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Harshita Gakkhar: Framing Your Furry Friends In Watercolours

Growing up without a pet and surrounded by art, Harshita bases her portraits on the personal bond shared by the pet and the parent.

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Harshita

The happiness pets bring us cannot be completely captured in words. But, Harshita is doing exactly that with her real-life watercolour paintings. You cannot scroll through her Instagram account, in which she shares her pet portraits, without a smile on your face. So, we can imagine the contentment she gives to the pet parents with her portraits.

Harshita has had an interest in art since her childhood days. Coming from a family where her mother, aunt and other relatives took an interest in art and crafts, she has always been surrounded by art. She had a natural inclination towards art as she could form an instant bond with it. She took art classes in school and also took part in art-related contests and activities during her schooling in Step By Step High School in Jaipur. She was also very keen on exploring and experimenting various fields in art ranging from glass painting to wood painting to mandala art. 

Her decision to choose her path in painting pet portraits came as a result of this quest for experimentation she had since her childhood. While seeking to do something that she has not tried during her earlier days, she picked up water colouring, which she found challenging. She notes how it is difficult to have control over watercolours unlike acrylic and oils, with which it is easier to rectify mistakes. She remembers how she had to start from the basics of watercolour. Beginning her watercolour journey from landscape paintings, she gradually moved on to portraits.

Credits: Instagram (thedoodledidi)

What made her pick pets to make portraits of was the compassion she had for animals. She notes that the eyes of cats and dogs “speak a lot” and they appear “soulful” to her. Making pet portraits was not an easy job and Gakkhar admits to having failed many times during the time she started it. But what kept her committed to it was the happiness her paintings brought to people. 

She recalls the first time she made a pet portrait for a friend who lost a few-month-old puppy. The sudden demise had caused a lot of sorrow to the family when Gakkhar decided to immortalise the puppy in her canvas. The delight with which she recalls the joy her friend experienced upon receiving the portrait speaks volumes about the self-contentment she receives from making the paintings. The cheer that her first portrait brought to others made her realize that a lot of people could connect and associate with her art. The personal connection that she could bring out with her pet portraits was what made her enthusiastic about continuing her projects and posting them on Instagram. Putting her work out there for the world to see helped her in bringing happiness to all those who needed their beloved pets to be illustrated. 

The love she has for the four-legged friends is quite evident in her paintings. But, you would be surprised to know that she did not have a pet growing up! However, she was always around the pets of her friends and family. Although she is a skilled painter of dogs, she remembers being scared of them in her childhood. Now, she says, she is happy to meet a dog and enjoys their company. 

Credits: Instagram (thedoodledidi)

Being a self-taught artist and having had her presence established on social media with her work, she strongly believes that any skill can be acquired by anyone if they are willing to be consistent. She believes that the struggle is in being consistent, disciplined and persistent about your dreams. She remembers how she had failed innumerable times while starting. Despite being scared of failures, she practiced regularly. She admits how some of her failed paintings do not make it to social media and how she tunes her feed to display only her best work. 

In an age where technology offers you platforms to display your talents in a world of budding artists, she believes it is important to stand out. She wanted to carve a niche of her own with her pet portraits and the first step she took was to create a portfolio. She picked 12 different dog breeds to paint and shared them on social media so that people could assess the quality of her works themselves. She mentions how reviews from her clients have helped her in gaining more recognition on social media. She holds reviews important as it helps in convincing potential clients and winning their trust. Genuine reviews can be achieved, Gakkhar believes, only through performance. She makes it a point to give her very best to each of her clients by putting in the same kind of effort and precision into each of her portraits. She also mentions how it would take time to build up one’s name in any field, but she is ready to strive for it. She does not hide her immense joy in being featured for the first time in the September 2021 issue of Buddy Life, a major pet magazine in India. She shared how great it felt to be featured in the magazine along with other industry experts while talking about this celebrity moment of hers. 

For a person who hasn’t had a pet growing up, it is indeed surprising how Harshita manages to bring to life the pet-parent pond in her canvas. She shares with us how the clients who reach out to her gushes about their pets in a manner one would talk about their child or a family member. She builds on this attachment that is shared by the pet and the parent and attempts to bring this connection alive through her portraits. She tries to portray the pets who have passed away from the photos shared by the clients and how they envision their pets to be remembered forever. She tries to render a heart-warming image, according to the client’s wish, of their pets either sitting in a garden, or with their favourite toy, or surrounded by butterflies. She finds her reward in imprinting the memories of their pets permanently with colours on her portraits. She finds this venture challenging and at the same time mentions how she derives happiness from it. What she learned through this journey is that each portrait and pet is different. Though there are several dogs of the same breed, she realized that each of them has its likes, quirks and traits. In her portraits, Harshita attempts to evoke this uniqueness of each pet. 

Credits: Instagram (thedoodledidi)

Her Advice!

To anyone seeking to follow their passion in art, Harshita’s advice is to explore different types of mediums and subjects. She suggests working on something that one could personally connect with and brings happiness. She urges anyone who wants to follow their path of passion to give it 100% and not give up. Another factor she emphasizes is consistency. She believes that the key to growth in any field is consistent practice. 

She is all set with some new projects for the coming months. She is planning to launch her first merchandise of the year – the 2022 calendar with live cat and dog illustrations – by November, apart from the pet portraits. 

Harshita Gakkhar stands out among many other artists through her consistent efforts and the competency that she has developed all through her art journey. With her talent, her willingness to work hard and her optimism, her dream of having people hang her portraits in their homes all around the world is not distant from her! 

Credits: Instagram (thedoodledidi)
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Art & Craft

Illustrator Sanjana Goenka: Her Journey of Art and How it Saved her.

The story of Illustrator and Artist Sanjana Goenka and how she uses art and illustrations to raise awareness around mental health issues.

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Sanjana Goenka

Sanjana’s journey with art is beautiful with all elements of ups and downs. Truly, we live for art. It is like a fresh breath of air and livening to the heart. For Sanjana, art was not just a splash of colours and mandala, but a door for a new chapter in her life. Struggling with her mental health, art became one of her mediums to understand and express herself. Born in Mumbai, and with an undergraduate degree in business management from London, Sanjana dropped all conventions and norms to follow the beat of her heart. It is sheer love and passion for art which is sustaining her. She is now an illustrator and an artist. 

The Beginning 

A 3-year-old Sanjana was already fascinated by art and colours. Like every memorable precious memory that gets stuck in our head and heart so vividly, Sanjana too had her moment with art. It was that very moment that made her realise how vibrant she feels with art around her.

The memory goes, as narrated by Sanjana, “Art has always been something I loved, but I remember the day I knew I loved it. I was 5 years old when I had to make a poster for school. My mum drew a picture of a chef for my poster, and I was convinced that my mum was superhuman and surely the finest artist in the world! Since then, I had an insatiable urge to draw everything and on everything.” To be a 5-year-old child and remember this surely tells the gravity of how dear art has meant to Sanjana since the very beginning. 

Initially Sanjana wanted to do Architecture, but realised that she wasn’t capable of much for it, therefore she willingly dropped it and moved to pursue business management in London. This was a turning point in Sanjana’s life. Halfway through her job, Sanjana was going through mental health issues. She got diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. During that time, art anchored her towards calmness and serenity. Sanjana did Zentangle art, an art form similar to Mandala drawings. The consistent lines and mark making produced immaculate and structured pieces of art, which helped her to cope. It was natural for her then to drop her job and make a career out of art.  

Credits: Instagram (Sanjana Goenka)

The Journey

Over the years, Sanjana has been in a much better place mentally. Moving on from Zentangle Art, she is in a constant pursuit of finding the art which resonates with her. Changing her art style completely was one of the courageous steps in life that she took.

Abstract concepts, colours, themes, and anomalous pieces of art intrigue her. She believes in producing art fit for the walls rather than conventional drawings for Social Media, which are forgotten. Sanjana told us that producing specific kinds of artwork, which were ‘social media worthy’, amassed her a lot of followers.

However, the main purpose of art for her is to feel something. Struggling with mental health, art has been healing and therapeutic for her. To not be able to connect with art in the same way frustrated her. Art reeled her in and became a reflection of her mental health. Sticking to one art style betrayed that honesty. Changing her art style led to a lower reach on her social media, but led to more enquiries on buying her art. On changing her art style completely, Sanjana says that, “It definitely felt like a moment when I had to take a huge leap of faith because I had to bet solely on myself.”

Credits: Instagram (Sanjana Goenka)

The main theme that Sanjana explores with her artworks is Identity. All of her illustrations and art pieces attempt to encapsulate the differences in each person’s identity. The distortions and unconventionality in her pieces celebrates the uniqueness of every individual.

Sanjana’s favourite artists are F.N. Souza and Egon Schiele. Their work on figures and faces are incredible to her. She also finds Jean-Michel Basquiat’s use of colour and expression interesting. On unmotivated and tired days, Sanjana watches videos and reads topics and concepts she finds gripping. The videos and readings of course result in new thoughts, opinions, themes and ideas which she uses to go back to manifest it in her drawing and art. 

Message for Aspiring Artists

Sanjana believes everybody has talent within them. For art, however, that’s not entirely the case. Art is in all of us, but hard work and persistence refines that element in us. As a message to all aspiring artists, Sanjana puts it in a few intelligible and honest words, “Passion is impossible to fake, and impossible to ignore.” She believes that if you find a path you want to follow, even if you’re pushed beyond your boundaries to follow it, don’t take it for granted. She asks all artists to have unwavering conviction in them because there can be days when the choices we make can fail us, but we should not undervalue ourselves, our work or our time. Learn, read and study, to unravel more about yourself and your art. Lastly, imitation of art could be flattery for some, but give the world your own true version. 

Credits: Instagram (Sanjana Goenka)
Credits: Instagram (Sanjana Goenka)
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Art & Craft

Making the Mundane Colorful: Meet Upasna Poddar

Illustrator and Doodle Artist, Upasana Modi Poddar, makes the ordinary seem so extraordinary with her artworks.

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Upasna Modi

A quick glance at Upasna Modi Poddar’s social media account offers a feast to your eyes and fills your heart. This self-taught illustrator not just makes adorable illustrations but also conveys a short message that drives straight to our hearts. 

Born in Punjab, Poddar was raised in Delhi. Being a certified Jewelry Designer and Gemologist, she had her own label in Delhi. But the passion she had for art made her quit the job after 3 years. And there begins the successful doodle journey of Poddar. 

Early Days of Doodling

Upasna Poddar recalls how she used to doodle at the back of her notebooks during her childhood. She made comics for her loved ones, which made her realize that her passion lies in cartooning. Moving to Bombay presented her with an opportunity to pursue this passion. And she never had to look back. The most courageous things she believes she did was getting married, quitting jewellery designing and starting The Messy Art House! Recalling her beginnings, she fondly remembers the joy of sketching pets and their owners. She also shares the early struggles she had in pricing her work.

Credits: Instagram (oopsidoodledagain)

Upasna Poddar’s Stepping Stones

Upasna Poddar remembers how she had to give up her passion for cartooning since it was not a “great career choice” back then.  Though she tried to pursue Jewelry Designing when she moved to Bombay, the lack of good opportunities in it gave her the way back to art. And this way back to art happened through oopsidoodledagain. She mentions how art helps her recognize her own feelings and understand her mind. Her zeal for this career comes from art and the joy of its creation. Though Mario Miranda is her favorite artist, she admits that her husband and her daughter are her biggest inspiration. She finds her biggest source of motivation in yoga and beer. Apart from art, her interests range from food to travel to coasters to music festivals to all things creative!

Credits: Instagram (oopsidoodledagain)

Painting the Mundane

Upasna Poddar’s art pieces have a hearty message that she wishes to convey to her audience. Her illustrations make the little things in life seem so full of colour and that is precisely what she intends to do. Through her adorable illustrations, she gives life to the lifeless and nudges us to be grateful for even the tiniest little thing we are blessed with. Her artworks also speak to the womenfolk as she feels that women need to be stronger in today’s space and not succumb to anything. 

Credits: Instagram (oopsidoodledagain)

Upasna Poddar’s Secret to Success

Poddar believes that talent is innate and it is innate in each and every one. She believes that one can only dig up this innate talent and flourish it through hard work and persistence. To all the young dreamers, her only words are to believe in the dream and to go for it. Life is too short to give up on dreams is what she wishes to convey to all the dreamers. 

From being a Jewelry Designer to oopsidoodledagain to The Messy Art House, Upasna Poddar has come a long way. Her success story as a self-taught illustrator would make any young artist, who wishes to pursue their passion for art, take the plunge. Her love and passion for creativity and art are what made her story a success. Now as she takes her love for art to the next level by introducing it to the tiny tots we can hope that a younger generation grows up loving all things art. The road she took has reached The Messy Art House now, but we are sure it hasn’t ended yet!

Credits: Instagram (oopsidoodledagain)
Credits: Instagram (oopsidoodledagain)
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Art & Craft

Commentary through Doodling: Quirky Comic Strips And Their Creators

Meet these comic strip artists who make commentary on life, Indian families and society, with a tinge of humour.

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comic strip

Comic Strips cut to the chase. Maybe that’s why they’ll never go out of style. What can’t a human being do with a pen and paper? The creation behind words and art is heavy. They become a powerful medium of self-expression. Comic Strips are an alternative to storytelling. Sometimes they make you laugh. Other Times they evoke questions you’ve never had in your mind. All of this commentary and humour through a handful of dialogues and cartoons. What craftiness, what cleverness, indeed! So we present to you some virtuously skilled comic strip artists.

The Killjoy Cat

The Killjoy Cat describe themself as ‘maker of comics and doodles.’ Their comic strips are sharp with socioeconomic and political critique. Through rough doodles and strong commentary, they attempt to illuminate the ongoing crisis in the society. The Killjoy Cat uses their artistic endeavours to raise discussions about invisible issues. For instance, some of their comic strips sharply critiqued and deliberately depicted the plight of women during the lockdown. It talked about the domestic burden and the heightened eminent patriarchy behind closed doors. 

Credits: Instagram (thekilljoycat)
Credits: Instagram (thekilljoycat)

Uncle Subbu Comics 

Uncle Subbu Comics, A.K.A Ranju, is an Indian web comic, narrating hilarious anecdotes of a south Indian family through comic strips. She finds her creative pursuits and humour from her uncles and father. The autobiographical elements of her comic strips makes her comics even more relatable and humoristic. Her characters make appearances frequently, and you might just find your own favourite Uncle Subbu Comics character! Her humour is not only limited to families. She also illustrates embarrassing moments, movies vs reality jokes, and other real life narratives we can all have a good laugh at. 

Credits: Instagram (unclesubbucomics)
Credits: Instagram (unclesubbucomics)

Appupen

Appupen is a comics creator. Exceptionally talented with his pen, he draws with the right tones and satirizes with the right words. His comic strips commentary have a dominating aura to them. They’ll get your attention right away. His comic strips are brimmed with creativity, originality and imagination. The puns and ironic references in his comic strips are amusing. He incorporates these inventions to satirize the surrounding political scenarios. ‘Rashtrayana: Trouble in Pradesh’ is an independent comic superhero by Appupen, whose snippets one can find on his Instagram. From detailed, sophisticated comic strips to minimalist ones, Appupen’s message is always bold and clear. 

Credits: Instagram (appupen)
Credits: Instagram (appupen)
Credits: Instagram (appupen)

Tall Girl Toons/The Higher Point of View 

Tall Girls, this might be your favourite page ever! Finding a space where you think other people truly know you is for sure the happiest space. Having to bear with ‘tall girl’ stereotypes and shaming, this comic artist decided to talk about it in the coolest manner. Tall Girl Toons uses her appeasing doodles and charmingly spontaneous dialogues to call out on people’s stereotypical behaviour. She also creates an appreciative and self-loving space for tall women, asking them to embrace their tall body, and wear those high heels! 

Credits: Instagram (tallgirltoons)
Credits: Instagram (tallgirltoons)

Brown Paperbag Comics 

Brown Paperbag Comics is undoubtedly one of the most popular Indian web comics known and enjoyed by all. Sailash Gopalan is the face behind this. Tending to everyday Indian life, from mundane scenarios to ironies and peculiarities in an Indian society, Sailash illustrates them riotously. His webcomics have been received very well by a large number of audiences.

Credits: Instagram (brownpaperbagcomics)
Credits: Instagram (brownpaperbagcomics)
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Art & Craft

The Colorful Canvas of Sagnik Sen

Witness the amazing streets and places of Kolkata come to life with a young and profound artist, Sagnik Sen.

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Sagnik Sen

Art is the definition of expression. Expression of soul, mind, body and the materialistic world around us as well. There’s nothing that cannot be brought to life on a piece of paper. Art is the medium to let your mind free and give wings to your brush.

As amazing is the description of art, so are the creations of a strikingly skilled artist, Sagnik Sen. Sagnik, who is bringing to us his very life-like paintings from the ‘city of sweets’, Kolkata, is an artist who paints like he was born with a paintbrush in his hand!

Sen was born and raised in his hometown, Bally in Kolkata. Since then, he has lived with his parents and has been brought up in the same town. He completed his intermediate school years recently from Methodist School in Dankuni and is now looking for Art colleges. But his paintings don’t tell his age. One would just stare in awe at his paintings and believe the painter to be a well-experienced professional.

Credits: Instagram (Sagnik Sen)

Journey as an Artist

Sagnik started painting from a very young age of 5 years and it became his hobby. Everyone who looked at his paintings, suggested to his parents never let him off the road of art. Painting became his very favorite extra-curricular activity. Having parents who themselves practiced art was a constant motivation for him. They always appreciated him and never saw it as a waste of time.

Sen is more of a self-learner. Watercolours always attracted him from a young age. He mentions some of the YouTube channels where he used to watch professional artists and painters to learn. James Fletcher Watson, Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, Herman Pekel are a few artists he is admires. His current master, artist Madhusudan Das is the most inspiring personality to him.

Credits: Instagram (Sagnik Sen)

Sagnik shares his experience during his school years about his skills and competitions he participated in. He talks about losing competitions he participated in due to some of the shortcomings in the supervision by his art teacher. It would be apt to say that a teacher plays a very crucial role in the success of a student. And Sagnik is the close beholder of the saying. With a new teacher’s supervision, he was able to win the art contest held at Nehru Children’s Museum, Kolkata. His life is filled with such incidents of ups and downs, wins and losses, struggles and how positively he has overcome them. His artworks have the story of daily busy boring life, the running streets of the towns of Kolkata, objects and portraits.

Sen believes that art is a form of the spiritual journey. His interests don’t lie in modern art, because as per him, modern artworks foster the hunger for success. To him, failure is an important factor in the life of an artist. It keeps him going.

“Every kid is born a little different than the kid next to him, that little piece is only talent, rest is hardwork”

Sagnik Sen

Quoting Sen’s words, “Every kid is born a little different than the kid next to him/her”. He defines that talent is what differentiates individual and hard-work makes all the difference. His message to the upcoming artists and painters is to have the courage to do what they love the most. Every young aspirer like him should follow his heart and be realistic to the situation, whatever it may be.

Credits: Instagram (Sagnik Sen)
Credits: Instagram (Sagnik Sen)
Credits: Instagram (Sagnik Sen)
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Art & Craft

The Age of Digital Art: Speaking Through Illustrations

These illustrators make their way to our hearts through their art filled with humour, self-help, motivation and love.

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Illustrations

Sometimes words can go mute, but art is always telling. Art unites all of us against all barriers. Expressing motives and mood through illustrations, caricatures, cartoons, etc., is indeed a strength. Illustrators produce their art through their own imagination, memories, and thoughts. These caricatures and illustrations can either be for entertainment, or for some noble purposes. By noble purposes, we mean consolations, motivations, political critique, awareness, self-help, love, etc. Graphical representation reaches more people. It instigates our minds and is often successful in letting us see beyond.

Images speak louder than words! So, here are four digital illustrators, who are not just amusing their audience with laughter and pretty shades, but also raising awareness about mental and emotional health. 

Upasna Modi Poddar

Upasna illustrates mostly cartoon dialogues. These illustrations are frilled with humour, real life instances, and motivational, happy quotes. Her cartoon characters are very adorable! She inputs minimalist doodled words and dialogues alongside these characters. These are sometimes relatable, invoking laughter. Other times, these are much needed positive and hopeful quotes for us. 

Credits: Instagram (Upasna Modi Poddar)
Credits: Instagram (Upasna Modi Poddar)
Credits: Instagram (Upasna Modi Poddar)

Vidhi Bhatt

Vidhi’s Instagram is a blend of cheerful and bright colours. If there is a ‘nature/environment’ niche in digital art, then Vidhi owns this niche. She illustrates trees, fruits, flowers, fishes, animals, etc., with pleasant tones, but that is not all. Vidhi has an artful hand when it comes to illustrating human figures. Some of her human illustrations are beautifully delicate and detailed. 

Credits: Instagram (Vidhi Bhatt)
Credits: Instagram (Vidhi Bhatt)
Credits: Instagram (Vidhi Bhatt)

Happy Bobo Doodles aka Diva

Diva is a quirky part-time illustrator, with a taste for hilarious puns and dinky art illustrations. She produces not only pictorial illustrations but video illustrations too. From random doodles to human portraits, wallpapers, cards, and quotations, Diva has sprinkled her art in every possible area. One can see from her illustrations how much she enjoys doing this. Not only are they appeasing to the eyes, but also generate within us a smile. Her illustrations indeed look like a medium through which she channels her inner humour and desire to make everyone feel a little better. 

Credits: Instagram (Happy Bobo Doodles)
Credits: Instagram (Happy Bobo Doodles)
Credits: Instagram (Happy Bobo Doodles)

Manali Pansare

Manali’s motto is, ‘Spreading happiness through Art’. She is a wildlife illustrator. All of Manali’s illustrations have tones of green. One can find flowers, trees, leaves, or clouds and seas in almost all of her drawings. She designs human characters with sweet features. She also has a penchant for curating adorable animals. Her clients have loved her illustrated customised work. 

Credits: Instagram (Manali Pansare)
Credits: Instagram (Manali Pansare)
Credits: Instagram (Manali Pansare)

Nidhika Bahl

Nidhika Bahl is a best-selling author. Nidhika’s life purpose is, therefore, being a self-help coach. She does this enthusiastically through her video illustrations. The video illustrations, with likeable characters and background, serves the message more easily. In the current time, with the ongoing pandemic, everyone has been mentally burdened. Nidhika through her digital art, gives us constant reminders to rest, to reflect and not be tough on ourselves. These daily reminders through art give us respite from troubling thoughts. We are all in this together, after all.

Credits: Instagram (Nidhika Bahl)
Credits: Instagram (Nidhika Bahl)
Credits: Instagram (Nidhika Bahl)
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