The Green Canvas


Increasing awareness about nature and the necessity to preserve it has given rise to a new form of art called environmental art. Green art or crop art, made using plant materials, is one of the most popular forms of environmental art.

Leaf carving is a new art form in which intricate designs are carved on a leaf. The artist scrapes off the outer surface of the dried leaf, leaving behind a gossamer-thin transparent layer. Skilled artisans then painstakingly create their masterpieces on the veined surface.

Artists prefer to use the leaves of the chinar tree to depict scenes of nature, famous monuments and religious figures. The art form, which originated in China, is fast gaining popularity all over the world.

Leaf painting involves painting on dry leaves. This ancient art, which has been practised in many parts of South East Asia for centuries, is now witnessing a revival.

Palm leaf painting has been a popular folk art in Orissa and Tamil Nadu. Artisans use an iron pen to draw on the dried leaves. Ink or a mixture of burnt coconut shells, mustard oil and turmeric is then rubbed over the sketch to highlight the etching. The leaves are then sewn or strung together to form a mat. Scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, figures of gods and goddesses, scenes depicting the beauty of nature and episodes from local legends and folklore are some common themes.

In Kerala, peepal leaf painting is also popular. Mature leaves are soaked in water to remove the green layer. The artist then paints on the leaf skeleton and the delicate masterpiece is mounted on a thick black paper.