Chennai Weekend Artists is a group of people who meet to sketch, draw and paint together.
Chennai Weekend Artists — the name says it all. Artists, all of them amateurs, coming together on weekends to draw, paint, learn and share knowledge; everyone connected by the common passion of artistic talent. What started as a seven-member Facebook group by techie Muralidharan Alagar in 2012 has grown into a community of over 17,900 virtual members — nearly a hundred of them super active, who, during weekends, gather at spots in and around Chennai to sketch and paint.
Every Sunday, 20-30 persons gather by 10 am, roaming around, settling down with their canvases, palette or drawing books and copy what they see. It might be sketches or paintings or portraits. By 1 pm, they assemble at a spot where they exhibit their works, talk about the techniques and share their ideas. At times, they get a prominent artist to speak to them. By evening, the artworks and photographs are shared on the Facebook page.
Explaining how it all began, Muralidharan says, “I came to Chennai in 2012 from Bengaluru, where I was associated with the groups Urban Sketchers and Pencil Jammers, who meet every weekend for sketching. Chennai lacked such a group and that’s how I started Chennai Weekend Artists,” says Muralidharan, who quit his software job to pursue art full time.
Hunting for interesting places and subjects, the team has covered almost every park, beach, temple, museum and mall in the city — Nageswara Rao Park, Anna Nagar Tower Park, Madava Perumal Koil, Egmore Museum, Kalakshetra, Kapaleeswarar Temple, Natesan Park, etc. Now they are exploring places like Thanjavur, Darasuram, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Kanchipuram, Pulicate Lake and Pondicherry. The latest visit has been to the IIT-M campus where they interacted with noted graffiti artist from Denmark, Frida Stiil Vium. “We invite artists like Trotsky Marudhu and Maruthi for interactive sessions,” he adds. Every year, they hold exhibitions and last year, they collaborated with the art show AIM for Seva Krupa Homes to support an institution.
The group has no specific age group — from 10-year-old Akhil and 12-year-old Manav to sexagenarians Aleem and Balaji, it’s a big family of three generations. Alok Kumar, a techie who has been part of the group since 2013, admits to have never given any weekend camp a miss. “All of us have been into drawing and painting since childhood, but somewhere down the lane, as career and responsibilities took over, we had to bury it all. Being part of the group is the happiest thing that has happened to people like me,” says the Bihar native, who has been a Chennaiite for over a decade.
“The aim of CWA is to appreciate art works and provide guidance to each other, which, we believe, is being carried out wonderfully,” says Murali, who believes that art is a tool to bring together people, like his little idea did, and help prevail harmony, peace and greater communication where words fail.