How to Master Madhubani Art (Hanuman – Sita)

Madhubani is an intricate Indian folk art and its popularity is rising with each passing day. Color combination used in this style of painting is bold and bright. However there is black and white Madhubani paintings too for monochrome lovers.

I strongly believe that in this Google age one can learn anything and everything if one is really determined to learn, because there are lot of generous people sharing their knowledge and skill over internet.

I am still learning each day as I continue to paint. However, I feel I can still share what I have learned over the period of time. Therefore, thought came that why not write a post to share my knowledge on how to do Madhubani painting.

Few important things for whosoever gets tempted to try Madhubani painting.

  • Don’t rush into finishing the painting, instead try to enjoy each phase of the painting.
  • It can be done on handmade sheet or any thick white sheet if you don’t have any canvas – no special papers needed. Just make sure you start painting on rough side of the sheet. Smooth and shiny surface makes the colors slip.
  • Traditionally, special nib is used to draw line with black ink in Madhubani art work, but that requires lot of practice. However, black marker pen (thin tip) can be used to draw the outline (it’s important that pen should be water resistant).
  • Water-based acrylic colors are used on paper while if attempting on fabric use fabric colors. Round tip brushes are used to fill colors. Though this painting I have also tried Oil Paints on canvas.


How to Begin

Step 1:  Start with sketching your borders. Continuous geometrical designs or nature-inspired motifs can be used. Border can be from ½ inch to 2 inch wide (depending on the size of the canvas you are using). Bigger the canvas wider the border.

Step 2: Conceptualize the layout of the painting. Start with the main character and fill the remaining space later. The idea is that abstract patterns should support the main theme.

Step 3: Repeated patterns are made to add detailing . There is no fixed rule to it and any pattern that blends well with the theme can be used. If border looks too simple add further detailing to it. As you must have understood no space is left blank and it should be filled with detailing.

I generally follow Bharni style, where we fill the painting with vibrant colors. While in Kachni style it’s mostly black and white with minimum use of colors. I am biased towards Bharni style as it is more colorful and bright.

Step 4:  While filling the colors, first decide the background color and then choose the foreground colors. When background color creates contrast with the foreground colors it makes painting more appealing. Choice of colors is very crucial. So, get yourself familiarized with color-wheel to know more about color combinations.

Step 5: Once done with background color, infuse bright colors in foreground. When in doubt, start with adding obvious colors. Like tree trunk will be brown and leaves will be green, skin tone of main characters, etc. After this it will be easy to visualize and choose other colors.

Step 6: You can leave the background as filled with single color but Madhubani painting is all about intricate patterns. So you can add any repeated pattern with black color and fine tip round brush all over the background.

I don’t claim to be an expert. I am sharing here what I have learned and explained here in best possible manner.

I will keep updating this page if I feel anything else can be helpful too. If you think some information is missed or anything else can be mentioned here please bring it to my knowledge and I will update it.

Thanks for reading and do share your feedback as your viewpoint may help some other readers too.

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