Bheenth Chitra - A unique Indian tribal wall art style (Step by step guide)

Sunlight streaming on a beautiful Bheenth Chitra, tribal wall art centrepiece motif
Sunlight streaming on a beautiful Bheenth Chitra, tribal wall art centrepiece motif | Source

Bheenth Chitra, literally translated as wall drawings is a type of wall art in India. The motifs are large, clear and very distinct. Brush strokes are thick and fairly linear. This unique wall art uses a beautiful mix of geometrical and ethnic motifs. There are no stencils, prints or design blocks used to get the actual design on to the walls. It is a completely freehand art form that takes wall designs to an entirely new level. Here is Bheeth Chitra, or wall art with a Tribal twist.

Ingredients and items that you will need for Bheenth Chitra – Indian tribal wall art

Indian tribal wall art ingredients can be easily sourced from local shops anywhere in the world
Indian tribal wall art ingredients can be easily sourced from local shops anywhere in the world | Source

Small can of paint: You won't need sumptuous amounts of paint if you are covering a single wall. Buy small proportions of paint at a time so that it doesn't run dry in storage. Dark colors are preferable. You will find most forms of Indian tribal art in shades of brown or darker shades of red as they are considered auspicious. No medium or mixing agent is required. Any long lasting paint will suffice.

Tumbler of water: This will be used to wash your brushes and thin out your paint.

Sleek wooden stick: This stick will be used for your wrist's support while you paint so that your hand doesn't shake.

Ruler: A large sized ruler will work best for measurements.

Paint brushes: You will need only one thick and one thin brush. There is no recommended size for the thickness of the brush. Choose your brush according to the effect you want in your wall art.

Compass: This will be used for marking circular motifs.

Pencils and Glue: A pencil will be used to mark out the basic blueprint on the wall. Glue will be used to add finishing effects after the wall art is completed.

Shiny stick ons: To give a contemporary glitter toyour finished wall art, you can use stick ons and other decorative material according to how glitzy you want your wall art to be.

Sample designs: If there are specific designs you want on your wall, you are better off copying sample styles for practice. Paint your original designs once you're better at this art.

Bheeth Chitra – Indian tribal wall art: Step by step guide

Step 1: Selecting a wall and marking

Selecting a wall

This is the most important step in this DIY guide for tribal wall art. Just like an artist carefully chooses a canvas, you will need to carefully choose a portion of a wall that you want to paint. You must remember that the tribal wall art will be a relatively permanent fixture unless you paint over it. If this is your first time trying to paint something on a wall, select a small patch that can be repainted later.

Tips

  • If you select a wall in the exterior of your house, make sure it's not directly open to harsh sunlight, rain or snow
  • If your selected wall is already very weathered and tattered looking, paint a color coat on it before you paint the wall art.
  • Select that patch of a wall on which you can paint with ease of posture. First timers should avoid selecting a height where you need to make use of a ladder.
  • Select from a white, pale yellow or beige colored wall for learning. Reverse color usage of white paint on a black wall will only look good when there are no errors in your painting.

Marking a wall

Artist taking primary measurements on the wall
Artist taking primary measurements on the wall | Source

The best part about Bheenth Chitra or Indian tribal wall art is that measurements never have to be accurate. The reason of taking average measurements is that your wall art doesn't look diagonal and asymmetrical. If you don't want to use measuring tapes and rulers to mark out lines with a pencil, you can also use the palm of your hand to take approximate distances. But if you are covering a long patch of wall as shown in the pictures above, measurements are recommended.

Tips

  • You will need to make 3 main measurements divisions. The upper strip should be left for the border.
  • The motifs should fall in the center of the wall and should be equidistant from each other and from the ground level as you can see in the picture above.
  • The last division can be kept for another border to give your Indian tribal wall art a finishing frame.


Step 2: Borders and outlines

Artist taking primary measurements on the wall
Artist taking primary measurements on the wall | Source
Artist painting the double lined border
Artist painting the double lined border | Source

Leave 2 inches from the start of your wall and mark out double lines as the border of your wall art, as seen in the pictures above. Painting freehand straight lines is not as easy as it looks. Use the support of the wooden stick given in your ingredients list to help you paint a straight line.

Tips

  • While starting off with a double line border, you can use a combination of contrast colors.

Artist painting triangular border motifs
Artist painting triangular border motifs | Source
Another variation of triangular border motifs
Another variation of triangular border motifs | Source
  • Triangular motifs on the border which you see in the picture below are traditional Indian motifs that are used for decorating door entrances in India. They are called 'Toran'. You can choose other geometric forms for the border as long as they don't conflict with the motifs. Just make sure you keep the border simple.

Step 3: Motif by motif

As you approach the main motifs, you must make sure that you refer to the sample designs before you start. If your wall is long and can accommodate 3 motifs, choose one which is circular, one with is angular and one which is ethnic. Picture the entire wall in your head and draw a sketch of it, including your motifs on a notepad or a piece of paper and practice it over and over again until you are confident of doing it on the wall.

Like everything else in life, having a plan before you start painting your wall works well. Here is the artist's notepad before the work began.
Like everything else in life, having a plan before you start painting your wall works well. Here is the artist's notepad before the work began. | Source
The artist working on the first motif
The artist working on the first motif | Source

Tips

  • If you see the above images carefully, you will observe that drawing a central cross grid in all the images will split the image into exact halves. The right and left side of all the designs are mirror images of each other. Drawing cross grids before you stencil out your image with a pencil will help you to maintain the symmetry within the images.

Artist painting a freehand circular motif
Artist painting a freehand circular motif | Source
Completed circular motif
Completed circular motif | Source
  • For a circular design, use a compass to mark out a circle and then proceed.
  • Once the outline of your motif is made, you can go wild with the filling. Use straight lines, color fills, zig zags, floral designs and inverted triangles within your motif to make it come alive.
  • Below are some sample motifs that you can incorporate into your very own tribal wall art.

Bheenth Chitra - Sample motif for Indian tribal wall art
Bheenth Chitra - Sample motif for Indian tribal wall art | Source
Bheenth Chitra - Sample motif for Indian tribal wall art
Bheenth Chitra - Sample motif for Indian tribal wall art | Source
Bheenth Chitra - Sample motif for Indian tribal wall art
Bheenth Chitra - Sample motif for Indian tribal wall art | Source
Bheenth Chitra - Sample motif for Indian tribal wall art
Bheenth Chitra - Sample motif for Indian tribal wall art | Source
An example of Indian tribal wall art fillers you can use - Note how a random pillar has been painted with this filler
An example of Indian tribal wall art fillers you can use - Note how a random pillar has been painted with this filler | Source

Step 4: Giving fillers

What is peculiar to tribal Indian wall art is that it doesn't fill up the space of the canvas. The nature of design is sparse. If you feel like 'filling up' some empty space on your walls, you can use small motifs that are called Fillers. Some samples are shown below. Fillers are popularly used on pillars, balustrades, entrances and other such small areas that cannot accommodate large motifs.

Tips

  • If you want to mix contemporary with traditional, you can be creative and use the names of your family members as filler material. You can also use words like 'Peace', 'Love', 'Cool' or any other such term that suits your household's personality best.



Step 5: The final finishing

The ideas that you can use to add final finishing touches to your very own Bheenth Chitra are endless. If you want to stick to the tradition of tribal wall art, you can choose mirrored beads, also called 'Aabhla' in India. Pick out the small empty spots where you can stick these mirrored beads. Apply small dots of strong glue on the points you have selected and simply stick your beads on it.

The artist using gum to stick mirrored beads in the open spaces
The artist using gum to stick mirrored beads in the open spaces | Source
This is how your tribal wall art would look after you've stuck the mirrored beads
This is how your tribal wall art would look after you've stuck the mirrored beads | Source

Bheenth Chitra – Indian tribal wall art: Things to know

  • After moving to India, I have been exposed to a multitude of cultural experiences. India is a treasure trove of art and you can experience its cultural abundance only when you live in this country, not when you're on a touristy sojourn. Traditionally, Bheenth Chitra originates from the tribes of western India, particularly from the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • Don't expect to get it right the very first time. The artist who was working on this had years of experience under his belt. He made it seem extremely easy to do but we all know how it is with art – what seems easy, is probably not. Select a small patch of wall and practice over and over again until you are confident enough to get it right on a larger wall.
  • You don't necessarily have to stick to the motifs and designs that we went through. As a true artist, you must tweak the designs to incorporate your own personal sense of art into your walls. Visualize, sketch, practice and create your own masterpieces and see your walls comes alive!

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Comments 7 comments

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I have never been to India. Thanks for the step by step guide to this tribal art.


princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 4 years ago Author

Flora

I have recently moved. Watching the artist in action was fantastic! His hand movements were flawless and he made it look very easy. But that of course, came after years of practice. The best part about this tribal wall art is that once you are familiar with the style, you can incorporate your own elements into it. As long as you stick to the basic geometry and aesthetics, the amount of variation and creativity you can put is endless. The artist too, had his very own notepad as in one of the pictures above, in which he had made hundreds of motifs. I'm glad you liked this hub. It took me a while to put the pictures and text together but in the hope that someone will make the walls of their home come alive with tribal art, it is all worth it!

Princesswithapen


kschimmel profile image

kschimmel 4 years ago from North Carolina, USA

You have a gift for writing clear instructions. This is a beautiful hub!


princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 4 years ago Author

kschimmel

Wow! Thanks for your warm comment. There were many times when I went "Gee that's abstract" when the artist was painting the motifs on the walls. But when the entire wall was done, there was so much meaning and depth in something that seemed so abstract earlier. This tribal wall art is indeed, very beautiful. Thanks again for your generous comment and I'm glad you liked this hub!

Princesswithapen


Yellowrose06 profile image

Yellowrose06 4 years ago from Baytown

I really like your site,it has help myself of what I can do for my art as well..thank you so much.


princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 4 years ago Author

Hi Yellowrose

It feels great to know that this hub was useful to you in terms of incorporating ideas into your own art. If you have any questions about the tools, style or methods used in doing this tribal wall art, feel free to ask. Thanks for your appreciation.

Princesswithapen


Radhika Shah 4 years ago

Thanks.. I have been looking for this for months... love the instructions you put step by step.. it is definitely

gonna be my next project...

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