Monday, October 15, 2018

BLOG OF THE WEEK: A CHAT ABOUT ART WITH SREEJA

Today, my friends, we are chatting with Sreeja Harikrishnan, who lives in Mumbai. Sreeja blogs at writing on just to write, where she shares her wonderful poems and beautiful paintings. We last spoke with Sreeja in 2017, focussing on her poetry. This time I thought it would be nice to chat about her art. Let's not wait another minute!






Sreeja's slideshow


Sherry: Sreeja, you have talent in all of the arts, as you are a poet, an artist, and also a violinist. You have such a rich cultural life. Would you talk to us a bit about this? Were you exposed to the arts in your childhood, and encouraged to explore your gifts?

Sreeja: Oh, this sounds so good. Yes, I love all those three titles, but I couldn’t continue my violin classes due to allergy-like health issues. So I am still at the initial stage of learning and the title violinist won’t match me. I want to start it afresh soon and hope to do so.

All I remember what influenced me as a child is that my mother used to do sketching and writing. It was kind of self-expression for her. 


She encouraged me to do paintings when I was a kid. When I grew up my father bought me a lot of art materials whenever I demanded. Anyway it was only a hobby, like, spending your free time meaningfully. It’s recently, after I started blogging, that it got attention and I too felt much drawn to the art, as it enriched me personally.  

So I must say, actually it is the blogger world that encouraged me to explore my gifts. 




The girl and cat were made as a token of love to my niece, who loves cats so much. She is such an innocent soul.




Sherry: When did you first begin drawing and painting? Was there someone you feel was a significant influence on your becoming an artist? Tell us about this beginning, won’t you?

Sreeja: During school days I used to go upstairs to the open terrace with my diary and pen whenever I felt strongly about something. I was and am a silent person when it comes to expressing emotions and thoughts. I enjoyed being balanced without too much noise. So diary writing was my way to keep that balance. I scribbled everything in my diary and left those emotions behind. And all around the writings I would do a lot of doodling and the pages will look a mess after that. Frankly, no one will understand what I conveyed there. Those are the moments I enjoyed most because after all those doodling, hours will be spent on watching sky, be it night or day. I and my friend used to make small tents on the terrace and use a torch for lighting it. She won’t read my writings and that was my biggest assurance of not being exposed with my thoughts.

I still stagger when I have to express myself… so writing, painting and sketching are all about being me. There too, I think, I am cautious not to be too open. 


So I must say, to some extent, my nature, my mother’s talent, and finally the encouragement from friends and my husband’s family influenced me.






Sreeja: The horse is a big canvas, larger than my daughter.

Sherry: It is spectacular, Sreeja. Just beautiful! In our interview in 2017, you explained that when you went to college, you left art behind for a time. When did you come back to art, after the time you were away, busy with school and family? What drew you back to the world of art?  How did you feel, picking up your paintbrush again?
  
Sreeja: During graduation I used to do paintings and that’s when I got the first chance to exhibit my paintings at college. Even though it was not that much of a big event, I got a lot of encouragement from friends and even from students I have never known personally. 

After graduation I don’t remember doing anything creatively. And when I got married and was alone at home during day times, I did some paintings as a time pass. One of the paintings I gifted to my aunt on her house warming, but not much happened after that.

Sometime after my second kid was born, during a family time with our cousins, my husband talked about my paintings and his cousin challenged me to paint a scene from Bhagavath Geetha on a big canvas. 

Sherry: I remember it, from our interview. It is so incredibly beautiful.

Sreeja: I was totally clueless about how to paint on a big canvas, but there is something about painting and writing that makes me feel that I am part of it or maybe it is part of me, so I said ok, will try. It’s only when I have to talk about writing and painting in public that I become conscious about its technicality and the fact that there are innumerable masters around you who may judge you for your shortcomings and ignorance. Otherwise it’s part of me and if anybody asks, “Can you do this?” I will immediately say yes, I will try.

I totally enjoyed all those hours when I painted Geetha with all its lights and shadows and colours.  That’s when I realized the exhilaration I feel when I put the brush dipped in colour on to the canvas.
  
Sherry: It must be a wonderful feeling. What is your preferred medium? Excuse my ignorance of art terms, but is your work considered representational?

Sreeja: Oh no, Sherry, I too am equally ignorant about the technical side of this art. I am attached to its personal or emotional side. Yes, I mostly do representational types, but there is another reason for that. After the Geetha painting, most of the paintings I have done were done on order. Personally I like to make rich textures and patterns. That is what I am trying to do now.  I paint over old paintings and the layers of paint on the canvas give me textures I love. I like to use figures and textures together.

Sherry: That sounds very intriguing. The layers must add such richness and depth.

Sreeja: I am still learning, Sherry, so I don’t know to name my art. I love both oil and acrylic. For the time being, acrylic is practically suitable for me, as kids run around, especially my daughter who comes and touches the paintings, as she loves to do it herself.

Sherry: Another artist coming along! Smiles. You are very accomplished for a beginning artist. You have real talent. Is there a connection between poetry and art for you? What are your feelings on completing a poem, and on finishing a painting? Are there similarities? Differences?

Sreeja: For me both are so closely connected. That feeling made me write the phrase ‘Words&Colours’ wherever I put my poems and paintings.

At times it is so easy to put your thoughts through words and colours. But mostly it is difficult for me. The problem with me is, thoughts rush through my mind, while cooking, bathing and be it anything---small stories, textured images and poetry-like lines do reel through the mind.  By the time I sit to put it on word/paper or canvas, I have no clue where to start and how to proceed; I feel exhausted. I think I have got no resource to give them shapes of existence.  I think I need daily practice for a long time to be successful in catching all thoughts and imagination with effectiveness.
           
For the same reason, every time I sit to finish a poem or a painting I feel like I haven’t finished. But somewhere I try to put a full stop, at least with some ellipses. 
 
I know unless I put some effort, I am a half-baked bean.

Sherry: I love that! A half-baked bean! But I beg to differ. You are a fully blooming bean, whose leaves climb high - a Jack and the Beanstalk bean! Smiles. Where do you get inspiration for your paintings? How do ideas for your paintings come to you?

Sreeja: Images influence me, nature influences me (especially rain), emotions influence me, and moments of bliss and unfettered smile influence me. Most of the ideas come when I go to sleep. For the same reason most of them are dropped as I don’t take the effort to pen it down then.

I am addicted to watching images of nature; images of textures; and images with rich colours, and light and shadow. I think images give me a craving to make paintings. 

Most of the ideas come when I go to sleep. For the same reason most of them are dropped. I am addicted to watching images of nature, of textures and those images with rich colours, light and shades. I think that’s when I make paintings.





This is one of the paintings dear to me; it is the memories of travelling in one canvas.  The sun stands aloud when you shut your eyes at the end of a trip. Everything else falls to the background, but none liked this painting. So I think I was not able to convey it.

Sherry: I think it is quite wonderful. I love where you have placed the sun, like a beating heart of the mountain. Do you have support and encouragement from those close to you for your creative life? Who is your biggest fan?
  
Sreeja: Yes, of course I get encouragement. Well, I don’t know who my biggest fan is, I never thought about it…but my family and friends equally encourage me. Recently, one of my dear friends really pushed me to commit to an exhibition and, on the same hand she warned me that it’s just a normal bazaar and may not be an instant success, but that I will learn to come out and be more committed toward art. I must say, it was a one of a kind experience. During the exhibition, at times I felt like crying as I was standing in the middle of a bazaar, literally lonely, that too with not enough space to display the paintings. 
    
I felt like I was trying to sell my dear ones in a market; but like oasis, a bunch of people came, stood there and enjoyed the paintings…some even asked for the journal and went through it, even though it was made in haste and was not up to the level…and encouraged me a lot. I think this experience will make me a bit bolder. One of the positive things about the bazaar was that I saw a lot of energetic, confident women who are out there to help each other promote individual skills and organize events accordingly, giving them a platform to prove their worth. A marvellous group of women!

A few days back a friend enquired about how to buy my paintings and I said you have given me a very encouraging good morning wish by asking…she said that actually I am inspiring them with my art and it was a pleasant surprise for me. From the bottom of my heart I thanked her because that’s the kind of reward that fuels my passion. That feeling of being liked or loved will never be enough…that’s the best thing you can ever get.
  
Sherry: Good for you taking your work to the market! I am so happy you are receiving such positive response for your work, for it is very good.   

Have you written a poem about what art means to you, how painting makes you feel, that we might include here?




 Sreeja: It is all about the balance, peace and blissful feeling.

Street Art

the ringing in my ears echoes your unuttered words;
the hesitantly lingering petals of yesterdays’ throngs;
the gaps between undecided moments infect my ears,
in which street would I find the cure for this relentless pain?

I have left a part of me somewhere back in dark;
no, please don’t let anybody seek her or ask
for I have kept her a child so mute and unerringly meek;
she won’t make out anything you would like to hear,
will there be any messiah who can read eyes 
for cloud-like thoughts?

the hesitant winter here struggles with a stubborn sun;
the ringing in my ears succumbs to words in my eyes;
I am all, all those who could never speak, decide and step out;
and my thoughts are cloud like; they carry rain, 
river and ocean;
let me paint the streets, write on roads and spill it everywhere
for every mind counts, every tear and every untold struggle
and yet before I spill, the I, the all, yes before I spill, I bow 
to the pain
for I am not going to paint you but the spark inside you
and to write the wings inside you, the beauty of your silence---
                                             oh pain, spread smiles…


Sreeja: I think I have written about brush stroke and paints so many times…but this poem stands for all that I feel about writing and painting.

Sherry: It expresses it wonderfully, Sreeja.  
  
Sreeja: Writing, painting and reading are the things that really make me feel confident and happy. The only other thing that makes me feel confident is when I can help somebody in whatever way I can, even if it is only a trivial matter.  So it’s a kind of excitement and peacefulness at the same time. And it takes you away and still keeps you rooted.

Sherry: I like that combination of excitement and peacefulness. Do you have a poem about the writing or love of poetry that we can include? 






Sreeja: The blue door is made over another painting. Somehow I saw a door there after putting a yellowish color over the old painting and then developed on it. 


Transitions

at the window i untied the yesterdays
and searched outside for words
hanging heavy with rain drops
on trees and plants; puddles full,
reflected grey sky and streaks of sun;
they are heavy,
drenched words with streaks of sun

i am dry, dried out paints of the canvas---
yesterday’s canvas of an abstract;
i am all hesitation to touch wet words,
to get wet; the window bridges,
it bridges the wet and the dry,
i am all hesitation to cross over to the rain,
for i have my own masks

i mask my scorching thoughts with smiles;
i save my rain on brushes and paints,
it dries up so quick;
it’s the hesitation to cross over to the rain,
for i have my own masks

and at the window i untie my masks
for a while, to decide on hesitations…



Sherry: Sigh. I am so enjoying this mix of beautiful art and wonderful poetry. Tell us more about your love for the arts, and your journey through these avenues of self-expression.
  
Sreeja: There is a part of us that remains mute otherwise, if not for art to bring it into life. I think that is the real or the deepest part of our existence. It brings us close to the truth, makes us humble and gives insights about life. Maybe that’s what I love about art and as I said, it makes me feel confident and happy. 

I have learned to forgive, to forget and move on, and to retain happiness after each fall, and this was made possible by art and meditation. So for me life is mundane without the magic of words and colours or any form of art.



Sreeja's art corner,
where the magic happens!


Sherry: Sreeja, is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Sreeja: I feel so optimistic, and believe that I should seriously try to nourish my art, when the great folks like you give such encouragement. Thanks a lot for being there. You light up many lives.

Sherry: I am happy spreading the joy, Sreeja. I love my job! Thank you so much for this wonderful chat, and for sharing your thoughts, poems and paintings. What a feast this has been!

Friends, the link to Sreeja’s Art Corner is here. There are so many beautiful paintings in there!


We hope you enjoyed this chat as much as we did, friends. We have so much talent in our community, I never have to look far to fill this Monday space. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

21 comments:

  1. Thank you, Serena and Sherry, for your inspirational chat.

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  2. Yay... I always enjoy when Sreeja links a poem to any of the sites I frequent... and what a joy to learn more about the art. Keep up the good work and hope the our paths continue to cross.

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  3. Thank you Sherry and Sreeja, a great post!! A talented artist and poet!!

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  4. Wow, Sreeja, you are a wonderful artist. I went to your Art Corner blog too and saw many more of your works. I do hope you continue to pursue your talent & find a way to market your work. It really deserves a wide audience. Of course, I enjoy your poetry too. Poetry and Painting are certainly wonderful companions, aren't they? Sherry, thanks for this feature, for seeking out this talented poet & sharing another aspect of her artistic nature!

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  5. Hi friends, I am just in the door from travelling up-Island today from Victoria. So I am late getting here. I knew you'd enjoy Sreeja's work, which is amazing. Thank you, Sreeja, for sharing your artistic journey with us, as well as your poems. What a feast you offer us, between your canvasses and your wonderful words.

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  6. It appears the video isnt loading well, which is absolutely my fault. As I dont know how to fix it, you can either move the scroll thingy at the bottom along, or do as Mary did and go to Sreeja's site and see more of her work there. My apologies, Sreeja.

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    1. Sherry, the video DOES load just fine!

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    2. Whew, yes, I just saw that, the glitch must have been on my machine.

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  7. Oh, I loved the painting of the blue door — it is beautifully done, the cream-yellow colored walls are ubiquitous perhaps — the blue evokes certain memories unto itself.

    I love how your canvas inspires your poetry, Sreeja. "let me paint the streets, write on roads and spill it everywhere": This is the spirit of an artist. Such a lovely conversation! :-)

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  8. There's so much depth and texture to Sreeja's paintings... it's amazing how that also translates to her poems. I enjoyed learning more about you, Sreeja. :)

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  9. Thank you Sreeja and Sherry for this wonderful post. So delightful to have an entry into an artist's world of colors and words.

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  10. A fascinating look at these paintings – and what an amazing range of styles and subjects! Many thanks.

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  11. Beautiful creations Sreeja! It is often been said that the creative mind finds its outlet in many different ways. It may come in a package where an artist is well at home with poetry! Well done Sherry and Sreeja!

    Hank

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  12. Sherry: I love that! A half-baked bean! But I beg to differ. You are a fully blooming bean, whose leaves climb high - a Jack and the Beanstalk bean! <--- LOL in delight!

    And I agree - not half-baked .... but as Sherry noted ... fully blooming ... continuing to blossom, fruit, and grow. It's all a process and sometimes, it's actually okay and best not to name it .... just to be in the act of creating.

    "let me paint the streets, write on roads and spill it everywhere
    for every mind counts, every tear and every untold struggle
    and yet before I spill, the I, the all, yes before I spill, I bow
    to the pain
    for I am not going to paint you but the spark inside you
    and to write the wings inside you, the beauty of your silence--- "

    I think this is stunning, and truly captures the essences of both your words and paintings ... giving voice to those who are silent, small, meek, shy etc. as you also noted in this wonderful poem.

    thank you for sharing so much here Sreeja - both your poems and paintings are extremely expressive and evocative - and they offer us a wonderful dance into something superbly unique - like shyly reaching out to take another's hands within your own ...

    another wonderful feature this week Sherry - thank you!

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  13. Pat, you always leave such in-depth comments and I am sure everyone truly appreciates how you take the time and care to do so. Thank you!

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    1. sometimes I do wonder though .... I can get carried away. (eep!) LoL ...

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  14. what a lovely amalgamation of art and poetry A pleasure to know more about Sreeja Thank you Sherry for the wonderful in depth interview of a great talented personality

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  15. How lovely to meet you Sreeja, and thank you Sherry for always drwaing out each poet so we learn so much about them. I am pretty sure if you are creative in one art form you can slip easily into another as well so it doesn't surprise me you express yourself so well in both poetry and painting Sreeja. Another great Blog of the Week!

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  16. "I am all, all those who could never speak, decide and step out;
    and my thoughts are cloud like; they carry rain,
    river and ocean . . . " WOW!!!! Sreeja, you make me want to stand under a little cloud and get wet, watch the rain and paint with wet words. I know your work touches hearts, for look where it is born! Never stop. Thank you Sherry for drawing Sreeja out and letting us know her better.

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  17. So much talent! Love the cat and girl painting Sreeja. Thank you for this Sherry.

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  18. A pleasure to know you, Sreeja, and your lovely poetry and artworks. :)

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