The painting process starts with sketching. The theme for painting depends on the artist; here, the artist sketches Buddha sitting in a meditative posture.
Initially, an outline of the sketch is done, and later details are added to the sketch. Once the sketching is completed, the artist prepares the dyes for painting. The natural gum obtained from the Bael tree is used as a binder along with the paint. The gum is added to the coconut shell containing the dye, allowing the colour to observe some of it. Excess gum is removed from the coconut shell, and the remaining gum is blended finely with the paint using one finger. Now the dyes are ready for applying. The paints are made from natural organic material like leaves, roots, fruits, etc.
The artist starts by filling the contours and space in the sketch with colours using a big-sized brush and allows it to dry. Once the initial coat of paint is dry, the artist starts to paint the details on it using a small-sized brush. Using a very small-size brush, the artist paints fine details like facial features into the painting. Finally, the artist gives a final touch to the artwork by drawing outlines in black colour, and thus a Kalighat Patachitra is prepared.
Preparation of Dyes:
Various types of leaves, roots, and fruits are used to obtain different shades required for the painting. Depending on the ingredient, the method of extracting colour also varies. If the colour is being extracted from leaves or seeds, then they are crushed using a hand or pestle, and the colour is collected in an empty coconut shell and dried in the sun. The extracted colours are stored in the coconut shells because the shape of the container acts as well, which enriches the colours. Different shades of the same colour can be obtained by exposing the colours to sunlight. For a darker shade, the extracts are directly exposed to sunlight, but if a bright colour is needed, the mixture of colour and gum must be kept out in the sunlight. The more the colours are exposed to the sun, the darker the shade of colour. The basic colours, which are prepared for the making of the painting, are black, red, blue, white, green, yellow, and brown. Other colours are prepared by mixing two colours together. The colour Black is made from the burnt rice, charcoal, or soot of the oil lamp. The soot is collected into a coconut shell and powdered well, then a required amount of gum is added and blended well. The colour Ochre Red is made from the seeds of the Saffron. The seeds grow into spiky pods, which grow in clusters at the top of the tree. The seeds are removed from the dried fruit pods and crushed to extract the colour, and stored in the coconut shell.
The colour Red is obtained from the leaves of the Segun/teak tree. The leaves are crushed, and the colour is squeezed out in a coconut shell. The colour Blue is obtained from the petals of the Aparajit flowers, which grows like a creeper. The petals are crushed, and the colour is collected into a coconut shell. The colour white is made from a special type of clay known as Kusum Mitti, which is available on the earth in the form of stones. These stones are available at a depth of 10-12 feet under the ground. The stones are scrubbed against a rock, and the white paste obtained is collected in a pot and left to dry. The colour Green is obtained from the leaves of the Kundri or Barbati (runner beans). It is also extracted from Seem, Bheranda, and Kesut leaves. The colour Yellow is obtained from the turmeric root. Roots are crushed in the pestle stone, and juices are collected in the coconut shell. The colour Brown is obtained from the matured leaves of Segun/teak.
The Wood Apple Gum, which is used as a binder along with the natural dyes, is prepared using the pulp of the wood apple fruit. The seeds are removed, and the pulp is mixed with the water to make the binder.