Of a painter and his craft

Talented Artist

Of a painter and his craft

The last place people would assume they could find an artist would be amidst the sea of aircraft at the just-concluded ‘Aero Show 2013’. But they would be wrong.

C Nagaraj joined the Indian Air Force as an office peon and while at work, he would draw and sketch portraits of people and planes — despite the fact he has had no training in art whatsoever.

This self-taught artist was soon given assignments to paint small portraits and now, he paints exclusively for the Indian Air Force.

He might not be their official artist, but takes up small assignments given by the officers to paint portraits of their families.

Nagaraj hasn’t travelled across the country, but his paintings have found a place in almost every reputed Air Force officer’s home in Delhi, as well as in a couple of Indian Air Force bases across the country.

“They ask me to paint and I oblige. Drawing has been a passion and today, I’ve had the chance to paint for almost 22 years,” Nagaraj tells Metrolife. He has also worked as the official artist of the air staff chief marshal (retd) A Y Tipnis.

Nagaraj’s paintings were on display at the ‘Aero India 2013’. “I am happy that people have appreciated my work,” he adds.

Although Nagaraj hails from a small village on the border of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, he can speak as many as five or six languages. He began sketching with a pencil and soon, heard about oil painting.

However, initially, he didn’t have enough money to learn the art. “I would draw with a pencil and then experiment with oil paintings. It’s all trial and error. I try all kinds of combinations and choose what works best. It’s a gradual evolution from painting on
paper to canvas. It’s only when I could afford to buy canvas that I moved to that form,” he explains.

Nagaraj can rattle off the names of different planes, identifying a particular one just by hearing its engine roar.

He can also sketch almost all the aircraft in the IAF fleet. “Sarang, Su-30 MKI and
Tejas are my favourite this season. And even after all these years, the sight of an aircraft taking off and the noise still excites me,” he shares.

Nagaraj hopes to open a gallery with the money that he has earned from his art work. “I would also like to start teaching art,” he wraps up.

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