From salary to soul: what these artists show us about success and happiness

In Part II of our photo essay on the Vasantha Arts exhibition, we feature more of the works of 15 artists. We also share their insights on creative habits, making a livelihood, and finding a deeper purpose for work and life.

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 355 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

The Vasantha Arts exhibition, being held this week at Bengaluru’s Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, features the works of 15 artists. Vasantha Arts was founded by artist-curator Malyadri K in 1983 to help artists bring their works to broader audiences (see the interview in Part I of our coverage).

The exhibition is now in its fourth edition. The artist lineup includes Kiran Dukhu, Jyothi Prakash, Suneetha Ravi, Nisha Arun, Sucharita Senapati, Ramana Peram, PA Paul, SK Ameerjan, KS Kamatagoudar, Varun Rao, Nagaraj R, Shruti Singh, Prem Sameer, and Sarbani Bose.

“Art is an inner exploration. The more I do it, the more I experience and explore. Through art, I see a larger picture of life around us. It is like yoga to me, I forget everything when I paint,” explains Sucharita Senapati. “I can’t think of myself without painting. A day without painting is like a day wasted,” she adds.

Sucharita was formerly a senior business analyst in the IT division of an investment bank, and is now a full-time artist. “Success for me now is becoming a master of what I am doing and at the same time enjoying it to the core,” she says.

Her art works are in realistic style, and are priced from Rs 2,000 to Rs 65,000. “My paintings always depict an inner happiness, and I guess this is cascaded to the viewers too,” she adds. She will be participating in the Mumbai Art Fair later this year.

Sucharita also offers tips for budding artists. “Hard work and practice, nothing can beat these two. Yes, and a little bit of luck for selling. A few works getting sold does not translate to a good artist,” she adds.

For software engineer Nagaraj R, art is a way of depicting his rural background. “The memory of seeing my father grazing sheep in my village made me connect to the simple harmonious life of rural communities,” he explains.

“Art is thought-provoking and also awakens the human soul,” Nagaraj adds. His paintings are priced from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000, and focus on rural antiques as well as Shravanabelagola Mahamastakabhisheka.

“Art is creating something without words but that still speaks to people. Art is a language of its own,” says Sarbani Bose. “Art for a woman is not a piece of cake,” she adds, due to the range of activities related to having children and in-laws.

“But your creative outlet is key to your happiness and your fulfillment. So, at the end of the day, how you gather enough energy to make the work that fuels you is important,” she emphasises.

Each artist uses different metrics to define success, Sarbani adds. “Success for me is achievement of awards, selling my paintings, and getting recognised for my hard work,” she says. Her style combines abstract and contemporary art, ranging from Odisha folk painting to the meditating Buddha. Her art works are priced from Rs 2,000 to Rs 50,000, and also address themes like drug addiction and global warming.

Sarbani urges audiences to buy the works of emerging artists, and not just old classic works. “Do something different and don’t copy anyone. Just keep applying your thoughts on canvas and one day you will really shine like the sun,” she advises aspiring artists.

Many of the 15 artists offer ‘the three Ps’ as advice to budding artists: patience, perseverance, and practice. All the artists value exhibitions for the exposure it gives to art works, opportunities to spot trends, networking with peers, mentorship from senior artists, engagement with news media, education of viewers, and interaction with new customers.

“Galleries add another kind of beauty to art works,” Nagaraj observes. “My message to art viewers is they should derive and feel their own joy and thoughts by viewing art,” he adds. He advises aspiring artists to develop mastery in skills while also experiencing life and surroundings to come up with more innovative ideas.

“Art is a way of showing appreciation for what I find beautiful, inspiring, positive, and which fills me with a sense of gratitude. Art is also a form of meditation, a stress-buster, and healer. Simply put, it’s a way of life,” explains Varun Rao.

He works full time as a senior content specialist and marketer for a software company in Bengaluru. “Art is a serious hobby for me. Someday, I want to become a full-time artist,” he says. He has even penned a quote for this, “A job fills my stomach, whereas art fills my soul.”

Varun specialises in portraits, and has been drawing since childhood. “Initially, I was fascinated by automobiles. As I grew older, I started drawing portraits of cricketers and actors,” he recalls. His sense of measurement in portraits comes from his background in mechanical engineering.

His artworks are priced from Rs 6,000 to Rs 30,000; he also does commissioned portraits from Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000. His favourite themes include light and water bodies. “I requested my wife to stand for two hours with candles, lamps, and lanterns and clicked her photographs. Later, I painted them,” Varun explains.

As a Mangalorean who was brought up in Mumbai, he loves the seas as well. “I also borrow photographs from my friends and paint them,” Varun adds. His styles and techniques include acrylics and palette knives; this is his fifth exhibition.

“Artist needs to go out of their homes and studios and display art works in galleries,” Varun advises. Publishing images online is not sufficient. He also urges government art galleries to improve and match their private counterparts in terms of infrastructure and promotions.

Varun advises viewers to be open with their expressions when they look at paintings and discuss it with artists. “Promote art to your children,” he adds. It is possible to immerse in art later in life as well, after a stint in other professions. “Do not delay in beginning. Procrastination is an artist’s biggest enemy,” he cautions.

Other tips he offers are observing the work of fellow artists and networking with them, and sketching as soon as inspiration or ideas emerge. “Never stop creating, irrespective of success or failure. Whatever the circumstance, never stop creating,” Varun signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule, appreciate the real beauty of the world around you, and nurture your creative soul?

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