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Apoorva Bannagalu

Apoorva Bannagalu

Dear Locked-down Reader,

With every season, nature gets into work changing its palette from green to brown to yellow to orange and sometimes even to a delightful insert any color of your choice, it has it all.

Every day, I’d watch these changes like a passive spectator in an online class with hidden video and speaker on mute, never fully immersed in these spectacular shows of a world outside of my own. One of these days though, perhaps out of boredom, I decided to explore ways to interact with this unique, natural palette. Serendipitously, willed by my google search
terms “art with nature”, I came across Manya Cherabuddi’s class on making colours from flowers and painting with them. Now, that was a wildly fascinating concept for me, I mean…of course, colours must come from somewhere but I’d just always assumed they were made from some pigment-mixing-magic in a factory somewhere. This is true, but where do the pigments come from?

I’ve found that the most fascinating discoveries are often made when one gets into this line of thinking, of wanting to know where something comes from and an innate desire to do something on your own, from scratch. I honestly never thought you could just ball up flowers into little spherical crayons and rub them against paper to get some amazing colours!

Say a flower looks yellow. But surely when I roll it up and apply force on it, it would just become mush and be all trampled on paper, right? Yeah, surely. Why not try for myself, though? And hence, one lock down day (yes, I say ‘lock down day’ because who really knows what day it is anymore) I went out into our garden filled with seasonal wildflowers that come and go
based on well, the season.

During spring, the delightful summer showers have given birth to a lot of pretty flowers like the Barbados lily and Blood lily.

Here was my collection for the day:

Now, a pre-requisite to any art project is to first get a sense of the colours you have, i.e. make an art palette. Here’s the art palette I made with the beautiful fallen flowers.

How gorgeous are these! I’ve called them ‘apoorva bannagalu’ because apoorva means rare and unique in Kannada (think, apoorva gem i.e., a rare and unique gem). While the colours may not be rare per se, I do think they are very unique, gorgeous and rare in terms of the impermanence of these flowers and their colours.

Some of these, as mentioned will disappear by the end of the season and so it’s a unique experience to have sourced my colours from these ephemeral blooms.

My personal favourite is the vibrant yellow sourced from the stem
(technically, peduncle) of the night flowering jasmine, locally called in Kannada as ‘Parijatha’. The burst of yellow as I pressed the orangish/red “crayon” made from the Parijatha peduncle was nothing short of magic.

Proof that this exercise is magical is evident when it has the power to excite even the grown-ups- those who often get jaded with increasing knowledge on facts and explanations; to the point where it is impossible to perceive existence of invisible entities at play, that materialize the facts that are known.

It is magic- the growth of a sapling from a seed and then into a tree. Yes, it is also a fact and science, very hormonal. But it is also invisible magic at play, a coordinated symphony that culminates into the sapling/things we can see.

It was incredibly beautiful/magical to see the surprise on my mother’s face as she pressed the red petal of a Hibiscus flower onto the paper, only to find purple colour instead. Yes, purple!

Go on, experience some of this for yourself. Look to your immediate environment and see what sort of natural colours are available to you. Even the mud in your backyard can provide some lovely hues of brown!

Make an art palette, paint a flower with a flower and have fun reconnecting with your local surroundings. Share them in your social handles with the #ApoorvaBannagalu and pass on the magic. I would love to see your local artsy snapshots!


Author: Apoorva Jnana

Ordinarily in a lab waging a war on bacteria, looking for a breakthrough discovery;
Alternatively in a garden, seeking comfort in the ephemeral beauty of a blossomed flower, a
ripened fruit and seasonal songbirds. Currently in the process of leaving a legacy bigger than
that of plastic.