Artist Sheetal Durve hails from Pune in India and has always been expressing herself through her paintings. After graduating in Psychology, she went on to complete a degree in commercial art from Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya in Pune. For a short while she also worked in the advertising field as a designer before returning to her first love – painting. Though watercolor continues to be her preferred medium, she occasionally chooses oil, acrylic and mixed media. She is also an author and illustrator of two published books, Dream On and Dream Diaries. Both these books have been a part of the Emirates Literature Festival for the last few years, and are well received by children all over the globe.
Sheetal has been conducting watercolor workshops in schools and nurseries in Dubai. A mother of two children, Sheetal currently resides in Dubai and capturing the sights of the vibrant city onto her canvas.
What’s your artistic background?
My artistic journey started when I was very young. Since I was a child I have always been attracted to all forms of art, be it music, dance or painting. There was a lot of inspiration from home, my grandmother was a sculptor and had formal training with a degree in sculpting. My mother was not formally trained but she made several artifacts and fabric designs. I have been trained formally in music and Indian classical dance. Releasing my passion for art I joined Art College in Pune and also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.
After spending a few years in advertising, I realized my true calling was painting. Since then I have followed my heart and have been at it all the way through.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
Awareness and clarity are integral to an artist’s work along with vision and passion. The ability to spot the issues around us and to clearly communicate them through art is important.
What role does the artist have in society?
The whole art community contributes to the culture of the place which in turn contributes to history. When artists express through their work it is personal yet universal. As an artist it is easier to express the emotions and struggles of society it exists within and inspire people to cope with it.
What art do you most identify with?
Art that expresses effectively with it’s simplicity is what catches my attention. It could be any genre of painting, the minimal usage of lines and strokes, color schemes and theme, is what makes a painting soul-touching for me.
What themes do you pursue?
A lot of times my art is inspired by nature. The themes I pursue at a particular time are based on the emotions I feel which could be personal or issues going on around at that time, that need to be dealt with. So my themes do change from time to time.
What’s your favorite art work?
I can’t pinpoint on one and say it’s my favorite. I love all Van Gogh’s works, specially ‘The starry night over the Rhone’, and ‘Irises’.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
On one of my visits to Dharamshala (a Hill station in north India), I visited a few monasteries and had the chance to see monks go about their day to day life. Their contentment in the basic minimal had me intrigued and inspired. I have done a series on the monks and will be continuing this series soon.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I am an author and illustrator of two children’s books, Dream Diaries and Dream On. Both the books have been a part of the Emirates Literature Festival, Dubai. When I am not painting or teaching I love to write.
Art is so diverse that there are as many ways to understand it as there are people. That is why art is such a powerful tool to move people to action whether it’s a literary message, a poem, a painting, dance or music. Art has played an important role in the fight against intolerance of different cultures, racism and other forms of social segregation. Art is important as an intellectual stimulant. Art can affect our mood in a positive way, making us happier, calmer, or even inspired.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
Art touches everyone in some way or the other. An artistic outlook is using your mind and hands to create new things or appreciate a creation. Creation is such a vast term and can go from cooking and decorating your home to music and designing clothes. And a million other things. So in some way or the other everyone is creative.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
For an artist it is very satisfying when people understand and appreciate your work. One such response I got from a British resident who bought three paintings from me as a gift for his mother. His mother lives alone in the UK. He mentioned that every time she sees the paintings, they bring a smile to her face.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Artists and creatives are often stereotyped as loners, and while this may not actually be the case, solitude for most artists is the key to producing their best work. To get to the inner most thoughts that need to be expressed, solitude is essential. There is a difference though between solitude and loneliness. Most artists like being alone while creating but that doesn’t mean they are lonely. I have a lot of friends and enjoy time with my family and friends too. I think it’s important to strike a balance and having family and friends who understand and support make the difference.
What do you dislike about the art world?
I dislike the uncertainty in the art world.
What do you dislike about your work?
I wish I could spend more time painting. Time restrictions which cannot be avoided, is what I wish I could change.
What do you like about your work?
The versatility in my creation is what I love most. There are so many different ways to execute my thoughts and express them. Whether it’s via paintings on canvas, paper, walls, or through poems or stories.
Should art be funded?
Absolutely! I am sure most artists will agree too with that. Art plays a vital role in modeling our perspectives and enriching our lives. Like I mentioned earlier art can be expressed in a personal way but it ultimately impacts society. It influences, inspires, challenges and expands our minds. It is a universal language which can help us understand so many different cultures and other issues. So only through preserving our history, whether architecture or paintings can we be inspired to create with efficacy. Therefore, funding can prove to be very beneficial.
What role does arts funding have?
There are times when artists want to take risks to put forth their perspective and make a change, but are restricted due to financial reasons. Art funding is one way artists can secure financial support for their art.
What is your dream project?
My dream project would be to create work for an N.G.O. that would be beneficial for underprivileged children.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
I admire a lot of artists, but don’t know if I would like to be compared to them. I love Oliver Jeffers for his amazing concepts so apt for current issues and done in such a simple way. Brian Rutenberg for his wonderful vision of abstract landscapes. I love the colors he uses. The usage of colors and lines is so simplistic yet attractive.
Victoria Prischedko and Antonio Ortega Perez for their master strokes in watercolor.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A narrow focus brings big results. People give up so fast because they tend to look at how far they still have to go instead of how far they have already come. So it’s important to celebrate those small wins which in time will prove to become a big success.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To be able to do solo shows at least once in two years. Also try to make a difference with the expression of my art.
Create significant and memorable pieces of art endlessly.