Listening to the call of her heart as well as the art, Deepti Agrawal Mittal, has come a long way in taking forward the traditional art form of Madhubani paintings, and in the process, developed and created a whole new genre of art which she calls Modern Madhubani. In Bangalore, to showcase her works and demonstrate this art form, Deepti is also credited for starting online Madhubani painting classes which are self-paced and interactive and have become popular with art-lovers around the world.
A multi-faceted artist, she has covered a wide range of mediums and forms. From home accents to kitchen decor, she has practically touched every aspect of art. The latest sensation is her exclusive line of designer and hand-painted shoes which have found a market all over the world.
Chucking a successful corporate career and entering the unsure, uncertain world of art was definitely not an easy decision for the 28-year-old MBA graduate from Christ University. After serving in the corporate sector for a couple of years, her profound passion for art couldn't lay dormant anymore and she took this leap of faith into an altogether different area.
"Well this field is certainly very unsure when it comes to financial returns. But then what's the fun in living a one-track life. Drawing a comfortable salary at a cushiony job was at the expense of losing touch with art due to dearth of time which for me, was unacceptable. The immense satisfaction and a sense of achievement which I have got is worth trading for a seven figure salary," explains Deepti.
Right from childhood, practicing art was like a normal routine for her even though she had never taken any formal training. Her knowledge in art was limited to the Indian folk art of Madhubani of Bihar where Deepti was born and spent all her childhood.
"I belong to the Milthila region which is the home of Madhubani art. I have seen womenfolk practicing it on walls and floors of their homes. The style and colour patterns are quite rustic and intriguing. Riding with my father on a two-wheeler in the interiors of Mithila, I would see these beautiful kaccha houses with their mud plastered walls drawn with beautiful paintings depicting popular social and mythological scenes and sequences. Evoking my interest, I would come home and paint a previous or the next scene from a mythological story. My interest in art and creativity triggered from here and the fact that you could tell stories through art was even more fascinating for a child."
Fusion of art
Taking a step forward and capitalising on her experience in this ancient folk art and her interest in the contemporary styles, Deepti has done what others couldn't do.
She has blended the beauty of various national and international folk forms such as Kalamkari, Australian dot art with the Madhubani form to create yet another genre.
"I have been practicing the Madhubani form since I was seven and I absolutely adore its style and compositions. Very recently, when I started thinking on the lines of taking art professionally, I realised that there is so much more to learn and explore in the world of art. While I wanted to expand my horizons in art, I did not want to let go of my passion for Madhubani. That’s when I started blending every new and experimental style with my forte and created genres of modern Madhubani and Folk Fusion."
She sold her first painting when she was just 12. It was primarily for charity, for uplifting and empowering less fortunate women artists, an initiative by her mother. "I think that instilled a confidence in my subconscious about my art being good enough for people to buy," Deepti recalls.
A well known face in the art circles, her canvases are on display in galleries in USA and India and she has been featured in global art magazines.
Some of her art pieces inspired by spiritual themes have been deemed ataractic and so she has been invited for shows in cancer centres in New Hampshire, USA.
The response to her fusion art has been phenomenal from both Indian and American audience, she says and adds that people have specially responded to the intricacy and vibrancy in her compositions.
She elaborates, "The one closest to my heart is in a cancer hospital in New Hampshire under a program called “Healing with Art” where they invite art pieces which are deemed healing and comforting for patients. My works have been displayed in this place for over eight months now."
From Madhubani art to designing hand painted shoes, her interests are varied. She has brought art onto every facet of her interest and obsession. From its launch earlier this year till date, she has painted and delivered over 55 pairs of shoes. Every pair is individually hand-painted and made as per the client's requirement.
There are some basic designs that help a customer understand the concept of painted shoes and they are welcome to place customised orders, she explains.
"Every woman fantasises about shoes. I have clients from various countries including USA, Saudi Arabia, Canada and of course, India who have bought these exclusive hand-painted shoes. Recently, Amita Shukla from Gurgaon bought three pairs only for herself. Another art-lover from Bangalore bought three pairs for his sisters and niece," she adds.
Today, she dreams of being a well-established artist with a studio and a private gallery too. "I also envisage merchandising my designs in the near future. There are quite a few art forms that I would love to experiment with. My latest obsession is Australian Folk Art which I am right now exploring and reading about. Also on cards is Tanjore Painting which is a splendid blend of art and craft together," she signs off.
A US resident, Deepti is in Bangalore for a unique workshop which she hopes will take people back to their younger days when painting was recreation and fun. "I call my workshops 'Paint Parties' as the participants get to interact, communicate and make friends with one another and create beautiful pieces to take back home. And what better than promote understanding and practicing our own Indian art forms while we do so. And for kids, it’s a great opportunity to learn some popular Indian art which is not really part of the academic curriculum in many schools and colleges."