March, 21 2014
The Happiness Project: Painting with Spices

When she discovered a white wall and some leftover paints at her new house, this freelance reporter began to explore a passion she had forgotten since her university days. Find out how she paints with kitchen spices here.

by Karima Anjani
Culture
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Passion for arts came later to Aji Yahuti. She discovered her needs for creative expression after moving into a new house. On her backyard she found a blank white wall and leftover paints. In her early forties, art become an addiction to this freelance reporter. 
 
Her first piece of work on the blank wall that became her ‘canvas’ was a mural of elephant and gecko. Her house painter told her that using thinner would give the painting a glossy effect and make it relatively long lasting. But she was not crazy about the pungent smell of the liquid chemical, and it certainly burned her eyes, so she chose water-based paint. Her approach was free style, cheap and readily available materials.
 
For her next project she was fascinated by a famous painting The Brooch, or known as “The Lady With the Brooch” by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. One of his most well known works is “The Scream” in 1893. Aji’s inspiration came after seeing an ashtray full of cigarette ashes, which she used to make a replica of The Brooch.
 
Aji further explored her newfound passion and found that an ancient Madhubani method from India felt like a more dynamic medium, using materials from her kitchen­­­ as well as acrylic paint and watercolors.
 
The colors were traditionally derived from natural sources like plants and spices -- yellow color is obtained from turmeric, white from rice powder. Madhubani tradition has been done by women dates back to the 7th century AD in India.
 




Her batik seller piece was made with acrylic paint, watercolors, marker, and turmeric and paprika, mixed with food coloring. She also does simpler approach of black and white portraits with a pen marker and paper.
 
Her artistic flair had actually shown early in college, where she studied communication and French.
 
“I used to scribble on my walls and paint personalized birthday cards for my close friends, because I couldn’t afford buying them presents,” said Aji.
 
The mother of two says painting gave her freedom and the chance to temporarily escape from reality and the monotony of everyday routine. When she’s in the zone, she loses herself in the work, and becomes singularly focused on the piece she is making, causing her to forget things like taking a shower. 
 
The positive feedbacks she received for her paintings was surprising for her.
 
The inspiration and creativity starts from within – it’s never too late to start a new passion in life, she added.