“Keep the learning curve always up” – how these four artists stay on their creative paths even during pandemic times

In this photo essay, four inspiring artists share perspectives from their creative journeys. Here are some pictorial highlights and insights!

Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 560 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 18th edition of the annual Chitra Santhe art festival was held virtually due to the pandemic (see our extended photo-essay series here). Hosted by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, the festival featured 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.

Yamuna Padmanaban

Yamuna Padmanaban

“Art to me is my heartfelt communication to the outside world through strokes and colours,” explains Bengaluru-based artist Yamuna Padmanaban, in a chat with YourStory.

Success for her is when she can stimulate a positive emotion in the viewer (see my earlier interview from the Akanksha exhibition). She calls for greater appreciation of art in society, for which public events like the Chitra Santhe festival play an important role.

“Art parks would also definitely help. In my experience, I have seen that when art goes closer to the public, there has been excellent interaction from both ends,” Yamuna observes.

Yamuna Padmanaban

Depending on size and intricacy, her works are priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 35,000. “For Chitra Santhe, I presented works like my painting titled Calm. It depicts the calmness one needs to emanate from the inside, especially during the current pandemic times,” she describes.

“I took the lockdown period as an opportunity to convey how one could take these times to retrospect and regenerate one's life,” Yamuna adds. The pandemic has paused physical art exhibitions but not hindered art studio work.

She has many virtual art tours coming up. “The biggest advantage of an online exhibition is the amazing global reach. But the face to face interaction with art lovers to hear their perspective of my depiction is a huge miss,” Yamuna laments.

“Put your soul into your art. Keep the learning curve always up. All art is good, as it either conveys or teaches something to the viewer or to the artist,” she advises aspiring artists.

Ketaki Ankalikar

Ketaki Ankalikar

“For me, art is more than expression. It is therapeutic; it helps me grow, reflect and evolve,” Amsterdam-based artist Ketaki Ankalikar explains.

“I am fascinated by nature and more particularly by ‘tree of life’ paintings because of their intricacies, rawness, vibrancy, and positivity,” the self-taught artist adds. She specialises in depictions of Indian folk art.

She regards her decision to quit her job and take up art full time as the best decision she has made. “I have been painting professionally for over seven years now and I can say with confidence that I have made considerable progress in my art journey so far,” Ketaki enthuses.

“The interest shown by art lovers in my work has been humbling. All the appreciation I receive motivates me to do better,” she adds.

Ketaki would like to see Indian folk art forms getting more recognition and appreciation around the world. “Not many people are familiar with the beauty of Indian folk art outside of India, and I am humbly trying to attempt to introduce these ancient art forms to a wider audience,” she says. Education and stories about art can attract appreciation as well.

Her ‘tree of life’ paintings at Chitra Santhe are dedicated to the corona warriors this year. They are priced from €100 to €450.

Ketaki Ankalikar

Ketaki is thankful that art kept her busy during the pandemic times. “These tough times have only made me realise the joy and fulfilment there is in creativity,” she recalls. She experimented with different materials and learnt new art forms via online workshops.

“Chitra Santhe being conducted online this year was a great opportunity for people like me who are not living in India. But I miss seeing the response of people towards my art, interacting with art lovers, and the networking that a physical exhibition makes possible,” Ketaki rues.

“It is important for aspiring artists to surround themselves with people who will inspire, motivate, and encourage them to flourish as an artist,” she advises aspiring artists.

Ketaki adds: “Never stop creating. Your masterpiece could be just a few brushstrokes away!”

Monojit Pal

“Art is an exploration of the soul. The artwork that I have created is something I have seen with my own eyes, such as the beautiful landscapes experienced during travel,” explains Kolkata-based artist Monojit Pal.

Success for him comes from the joy and importance of internal exploration. “Awards, recognition, and commercial success inspire me every moment to keep myself awake,” he adds.

Monojit calls for more art appreciation and promotion in society through fairs, exhibitions, and media coverage. “Performing arts are well promoted, so should paintings and drawings,” he adds.

Monojit Pal

For Chitra Santhe, he prepared works priced from Rs 1,500 to Rs 40,000. “I have seen over the years at this fair that small-size and lower-priced pictures are sold more,” he describes.

Monojit says he was concerned about the fear and social impact of the pandemic, and the isolation and financial loss for artists. “I prepared a painting titled Offering to the Deity. I think a divine offering is perhaps a way to our salvation,” he explains.

He appreciates the broader reach of an online exhibition, and the ability to be accessible to viewers for more time. “It costs a lot for artists to attend a physical exhibition,” Monojit adds.

“Nevertheless, physical exhibitions have several important roles. Their audience impact is much greater. Digital copies of an artwork have far less impact on people's minds,” he says.

“It's a lot of fun to see the original artwork right in front of your eyes. That is why the chances of being sold are much higher,” Monojit explains.

“Do your work honestly and seriously, and success will come,” he advises aspiring artists.

Meghna Sharma

Meghna Sharma

Bengaluru-based artist Meghna Sharma is also a civil servant, working with the Ministry of Railways as a Deputy Financial Adviser.

“I am an avid art enthusiast and a self-taught artist, having tried several mediums. I am now doing oil paintings with a penchant for portraits,” Meghna enthuses.

She rekindled her love of painting during the COVID-19 lockdown. “On leave and at home for a few months I started painting my two daughters as subjects. It was a good way to keep my kids engaged at home as they were also busy painting with me,” she recalls.

“I have always loved art from my childhood and have been drawn to museums and art galleries. Art for me is a reflection of life, which can have a myriad of interpretations,” Meghna adds.

Meghna Sharma

“Success for me as an artist is the deep sense of satisfaction with every piece that I create, regardless of its commercial success. I only paint subjects that pique my interest. The completion of a work gives me an immense sense of joy and satisfaction,” she describes.

Meghna appreciates platforms like Chitra Santhe for bringing people closer to art. “It gives people an opportunity to view works from artists across India and the world. The feedback I have received has been very encouraging and has renewed my enthusiasm to continue painting,” she says.

“My advice for aspiring artists is to follow your heart and pursue your passion. Success will soon follow,” Meghna signs off.

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

Ram Jee

Shweta Agarwal

Jeyaprakash M

Hanna Elesha Abraham

Raj Mohan

Madhulika Jain

Kanchan Rathna

Joseph Chako

J Prashanth

Sharkar Gondakar

Isha Hingrajiya

HN Suresh

Kariyappa Hanchinamani 

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


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