Mukesh Thapa, 39, of Dharamshala in Kangra district has won appreciation across the borders for his realistic artwork. He has registered his presence on various national and international platforms with his creative paintings.

Thapa started painting at the age of six. He never went to any institution or teacher for formal training and has no family background in art. “I had a natural penchant for art since childhood. I was in sixth standard, when I got appreciation from my teachers and friends. This motivated me further,” he said.

The craze for artwork from his early days drove him to become a professional painter.   “Initially I used to paint on cardboard, then paper and after that in a professional way,” said Thapa.

He got the first prize in a painting competition in 1992 organised by the Language and Culture department of Himachal Pradesh. “That was the beginning of my professional career as painter.”

Working continuously for 15 hours a day to refine and sharpen his skills, Thapa has made portraits, landscapes, sculptures and has tried his hand at contemporary and modern art.

He has made a forceful entry into ten world records like World Record Association, Asia Book of Records, Everest World Record Nepal, Creative World Record Nepal, Unique World Records and other prominent records.

In a first, he even ventured to paint his own portrait with a single strand of his beard’s hair and got into the Limca Book of Records in 2012 for the unique work.

“I thought of doing something unique. So with intense hard work, I made a self portrait with a single hair of my beard. I adjusted the single hair on the brush and painted with it,” he said.

Thapa is engrossed in his art and is happy to have made his hobby into his profession. But it has been a tough occupation.  “Sometimes a single painting takes six to eight months to complete,” said Thapa.

He has participated in different art camps and exhibitions like Roerich Art Gallery Nagger, Kullu, in Mumbai, Richeson 75 figure/portrait exhibition in US and many more.

In 2015, he received the Bold Brush award and a Lifetime Achievement award in the US for a portrait. The students of Kurukshetra University have written a research paper on Thapa and his achievements.

Thapa has made more than 600 paintings and is about to open an art gallery in Dharamshala. “This art gallery will be for everyone. There will be a one level system. Anyone can come and enjoy my work,” he said.

The painter is not in a favour of selling his paintings. To him art is worship. “One can sell gold or silver but one can never sell art. Art has no money value, it is priceless,” he added.