All of K N Haridas’ watercolour paintings on Instagram have a singular theme – chapels and houses from the European countryside.
A quick glimpse of K N Haridas’ watercolour paintings on his Instagram page and one would think the artist is definitely European. All the works have a singular theme – buildings, mostly with gabled roofs and church spires set against skies of different hues, reminiscent of countrysides in Europe. But no, Haridas is from Muvattupuzha and has never been to the countryside in Europe, though he has been to France. “It’s just that I’m fascinated by buildings in general. They would have been witness to so much, and though they are stationary, the mood keeps changing with the time of the day and the light. Also, it’s easier for me to draw buildings.”
Painting after painting explores rural chapels of similar styles from different angles and lights but somehow they don’t seem repetitive or dreary. And not surprisingly, his thousands of fans keep asking for more.
Like with many others, it was the Covid lock down and the subsequent rise in social media traffic that provided the perfect ecosystem to bring out the artist in Haridas, who runs a UI/UX firm in Chennai. He had always liked painting but it was during the 2020 lock down that he finally got the time and leisure to put brush to canvas, start uploading the works and find his niche in the online art world. “It happened organically. I was surprised by the reception I received for the first few works. And when you get a certain following on social media, it motivates you to keep on with it. Social media works in such a way that if you don’t upload a new work every week or so, people might think you have died!”
Love for architecture
He stuck to pen-and-wash and the singular theme, because “there is already a lot of hard-core talent in every other field” and he wanted to do something relatively unexplored. Haridas has included a handful of paintings of Indian architecture but keeps getting asked for more. “I find temples complex, there is a lot of detail involved. Perhaps I will try painting one live after Covid, from before a temple.” He prefers European churches because he finds them cute, he says. “I find those chapels in French villages rather unique. Even the houses there. I don’t know how they still maintain them as they are. I mostly paint from photographs, but they will always be my interpretations, never an exact copy and chooses the light and background. At times I restore a dilapidated building in my mind and then paint it.”
The sky occupies a major part of his works, and that’s intentional, as he feels the sky is what adds beauty and feel to a landscape painting.
He plans to hold a few exhibitions of his works sometime after Covid, and also travel to the French countryside. “Thanks to Instagram I’ve found friends from around the world including in France. Above all, I wish to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I’ve only seen the originals in New York etc.”
Haridas’ family consists of his wife and two boys, and he plans to continue with his profession, he says. “Painting will remain a passion. I’m considering the possibility of making it a retirement career. Right now I’m getting lots of requests online to conduct workshops. So the immediate plan is to start a YouTube channel to help other aspiring artists.”