Published: 11th September 2019
This Chennai-based artist creates cute paintings of pooches that will make you go p-awww!
Subirthana Maharaja combines her love for art and animals in creating miniature pet portraits that make for unique, pocket-friendly gifts
We all want to immortalise each and every precious second that we spend with our dogs, cats or other fluffy friends. Yes, we could easily click photographs or shoot videos of different ‘moments’ that we have with them using our smartphones, but what if there was another way to make these memories more special? According to Subirthana Maharaja, miniature pet portraits are the perfect way to do so.
“I don’t think that photographs or anything that is digitally manipulated can match the charm of a good old, hand-painted picture. If people are looking out for unique and authentic pet memorabilia, then a painting is the way to go,” says the 26-year-old who is pursuing her PhD in International Relations at Madras Christian College, Chennai.
Fur-ever cute: The 4×4 portraits are done using oil paints that make them durable
Subirthana, who calls herself a ‘hard-core animal lover’, chanced upon this interesting activity when she started drawing pictures of her dog, Sai, eight years ago – right from the time he became part of her family. “I think more than anything else, it gave me immense joy to sketch my little boy. The way I connected with him translated into the canvas as art and that was unmatchable. But at that point, it was just a pastime. It hadn’t become a ‘thing’ yet. It was only two years ago that I started focusing on pet portraits,” she recalls.
Subirthana creates her ‘pet masterpieces’ on 4×4 canvases using oil paints and photographs of pets for reference (as the naughty furries don't exactly stay still for a painting). She can even create collages of the pet and pet parent, in case there is no photo of the two together. Ask her why she uses only oil paints and why she insists on creating ‘mini’ portraits, she explains, “Oil paints are the most suitable for paintings that you would like to cherish for a lifetime because of its durability. They can last up to 100 years without wear and tear and needs minimal maintenance. Because of these wonderful qualities, oil paintings are quite expensive (one tube of paint can cost `400 and this varies depending upon colour). So, if you want a regular-sized portrait done using oil paints, it will cost you a bomb (`10,000 or higher).” She continues, “Many people, especially students who are on a budget, would tell me how they would love to get a painting done with their pets, but the cost was always a problem. Sadly, I could not cut the price even if I wanted because that would mean compromising on the quality of supplies. So that’s when it struck me – why not just create mini portraits that are not only a lot less expensive but handy too.”
Pawdorable: The paintings make for perfect wall decor for your home or office
Without giving it a second thought, Subirthana expanded on this idea and, as she had predicted, these cute kutti portraits became quite a rage among art lovers in the city within a matter of days. She started doing them only for friends and relatives in the beginning but later started accepting orders from the general public through her Instagram page, desi_yellow. Today, her success and popularity (she gets up to two to three orders on good weeks now) have empowered her to conduct workshops also. “The response from art lovers has been great. I conducted a workshop in Chennai recently and plan to conduct one more in Bengaluru in the coming months,” she signs off.