How to do Tanjore Painting



Tanjore Painting is a very ancient type of painting. I would suggest you to learn this art through a proper teacher. But still for those who are interested in doing Tanjore painting the following steps you can follow. Not necessary the out come should be exactly the same that’s the reason i am suggesting you to find a local tutor but for those who aren’t able to find a local tutor and still have an yearning to learn this ancient craft can try following the method I have given. It takes lot of effort and time to learn this art but its worth all the effort and time.

What are the materials required?

Plywood above 6 mm thickness.
White cotton cloth
Chalk power.
Flat Brush (above 3″ width).
Sand Paper (emery sheet).
Arabic Gum.
Coloured Jaipur Stones.
Gold foil
Poster Colors.
Rounded Brushes (000, 0, 2, 4, 6,8)
Black Pen.
Multi colours transparent ink.
Cutter, Ruler, Yellow carbon paper, pencil.
Reference art to trace

What next ?

The process is divided into:

How to prepare Canvas ?
Next you have to trace the design
Sculptural Stage
Decorating Stage
Improvise Stage
Finally painting

How to prepare Canvas?

Step 1: Take a clean cotton cloth.(Cloth size should be wider than the plywood at least 1 inch in all the sides. If your plywood size is 14 x 18 inches
then your cloth should be wider than 16 x 20 inches)

Step 2: Take the Plywood and soften the edges with sand paper.

Step 3: Now let us prepare the first paste for pasting the cloth on the Plywood. Ratio – Water:Fevicol – 4:1

Step 4: Filter the paste by coffee filter & Immerse cotton cloth in it for few minutes.

Step 5: Now Lift wet cotton cloth from the first paste, rinse the cloth gently. Hold it for a while so that extra paste to get drained.

Step 6: Now spread, wet cloth on top of the plywood and wipe the cloth gently from centre to edge horizontally & fold extra cloth to the other side.

Step 7: Pull the folded extra cloth for wrinkle free surface in the front side and paste backside cloth strongly with fevicol only.Keep the wet canvas to dry on the newspaper for couple of hours.

Step 8: Lets prepare the second paste for layering the canvas for this Make a paste of ratio Chalk powder: Water: Fevicol – 2: 1: 1

Step 9: Take a clean wide flat brush (preferred size is 2-3 inch brush) Apply the second paste on the canvas horizontally and leave it for 10-15 minutes to dry. Then go for applying vertically. Repeat the same until completion of the layering paste. Leave it to dry in shade for one day.

Step 10: Now take a piece of emery paper, and fold that as a longer stripe. Gently rub the canvas circularly. This is done for smooth even surface.Clean it with a dry flat brush.

Now the canvas is ready for Tanjore painting. If you want a glassy look you can add some portion of Arabic gum with the layering gum (step 3) itself.

Next step Tracing of design

Step 1: First Choose a design

Step 2: Now trace the design using yellow carbon paper on the canvas. Do not trace the image in detail. For example while tracing the ornaments just trace the outlines only. Not in details of the shapes. The trace is for only the judgment of the area of the decorative areas and shapes of the figure. Care should be taken at this stage to provide a margin recess on all the four sides of the board to accommodate the frame, once the painting is completed

Sculptural Stage

Step 1: By using round/flat brush, apply a smooth layer of embossing gum in the decorative areas. The ratio of embossing layer is

Ratio – Arabic Gum: Chalk powder : fevicol – 1:2:1.
Once this is done leave the Canvas with Emboss effort to get for more than a day.

Step 2: If you want more embossment for certain area repeat the above process.

Step 3: Now mark the correct places using a pencil/pen to paste the stones & pearls.

After the exact confirmation of the location for Stones & pearls, Mix Few dropsof fecivol with some water. Stick the stones starting with bigger stones first.

Leave it to get fix for a day.

Decorating Stage

Step 1: To get a smooth effect on the glittering area of the tanjore art. You need to apply one more layer of embossing gum over the stones/pearls.

Step 2: Wait for one hour. Now pick a bowl of water & cotton. Dip a piece of cotton in the water, and squeeze it to remove extra water.

Step 3: Now with the wet cotton, gently rub circular manner on the embossed area.

Step 4: Keep in mind that you need to maintain the neatness on the painting area too.

Improvise Stage of the Tanjore Art

Step 1: Mark the design with the help of Ball-point pen over embossed area.

Step 2:
In a cone fill a mixture which contains Arabic Gum : Chalk powder : fevicol in ratio of – 2:2:1/2

Step 3: Carefully do cone work in filling area (like side corner / pillar) with good traditional design. Also give boundaries to the stones and pearls with the help of the cone. And let it dry.

Step 4: Now cut a gold foil sheet from the Gold foil booklet. Place the gold foil sheet over the design and mark an edge impression with your thumb for approximate shape.

Step 5: Cut the require shape of gold foil by leaving 3 to 4 mm extra on all the sizes of the require shape.

Step 6: Apply glue (fevicol with water mixture) to the back side of the gold foil & place over design area.

Step 7: Remove gold foil pasted over stones in tanjavur painting. For this Groove the shape with Safety-pin gently. Just apply wet brush in the centre of stone.
Use safety-pin to remove the soften wet gold foil. You can use johnson buds instead of brush. Shape of the stone can be adjust using safety-pin itself

The final stage of Painting:

Now paint the figures and background carefully with poster colours . The painting is normally done using white colour for the key figure and slightly shading it with blue or the normal body colour. The depiction is normally static and the painting does not reflect any action or movement. The usage of the background colours is mostly striking – it is a dark hue of red, blue or green. The paintings are characterized by pillars and curtains in the side, and some smaller compartmentalization at the bottom or top to accommodate small figures.


  1. When you mention stone ie shape of stone can be adjusted by safety pin, I’m confused what is the stone? This sounds very interesting process and would like to try, so I am about to order materials for this Thank you


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