Q1. What does Art mean to you?
Art for me is my passion. When I started out, It was just a hobby. I never sat down and decided that I will follow this or that particular plan, all I did was that I kept pursuing what I loved and it led me here.
Q.2. When and why did you start painting?
I still remember I was in the third standard when I participated in an Art competition in Bal Bhawan, India gate representing my school. I came second and received a set of 12 watercolors as the prize. During those times, Rajesh Khanna was a very popular actor so I thought of painting his portrait with those watercolors. I used that set of colors till my 8th class and won many prizes painting with them. Even though I didn’t know much about painting then, I definitely knew that this was something that I really liked. As I was getting prizes in many competitions my morale was also boosted and I decided to turn this hobby into something more.
Q3. What Inspires you?
I believe painting is a wonderful way to express your thoughts and emotions. I have never been inspired by sadness to draw and have always found cheerful and positive paintings to be more of my choice. Even in my paintings, you will notice a family of birds together in a moment, father caring for his children, mother bringing food and many happy moments in our day to day life. Just like my paintings, I believe we should always remember the happy moments of life, though I admit that sadness is a part of life indeed but dwelling on it is never okay.
Q4. What do you think matters more, technicality or creativity in art?
You must have come over a lot of paintings are artworks, which are fairly complex visual pieces. We usually try to comprehend our own meanings from them. I believe, that the synchronization between the artist and the viewer is a technique in itself!
To communicate, whatever thought/idea you hold in your mind as an artist to your audience, some knowledge of techniques is important. For example, sometimes we show a gradient of colours coming out from the dark which is symbolic of a progression towards the light from darkness. Some artists don’t even use any features on faces of people and still manage to exhibit their respective emotions. So, the way an idea is presented depends a lot on the techniques that are used.
Q5. What is the purpose of art and why do you think we need it?
Art is meant to bring happiness in the world. It is supposed to bring liveliness in our life. The empty walls of a newly built house, do not make us feel welcome. We decorate them with paintings, and then the house starts to feel like a home. Just like the fishes in an aquarium cannot talk, but their presence still makes us feel like we are not alone, that we are in a comfortable space. For us, art does the same.
Q6. Do you think people around you understand and value your art?
I would say that depends from person to person. Many times, people ask me to give them or make a painting for them without cost. As I am a teacher, my staff member who retires asks me to gift them a painting as a retirement gift. It varies from people to people, those who understand art though, never hesitates to spend any amount on it.
Q7. Which among your artworks is your favourite and why?
The series of paintings that I made on village women is my favourite. It showcases women indulged in different activities like selling fruits or fishes, etc. I’ve always loved drawing women, they attract me a lot. Women have always been a synonym of beauty; the complete universe came into being because of women that is why I love making paintings that revolve around women.
Q8. Is there any particular artwork by another artist that you would like to recreate?
There’s a Russian artist, Marcia Baldwin, who particularly makes paintings of horses in different scenarios. What fascinated me was that she has managed to showcase so many emotions and different concepts using just horses. I mean think about it, when drawing a woman, it is easier to show that she is sad or happy but to do that with horses? Intrigued by the same I just finished painting a series with horses as the subject.
Q9. Would you like to share any event or experience that made you feel good about being an artist?
Art has become my identity. I feel really good when people appreciate my artworks. I’m a teacher in a school, so when my students come and ask me how I made a certain painting, and if I will teach them to do the same? It just feels good. It happens way too often that I am sent to decorate other schools, that is because people acknowledge my art.
There’s just something about art in itself that being associated with it brings you joy. I have a lot of students who ask me why can’t we have an art class every day because unlike Maths and English, they’re not scared of art. They enjoy it.
The only thing I find negative is that many people don’t give value to art and consider art teachers to be really mediocre. They think we do not deserve a pay as much as the English and Maths teacher but when there is an event or special occasion, the art teachers are given a barrage of responsibilities. No one acknowledges that fact.
Q10. What kind of resistance have you faced for pursuing art professionally?
From the very beginning, I loved playing with colors. After I won myself watercolors in the third standard, I would spend most of my day drawing and coloring. My father would scold me for spending all of my time doing that; as a last resort, he started hiding my colors. But my love for it was greater, and so I would spend all my time searching for them. And in the end, when I would find them, I had no time left to paint but it still felt like I had achieved something.
When I reached class 9, I had to give up on art because our art teacher would belittle us and our efforts; She used to spit on students if they forgot to bring their files or didn’t do something the way it was supposed to be done. So, I left art and took up Home Science but that was never my inclination. So after school, I appeared for an entrance exam for Women’s Polytechnic, Delhi University and got in.
My first venture as an artist was working for a magazine which was started by a retired person from the military. But being a woman, everyone objected to a full-time job where I would go early in the morning and come back late at night, and that is when I started teaching.
Q11. Any message you want to give to the world through Prone?
The only message I want to give is, never try to suppress your feelings. Never stop. I have seen a lot of people who created great work when they were young, but now they have stopped. They are earning good money, are at a comfortable place in life and so, they have given up on their art. But I think, one should never stop. They should keep experimenting and growing. Personally speaking, I will continue to hold my brush even when I am on a wheelchair.
Know the Artist:
Edited by Mehak Bhalla