Google+ House Revivals: The Art of Meenakshi Temple {a tutorial}

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Art of Meenakshi Temple {a tutorial}

On our recent trip to India, we visited Meenakshi Ammon Temple, in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Meenakshi Temple is beautiful, with a central pool, intricate carvings, ceiling murals, and Kolam designs on the floor.

The temple is an amazing example of Dravidian architecture, with it's towers encrusted with carvings of gods and goddesses.

I was most enamored with the colorful ceiling medallions. Each medallion is unique and brightly painted.

You can't help but be cheered by the abundant use of joyous color at Meenakshi Temple.

Much as I would have loved to sit down with a sketchbook to record what I saw, I had to satisfy myself with snapping a few pictures at the time.

I've always enjoyed doodling medallions or mandalas, but after the Meenakshi Temple visit, these doodles bring fond memories of a very special time and remind me of the exuberantly painted ceilings we'd admired.

I like to start a doodle using a mechanical pencil with a white eraser. White erasers don't smudge like the red ones do. To create a medallion, I start by creating circles -- these can be freehand or made with templates like lids and cups and bowls. Next, I divide the circles into four segments, then eight segments, and so on. I don't worry about perfection, because, it's just a doodle. Doodling is a creative way to relax, and I don't find seeking perfection to be relaxing. I usually doodle medallions without a plan, making petals or leaves or feathers in concentric patterns.

After I've sketched the medallion with pencil, I go over my lines with a smear proof pen and erase the pencil lines (sometimes -- other times I leave the pencil lines, because of that perfection thing).

The piece is then colored in layers. In this case, I started out by lightly laying on a base of color with Spectrum Noir markers.

Then more layers were added, to build up color. I changed my mind about the color direction along the way, but didn't stress over it, since the point was to play.

Next, I added some colored pencil on top of the marker layers. That turned out pretty, but I didn't like the texture, so I took the Spectrum Noir blending pen and blended the color out. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this worked, as not all alcohol markers play well on top of colored pencil. My Chartpaks cause waxy colored pencil marks to get gummy and weird.

I hope you try your hand at doodling. I love it, because it's not intimidating -- you don't need any drawing skills or knowledge of perspective or shading (although you may want to try shading to add dimension to your pieces at some point). If you can trace around a bowl, you can draw a decorative medallion.

You might also enjoy this post about India's colorful trucks.

You might also enjoy this post about how to draw a spring tulip.

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