We all have heard of different art forms in our lives, every art standing out in its own way, but the art form mastered by Savithru Muthu can truly leave you awestruck. Hailing from the culturally rich city of Thanjavur, Muthu has etched his name into the world of art as a pencil sculptor.
While artists explore an array of mediums to give life to their imagination, Muthu’s mastery lies in the intricate world of pencil sculpture. When we delve deeper into the world of Savithru Muthu, we find a unique sense of dedication and devotion that fuels his artistry.
In a candid conversation with him, Muthu shared what inspired him to start pencil sculpting, what goes behind making every sculpture, and more.
1. Can you tell us about your background and how you got started in pencil sculpting? What drew you to this unique art form?
I hail from Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. My artistic journey began with painting, inspired by animated pictures in children’s magazines and school books. However, my path took a transformative turn when I got to know about the sculptures in the magnificent UNESCO heritage site- Thanjavur’s big temple.
Inspired by the intricacies, I wanted to try the same. I started sculpting using soap, chalk, wax, fruits, vegetables, and stone. It was after watching the renowned Director S. S. Rajamouli’s film “Naan Ee” that I tried pencil sculpting. Initially, it was very challenging but as I kept practising, I eventually learnt this art form.
2. What inspired you to focus on creating portraits of gods and goddesses in particular?
During my childhood days, I was a devotee of Lord Ganesha, a devotion nurtured by my grandmother. This spiritual connection stayed with me. Whenever I used to visit temples, I’d find solace and calmness and feel positive energy around me. As I grew older, my admiration for the exquisite sculptures in the temples grew. Therefore, I decided to focus on creating portraits of gods and goddesses.
Whenever I sculpt a deity, I do so with my heart, often witnessing the fulfilment of my wishes, reinforcing my belief in the divine energy that permeates our world.
3. Pencil sculpting is a highly intricate and delicate art form. Can you share some insights into the materials and tools you use to create your sculptures?
My journey of pencil sculpting began with finding the right materials. I searched for big pencils and drawing pencils but discovered that they were less conducive to the intricate work. As a challenge, I took a basic drawing pencil with a size of 3 mm – 4 mm in diameter. Fortunately, this proved highly effective for crafting bust sculptures and intricate pieces.
For larger and more detailed works, such as full human sculptures, I turned to jumbo drawing pencils, which have a larger 5 mm diameter. I use a Detailing knife or Surgical Knife for carving. This enables me to carve intricate and minute details.
4. Your work requires an incredible amount of patience. How long does it typically take to complete one of your pencil sculptures?
Creating a single, intricately detailed sculpture takes up to three weeks. The more the details, the more time it requires. I always devote the necessary time in every step of the creative process to ensure the final result is nothing short of extraordinary.
5. Are there any artists or sculptors who have had a significant impact on your work or served as role models for you?
There are a lot of artists that I find my inspiration from. It extends beyond just pencil sculpting. My role models include Shahaniraj and Subodh Kerkar (Founder of the Museum of Goa). I am deeply inspired by their enthusiasm for art and their genuine enjoyment of the creative process. Their work motivates me to keep doing better and better each day.
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