Canvas beyond borders

For artist Umesh Pathiripala who stumbled upon his creative spirit by accident, everything around him is a medium for art.

Published: 25th February 2022 03:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2022 03:27 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: It was during the last lockdown that Umesh Pathiripala started his creative journey. He picked up some paint and started making art. When tusker Mangalamkunnu Karnan passed away, he sat down with the leaf of a jackfruit tree and started to carve and paint the elephant onto it.

Before he knew it, he was hooked on making art on a minimalistic canvas. All it takes was a leaf, knife and some paint.

Umesh, a native of Pathiripala in Ottappalam, Palakkad, can make art on leaves of banyan trees, tulsi, Jungle Geranium and others. From portraits to depicting real-life scenarios, Umesh’s art has come a long way.

His recent piece Indian Army rescuing the trekker who got stranded on a hill in Palakkad was commendable. “I drew it as an ode to the Indian Army. Despite the efforts of many other teams and departments, only the army could help him. And yet, there were a lot of people belittling the effort, saying they were just doing their job. And Lieutenant Colonel Hemant Raj who led the team called me after seeing my work. That was a poignant moment for me,” says Umesh.

Creating art on leaves comes with many challenges, says Umesh. “The leaf is a small canvas. The art needs to be scaled down. Making portraits is a delicate process. If you make even the slightest error in outlining, then the whole canvas is ruined,” says Umesh. The time taken to make each piece depends on the complexity. Umesh has spent up to 18 hours on a single artwork.

Umesh, who is a mechanic at a workshop, creates leaf art during his free time. In a short span, he has made over 60 of them. But the artist isn’t too keen on selling them. “Many people ask if I can create leaf art for them. But I don’t have the time. I make art for my own happiness,” he says.

Most of his art is created on the leaves of banyan trees, his favorite of the lot. He also creates art on eggshells and camphor. Umesh uses acrylic paint. The self-taught artist says he wants to learn art professionally when he has the time. “But I don’t know if I am too old to start now,” he quips. He dreams of setting a record with his art sometime soon.


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