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Ram Krishna uses a circle motif common among Nepali signboard artists, but he takes it a step further. He often uses the circle as a moon, or as a device to frame the dog, but he has been known to take it outside the frame, too, giving the pet a field, some grass, or even just to show off the dog’s collar. See the black lab with a glowing porthole above.
Ram Krishna is an example of a member of a family that is in the business of signboard art. His brothers and his cousins all work in the business. Most likely his father and uncles have all retired. There are female fine artists in Nepal, but I’ve never seen a lady signboard artist, though they often work in the shop or run the storefront.
More than once, I’ve gone to Ram’s shop to find 5 or 6 Nepalis watching a hotly contested game of chess. There’s also a lot of art on the wall, a sign that they paint for pleasure as well.
There is little ego involved for most of these guys. If they have a lot of work, or their cousin needs some money, they pass the work along to someone else. The young artists never turn down work, whereas I’ve known some older artists to insist that they are ‘too busy’.
In March, 2011, when I arrived to place an order, Ram Krishna, 25, told me that he was getting married. As is common in Nepal, it was an arranged marriage. He returned from the wedding over a month late! Must have been a great honeymoon. In November, 2012, Ram Krishna told me that he was the proud father of a daughter.
Here Sanjib does a great job with Miffy, an enlightened Rottweiler and Labrador mixture. There is a glare on the photo that is not on the painting, but Miffy's portrait is truly beautiful.
Miffy is also lovely in her portrait by Sagar Bitsa. Sagar misspelled her name, but I am sure Miffy would understand.
Shadow the Australian Shepherd looks luminous and happy in his final portrait by Sanjib Rana.
Rhonda the tall Terrier mix by Megh Raj Thapa. Megh Raj added a red blanket. It is always interesting to see how different artists interpret the same photo.
Here we have Rhonda the tall Terrier as seen by Sanjib. He has stayed true to the color palette and this one is truly stunning, though I am also fond of Megh Raj's version. It usually comes down to which portrait looks most like the pet in question.
Gallina the Brussels Griffon in her final portrait by Dilip Niroj.
Alvin the Yorkshire Terrier by Sanjib Rana. Sanjib had fun with that rug.
Momo the Himalayan Cat by Sanjib Rana. Momo is looking very demure in his oval frame.
If you would like to have your dog (cat, horse, chicken, bunny, bearded dragon, etc.) immortalized on metal here in Nepal, it is too late this year. But I will be back in Nepal ordering signs again in early spring, being back in time for Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts.
You choose the style, the color, what you would like the sign to say...
You can also check out NepalDog.com, as I have over 72 breeds of dog (and counting) and many cats.
This hand-painted art form is fast disappearing in Kathmandu, as it already has in most parts of the world. I pay fair trade wages, the artists get to paint again, pet lovers get a choice of three paintings for each commission, and I get to help Nepali artists make a living. Everybody is happy. Rescue dogs from America get to rescue artists from Nepal!
HOW TO ORDER
To order, please send me a photo of your pet. I will give it to three different artists, giving you a choice of 3 paintings and three artists will get work. Each painting is about one square foot and is on metal with synthetic enamel paint. These can be hung indoors or out, be framed or unframed.
While I am in Nepal, your pet will be featured on the Danger Dog Blog, as I stop into the artists' studios and document the works in progress.
Satisfaction is guaranteed as I accept no money up front. If you do not like one of the three, you pay nothing, and the 3 artists are paid in full in any case. Let me know what you want it to say and that's it!