Become acquainted with perhaps a few unknown dimensions – thoughts, ambitions, wisdoms, life changing moments – of this inspiring artist.
When it comes to your art, explain what you do.
I am a full-time artist and art educator based out of the San Francisco, Bay area. I paint sun-washed, colourful local landscapes that surround me and motivate me. I also work in portraiture and still life. My work is an emotional response to what I observe and experience. Through my paintings that I create in oil and pastel, I attempt to present the colours in their pure brilliance without losing the balance of accuracy and expressionism.
What project are you working on now?
Currently I am painting figurative portraits for my upcoming solo show at Olive Hyde Art Gallery in Fremont, California. The focus is on ballet dancers and performance artists in motion, exploring the elegance and rhythm of human form and portraiture.
How has your practice changed over time?
Over time I have learned to become more organized. I have devised steps to utilise the available time efficiently and distribute it better between work and family.
Which place in the world do you find to be the most inspiring?
Any place that has space to rest my pad and time to draw is perfect for me. That’s all I need to become inspired and to get started. I have a home-based studio that opens into the backyard. It has an all-windows wall that faces south so the room receives natural sunlight throughout the day. It is a well-lit, airy place that is perfect for making art.
What is your strongest childhood memory?
It has to be raising a bear cub. My father was a forest officer, and he routinely went on forest inspection tours. Upon his return from one such tour, he brought back a bear cub that had been separated from her mother. The cub was very young and would have died if it was left in the jungle. We fed milk to the baby with a bottle and took care of it just like other pets that we had at that time. The cub stayed with us until she was big enough to be sent to the local zoo.
What superpower would you like to have and why?
If I could have a superpower, it would be to be able to control time and travel through it. That way, there would be no lack of time to do what I like to do!
What are your hobbies?
In my spare time, I like to go for a run, a hike. or take pictures.
What is your pet peeve about the art world?
Art marketing! Putting a business perspective on artmaking somehow drives or hampers the creative process, and I sometimes find it annoying.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Create when you are inspired. Create even when you are not!”
What is your dream creative project?
My dream project is to be in a safari and paint wildlife and animals from life. When I worked on Circle of Animals – a zodiac, cycle-based, animal-portrait series, I had a chance to explore deeper into the lives of various wild animals. I painted animals from pictures that I took during my trips to the parks, farms, shelters, and zoos. It was a great aid to my process, but it was nowhere close to being what it would be if I could observe the animals close up in the comfort zone of their natural habitat. One day, I hope to be able to fulfill this dream.
Do you make a living off of your art?
Yes, I am a full-time independent artist. I work for the County Library as an art contractor where I offer art presentations and workshops. I sell artwork directly and through online galleries, accept commissioned art, and take part in local art shows and fairs.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio/practice?
A sharpened pencil. It is the magic tool with which I begin my art journeys, and it still is the most essential tool in all of my adventures. It’s an inexpensive, low-maintenance, effective, and versatile piece that is a must-have for any artist.
Describe a real-life experience that
I used to make portrait sketches as a hobby. During the summer, when I was about nine or ten, we had a visit from an out-of-town house guest who came to meet with my grandfather who lived with us. The guest was a professional artist and an art teacher. He viewed my work and told my grandfather that he saw natural talent in me. His words stayed with me and gave me the confidence to one day pursue art as a profession.
Why do you do what you do?
Because I have received the gift (the power) to translate ideas into illustration. Having received this gift, I find it my duty and purpose to share it with others. Doing so helps me learn every day and grow as a better person along the way.
By Bhavna Misra
Bhavna Misra is currently based in San Francisco, California.