Monday, May 23, 2016

Ragamala Paintings from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France

Ragamala painting is a particular genre of Indian miniature painting, mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries. Ragamala means 'garland of ragas'. A raga is a particular mood, colour, season, time of day, or emotional state. A ragamala painting evokes one of these ragas in pictorial form.

There are six main 'parent' ragas, corresponding to the six Indian seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, early winter, winter and spring.
Each of the male parent ragas has five 'wives' (ragini), and eight 'sons' (ragaputra) and 'daughters' (ragaputri), making a series, or garland, of eighty four.

The six main ragas are:

Bhairava raga - associated with winter, early morning, and the god Shiva.
Malkauns raga - autumn.
Hindol raga - spring.
Deepak (Dipaka) corresponds to the heat of summer.
Sri (Shree) raga - winter and sunset.
Megh raga - associated with the clouds of the rainy  monsoon season.

The concept of raga is also found in Indian classical music and poetry. Some ragamala paintings illustrate the story of a hero (nayaka) or heroine (nayika).

Here is a collection of beautiful Ragamala paintings from the collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Workshops with Ajay Sharma

Great news! The master miniature painter Ajay Sharma is coming to Sydney again to teach two five day workshops.

I thoroughly recommend the classes. The first workshop is now full but there is space in the second one. It will fill up quickly though.

Ajay will also be having an exhibition of his wonderful work. Don't miss it! Will advise date of show soon.

To book or to find out more:

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ramayana in Canberra

Someone told me today that there has been an exhibition of Indian miniatures at the National Gallery of Australia, in Canberra. They are on loan from the National Museum in New Delhi.
Looks like I've missed this one, as it finishes tomorrow and I don't think I'll be able to make the long drive from Sydney to Canberra and back.
The theme of the exhibition is the Ramayana, the story of Lord Rama, one of the ten avatars of Shri Vishnu, the Preserver of existence. The epic narrative of the Ramayana is the inspiration for many series of Indian miniatures.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ajay Sharma Workshops in 2015

Great news! Master Indian miniature painter, Ajay Sharma, is returning to Sydney next year to give two week-long workshops.

The workshops will be in May 2015. I took one of the workshops earlier in the year and highly recommend registering if you are interested in learning traditional Indian miniature painting techniques. There were students who were completely new to miniature painting, and others who were very accomplished painters, yet everyone got a lot out of it.

For more information please contact Brenda Factor:

Phone: 0411 370361
Email :

One of Ajay's paintings

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Painting Workshop With Ajay Sharma

I finally have a chance to post about the wonderful enjoyable week I spent recently learning traditional Indian miniature painting techniques from Jaipur master Ajay Sharma. I picked up a lot of valuable knowledge, and drank a lot of delicious chai. Ajay is an incredibly skilled painter and a very encouraging teacher. Hopefully he will visit Sydney again next year and run another course. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Ajay showed us how to mix traditional paints using chalk powder and pigment bound with gum arabic. It's crucial and difficult to get the right proportions of chalk and gum in the mix. Ajay showed us some tricks to get it right. Too little gum arabic and the paint will powder off; too much and it will be brittle and tend to flake off.

Below: kariya (chalk and gum arabic) mixed with pigments in shells.

We also learned how to prepare traditional wasli paper for painting, how to burnish the paper, and how to apply even washes and base colours. Also various brush techniques. Finishing up by learning how to apply gold leaf.

The standard of the paintings produced, even by those students new to this art form, was truly remarkable.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ajay Sharma Exhibition

Just a week left to see the exquisite Indian miniature paintings of Ajay Sharma at the Airspace 10 Junction St, Marrickville.
The exhibition winds up on Saturday 19th of July.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ajay Sharma Painting Workshop in Sydney

Register at:

SquarePeg Studios and AirSpace Gallery are located 10 Junction Street, Marrickville, NSW 2204

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy Holi

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy Shivaratri

Woman worshipping Lord Shiva.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Prince Dara Shikoh

Dara Shikoh was the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Shah Jahan named Dara heir to the vast Mughal Empire, but his younger brother Aurangzeb, usurped the throne and had Dara assassinated.
Dara Shikoh was a liberal, cultured and spiritual prince, a follower of Sufi saints and a friend of one of the Sikh gurus. He sought to link the two oceans of spirituality: Hinduism and Islam. The conservative Aurangzeb declared him an apostate, and went on to demolish some of the most sacred Hindu temples in India, and to force conversions to Islam.
It is often speculated as to how the history of India would have been very different had Dara Shikoh prevailed over Aurangzeb.

Incidentally Dara was considered a talented painter.