Hello Dear Friends
Featuring artists from different genres is in itself a great experience and if you come across incredible artists in each genre that happens to be divine. I find myself lacking in adjectives each time I would like to 'gift' a unique artist to you my readers. I only wish and hope that each interview, as amazing as it is for me to put them together, it would be to you too as you read them...
Towards that end, today in Meet An Artist...you are getting to know one of the major water-colorists of contemporary Indian art scene. He is Ramesh Jhawar whose art exuberates elegance and serenity to the onlooker that one would just afloat with them.
We now move on to get to know Ramesh Jhawar (RJ) and his incredible watercolors...his art.
Deepa: Firstly, as the tradition goes, give us a brief about yourself. (Family, Education, Work etc)
RJ: My parents originally hail from Rajasthan but my mother’s family was settled in North Bengal. So I was actually born there and bought up in Erode, Tamilnadu where my father used to run a textile business. Since I was born in a business family, the typical Rajasthani thinking was to study commerce and manage the family business. So I completed my graduation in commerce from Chennai and started assisting my father. I was very fond of drawing since my school days. I knew nothing of fine arts then. Erode was a commercial city and there was no art awareness at all. The only art I would see while growing up were the art featured on the back of Reader’s digest, for which I started subscribing to it. Another craze was collecting comics for their wonderful drawings. I used to copy those comic characters a lot, which really helped me in understanding the human figure and the anatomy.
A Smoke at the Paan Shop
Deepa: You describe yourself as a “Full-time artist”…as glad and pleased as I am to hear that, does it help you live sufficiently or would you say that your income is seasonal? Do you have any other job other than art? From Commerce to Art, how has that journey been?
RJ: Being a full time artist involves a lot of thinking and it's not easy. There is no steady monthly income here. Sometimes, one may sell many paintings in a month and then in the next few months, there may be no sale at all. So one has to be really patient and optimistic. It’s only at the end of the year, that you’ll be able to assess how much you’ve earned and whether you’ve made any progress from the last year. Fortunately, I had a stable financial background. For a few years, I managed my father’s business and painted in my spare time. When I did my first solo show in 2009 in Coimbatore, I was able to sell 20 paintings which were above my expectation! I also started selling my paintings online gradually. As I began to be more involved with painting, I decided to pursue it full time. And I’m glad that I’ve been progressing steadily!
In the Spotlight
Deepa: The next thing I am truly impressed about is, you have said that you have not had any formal education in Art; you are a Self-Taught artist. How well are you placed in the array of professional artists? Have you met with any indifference from anywhere at all? Do you think that difference exists between the pro and the non-pro?
RJ: Fortunately, this is one profession where your skill and ability make you an artist. It doesn’t make much difference whether you’ve studied fine arts or are self- taught. On the contrary, it is good actually. I’m not influenced by any one school of painting. I’ve been able to develop my own individual style this way. But having said that, I also feel that it’s always better to study fine arts from a good institution if one really wants to pursue this as a career.
As far as the question of indifference is concerned, the only indifference I’ve met with is that modern art and abstracts are given more importance than realistic works. They also fetch a better price! Sometimes, artists also paint abstracts since they are not good at drawing and compositional skills. This was confided to me by an abstract artist who was exhibiting at Jehangir art gallery!
The Flower Sellers
Deepa: “During all these years that I have been painting, I have been inspired and influenced by different artists at different periods of time” – Can you name at least a few of those Inspirational personalities?
RJ: Ah, this is my most favorite question! I can name not just a few, but many. To start with, there were the impressionists – Monet, Renoir, Cezanne and Degas whose works inspired me a lot. In Indian artists, late Mr. John Fernandes’s and Mr. Milind Mulick’s works highly inspired me. I finally found my calling in watercolors, after seeing Mr. Mulick’s watercolors and other international master watercolorists like Robert Wade, Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, David Curtis, David Taylor and the Chinese masters, Guan Weixing and Liu Yi.
Deepa: You have experimented with various mediums and finally settled with a challenging choice of watercolors. What is it that inspired you to decide on watercolors? Which is that one quality that you place your fingers on and said…”yes, this is it”?
RJ: In the beginning, I tried several mediums. . I always used to buy books on various mediums, study and tried them out. First, I started with oil. But I didn’t like their slow drying time and the strong smells of oil. The materials were also expensive and the paintings also required much space, if they were kept stretched. I then tried pastels but it was very difficult to protect them from smudging unless framed which was again a costly affair and also required space. This was followed by acrylic, but found it a little difficult to handle since it dried up very fast. Watercolor was one medium, where there was no smell, no maintenance like varnish, didn’t take up much space and above all, was quick and easier to handle. So I finally settled on watercolors.
Early Morning, Udaipur
Deepa: Your Rajasthan series of Palaces; I think it was Udaipur series, the Bicycle series, Goa series and the ‘Chinese Fishing Nets’ of Kochi are all my personal favorites…What series are you currently working on?
RJ: Currently, I’m working on Kolkata series. Kolkata has that old world charm with its magnificent architectural buildings of the past, trams, rickshaws and the yellow ambis. Before they decide to remove these from the streets ( I truly hope not), I wanted to capture them in my paintings and save them for posterity.
At Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
Lal Bazaar, Kolkata Series
Deepa: Light is an incredible quality in your paintings… why is it that it is so significant and central to your art?
RJ: It is very significant. Without it, there won’t be any drama and mood in the painting. It is the one quality that mainly attracts the attention of the viewers and I get so many compliments from them for the way I’m able to portray it.
The Gardener's Bicycle
Deepa: Is there a painting project that you have been harboring on? A dream project that you need to fulfill in your near future?
RJ: Honestly speaking, I have my hands full now. With my loads of reference photographs from my various trips, I could paint for almost 2 years on my current subjects, unless I get bored of them.
Lanes of Varanasi #1
Deepa: You have been featured in many prestigious magazines, participated in exhibitions within India and abroad. Can you share a memorable instance or compliment that just fortified you?
RJ: When your customers tell you that after seeing your art, they’ve started to observe and appreciate the play of light and shadows and everyday things in life, you start to love your job more.
Deepa: Do you come across artists’ block and if so how do you overcome it?
RJ: Not really. I remain inspired by my subjects always.
Ganga Aarti, Haridwar
Deepa: Any one tip or technique that you would like to share with the artists here to boost up their artistic strength?
RJ: Master the art of drawing and always keep a check on tonal values.
Night In Varanasi
Deepa: Your piece of valuable advice to the upcoming artists, for that matter any artist.
RJ: Always be inspired. Have a lot of patience and optimism. Your family must also be supportive. Never be satisfied with your work and always raise the bar a little higher every time. Of course, you’ll get better with experience, so practice art every day. Remember that if your art is really good, you will surely get recognition and success. Try to display your art wherever possible. Internet today is a great blessing and a big platform. So use the potential of the internet. Be social, not just online but also offline.
Deepa: Social platforms where we can find you.
RJ: I maintain a blog (rameshjhawar.blogspot.in) and am also on facebook. Recently, I created my own page on facebook by my name –Ramesh Jhawar.
Goa Series - Baga Beach 1
Thanks a lot RJ for taking your time out and sharing your story, experiences and your art with us. It has been a pleasure to have you at Hues n Shades. We wish you immense success in all your future endeavours. May the Lord bring you all the Success you aspire for.
My Dear Friends, I hope you enjoyed reading the interview and getting to know this superb artist. Please do leave a comment and share your thoughts and feelings about this awesome artist and his art. We would love to hear it from you. Thank you for visiting Hues n Shades and enjoy the art :)
So until next time, it's adieu...much Love & more Art.
PS: All the images pictured here are the property of Ramesh Jhawar. Please seek prior permission of the artist before reproducing any of it for any purpose.