We step into a simple apartment in Andheri and notice that the walls are covered with beautiful paintings. The artist is busy at working in one corner of the hall, which has been converted into a studio.
N Ramakrishnan painting with his foot
A closer look and we are stumped. The artist is sitting on a wheelchair and painting on a canvas with his foot. He opens bottles of paint with ease and uses his brush to colour the canvas in different hues.
42-year-old N Ramakrishnan, who has cerebral palsy, is one of 15 artists from across the country associated with the Indian chapter of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA). The organisation gives Ramakrishnan, who is now a member of the organisation an annual stipend to support his livelihood.
Have feet, will paint
Though we were unable to comprehend his speech fully, Ramakrishnan's confidence and will power amazed us. "He can answer the door, operate the TV, VCR and music system with ease he performs these actions with his feet," says Mani with pride. He is the man who has been looking after Ramakrishnan for ten years.
Ramakrishnan has been painting with his feet since he was 18 and has even held a few exhibitions till date.
He is planning to go to Singapore to participate in an art event in April 2012. "Singapore...!" exclaims Ramakrishnan. His joy is reflected in all of his paintings that are not just testimony to great talent but also to grit and a never-say-die spirit.
Nadeem Shaikh is another foot artist associated with MFPA who aspires to hold exhibitions of his own work, like Ramakrishna, some day. "I am still a novice. I will start painting on bigger canvases soon and I am looking for classes to help me get better," says the shy 18-year-old.
Nadeem Shaikh working on one of his sketches, Nadeem Shaikh's
interpreta-tion of two lovers meeting
Nadeem is an Arts student at the Ismail Yusuf College in Jogeshwari and his aim is to become a successful artist. Accompanied by his friend who helped him receive calls on his mobile, he led us to his small home. He agreed to demonstrate his talent for us and put the finishing touches to a Sai Baba sketch.
He also showed us some of his earlier works in his drawing books and on his phone. We were speechless. The young boy's talent was unquestionable. "I also like playing video games and watching Shah Rukh Khan's movies," confesses Nadeem while showing us some of his sketches of the superstar.
Sketches made by Nadeem, Ramakrishnan and other artists are sent to MFPA, who digitalise them and transfer these to various products including greeting cards, T-shirts, calendars, bookmarks and bags.
"All artists receive an annual stipend; whenever their paintings are used, they receive an additional bonus," says Bobby Thomas, Head, Business Development, MFPA (India). "We also promote the paintings and try to organise exhibitions for the artists," he adds.
You can buy their products by dropping in at their office or organise for it to be sent over. "In two to three week's time, you can log on to our website to buy our products online," shares Thomas. This festive season, when you send out cards to your loved ones, ensure you convey more than just a Diwali wish.
At Indian Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, C/o TS Marketing Services P Ltd, A-401 Dipti Classic, Suren Road, Andheri (E).
Log on to imfpa.co.in