How to Learn Madhubani

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Madhubani is a style of traditional folk painting from the villages around the area of Madhubani and Mathila in northern Bihar, India. Legend has it that Madhubani painting originated in the time recorded in the Ramayan, the ancient Sanskrit epic, when artists were commissioned to create these paintings to celebrate the marriage of Sita and Rama. Madhubani paintings were originally wall murals but are now found on paper, cloth and canvas as well. Madhubani paintings have traditionally been done by women.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth or paper, preferably handmade
  • Tracing paper, large enough to fit your cloth
  • Sheet of carbon paper, large enough to fit the area you'll paint on
  • Fabric paint or poster paint, depending on whether you are painting on cloth or paper
  • Black marker
  • Iron, if you are painting on cloth
  • Choose your subject. Traditional Madhubani paintings have focused on themes or events from Hindu mythology, Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama, Durga or Saraswati, nature or social events. You may want to sketch this out in a notebook before you get ready to paint. Madhubani paintings traditionally do not have any empty space in the background or on the sides of the painting, so fill in all empty spaces with designs or patterns.

  • Draw your picture onto the tracing paper. Now use your sheet of carbon paper to trace your picture onto your cloth or handmade paper. If you can't find handmade paper but still don't want to use cloth, you can use any kind of paper suitable for painting. You should now have the outline of your design on your cloth or paper.

  • Paint in your colors. Madhubani art usually uses flat colors with no shading. Let dry completely before moving on to the next step.

  • Use your black marker to draw outlines.

  • Add a colorful border.

  • If you painted on cloth, gently iron your cloth with a low setting.

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