‘Varnika’ explained

Many friends have asked about the name of my blog and tiny firm ‘VarnikaDesigns’. The name is borrowed from ‘Varnikabhangam’ from the Six Limbs of Indian Painting.

The Six Limbs of Indian Painting is a set of cannons and guidelines that were assembled around the 6th century to guide artists for creating paintings. If you are familiar with Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’, where he analyses drama and poetry, then it would be a near enough parallel.

These Six Limbs have been beautifully explained by the artist Abanindranath Tagore in 1921. He tried to understand the foundation of Indian art through this treatise. Abanindranath, you would recollect, went on to establish the Indian Society of Oriental Art, and the Bengal School of Art. Btw he was the nephew of Rabindranath Tagore.

Aban TagorePhoto Courtesy: Wikipedia

According to Abanindranath Tagore, the Six Limbs of Indian Painting in Sanskrit are:
Rupabhedah pramani bhava – lavnay – yojanam
Sadrishyam varnikabhangam iti chitram shadakam”

He has poetically interpreted the above shloka, from which I completely quote below:

1.) Rupabheda (‘rupa’ is form and ‘bheda’ is difference) – Its study enables us to see and depict things as they are and as they appear visually. Only the knowledge of appearances gained through our inner sight will enable us to see and show the real difference of forms

2.) Pramanam (meaning proportion) – These are the laws which enable us to prove the correctness of what we have perceived and delineated…It was the ‘Pramana’ of the architect which gave the Taj its unrivalled beauty of proportion

3.) Bhava – means the idea, sentiment, emotion, intention, nature of thing. It is the first stirring caused in our otherwise passionless and restful disposition

4.) Lavanya Yojanam – means the infusion of grace and artistic quality; it is itself purity and restraint. As we use salt for cooking, so we should use ‘Lavanya’ judiciously in our representations of things

5.) Sadrisyam – means similitude, resemblance, equality of forms and ideas

6.) Varnikabhanga – means colouring, delineation with brush and pigment, brush strokes. It does not merely mean the different mixtures and uses of primary and secondary colours, but also the knowledge of the real nature and meaning of colours, figures, letterings, etc., as well as the proper delineation and description of things seen and felt

It is not merely employed to give the proper colour of the sunlight on a flower but such colours as also will convey to us the perfume of the flowers and the degree of heat and light given by the sun either at dawn or at sunset or mid-day. To catch the modulations and variations given to colours by our different mental states is to know the secret of ‘Varnikabhanga’ or colour in art
Let your mind but dwell upon ink and you will make it glow like a fairy lamp, showing all the colours of the spectrum

Thus, through VarnikaDesigns, I am attempting to add colour, in the correct proportion, balance, similar to what the actual stories are, and not just what they appear to the human eye – from the mind and heart

The website: www.varnikadesigns.com

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