Paper and canvas are new media of storytelling for the Gond painters. Laden with simple steps but detailed drawings, the Gond paintings are carried out with colors, pencils, pens and endless imagination.

Raw Materials

The raw materials are simple and easily available. They comprise of poster/acrylic paints, brushes, wooden drawing boards, paper or canvas and outline pencils. Natural colours and charcoal are still used by some artists. The types of tools vary mildly depending on the surface on which the paintings or carvings are done.

The following raw material is required for
Wall Paintings:
Soil: A special soil called 'Pidor' is used for preparing the surface of the wall for the painting. This soil is freely available in the Gond area and is transported from from village to village on bullock carts and sold at at very cheap rates.
Natural colors: Various natural materials are used for providing different colorsto the drawings. For example, wooden coal for the color black, Chui soil for white, Red Soil or 'Geru' for red, the sap of the Tinsak plant for dark red, Ramraj soil for yellow, Semleaves for dark green and cow dung for light green.  

Canvas/Chart Paintings:
Canvas/Chart paper: The canvas is purchased from the local dealers at ratesvarying from Rs.40 to Rs.100 per meter, depending on the quality of the cloth. The chart paper is also easily available in the local stationery shops.
Primer: Fevicol and plastic emulsions are coated on the canvas as a primer.
Paints: Acrylic paints used for painting fabric are used. The rate for acrylic paint is Rs.15 for a 15 ml bottle

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Waste

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Tools & Technology

'Koochi' is an indigenously manufactured brush used for wall paintings. This brush is made with the fibers obtained by crushing the bark of some surrounding trees.
The main tools required for canvas or chart paper paintings include a wooden frame on which the canvas/chart paper is fixed with the help of drawing pins to straighten it. Apart from this, different brushes (numbers 6 to 4) are used depending on the requirements of the drawing.
In earlier days, Fevicol was rubbed onto cotton sheets to make canvas for painting.

Rituals

The Gond paintings are abundant with depictions of their fascinating rituals.

Gonds protect pregnant women against spells and evil influences and perform several rituals after a baby is born. A mother's brother generally names a baby boy, while the father's sister names a girl. Children grow up as part of a family, clan and Phratry (one of the four main divisions of Gond society) and gradually learn the ways of their people. Both boys and girls help guard family crops from birds and monkeys. Males undergo a ritual shaving of the beard, mustache and eyebrows as a sign of adulthood. Girls are considered to be full-grown at their first menstruation.
Gonds cremate or bury their dead. Children, unmarried persons and individuals dying an inauspicious death (for instance, in an epidemic) are buried without much ceremony. Gonds believe humans have a life force and a spirit. On death, the life force is reincarnated into another earthly existence but the spirit remains in the other world. Gonds perform death rituals to help the spirit move into the other world and to ease its acceptance by other clan spirits. This rite, known as Karun must be done to fulfill an obligation to the deceased. Memorial pillars honor the dead. Gonds believe ancestral spirits watch over the living, punish offenders and guard Gond communities.

Process

Choosing the Theme
It is an important aspect in the process, which can be inspired by events in the artist's life, traditional themes of life or animal and plant depictions. Similar designs are used on village walls as on canvas or paper.

Preparing the Canvas
The artist cuts the canvas into the desired size and stretches the canvas over a wooden frame, straightening it with drawing pins. A coat of Fevicol is applied to the canvas, followed by one to three coats of plastic emulsion to provide a smooth surface. Once dry, it can be painted. A paper surface is immediately ready for paint. Artists use acrylic paint and drawing pens to apply color or keep the image black and white.

Painting
While the canvas is still affixed to the frame, the artist begins to apply paint using brushes of different widths or uses pens to apply ink. Some colors have specific associations with emotions. Orange depicts religious thoughts, red depicts fear and green is associated with nature.

The process is similar to the above steps for all artists. The uniqueness of each artist is determined by the pattern they use to fill up the drawings. Some use dots, while others use more intricate patterns like curves, rainbows, circles etc.

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