Who would have thought that the delicate, pretty feathers of birds could become the canvas for an artist? As they are immensely soft and small, painting on feathers is quite a feat, but Aditi Agarwal accomplishes it beautifully.
Birds, animals, or human elements — give Agarwal, 28, a subject and she would express it with great detail on a feather. “I am a feather collector and I once saw a watercolour painting of a feather. That’s when it struck me that painting on a feather would be quite something. I tried one and it turned out quite well. I have been doing it ever since for the past one and a half years,” says Agarwal, who is based in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
From pigeons to peacocks, Agarwal uses feathers of all kinds of birds. She collects them from near her place, zoos, parks and so on.
Each feather has a different texture. For instance, a pigeon feather has a thick texture while that of a peacock is thin. Obviously, a thick feather needs a lot more colour than a thin one.
Since these feathers are going to be painted on, it’s very important to see to it that they are clean, and not broken, torn, or have gaps between them. The size too matters. “The size of the feather differs from subject to subject. I use small-sized feathers for subjects which require less detailing and vice-versa. For example, a painting of seven elephants was painted on a 20 inch long feather,” she tells us.
While painting on an object as delicate as a feather, one needs to be very delicate with their method as well. So Agarwal uses miniature brushes, which have only one hair to paint. A detailed painting can take up to three hours while a simple one can be finished in an hour.