Expression of emotions is everywhere. It’s in the music we listen to, the words we speak, whatever crap we type in our texts, the random doodles we draw on the last pages of our notebooks, and of course! our different moods. Perceiving these emotions is simple but it’s not easy for everyone.
Take today’s painter, for example, you’ll see different colours in her work, patterns that may not make sense to some of you. You all might see random strokes… maybe you won’t see anything here, or you’ll see her love for her work.
Surbhi Shetty is not a professional painter. Actually, she’s an engineer (who isn’t?).
She loves playing with colours and other stuff people use to bring life to a blank canvas. She says, “I started drawing at a very early age. As early as 2, I think. I started drawing random stuff and my mom kept them all in a file.” Unfortunately, she doesn’t know where that file is.
Even though she kept indulging in her hobby throughout her childhood, it was during her first job when she realised how good she was, “It was when I started my first job in Alcon… that’s when my colleagues and friends saw my free-time doodling at work and made me believe that I am really good at this.”
Surbhi doesn’t think the doodles were that great, but people close to her kept encouraging her. “I used to draw on tissue papers whenever I had time at work, and gift them to my colleagues and they used to pin them to their desks.”
That’s the kind of co-worker we need, but does she remember what she drew on those tissue papers? “Yup! crushed coca cola can and a girl holding her sandals and hat on a beach.”
In this story, you are not only going to read about the person responsible for the pictures adding some colour to this page, you’ll also get a brief description of the moment when she let her emotions flow through her paintbrush and onto a piece of paper.
She painted this one after struggling with a creative block, “I was working at midnight, around 3 am after a really long creative block. As I was going to meet my sister after a long time and wanted to gift her something, I had to try really hard on this one.”
“And when I was done, it turned great and I was happy to finally break my longest block till date… and my sister really loved it.”
Surbhi says the meaning behind this painting lies in how the fire is rising away from the ashes. “It’s like a light that springs from the shadows. From the ashes, a fire shall be woken. This was a painting after a long artist’s block, hence the fire and ash and the idea that nothing can stop me from painting.”
Or it’s just creativity coming out of a dull greyish block. But here’s the kicker, this painting just took her ten minutes to finish.
Here’s the story behind this one: Long ago when she was in her first year, Surbhi decided to experiment on a wooden board, some newspapers, some oil paints and watercolours. “I was excited as this was my first ‘big size’ painting and scared about how it will turn out.”
“I covered the entire board with newspaper and used oil paints on the base and watercolour for the lady. Hence you can see some written words, in the face of the lady.”
She says the art on the board was improvised, but she did have some message in her mind that she wanted to share, “Be kind but not weak. Kindness is not a sign of weakness, instead shows how strong you are as a woman.”
Surbhi shares a few lines that come to her mind whenever she looks at this –
“There’s freedom waiting for you… for the blue that’s in your eye… In the breeze of the sky… and if you ask, what if I fall? Oh my darling, what if you fly?”
That is an interesting take on the picture but all of us have one question in mind, why do we draw trees in our doodles?
“That’s what we see when we step out. For something like trees, the sky is the limit. And the roots act as the unseen trust that the leaves, branches have on them, kinda like our relationships,” she adds, “it all comes down to our perspective in the end.”
This passion of hers helps her in ways that we may never fully comprehend, “Painting is that solution in my life which cannot be explained by words…When you don’t know how to express your emotions through words, they just flow in the form of bright colours of joy, sorrow, happiness, sadness.”
Done on one of the pages in her scrapbook, she painted this after a busy day at work.
Her paintings are about independent women and bright colours. “Whenever it’s bright colours, it’s always about that one emotion at that very moment. It could be the happiest day or just a lost thought.”
“It was actually republic day when I made this one. I wanted to paint something that depicts the freedom of a woman in India. She too has rights… she chooses to see the world in bright bold colours.”
She adds, “Most of my work is about womanhood.” And what does that word mean to her?
“Womanhood is the strength, power and making your words count. Standing for oneself! Not to be dominated in any way… and knowing when to say ‘no’ and stand your own ground.”
Another colourful ‘doodle’ she made after work. “I did this one exactly ten days before my birthday.”
If you wish to understand the moment when she painted this, imagine your first birthday away from your home and family. “I had never stayed away from home, and I think I was very emotional and homesick at the time. So, I chose to draw something that expresses sadness.”
Like every creative person, Surbhi struggles with forcing herself to indulge in her passion, “It’s all about emotions. I can only paint when I feel like it. I cannot force myself to paint.”
She was working in Bangalore, away from home for the first time and she drew this in her art journal (something she always carries with her).
This was her first attempt at coffee painting. Now, what is a coffee painting?
“Coffee painting is where you use coffee instead of paints. The entire brown part made of edible coffee and black shades is acrylic paint.”
She made this in Bangalore and sent it to a college friend (who loves music) on his birthday, who was living somewhere in Delhi at the time. Here’s a fun fact for you, till now, she’s given most of her paintings away to her friends, colleagues and even random strangers who appreciated her work.
Here’s another fun fact, “I added glow in the dark paint in this piece. So, this guitar glows in the dark.”
P.S.- don’t turn off the lights in your room and expect the picture of this painting to glow.
“This portrait of Krishna is my first knife painting. There is this palette knife that you use instead of brushes.”
Surbhi loves to try new things in her work, “I keep experimenting with different tools, paints, styles. I just went to an art store, found this knife and thought of giving it a shot.”
The reason behind drawing Lord Krishna, “I am bad with portraits. Hence, I decided on drawing Krishna as there were some very fine features to draw and the challenge here was the knife.”
The best part about all of this is that she doesn’t have anyone of these paintings with her right now, “I gave them all away. I love gifting them to people.”
Before we get to the biggest doodle she has made till now, let’s quickly get her views on these three interesting moments in her life. “The ‘bro relax’ one and the one with a butterfly and a watch were exhibited in an art store, called Remade in India, in Indiranagar, Bangalore. The butterfly clock painting was bought by a foreigner.” She displayed four paintings in the exhibit and all four were sold that day.
The third one in the collage was made in a cafe, “It was a last-minute Goa road trip plan, we were done with work on Friday night. So, we pulled a car and packed our bags and drove down to Goa.”
As she always carries her art supplies with her, “It was the bay Agonda in South Goa. There was a private beach, sunset, yummy food, awesome company and live music. I just pulled out my canvas and paints and started painting in the cafe where we were having our lunch. That cafe was one of the best sunset spots in South Goa.”
Naturally, some people gathered around her table, “The colours started flowing on the canvas, some people started taking pictures. When I was done, I gifted it to a stranger who really liked it.”
She adds, “That’s the best part about trips. I may not be ready to paint but there are times when I know the moment is right and I feel like painting something. That’s why I always carry a canvas and my paints.”
Finally, we get to her most recent work: A wall mural she painted on her bedroom wall.
Surbhi shares her mural’s story, “It’s a 7×7 feet wall. One day I was really bored looking at my wall and just thought that I should try painting a mural. I wanted to try something different here too”
She chose a biomorphic theme (which means patterns or structures that represent living organisms or nature) – Aquatic theme to be precise. “I don’t like to repeat anything in my paintings so every piece I make differs in style.”
For her, this experience was relaxing, “It’s like meditation for me, I truly enjoyed working with such a huge blank wall. During the day I did my routine work and when I had some free time, I worked on the mural. It was lovely like your thoughts just flow on a wall.”
She adds, “It’s still work in progress. I will be adding a few more water bodies to it,
and am planning to experiment with glow in the dark paints too once the mural is complete”
Now that’s going to be some bedroom wall.
Surbhi’s doodling on her wall is just another passion project for her. Another challenge she ‘accepted’. Her future can be as bright as her work and she does have something in mind, “I don’t have picture or such in mind, But yes! I definitely want to exhibit my paintings one day. Each painting will be of a different style, medium, and colours. Working on different styles, mediums and giving a meaning to each canvas I paint is always going to be my target.”
Want to know more about her work? Here’s a link for you.
That was our brand new story format – Moments. If you are a photographer, painter or happen to have some really good pictures that have different stories to tell, hit that Contact page now!