The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

The Creators | Sindhoora Ganesh

Nivedita Salar, Class of 2019

The Creators is a fortnightly series of artist profiles of Ashokans who are actively involved in different creative fields including music, photography, creative writing, and visual or performing arts.

Sindhoora Ganesh is a third-year Economics major at Ashoka University with a flair for painting. She launched a venture last semester, “Small Arts”, where she puts up miniature oil painting canvases for sale. She has held two highly successful and appreciated Small Arts stalls at different Haats in the previous academic year, and is looking to do some more work this year as well. This week, I sat down with Sindhoora to get to know more about Small Arts and the artist behind it.

Sindhoora Ganesh at a Small Arts stall last semester | Image courtesy: Sindhoora Ganesh

How did Small Arts begin? Is there a meaning behind its name?

When I was in Bangalore, I went to a craft store and saw these little canvases there. I used to paint a lot of canvases, usually A4 or bigger in size, and I thought that I should try painting one of these little ones as well. I painted a little night sky and realised that this little canvas was very convenient to keep on my bookshelf or on my table, and if someone wanted to own a piece of art it was much easier than hanging up a bigger canvas on a wall. Initially, I had not planned on selling them but a friend suggested that I share my artwork with other people. It was only a hobby for me. Sometimes, I painted something and gifted it to someone, but I never thought of turning it into an entrepreneurial venture. I was also hesitant about starting because I was an old-school artist: I liked painting landscapes and such things and I didn’t know how those would be received.

I put a lot of thought into the name before deciding on Small Arts, I decided against naming it something fancy. The name also represents the happiness we can get from the smaller things in life and smaller pieces of art.

Why do you do what you do? Is art a hobby, a form of therapy, or something entirely different for you?

I would say that it is a mix of a lot of things. I started off as a kindergartner who just liked colouring. I started attending classes later, but I was more inclined towards drier mediums like colour pencils. My drawing teacher suggested that I try watercolours and I realised that I was not too bad at it! So watercolours became the first medium that I tried. After this, painting became a release for me, a release from the daily schedule. It was therapeutic because it helped me get away from the work and the monotony around me, and it is definitely a hobby because I have been doing it for so long now! I always liked seeing something come to life through my interpretation of different images or photographs, or anything that appeals to me. I do it in my free time to calm myself down; it is a mix of a hobby and a stress buster.

What is your creative process? Do you plan sales and work on them accordingly?

My first sale was based entirely on intuition. I knew I wanted to do landscapes, and my first paintings were just different landscapes full of colour, none of them was alike. In the second sale, I went according to the demand I saw because I noticed a recurring pattern in what was being requested by people. Hence a lot of thinking went into the second sale. And now for my third sale, I know exactly what works for the crowd and what doesn’t.

Is there any artist that inspires you? A particular scene or object in nature? What is your favourite thing to recreate on a canvas?

There is an artist I came across recently — Tjalf Sparnaay — apart from the regular classics like Van Gogh. Sparnaay is a mega-realistic artist. When I saw his painting for the first time I thought it was a picture. He paints everyday objects like a loaf of bread or something, except on a bigger scale and incredibly detailed. Mega realism really appeals to me, and it is something I definitely want to try someday. In Small Arts, the two most recurring themes are starry nights and sunsets, because both of these colour schemes are just beautiful. Apart from these, I am always experimenting but I stick to different aspects of nature. Sometimes when I go out, maybe when I am on the road, and I see a pink and blue sky it really appeals to me. Converting them into my own interpretations, my own colours, and experimenting with different colours and shades and hues is something I really like.

On bigger canvases, I do a lot of florals, lots of flowers, because I’m a big fan of colours. Flowers in landscapes are one of my favourite things to recreate.

What are your favourite artworks, by yourself and by other people?

There’s a small story behind my favourite artwork. I had gone to an art gallery in Bangalore and I came across a painting of two peacocks, a white peacock and a colourful one, and it was humongous. My dad wanted to buy it for the house but my mom said: “No, Sindhoora will paint it and we’ll put it up on the wall”. This was when I had just started going for oil painting classes, and I thought that it was too challenging a task, but after 3 months I did it! It has knifework so it has a 3-D effect and it’s a 3*2 feet painting of two peacocks, in the drawing room. It was a big project that took me three months to finish, and it was a big achievement. Another favourite artwork of mine is a pencil sketch I made for my mum on her birthday.

An oil painting by Sindhoora

On this campus, I think there are so many beautiful artists, people have so many different ways of expressing their art — there’s modern, there’s abstract, pencil sketching. Amongst the lot, I really admire Kriti Garg’s (Founding Undergraduate batch) work. Her sketches and her artwork is just something else; I am always fangirling about it. Amongst people on campus, she is the first person who comes to mind as someone I admire. I do follow a lot of people on social media; I see a lot of things, and it really helps me broaden my spectrum as well.

Are there any memorable stories behind some of the things that you have painted?

One story was about the peacock painting that I mentioned. Once, when I was painting I just happened to use a fan brush with some white and red and it created this beautiful cherry blossom, and it is still in demand and people still want me to make it, even my friend’s mum! It’s very nice to see something spontaneous work out so well.

Are you a trained artist? How many years of practice did it take for you to reach the level of artistic skill that you are at?

It hasn’t been a continuous journey; I had to keep taking breaks because of academics and other commitments. It started off in middle school with sketching and other basics, and proper painting classes in 8th to 10th; that is when I started oil painting. I sharpened my skills in 11th–12th. I had to give art a break in 10th because of boards. In 11th, I started going for classes again and gained more finesse. So, I think that makes it four years of training, but I can’t tell exactly because it is just continuous practice that makes one better and better.

When can we see the next Small Arts sale?

I’m hoping that the next Haat has my sale, the winter haat or anything that comes before it. It’s a nice platform because there are a lot of other art stalls and I get to learn a lot from them. This time I will have different sizes, smaller and bigger ones, the smallest ones being 6*6 cm, and the biggest being 10*10 cm. Painting in miniature is really hard because it requires a lot of focus, but I think it pays off in the end when I walk into someone’s room and see my little painting on their desk or on their shelf.

The author is a visual arts correspondent for the Arts & Culture column of The Edict.

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