From Apprentice to Master – The evolution of an artist
Rajaram Sharma left home at 13 to pursue his calling to be a Pichwai artist. He trained under the aegis of eminent artists of the Nathdwara tradition. Today he is considered a master of Pichwai and Miniature painting.
Born in Bijolia, Rajasthan, Rajaram Sharma was introduced to Pichwai art at a very young age. Upon completing his early education, he knew that Pichwai art would be his life’s work and decided to train in it full time. In an interview with Rooftop App, Sharma said, “I fell in love with the art form and at that time I didn’t think about what would happen in the future. I just knew this is what I wanted to do.”
In the company of a Master Pichwai Painting Artist
Sharma went to the temple town of Nathdwara to train with Sri Tulsidas Chitrakar, head of the Shrinathji temple under the Guru Shishya Parampara. This teacher-student tradition is a uniquely Indian system of pedagogy that goes beyond mere lessons. It provides the student an immersive experience of being in the presence of the master artist. The apprentice imbibed not only the techniques but also the philosophical underpinnings of the art and the full spectrum of knowledge that the teacher has mastered.
The journey of an apprentice
Training in this ecosystem was an exercise in endurance and perseverance. A single Pichwai painting for the temple backdrop can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to 6 months to complete.
The process of creating a Pichwai painting starts with creating a detailed charcoal sketch on a piece of cloth. The artist then fills in the natural colours in the Pichwai painting. A Pichwai artist is trained to prepare his own colours from minerals and stones. Many Pichwai artwork also involves gold and silver colours which are complex to prepare. The artist learns to create his own brushes made from goat’s tail, rabbit and squirrel hairs.
It was in this rigorous ecosystem that Rajaram Sharma built a solid foundation for himself as an artist. “(This art) requires devotion and practice. That is how it should be done and that is why it is invaluable,” said Sharma.
After 13 years of training with Sri Tulsidas Citrakar, Rajaram Sharma became the apprentice of B.G. Sharma, a leading Pichwai artist.
Achieving Mastery in Pichwai Painting
Over years of honing and refining his artistry, Rajaram Sharma established himself as a Pichwai and Miniature artist in his own right. He gained recognition from the government as well as the art community at large. He has won several awards and honours such as the National Merit Certificate in 2016 and the All India Award of Traditional Art in 2010.
Rajaram Sharma’s work also gained recognition internationally. He has exhibited his artwork in several prestigious galleries such as the Victoria Monroe Fine Art and The Drawing Room in New York.
His work also features in several private and public collections such the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Davis Museum in Wellesley College and the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia to name a few.
Sharma’s work continues to find a home in the Shrinathji temple in Nathdwara – the place where it all started.
In addition to Pichwai, Rajaram Sharma is also a master in Miniature paintings. Along with the religious motifs in his work, Sharma has explored modern themes.
Embracing the role of a Mentor
Aside from his work as an independent artist, Rajaram Sharma runs his own studio, Chitrashala where he also teaches and mentors upcoming artists.
For the past 3 years, Rajaram Sharma has been working in collaboration with Rooftop App as a Master Artist for our workshops. If you have always wanted to learn this captivating art form or are looking to expand your creative horizons, sign up for our Pichwai workshop and learn from the master himself.
Register on Rooftop app for the upcoming Pichwai course with master artist Rajaram Sharma.
At Rooftop, we offer a wide range of courses on traditional Indian art forms taught by eminent artists. To know more about our workshops, visit our app.