Q 1- Please introduce yourself, your work etc.
I am a creator. I am an artist. A mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a lover… A lot of things but then so is everyone 🙂 In my life I have always tried to embrace every role with equal fervor and honesty. As a creator I try and imbibe everything around me. We each play many roles to many people. Embrace them all. Your interactions with people, places and things define you. They all have a role to play in your work.
Q 2 – Was it always your dream to become an artist, if not how did you made the choice? (educational background etc)
By education I hold a Master’s degree in History, by profession I was an information architect and UX/UI designer for the longest time. But my passion and today my vocation/my job are that of an artist. A creator.
Q 3 – who or what was your inspiration?
Nakul Sinha. He was my art teacher in school. He is the single most important reason that I became an artist. He believed in me. I was very saddened to learn that he passed away a few years ago alone in Shanti Niketan. He never married and his last years were lonely. He once told me, that I should never give a painting or any of my work for free. So even today I charge one rupee for any work that I give away even as a gift. Somewhere along the way, in the innocence of youth, I just believed that he would live forever. After passing out of school I looked for him even asked about his whereabouts… I guess I did not try hard enough. I wish I had. My greatest regret in life is that I never told him what he meant to me. I think he would have been happy for me.But as inspiration goes? Everything really. My life and the people and places I see around me. I think my effort to paint is a way to understand those around me better and the ArtByAarohi Label line is to challenge myself to see how many boundaries I can push. The Poonchh Collection is my way of paying it forward…
Q 4 – Please tell us about your milestone journey, especially the difficulty you faced?
I read somewhere that ‘ do what you think of constantly’. And I realize every day for the last so many years, for definitely all of my adult years it has been my driving force without really realizing it. But it is hard to juggle all that I do apart from my creative life. My responsibilities of being a wife, daughter and parent. I don’t regret any of those decisions. They were mine and made with love.I don’t want to give them up… but an artist’s life is painful. It is in some sense solitary. Solitary in pockets where you can find the angels that save you and make friends with the demons that torment you. To be true to what I produce as marks on canvas, I need to touch those as yet untouched or not frequently touched places in the dark recesses of my mind.My advice to me to get through was to work. To work with whatever resources I had at my disposal in terms of time and material. I created paper mache bowls. I painted flat almost graphic shapes on kettles. I painted chairs. I drew inspiration from all that was going on in my life and slowly driving me insane. I transferred that insanity to my work. On days there were no conversations with anyone except the gurgling of a happy child. I painted political statements on kettles, my joy in watching a good movie, my heritage, my leanings and my learnings. The best way I could. And then as time went by I outgrew that medium. I needed to go deeper into myself and to evolve my craft again to a skill level that time would now allow with the kids growing up…Recently I found some old work (about 20 years or so old) and realized that I gave up too soon on that piece. I let the canvas defeat me at about 20% of the work/effort stage. Had I just worked through it, I would have had a master piece. That is my learning, that I apply to everything sub consciously. Don’t give up. Work through it. Fight with it. Till you know you can’t anymore. Paint till you muddy the colours and then give up. But only for a bit. And come back to it. If the colours don’t sing in water colour then use some other medium on it. Use acrylics, pastels. But work it. I think I try and apply the same to my relationships today. I just have not yet learnt when to take the chota break :-)Which brings me to the next point. I had let people govern my time and life. I will do all I can to help. Sometimes I found I was withdrawing my emotional reserves to help another without first replenishing my own stock. Some thing akin to constantly living on over drafts from my emotional bank. And that hurt. It hurt my family, my friends, me and my work. My core.I needed to take stock. To re-stock. Now I try to say ‘no’ when I can’t do something. I am trying to stay focused on me. I paint/ create something every day. Bake a cake, doodle, sew, paint or just cook something with a creative flair….I allow myself time with the few people who nourish my mind and my heart. I allow myself to be a bit of a recluse when I don’t want to interact with anyone.I have never painted for money. I paint for love. Always. Love of my craft. My feelings. My subjects. With honesty and passion. To myself. Not for gain. The gain will come. It is a byproduct of doing your work well. Every day is one where I try to push the boundaries just a little further. I wrote for about a year or so – on and off. As honestly as I could and then I started to paint eyes. I find if I approach the subject from within and not worry about what anyone else would say. I always transfer what I feel on to the canvas. The eyes become windows to my soul.Poonchh was my way to give back. But it had a different need to fulfill. It had to be commercial and that allowed me to see how far I could take a thought/ metaphor. But when I paint the dogs I truly give of myself. I wanted to push the boundaries of narratives here. The series on Rakesh’s portraits was just that. So many asked – Who will buy them? Will you sell them? Are you just going to give them away? None of that was ever the point of the exercise. The point was to communicate feelings. Raw feelings. And the success in that work lies in the man feeling them when he sees the finished work not in money, fame or exhibition.It is about connections. Every piece I paint, make, create, restore is about connections to memory and feeling. It is hard and you can have it all. But you have to want it bad enough. Do you?
Q 5 – As an artist, what is your favourite subject of illustration (model, medium or form etc)I tend to gravitate towards faces. Be they people or animals. The eyes are something I am drawn to. I think I am trying to reach into my subjects soul and connect with it. To see if I can depict ‘them’ and not just an outward manifestation of what they show or choose to show.
Q 6- What was the best and the worst advice you received when you started your career?The best advice though I did not know it then was – ‘Gain life experience. It will make you a better artist/creator.’And the worst was ‘Practice in isolation and don’t show your work to anyone till you are absolutely excellent.’
Q 7 – At this point in your career, are you happy ?I am happy as a person. I am fulfilled in life. In isolation for what I do as an artist and what it gives me – absolutely yes. I am happy. But sometimes the rules of surviving in the world do not allow for the integrity I aspire to. And that brings about conflict in my mind. I don’t like ‘playing the game’ and I don’t.
Q 8 – If someone read your story and wanted to follow your footsteps being inspired by it, what advice would you give them?
In a nutshell…
Know your goal
Time management and discipline
Keep away from distractions
Break it down into smaller chunks
Do your home work
Allow for happy accidents
Have cheers leaders
Embrace all roles in your life
Stay away from mediocrity
Diversify like workouts
And last – Apni aukaat pata honi chayiye – And last but not the least, be ruthless in your critique of your self. Listen to what your gut tells you about your own work and your own place in the world. Don’t show the work to anyone if you don’t want to but finish it and then look at it. Honestly. Put the finished piece away for a while, get a little distance and then look at it again. Know your place in the grand scheme of things. Always. Aspire to grow but with a realistic image. Don’t let enthusiasm exceed ability…
Q 9 – Do you believe in dreams?
Absolutely. I believe in the possibilities. I remember reading somewhere that if you don’t aspire to something then you will be nothing. And that if you don’t ask for what you want/ what you dream of then the answer will always be ‘no’.