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About the Artist
I am a portrait and figurative artist. I tell a story through my portraits and figurative work in a unique medium- fabric! I sketch lightly on canvas with a pencil and then literally "paint" with fabric by cutting and gluing tiny pieces of fabric- a very fine collage technique. My journey as an artist started as a child in India, when I watched a very talented self-taught older cousin sketching with coal and rice starch and ash. He made beautiful portraits with these raw implements from the kitchen and encouraged me to pick up a pencil and just copy anything I liked. My love for the grace and beauty of horses and dancers became obvious soon as I kept drawing these throughout my childhood and later (see image 4). My next big discovery in my journey to understand myself and continue teaching myself art came around the age of 12 when I discovered portraiture. I used my grandmother and great-aunt as live models as they were the only ones with the patience to sit for my experiments and did my first sketches. These were widely admired and started me on the journey to focusing on portraiture and the human face and figure. Using live models as well as reference photos I continued artwork as a hobby with pencils and later with oil pastels throughout school and college in India. I focused on women mostly. I have strong trailblazing women in my family, who have overcome many adversities and succeeded in life and I wanted to capture them on paper. My grandmother is a classic example- she became the first woman engineer in South Asia after she was widowed at the age of eighteen! My love for horses and dancers, however, did not diminish. The grace, strength, and beauty of horses and dancers from all over the world always enthused me, and continue to do so. My career in international development and family life took precedence starting in the 1980s and my art went into a hiatus for nearly two decades. After a life-altering event, in 2013 I attended a fabric collage workshop with a friend and that got me back into art in a much bigger and stronger manner. Understanding the versatility and uniqueness of fabric as a medium got me started on doing figurative work with this medium. Interestingly, I went back to my love for portraits. My scientific career in international development has also influenced my artwork. I love doing figurative work for mothers and children from around the world. I also discovered storytelling through my portraits by developing a collage technique wherein I put the subject's interests and history in their faces (see image 2). My love for horses and dancers has also come back and I have done several popular works in this unique medium. At the request of friends, I started doing landscapes with fabric and realized that I love portraying nature's beauty too. I am also re-exploring the world of pencil and color pencil and delving into charcoal and paint- both very new media for me! I have started expanding my work to include mixed media collages with fabric, paint, paper, and other media to create rich textures and abstraction for my figurative themes (see image 3). In addition to what I focus on in art and how I do it, I was asked the important question of why I do it. Why do I feel compelled to doodle, sketch, and spend hours collaging? Apart from capturing beauty, strength, and grace, whether it is the human, animal, or nature, my love for portraiture stems from trying to capture a moment, an expression, a feeling, or a relationship. Discovering collaging techniques has enabled me to go further and tell a story through my portraits. This is the reason that I enjoy doing commissioned portraits. The reactions of my subjects to seeing all the important events and people in their lives captured through their faces are priceless. Finally, I never forget my rich Indian heritage as is obvious from images 1 and 3.