Published: 28th February 2019
Hyderabad artist Ankita Jain's intiative Soft Pastels uses art to keep children away from the screen
Ankita Jain is painting the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad with colours by conducting several workshops where she teaches the basics
Would it be hard to believe that in the age of the internet, a child will truly enjoy the simple joy of dipping their hands in paint and creating a work of art? With Soft Pastels, one can surely imagine this! Every weekend, Ankita Jain is painting the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad with colours by conducting several workshops where she teaches the basics and then, let's children take it forward. And to think that she was very apprehensive of conducting her first workshop because she was scared that no one would turn up! She expected five and 20 enthusiastic kids turned up. All of Ankita's art classes continue to be a hit, whether they are conducted at Gallery Cafe or Jxtapose. And she conducts them under her initiative, Soft Pastels.
Here they are: Ankita and her students with their work | (Pic: Ankita Jain)
Having had two daughters of her own, Ankita soon realised the pitfalls of smartphones. "I just needed to de-addict them," says the young mother who even refuses to buy plastic toys for her children. So, she turned to art, her first love, and tried to engage her daughters with it. Turns out it works with several children. "I become a child when I am with children. I don't treat them as students, I just try to encourage them to have fun," says the jovial Ankita. Hence, all her sessions are based on teaching solid techniques — blending, cross-hatching, feathering and more. Then the kids are free to draw what they like and Ankita merely acts as a fun facilitator. She even conducts these workshops at NGOs (like Rainbow Foundation) and small government schools as well, out of goodwill. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Ankita has also managed to grab the attention of Telugu cinema stars like Mahesh Babu and Allu Arjun, as she has sketched portraits of their children and has even been appreciated for it. We can't see it, but she practically beams when she shares this news with us. Ankita uses 20% of her earnings to conduct free workshops for underprivileged children.
On display: Ankita with all her artwork | (Pic: Anikta Jain)
Art is not the only tool this 28-year-old is using to reduce the screen time of young kids. She is even a celebrity mom of sorts, all due to her WhatsApp stories. "Every day, to keep my children away from screens, I give them three simple activities and put up stories on WhatsApp and encourage others to engage their children with these activities too," shares Ankita. The activities can be as simple as drawing a sunflower for them, equipping them with glue and different kinds of dal, and asking them to fill up the drawing by sticking dal on to it. Believe it or not, she has 200 views on the stories and lots of doubts pouring in. Such small steps can go a long way in ensuring that children are in touch with their creative side and certainly, Ankita has ample proof of this!
All smiles: Ankita's hometown is Raichur and she learnt art and the method of conducting these sessions from her friend, Darshita | (Pic: Ankita Jain)
For more on her, click on instagram.com/pastel____palette