Happy feet: Kerala painter creates magic with her toes

Kochi: She was born without arms but Jilumol Mariet Thomas of Kerala has been drawing ‘success portraits’ with her feet ever since she turned four.

A native of Thodupuzha, Jilumol (28) today is a professional graphic designer. She is currently holding her first solo exhibition at ‘Ente Bhoomi’ Art Gallery in Kochi.

Accolades are pouring in from all quarters as the visitors, including eminent artists, are all praise for her exquisite creations, a total of 21 paintings.

Her rise is mercurial considering another fact that she was born into a world of miseries. Apart from her own physical condition, she lost her mother to blood cancer at a very tender age.

She was taken to ‘Mercy Nursing Home’ at Chettipuzha near Changanassery at the age of four where she was raised.

It was the nuns here who first spotted her penchant for drawing and encouraged her to pursue her talent. They presented her with a packet of colour pencils.

She used her feet to hold the pencils and tried to run them through papers. Slowly, straight lines, curves and borders began to appear in a way she liked and she was soon in the world of colours, afar from the dark corners of isolation and exclusion that she had suffered till then.

“I used to make attempts to draw using my feet from a young age itself. The nuns came to see a few such pictures drawn on the back pages of my notebooks and encouraged me immensely. My friends too backed me up. I’m indebted to them for making my life, otherwise dull, eventful,” she told NewsMeter.

Though she handles watercolours, oil painting and acrylic painting, pencil drawing is her favourite.

“As for a theme, nature comes automatically to me though my attempt always is not to narrow my subjects,” said Jilumol, who has a degree in Animation and Graphic Design.

Though she was into drawing from her childhood, she started learning the art from a master only a year and a half ago.

“Artist Benny Varghese is my guru and role model. I learned a lot under his guidance. So far my works reflected materials that one has seen and forgotten in the fast-moving world. Now I aim to be more creative and intend my works to reflect inner messages,” she quips.

Jilumol is a member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Association which supports artists with physical disabilities. She is the seventh artist from Kerala to become a member of MFPA.

“It’s my dream to conduct an international exhibition under the organisation’s banner. I feel I’ m ready for this and have started the work. Another dream in life is to get a driving licence,” a determined Jilumol said.

While she learned driving and even bought a car, authorities are not willing to register her modified vehicle nor issue a licence to her. Jilumol said, “The attitude should change. The society should support our efforts based on our merit. It’s always been a tough walk in my life and I intend to further step on the gas in the days to come to realise my pending dreams.”

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