I have always enjoyed combining styles of Art as well as art mediums to create artwork that conveys a meaning, a story, and an aesthetically pleasing experience. Henna is a medium that takes me closer to my roots, to the place I come from. Water color on the other hand is the passion for art! Both these mediums although distinct from each other in their very existence, when combined together make a whole new world of art experience. The west meets the east and finds a harmony in this style of artwork.
Initially, when I started painting with Henna as a medium, I explored with simple marks and drawings of henna on paper. Later, I experimented with different materials for painting with Henna. I experimented with various art papers, handmade papers, canvas and cloth. I also experimented with glass, plastic, and wood. Henna being a paste, it can be applied to any surface and any material. However, when a mark is made on the surface it stays permanently. This is because of the dyeing agent present in the henna leaf that imparts the brown color as soon as a mark is made. The paper being an absorbing material, seeps the liquid present in the paste and traps it making a stain on the surface which is difficult to lift or remove. Hence, it became difficult to erase and redo. Except for glass and plastic, for all other materials, the mark remained and one had to live with that mark wherever and however it may be.
Among all the surfaces I experimented with, I liked the Indian handmade paper the best material for creating henna artworks. The artists water color paper became the favorite for the combination of the two art forms.
Most of the paintings that I did with henna were free hand, and with zero tolerance for error. I started making outlines in pencil for bigger objects and forms to minimize the error rate. However, the detailing, shading, and additions of new objects were intuitive and freehand, a direct mark on the paper.
After creating a body of artwork with the monotone henna, I wanted to explore and add color. At first, I experimented with adding chemicals to the henna paste. However, because of the toxic nature of chemicals, I did not want to go that route. Hence, I started combining my passion for watercolors with henna. That worked very well and made the painting look colorful yet keeping the aesthetics intact. It was a simple but Eureka moment for me.
With a lot of experimenting with Henna, I also turned to digitizing of henna artwork and creating new visuals combining the forms and objects. I scanned the artwork into Photoshop and manipulated the images to create new works with Henna medium and the digital technology. This gave me a breadth of techniques to explore and combine. It also made the artwork permanent and printable.
Today, I am still looking for new ways of using the henna medium into different art styles, exploring new ways of creating art. It has been a fascination for a decade and still continues!