Embracing colours

M G Thankamma, a former headmistress, rekindles her passion for art at 83
One of M G Thankamma's art works
One of M G Thankamma's art works

KOCHI: M G Thankamma is basking in the success of her recently concluded exhibition at Durbar Hall Art Gallery, where she showcased over 40 paintings. Over the phone, the 83-year-old sounded delightful, recounting the flattering comments of onlookers.

“Though I restarted my passion for art quite recently, I’m confident of the works I’ve showcased,” says Thankamma. Her Tanjore paintings of Krishna and Radha, serene landscapes and portraits adorned the walls of the gallery, enthralling visitors.

Since the exhibition has concluded, Thankamma can finally resume her daily dose of practice. She is determined to make up for the lost time.

“I still take classes to stay sharp on techniques, particularly colour mixing. Mastering brush strokes requires consistent practice, especially since I’m not getting any younger,” chuckles Thankamma.

It was when she turned 73, years after retiring as headmistress from Eloor Govt Higher Secondary School, she decided to dust off her passion for art, mainly after her children compelled her to do so. She willingly assumed the role of a student at Adarsh School of Art in Ernakulam.

“I wasn’t hesitant nor concerned about what people would think of me for attending classes in my 70s. I’ve always wanted to pursue it. But I never told my children, as I didn’t want to bother them. But when they asked me, I agreed without second thoughts,” says Thankamma.

At the institute, Thankamma dabbled with mediums like oil and acrylic. The nuanced techniques of Tanjore paintings and oil mediums came in handy to her. Portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, Gautam Buddha, Raja Ravi Varma’s art works, and animals in vibrant hues became her muse.

While growing up, Thankamma’s most sought-after pastime was to draw images that came to her mind. “Back then, canvases weren’t readily available. So I did pencil drawings on the back of notebooks and other sheets of paper. Also, I never considered myself an artist, but I liked the idea of drawing,” he says.

Even while working as a Malayalam teacher, Thankamma used to scribble drawings during her free time in the staff room. Knowingly or unknowingly, she never separated art from her life, even after retirement. Before joining art classes, Thankamma used to engaged in fabric painting on bed sheets and clothes.

After transitioning from pencil drawings to the world of colours, Thankamma has created over 70 paintings. She is now in the process of creating new works for exhibitions in the future.

“Art took a backseat while I was working. Today, I believe art has given me the confidence to keep going, and I would like to hone my skills to pursue as much as I can,” smiles Thankamma.

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