Transparency & wetness: Biennale workshop teaches kids about watercolour

Kochi, Jan 19: Sunil Linus De believes that the paper, water and the colours “work on their part simultaneously” with the artist to help attain the final result. It is a unique mantra the middle-aged master tries to impart to children at a workshop that ran alongside the Kochi-Muziris Biennale this weekend.

At the art room under the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s programme, the artist reiterates that “transparency” is the basic quality of watercolour. “You got to have enough confidence while trying with this medium. Even before you attempt to draw, you must have the final draft ready in mind,” says the Kerala-born artist. “That’s why I said it’s a medium where paper, colour and the water work together to attain the result.”

What’s more, watercolours have the propensity to change hues over time. “So it becomes a strenuous task to conceive the colour in the long run while painting it now,” he tells his trainees at the two-day workshop in Fort Kochi’s Cabral Yard, a key venue of the 108-day biennale that is on till March 29.

“Most of the raw practitioners don’t know how to handle the wetness when you paint. How much of water to be mixed, how not to get the paper dampened too much,” the 50-year-old master from south-central Kottayam district points out, demonstrating a piece before the children around him, keen to imbibe the techniques. The opening session of the January 18-19 event saw 20 students, besides those on a visit from two neighbourhood schools: St Sebastian’s HSS in Thoppumpady and GHSS, Calvathy.

Among them is Panjami M S, a homeschooled teenager. “This is interesting,” she says. “I am getting to know so many techniques which I wasn’t aware of.”

Geofrin T of St Sebastian’s notes that the workshop is an eye-opener. “I am learning certain nuances of the medium,” says the class-8 student. So is Xena Jose, who has been to Simple Arts Academy and already knows Sunil. “When I learned about such a workshop, I couldn’t resist coming here,” adds the 12-year-old.

Blaise Joseph who heads the KBF’s Art by Children programme says the workshop will help children deal with various peculiarities of the medium.

Sunil, who hails from the hilly belt of Mundakayam and has done his course from Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts in Mavelikkara, has excelled in watercolours as a light-sensitive medium that is hard to work on. He is one among the five Indians to find mention in the ‘International Watercolour Artists’, published from America, which featured 39 names from 32 countries.


“The fourth edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale runs from 12 December, 2018 – 29 March, 2019.“
Venues are open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM.
Tickets are available for purchase for ₹100 at Aspinwall House.

Universal free entry every Monday.


By Air: Fort Kochi is 45 km from Kochi International Airport, Nedumbassery.
By Train: Fort Kochi is 13 km from Ernakulam Junction (South) Station and 16 km from Ernakulam Town (North) Station.
By Boat: Fort Kochi is 20 mins from the Ernakulam Boat Jetty and 10 mins from both Willingdon Island and Vypin Boat Jetty.
By Bus: Fort Kochi is 15 km from the main bus station in Ernakulam.

Many of the locations of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale are walking distances from each other (most are around 10 minutes or so).


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