Creativity is a journey, not a destination – success tips from three Chitra Santhe artists
In this photo essay, we showcase how three artists explain their success. Your work and your journey must speak for itself, they advise.
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from , with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 520 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets 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 12-part coverage here.
Hosted by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bengaluru, the 18th edition of the annual art festival was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. The online exhibition wrapped up earlier this month, and 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.
“Art is a manifestation of the soul. Success for an artist comes from full realisation of the inner self,” explains artist Jeya Prakash, in a chat with YourStory. He says there is no limit for him to paint, it just makes him feel freer the more he paints.
“I won't evaluate myself through awards and commercial success. I won't even define a target for myself, it is totally up to me,” he adds.
Some of his paintings for Chitra Santhe were themed on gangireddu or sacred bulls. “Last year, this painting series got much appreciation from Chitra Santhe viewers,” he proudly says. His paintings are priced from Rs 8,000 to Rs 20,000.
Jeya says his work was not too affected due to the coronavirus lockdown. “As an artist, I always would do work from home,” he explains.
Having the exhibition online had some advantages. “There was no need to frame or pack my paintings, and no need to shift to Bengaluru. “People worldwide could see the artworks,” Jeya says.
“But at the same time, we miss the opportunity to meet art lovers. We didn't know who saw our paintings, or who came to see them again, or how many times. I did not see the reactions of many viewers or get feedback from other artists,” he laments.
Jee Yuan Lim
The online festival this year featured international artists like Jee Yuan Lim from Penang, Malaysia. “Art is a journey into oneself. You see through your own perspective, your culture, your experiences, your feelings, your upbringing, your values,” he explains.
These are expressed in the artists’ works, depending on their creativity and skills. “So it also means your own insights, your learning, and basically your ability to see and create art. It is an endless journey of learning, exploring and doing,” Jee Yuan adds.
Artists also learn from one another – their perspectives, interpretations, techniques and principles. “You follow, yet not follow, and create your own ways of doing art which shows your strengths and also your limitations,” he explains.
“Learning only stops when life ends. That is why life is never a dull moment for an artist,” Jee Yuan emphasises.
Artistic success comes from the journey, and not just the destination. Success is from the expression, which eventually leads to commercial benefits. “With good and expressive artworks, these things will come. The problem with being goal-oriented is thinking that the goal will justify the means or the journey,” Jee Yuan says.
He calls for more art appreciation in society. “We all have to find satisfaction in life beyond the basic needs. We have to look at the bigger picture and ask bigger questions, otherwise life becomes so empty and meaningless,” he observes.
“Art appreciation, like music, is intangible but brings joy, meaning and connection in life. The unimaginable feelings and experiences basically enrich our lives. Art appreciation brings you a new pair of glasses which offers you limitless visual experiences,” Jee Yuan explains.
He applauds those who organise street art festivals, or online exhibitions like this year’s Chitra Santhe. For the exhibition, he said he prepared works that are both “accidental and coincidental” in nature.
“My wife volunteers at the Bodhi Heart Sanctuary, a Buddhist outfit in Penang. It is peaceful, serene and beautifully landscaped by nature. That is the way we should live – within nature and as part of it, not overwhelming it,” Jee Yuan advises.
One painting of the place led to another. “An art collector, who is also a founder member of Bodhi Heart, saw my works and bought them to raise funds for the place,” he proudly adds. His artworks are priced from USD 250 to USD 500.
During the pandemic lockdown, he focused more on art, taking advantage of the solitude and quiet for rejuvenation amidst nature. “But there was a huge human cost. It remains to be seen whether we will learn from what nature is teaching us about our arrogance, and how we live at the expense of others,” Jee Yuan speculates.
While he appreciates the broader reach of an online exhibition, he misses the experience of a physical exhibition. “A photograph can never show you the real painting with all the nuances, ambience and the changing nature of the work – especially oils, which depends on the lighting and even the viewing angle,” he observes.
He also offers tips for aspiring artists. “Just keep on doing your own thing. Learn from others, but don't copy them. Most importantly, enjoy the painting process and the act of painting,” he advises.
“Don't worry so much about the result. Learning to see is just as important as learning to paint – it may even be more important,” he adds.
“Failures are very important milestones for success. Learn from your failures and see why you fail. Results will ultimately come,” Jee Yuan urges.
For artist Neelu Patel, art is exploration of the soul. “Success comes from internal exploration and the inner happiness of the self,” she says.
She calls for more platforms to maximise opportunities for society to appreciate and explore art. “My trust, Mukhote Creative Art Foundation, organises regular activities like rangoli contests and daily posts by artists,” Neelu says.
She appreciates the fact that Chitra Santhe was not canceled this year due to the pandemic, but moved online. “Maximum reach is possible for artists online,” she adds. This helps them connect to a larger audience and to other artists as well.
She advises artists to devote themselves to their work. “Your work must speak for itself. Your main focus should be art itself,” Neelu signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues to focus on your inner creativity?