Chennai-based ophthalmologist Dr. Bina John recounts how she got into art through Catterfly classes, learnt several Indian art forms, and how it evolved into a stress-buster for the last one year
I have been an ophthalmologist for more than 25 years now. I took a break in November 2019 – my husband was busy with work, I had social commitments and I needed a break.
I joined an art class in Chennai one month before the lockdown and learnt how to mix colours and things like that. Then, the lockdown happened. A friend of mine knew about Catterfly and asked me to try the workshops. I started Catterfly’s classes in February 2020 and now I have finished 50-60 paintings!
I love the journey because earlier, I was ‘zero’ when it came to art. I have never done any art in school. In medical school, you don’t do any creative work. You draw parts of anatomy and label them. And that was more than 50 years ago since I passed out. If I can paint, anyone can.
Now, I have another problem. We live in a heritage house built in the 1930s. It has high ceilings and lots of room. But it looks as if even this house is enough to accommodate all my paintings. I have put up only half of what I have learnt. Many of my Phad, Warli, Madhubani, Cheriyal are on the wall but not Gond, Kalighat, Santhal and Pichwai works.
A friend said I should have an exhibition of my works. I told her to come home and see my paintings. Someone else said I could start an Instagram page but I don’t want all that.
I join a class to learn, and if possible make a good painting for my friends or myself. I like it as it’s a great stress buster. The other day, a friend asked me to paint something for his eye clinic. I asked Vipra (Catterfly’s contemporary master artist) and she gave me some suggestions. Instead of a Ganesha or landscape, I suggested a painting of an eye in an abstract background. He liked the idea and now I have to do it.
Then there are Catterfly’s Story of Art sessions. I attend them to know more about art. For instance, I didn’t know who Gustav Klimt was though Vipra had taught a class on his work. I don’t want to paint his works, as I don’t know what I will do with the painting. Can I gift it to someone? Maybe not. But now if I someone talks about Klimt, I know about his symbolism and that ‘Kiss’ is his most famous painting!