By Bilal Kuchay
An Indian artist is wowing people with his unique portraits – drawn on leaves and bars of SOAP.
Sandesh Rangnekar, 46, painstakingly spends days to draw detailed lines on dried Peepal leaves – a sacred tree to Hindus and Buddhists in Asia – using watercolours and a pointed brush.
He first lets the leaves dry for 35 to 40 days and then sits for four hours a day for up to four days to paint on the unique canvas.
Sandesh also uses soap and squid bones to create amazing art work.
Sandesh said: “Peepal leaf painting is a unique art form because of the canvas being the distinctive element.
“This lifelike water colour renderings are done on dried leaves. The leaves have a beautiful shape as they taper to a needle point.
“But painting on the peepal leaves require patience and precision. It takes me at least three to four days to complete a painting.”
A creative director with a media house in Muscat, Sandesh, 46, who hails originally from Mumbai, India, has drawn miniature portraits of famous celebrities including Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson.
He has also drawn the Mona Lisa, which he said was his toughest work.
He said: “The Mona Lisa was a very tough subject.
“It was very challenging for me to get a smile on the leaf which has uneven surface that is the reason why the painting of Mona Lisa is my personal favourite.
“Squid bone carving is globally considered as one of the rarer forms of traditional art and craft practiced by a few tribes in the primitive era.
“The squid bones’ milky white appearance and soft flowing lines are simply irresistible. They are soft, fragile and challenging to work on – yet it is so intriguing.”
Sandesh posts his work on his Instagram account www.instagram.com/peepalandme/ where he is often praised by his followers.
He is the son of one of India’s finest artists, Sadashiv G. Rangnekar and says he was inspired to hone his artistic skills by his father.
At the age of 10, he would sneak into his father’s studio and start painting using his paints and canvas.
He explained: “My interest in art took shape in my childhood when I watched my father, an acclaimed Indian artist, create paintings in his studio.
“Although I was keen to try my hand at paintings, I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask him for access to his art tools.
“After a while I could barely control my interest, I began creating art when my father stepped out of his studio. But soon my parents discovered my talent and I was encouraged to pursue my passion.
“My father’s skills gave me the confidence to pursue the medium.”