Madhubani Painting in 6 Easy Steps

I have learned a lot by observing other artists’ works. Some live works while some other through different media. I strongly believe that in this Google age one can learn anything and everything if one is really determined to learn, because there are lot of generous people sharing their knowledge and skill over internet.

I used to wonder what makes these wonderful people take so much effort and share their learnings? Now I realize what made them do so. There aim is to help others so that interested people can learn.

It’s the same reason why I wanted to write this post. So that I can pass on the help I received when I started painting and wanted to learn in any way possible.

I am still learning each day as I continue to paint. However, I feel I can still share what I have learned over the period of time. Therefore, thought came that why not write a post to share my knowledge on how to do Madhubani painting.

I have completed this Madhubani painting of Radhe-Krishna in a week’s time and taken photographs in each important stage. Madhubani or Mithila is the folk art of Bihar. You can read my post on Madhubani /Mithila paintings for more information.

Few important things for whosoever gets tempted to try Madhubani painting.

  • It’s an intricate art form and takes time to complete a painting. Please don’t be in hurry to finish it. Enjoy the wonderful journey of painting.
  • It can be done on handmade sheet or any thick white sheet – no special papers needed. Just make sure you start painting on rough side of the sheet. Smooth and shiny surface makes the colors slip.
  • Traditionally, special nib is used to draw line with black ink in Madhubani art work, but that requires lot of practice. However, black marker pen can be used to draw the outline (it’s important that pen should be water resistant).
  • Water-based poster colors are used on paper while if attempting on fabric use acrylic colors. Round tip brushes are used to fill colors.

Painting Procedure

  1. I start with sketching the border. Border is important aspect of Madhubani painting and it makes the painting look complete. Continuous geometrical designs or nature-inspired motifs can be used. Border can be from ½ inch to 2 inch wide (depending on the size of the canvas you are using). Bigger the canvas wider the border. Here I have drawn a ½ inch border.

making border of madhubani painting2. Conceptualize the layout of the painting. Start with the main character and fill the remaining space later. Here, I have sketched Radha-Krishna first and then made tree, abstract peacock and fish in the given order. The idea is that abstract patterns should support the main theme. Since its Radha-Krishna, adding peacock and fish made sense. Peacock is the symbol of romance and fish stands for fertility, good luck and devotion.

madhubani painting sketching Radhe krishna

3.Repeated patterns are made to add detailing as you can see in tree trunk or the way leaves are filled. There is no fixed rule to it and any pattern that blends well with the theme can be used. Border looked too simple so I added further detailing to it. As you must have understood no space is left blank and it should be filled with detailing.

Madhubani painting adding details

Since in this painting we are following Bharni style, we fill the painting with vibrant colors. While in Kachni style it’s mostly black and white with minimum use of colors. I am biased towards Bharni style as it is more colorful and bright.

4. While filling the colors, first decide the background color and then choose the foreground colors. When background color creates contrast with the foreground colors it makes painting more appealing. Choice of colors is very crucial. So, get yourself familiarized with color-wheel to know more about color combinations.

Madhubani painting filling background color5. Once done with background color, I infuse bright colors in foreground. When in doubt, start with adding obvious colors. Like tree trunk will be brown and leaves will be green, skin tone of Radha and Krishna, peacock will again be in shade of blue. After this it will be easy to visualize and choose other colors.

Madhubani painting adding colors6. You can leave the background as filled with single color but Madhubani painting is all about intricate patterns. So I add repeated pattern with black color (shown below) and fine tip round brush all over the background.

Madhubani with Background PatternThe painting is complete and ready to be framed. Decorate your home or your workplace or you can even gift it to someone.

Madhubani Painting
Madhubani painting ready to be framed

There is nothing more special than gifting handmade gifts. Like I gifted my friend personalized name-plate as house warming gift and she really loved it.

I am flabbergasted when I see the works of acclaimed Madhubani artisits Bharti Dayal and Vidushini Pandit. They have taken the Madhubani Paintings to great heights and their efforts have made this folk art more popular.

If you are fond of mono color paintings. Have a look at one of mine black and white madhubani painting.

I don’t claim to be an expert. I am sharing here what I have learned and explained here in best possible manner.

I will keep updating this page if I feel anything else can be helpful too. If you think some information is missed or anything else can be mentioned here please bring it to my knowledge and I will update it.

Thanks for reading and do share your feedback as your viewpoint may help some other readers too.

Do visit and like Bhaili’s Facebook page to get regular updates. You can also find me on Pinterest. You may also subscribe to this blog by entering your email-id in EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION section (top of the right-hand column for desktop-readers and bottom of screen for mobile-readers).

What is Madhubani Painting?

Madhubani is an internationally acclaimed folk art from state of Bihar in India. It’s an art form that was traditionally passed on from one generation to another like family secrets. Its intricate beauty attracts art lovers towards it.

The minute detailing and thrill of filling bright colors in small spaces makes me paint something new in Madhubani. Just the other day I was painting Madhubani and one of my Bhaili (friend) dropped by.

She liked this style of painting and showed eagerness to know more about Madhubani painting and from where I have learned it.

My dear friend didn’t knew that my home town is Bhagalpur in Bihar and that meant seeing live Madhubani painting all around me from childhood. She got curious and wanted to know more about it. My friends herself draws beautiful mandalas. If you are interested in learning how to draw mandalas do read mandala drawing in six easy steps.

So, I thought why not share with you our conversation on Madhubani. This must help you getting basic idea about this form of art. Following are the excerpts of our conversation.

My friend: How this art got its name and its history?

Me: Madhubani is a district in North Bihar, and this art form is widely practiced in this region hence the name. It’s also believed that King Janak of Mithila commissioned artisans to paint on daughter Sita’s marriage with Ram. Mithila is birthplace of Sita, therefore this style is also called Mithila Paintings.

My friend: What are peculiar characteristics of Madhubani painting?

Me: Bold colors and larger than life abstract figures of deities form the central theme of Madhubani paintings. Normally Gods and Goddesses – like Ram and Sita, Krishna and Radha, Shiv and Parvati, Ganesh, Goddess Durga.

Faces of the figures have protruding eyes and pointed nose. Nature inspired motifs like lotus, sun and animal motifs like Peacock, fish, turtle and elephant are popular. Originally, it was done on walls with available natural colors. These days it’s done on hand-made sheets with water-based colors or on silk fabric with acrylic colors.

Have a look at couple of my Madhubani works on hand-made paper:

Radha-Krishna Madhubani Painting
Radha-Krishna
Radha-Krishna Madhubani Painting
Radha-Krishna

If you are fond of mono color paintings. Have a look at one of mine black and white madhubani painting.

My friend: Can I learn it?

Me: Yes one can learn it but since it’s an intricate art form and done free hand, concentration and patience is needed to practice it. I have shown steps for drawing this art form in easy Madhubani Painting for kids. If you have basic idea of Madhubani and want to create a Madhubani painting with more detailing, you can read my post about Madhubani painting in 6 easy steps.

My friend: That’s fascinating! Tell me more.

Me: On observation you will notice double lines all over, differentiating foreground from background and creating depth in design. Double line border is made to highlight the main painting, it can be geometrical design or flora or fauna inspired motifs. In absence of double line the painting can be called Madhubani inspired art not original Madhubani art.

My friend: What are different styles in Madhubani Painting?

Me: Different styles of Madhubani painting can be broadly categorized as Bharni, Kachni, Geru, Tantric, Gobar, and Godana.

My Friend: Great when can I learn from you?

Me: When I take next workshop on Madhubani. 🙂

Feel free to ask me any questions related to this popular art.

Do visit and like Bhaili’s Facebook page to get regular updates. You can also find me on Pinterest. You may also subscribe to this blog by entering your email-id in EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION section (top of the right-hand column for desktop-readers and bottom of screen for mobile-readers).