Creativity is about heART – artworks and insights from the online edition of Chitra Santhe 2021

In this photo essay, we showcase the works of three artists. Art is about stories, vibrations, and soul, they explain.
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 525 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.

In this photo essay series, we profile artworks and creative insights from the participating artists at Chitra Santhe 2021. See our full 15-part coverage here.

Hosted by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, the 18th edition of the annual art festival was held virtually from January to March this year due to the pandemic. The online exhibition wrapped up with a showcase of over 1,000 artists from India and overseas.

See also YourStory’s coverage of six earlier editions of Chitra Santhe: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015, as well as compilations of Top Quotes of 2020 on Art in the Era of the Pandemic, Indian Art, Art Appreciation and Practice, and Beauty and Business of Art.

Artist: Rohini Choudhary

Rohini Choudhary

“I believe every portrait has a story to tell. Revealing these stories through my paintings is an art to me,” explains award-winning artist Rohini Choudhary, in a chat with YourStory.

She started her carrier as a lecturer in an engineering college, then worked in the IT industry for a decade. “I have been a full time artist since 2017,” Rohini says.

“I believe art is a journey and there is no end to it. For me, success is when my inner urge of self-expression utilises my capabilities to the fullest, and even becomes someone’s inspiration,” she describes.

She works on contemporary realism art, especially in portraits. Her artworks are priced upward of Rs 10,000, and have been sold in India and overseas, in the US, Germany, Netherlands, and Bangladesh.

“An appreciation for art helps us to develop an appreciation for each other as well, and how we are all unique in our own way. Art spurs thinking, engagement, and even action,” Rohini describes. Artists should become more involved in social, political and ecological issues, she adds.

She calls on parents to encourage children to see more art, which helps develop artistic, critical, and visual thinking skills. “Just as we take them for nature walks, long drives, or dinner outings, so also we should accompany them to art galleries,” she suggests.

“Indian art has already shown the power and creativity to compete on the global level,” Rohini affirms.

For Chitra Santhe, she prepared a range of works with charcoal and oils, with Asian portraits. For example, Ramabai: Wife of Madhavrao Peshwa tries to capture her emotions when she is eager to see the Maratha warrior back from his first battle, Rohini explains.

Artist: Rohini Choudhary (2)

The painting was awarded the first prize in a pan-India competition organised by Art Chitrakala Foundation, she proudly says. Another charcoal work, depicting a man in a turban, won a prize from Art Beats Foundation, Pune.

Though the pandemic lockdown was a tough period, she relied on her creativity to continue reading and exploring charcoal work. Though she appreciated the convenience, global reach, and flexible hours of the online edition of Chitra Santhe, she missed the personal touch of the physical exhibition.

“Meeting the audience and looking at their expression after seeing your art is priceless. I also miss meeting fellow participants – the exchange of thoughts is always an inspiration,” Rohini adds.

“Anything that touches your heart is art, and it is present in our daily life. Just slow down, look around and you will sense it,” she advises aspiring artists.

“Don't fear failure. Failure just means you are learning, Keep failing, because you will be learning your entire career,” Rohini emphasises. “Every human on this planet is an artist, they just need conscious effort towards it,” she sums up.

Sowmya Beena

“Just as people love to write or read, I have found art to be another way to find my inner self and experience satisfaction. Creating art is about having an idea, putting your emotions and effort into making it a beautiful creation,” mandala artist Sowmya Beena describes.

Mandalas (‘circle’ in Sanskrit) are an artistic representation of higher thought and deeper meaning. They hold symbolic and meditative meaning beyond their vibrant appearance. Mandala is both therapeutic and symbolic,” the Bengaluru artist, photographer and writer explains.

Artist: Sowmya Beena

For her, success is when viewers also relive the passion, positivity and relief from her artworks. “Success is courage, passion and perseverance – and the opportunity to put a smile on an individual’s face,” Sowmya describes.

It is said that a picture is equal to a thousand words. “Art can truly arouse curiosity and excitement in the audience,” she observes, calling for more art fairs and exhibitions as opportunities for people to appreciate art.

“We should educate people to be able to appreciate the small things in the nature, and also be able to put an artistic view to it,” Sowmya adds.

For Chitra Santhe, she worked on themes depicting the culture of Karnataka, taking its heritage from “local to global”.

Her artworks are priced from Rs 1,000 to Rs 20,000, depending on theme, medium, and size. “I like to prepare artworks that bring good vibrations and spiritual influence to any home or office space,” Sowmya adds.

Unfortunately, the pandemic led to a lot of cancelled art shows, exhibits, conferences, workshops, and coaching sessions. “Despite the stress and hiccups, I took a positive approach to overcome the challenges of the situation. I used technology to offer online workshops for beginners and took guidance classes,” Sowmya says.

Artist: Sowmya Beena (2)

She also sold works like eco-friendly masks, and has taken part in online art challenges like Inktober, 100DaysArtChallenge and 59DaysOfKannadaType. “They kept me engaged, and I made new connections,” she adds.

Online exhibitions were a safe bet, and offered more time and flexibility of viewing – though she missed the viewing experience of a physical space, and direct interactions with art lovers.

Somwya also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Every individual has their strengths in the area of focus that they love. Always aim to follow your passion and never stop learning,” she suggests.

“Be curious, keep practicing, and always push to retry and make yourself better each day,” Sowmya sums up.

Thomas Kallarackal

“I choose my designation as 'heARTIST by nature.' I have conducted more than 42 solo exhibition under the title ‘My Heart.' Without any doubt I would say that art is my breath, life and soul,” explains Thomas Kallarackal.

Artist: Thomas Kallarackal

Success for him lies in continuing his current journey, irrespective of awards and rewards. Thomas also calls for greater appreciation for art in society, starting right from homes with parents developing children's aesthetic sense rather than materialistic achievements.

For Chitra Santhe, he prepared paintings depicting animals like the horse and the lion. Some of his artworks are priced around Rs 1 lakh.

Though the pandemic was a tough period, Thomas says he discovered the teacher in himself, and started teaching art classes online. “Some of them attracted nearly 200 students around the world,” he proudly says.

He made the most of the Chitra Santhe exhibition, though it was moved online. “We must welcome every change and should make use of it for all of humankind,” he explains.

“But artists live most of their life with appreciation. This is usually with eye contact of the audience, not just words. That is what is missing,” he laments.

He also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Discover your heART from within and live with your heART,” Thomas signs off.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to deepen your inner creativity?

Artist: Thomas Kallarackal (2)

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Artist: Thomas Kallarackal

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

Edited by Kanishk Singh