I have been fascinated by Persian and Mughal miniature paintings from the Indian sub-continent since childhood. I used to look at them in books for hours during my school years. At the Fine Arts College in Hyderabad I copied a few and created some new compositions closely based on them. But then I moved away from these as I realized that I do not want to make copies. I want to search for my own vision and technique. After several years of painting in free style and doing large abstracts works, I started my continuous line figure compositions. I began working in this style after moving to the U.S. I was homesick and nostalgic. I wanted to tell stories of my journey from Hyderabad to Iran to Kuwait and to the East Coast of the U.S. I began using my paintings to tell stories: that was the genesis in 1998 of the â€œGolden Momentsâ€ series, which I developed concurrently with other works.
I have always admired the jewel-like quality of miniature paintings and illuminated books from the Indian subcontinent. They are treasured for their artistry, fine colors, and polished finishes. The paintings were created from nature, from pulp to paper, and from mineral to paint. I want to maintain that devotion, but use my knowledge of contemporary painting techniques. Being a mixed media artist I choose wood panels to work on, as they allow me maximum facility to use different materials with acrylic paints. I do not want to do very small pieces, so I use 18â€ X 18â€ or 21â€ X 21â€ square boards. I select a square shape since I want to use another square to glue on the board to create three-dimensional effects, and also to accent the compositions. Then I prepare the wood surface by applying three separate coats of gesso. I work with several color glazes instead of mixing colors on the palette and in between I use sandpaper to remove portions of the paint and add details with pen and ink. The process intoxicates me, and it also starts creating the story. I start with a very rough idea, and it slowly develops. I try to maintain the jewel-like quality of original miniatures, so I like to give a final glaze of an actual gold color. These pieces allow me to sit and meditate in between my other large and free-flowing works.
The primary and original aim of miniature paintings, whether religious, epic, or portrait, was to tell a story. What better style to tell my own stories?