The Kalam-kari artist

The art is in the details for budding teen artist Shivaraj Rathod, whose meticulous work is creating waves on social media platforms

Published: 08th August 2021 03:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th August 2021 03:53 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

UDUPI: One day in 2017, Laxmi Rathod was visiting a temple fair where a packet of pens caught her eye. Acting on maternal instinct, she bought the packet for her son Shivaraj, then aged 12. Little did she know that her boy would create magic with the pens that cost her Rs 5 each.

Five years on, Shivaraj has become quite a sensation on social media platforms, especially on YouTube, where he has garnered a viewership of over 53,000 in less than a year. In September 2020, he had posted 106 reels showcasing his artworks on the YouTube channel, Shivaraj the Artist.

Inspired by the lush green landscape he sees every day from his tiny house in Kalya area of Kaup taluk of Udupi district, Shivaraj has taken to recreate nature. He creates surreal sketches, and has the ability to draw a wide variety of anatomically correct pictures. 

He dedicates the night hours to draw the primary sketch, and fills in the details and shades during the day. He spends nearly three hours completing one piece of art using a pen, and needs an extra hour for pencil sketches. Explaining the intricacies of his art, Shivaraj says, “When I use a pen, my mind has a clear picture, and I am aware that I don’t have a chance to redo it. Pencil gives me a chance to erase and redraw, so the process of drawing gets longer.”

The artist in him was born when he was in Grade 8 at Anandathirtha High School in Kaup, though it didn’t happen overnight. Shivaraj said it took him a week to complete his first pencil sketch. ‘’Though I started doing pencil and pen sketches on my own, I joined a drawing class to learn the rudiments of art and drawing,” says the second-year PU student.

Shivaraj enrolled for drawing grade lower examination conducted by the Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board in November 2019, and came out with flying colours, scoring 504 out of 600 marks. Shivaraj plans to write the drawing higher grade examination next.

So far, Shivaraj has created over 200 pictures using pen or pencil, while his Instagram handle  shivaraj003157 has a wide collection of artworks. Shivaraj says he will now focus on nature. ‘’Without any reference photographs, I can visualise nature and replicate it in my drawings,’’ he says modestly.

Laxmi, who ekes out a living by supplying food to working people in and around Kaup, had different plans for her son, until she realised his passion for art. ‘’My knowledge was limited so I frequently told him to forgo his passion and concentrate on his studies. But his drawings convinced me that he’s gifted with a unique talent,” she says. His future lies in art, she adds.

The proud mother has her favourites among the drawings: the sketch of drops of water splashing out of a cup, almost wave-like; an anatomically detailed drawing of an owl with a touch of artistic elegance; and the one of dog in pencil.

Having completed his primary schooling in Goa, Shivaraj’s family shifted to Kaup, continuing his education at Anandathirtha Vidyalaya, Pajaka, Udupi. He fondly recalls how his principal Geetha S Kotian supported his art.

Vijay P Rao, principal at Anandathirtha PU College, told TNSE that Shivaraj has all the hallmarks of becoming a great artist. Explaining how non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have brought value to art pieces on digital platforms and markets, Rao said, “Shivaraj has the patience and perseverance to create these breathtaking sketches and it will help him carve out a career with his unique skill.”

Meanwhile, Shivaraj who has not yet displayed his artwork at any exhibition, eagerly awaits an opportunity that will give him a platform to reach out to a wider audience.


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