Kalpana, have you always wanted to be an artist?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been engrossed in art. Just loved creating as a child. Thankfully, nothing much has changed.
You have worked and lived in different countries; how did this influence your work?
East Africa, with its vibrant colours and beautiful culture has enriched my soul. It has made me who I am. As an adult, I then came to the UK, where the changing weather and expressive seasons fascinated me. Travelling to Europe and the USA for work added more dimensions to my understanding of people, places and cultures. When you live in a place for long spans of time, you tend to embrace its nuances, absorb its atmosphere. All this influences how you create. Perhaps with the colours, the contours.
You specialise in abstract paintings, has this always been your style of choice and if so why?
Actually, no. I used to do a lot of figurative work. Sure, there were abstracts, landscapes and florals but not as many. I see what you mean. There are lots of abstracts in my collection. I am addicted to making abstracts. There’s a sort of freedom in it. But I also have a tremendous love of the sea, which I convey through my seascapes and landscapes.
How would you describe your creative process?
My day begins with watching the sunrise. With that calmness, everything would be okay. In the evenings, I’d be sure to look at the sunset. This ritual leaves me in no doubt that I’m just an insignificant, incidental speck of dust in this Universe. I also like to take long walks on the beach. Having grown up on the shore, I am strongly attached to it and it does not matter that it is a different continent. I just love the sea and the waves. It makes me feel at home. Feel complete. As for the actual painting, I paint from my imagination. It is strange that I’d know what colour palette I want to use and would have a preference of genre. Apart from that, I’d have no idea what I’m going to make at the studio. This is true especially of my abstract art. Even as I skulk around, looking at paintings, inspecting things, assessing stock, plotting deeds and misdeeds, generally contemplating world domination, I’d still be at a loss for what I want to paint. I never seem to have a plan. However, when I start, it all comes together in my imagination……and a lot depends on my mood.
Where do you seek inspiration?
The problem with seeking inspiration is that I never find it. It’s elusive. It has a mind of its own. Inspiration comes to me only when I start painting. Probably from how I feel about what’s around me. Seasons, nature, animals, human emotions. It also seems to surround me in the form of words, kind words, from people who appreciate my paintings. It just makes me want to create more art.
How has your journey been so far?
It’s been a quite a journey. I was born in East Africa, on the Swahili coast, where I created and sold artwork from a very young age. In adulthood, I came to the UK and worked in technology for several years. This also involved travelling to other countries which I enjoyed. However, being an artist at heart, I just wanted to paint. So, I gave up everything for a blank canvas. In 2014, I worked in the little loft room at home. A year later, the work overflowed into an outdoor studio in the garden. In 2017, I was able to pay for the conversion of a small barn into a studio. Now, in 2019, with everything finally completed, I paint full-time from all these workspaces. It looks like at last, I’m living my dream.
If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking a career in art what would it be?
Don’t do it! Seriously, do it only if you can take criticism. Not everyone will like all your artwork. Be realistic in your expectations. By all means, do follow your dreams but dreams by their very nature are very difficult to live. So, try hard, develop a good sense of humour, laugh at yourself and don’t give up easily.
What does the future look like for you?
The future could be anything and no matter how hard I work, it is still out of my control but I just hope that I am still painting as happily as I am right now in that future, whatever it might be.