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Keywords: Professional Artists, Emerging Artists, Paintings, Children's Art

'Just Flowers' - Interview with Manju Srivatsa

by Manju Srivatsa


Conducted by Milind Sathe


Artist Manju Srivatsa

Do you remember the time when you started taking keen interest in drawing and painting? Was it your childhood days or later?

My journey as an artist literally started in a flash. Within 30 seconds I knew what my second innings would hold. It just hit me like a bolt. Today it is nearly been four years and I am still exploring, It is a life where the journey is the destination.


Did you have a role model to emulate or was there someone in your family who was an artist and therefore a big influence?

Watercolor painting for me is surreal. This is really strange for a person who has never painted in her life nor has an artist in the family. But I guess this is a result of my undying passion and love for flowers. I see them, I feel their colors, I respond to their happiness and my core is deeply touched by their beauty.


Tell me more about your early years and education.

I grew up in a large orchard home in Dehra Dun and the sprawling gardens were my treasure trove. Off school my passion was confined to books and the outside world of trees, foliage, flowers and fruits of every kind. You actually have to visualise the world of a small hill town in the late sixties and early seventies. Long spells of cold rainy whether, children growing up in huge houses with no neighbours My imagination nurtured my dreams, and for me this imagination was seeped in the world of nature. I did not realise in my adult working life as to how deep this passion had embedded itself in my psyche, till it erupted like a volcano and took the shape of my flower paintings. All of a sudden......


What did you do after completing your education?

After college I have been a corporate banker for three decades. The last few years have been an incessant barrage of numbers, targets, travel, KRAs and endless meetings. It was a very demanding world, though equally rewarding in so many ways. Then one day it hit me. 'I have to paint, I have to paint watercolors, and I have to paint flowers. Thirty seconds and that's it'.


Your journey as an artist?

It is not very often that life gives people a second chance to discover themselves. It did to me. And I am ever grateful. I am reborn. The decision took thirty seconds but it is three years and I am still exploring. My biggest challenge was that I had never ever painted in my life. But the journey has been extremely adventurous and equally enriching. I discover new forms and color everyday. My postit wall is always full of the next ten pieces that I must do. They hit me while sleeping, they talk to me when I am out shopping or even buying grocery. Flowers are everywhere. They have engulfed me completely.


Other interests in life?

While I love to read my art has completely consumed my life as of now. I dream flowers and relive all those moments when I saw a particular flower and experienced it. I am enriched and hope to share this great sense of joy with whoever cares. My fervent wish is to have my work create pools of positivity in peoples homes and lives.


Which artists have had a lasting influence on your thought process?

The world is full of what I deem are 'My Gods of flower painting' like Rachel Mcnaughtan, Yuko Ngayama, Fabio cembranelli, Adisorn Porsirikarn etc etc and etc.


Which themes have you enjoyed working on so far?

Today that I cannot paint anything else but flowers. I fervently hope that my artwork will be able to showcase my deep involvement with my subject and communicate that same sense of complete happiness that I myself feel when I see flowers. As I moved forward with my tryst with flowers I have also created a very deep bond with my medium, watercolors. It has engulfed me with its vibrant and spontaneous quality and kept me enthralled for days on end. So much so that I am convinced that not only are watercolors the most suitable medium for capturing the ethereal aura of flowers, but also that the medium is extremely versatile and open to experimentation.


What kind of work you see yourself doing in the future?

It is my endeavor to play fully at the hands of watercolors and while taking complete advantage of its translucent versatility, also incorporate into it techniques of other mediums. I love creating varied backgrounds with rich textures and layered washes. Hopefully in some time to come I would have created an array of work which is beautiful, and fit for posterity and one day my son will point out to a piece of artwork and say.. 'that was done by my mother'.