Here's how this engineering student from Odisha popularising Pattachitra by painting it on various mediums

Bhagyashree Sahoo, an engineer-turned-artist from Rourkela speaks about how she invested all her time during the lockdown to learn Pattachitra art and perfect it too 
Pattachitra art by Baghyashree Sahoo on stone
Pattachitra art by Baghyashree Sahoo on stone

The lockdown was a time of Dalgona Coffee and getting fit. But for how many was it a time to reconnect with our cultural roots? Not too many perhaps. But for Bhagyashree Sahoo from Rourkela in Odisha, who used the time to learn more about the artform of Pattachitra, it was. While she began training herself in the ancient Indian art more than a year ago, she's now quite the pro. She says, "This lockdown was a blessing in disguise for me because when I returned home from college and was waiting for classes to  commence online, I took to learning Pattachitra seriously and started working on it. This art originated in Odisha and is not new to me. I have grown up watching it but I started doing it only when I joined an engineering college in Dhenkanal to pursue my MTech in Metallurgy Engineering."

Dhenkanal district is known for the beautiful stones that we usually find near the seashore. Since she could not afford to paint on bigger materials, Bhagyshree, on the way to her college, would look for these soft stones, collect and wash them. Later, she would spend two hours every day painting the stones in the Pattachitra style. "I painted many such stones and gave them to my classmates. They loved it and gave me different ideas to paint various designs in Pattachitra. But the actual challenge that I encountered was when I came home during the lockdown and I did not find those kinds of stones to paint on. That's when I started exploring ways to paint on glass bottles, tin boxes and other materials. Fortunately, the Pattachitra art that I did on glass bottles worked out well and my followers on social media also liked them a lot. In fact, many of my friends and relatives also placed orders."

Recently, Bhagyashree created an Instagram page by the handle @chinus_creation7557 to post the pictures of her artwork and the crowd favourite is the Dhashavatara of Lord Vishnu. "Pattachitra mostly involves painting the stories of mythology and folktales. That's why I have been painting the pictures of gods and goddess. Earlier, they served as a visual device for the performance of drama, song and dance. Now, they are limited to art pieces that people keep at home or their studios. This traditional artform is sustainable in such a way that the artists use natural colours to create these art pieces. As a result, one can avoid the usage of chemical-filled colours and also reduce pollution. However, I have been using acrylic colours because it is easy to procure and the colours settle well when I do Pattachitra on glass bottles and tin boxes," says this final-year MTech student. 

She adds, "Once everything resumes to normalcy in Odisha, I will be visiting some of the traditional artists in Raghurajpur near Puri district to learn how to use natural colours and learn skills that can prove to be more beneficial for my future in this art style. For instance, the floral art that surrounds the painting as a border is done with a lot of intricacy. And Pattachitra is not just restricted to the canvas but one can create it on walls too. Apart from this, I also plan to start my own art studio or start-up not only to promote Pattachitra but other ancient artforms as well." 

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