“I suppose all the talk about method in watercolor can be reduced to the effort of an artist to realize in large scale what he’s achieved on small scale.”
Interview by Varun Maliwal. Composed by Manasi Telang & Prachi Mantri