My name is Mishu Bogan from London, UK, and my passion is watercolours. I started drawing, as I tell everyone, as soon as I was able to hold a pencil. One of my very first memories is of me sitting in my bed, drawing stories. Because that’s what it always was – stories I had to tell and drawing was my way of doing it.
“In every drop of water, there is a story of life.”
– Leena Arif
They were highly detailed – albeit poorly drawn with my 3-year-old chubby hand – where every character had its own little universe and story to tell and they were all interconnected. I am still sorry I haven’t kept any of them or at least that I could still draw like that.
My parents were very supportive of all my endeavours and encouraged me to pursue any interests I had (and believe me, there were a lot of them), but when it came to formally study art they considered it not to be a ‘proper job’ and they didn’t allow me to study there. I was never truly upset of that because I could see their point, even today. Having an Art education doesn’t take you too far and most of the time it doesn’t pay the rent, as they say.
Life eventually took over and my many different interests replaced drawing easily. All until about 6 years ago when, as a settled professional, I found myself longing to draw, but became frustrated because I believed my drawing skills were rubbish. So, I started practising – with the same determination I do most things.
I registered for an online class which opened me up for different mediums and taught me the basics; when I was moderately pleased with my graphite drawings, I discovered one can do proper artworks in coloured pencils. As soon as I felt settled in my dealings with a medium, I moved further, the need to evolve being stronger than anything.
That’s how I discovered watercolours – I am still an amateur, painting just in weekends, but keeping it up for 6 years, following contemporary masters, helped me not only to greatly improve, but also to grow a following and even a small market.
It was no surprise when I realised that my strong subjects are dogs (and animals in general) portraits – I am not ashamed to say I love them more than most people.
Although I work almost always from photographs (painting animals gives few other options) I like to paint portraits that (again) tell me a story about the model – a tilt of their head, a wrinkled nose or a flick of their tongue gives me enough information to get me started.
I still don’t feel ‘settled’ with watercolours and, although I discovered acrylics and oils now, I still didn’t move from my watercolours. There’s no other medium that is so alive, with its own mind, so unpredictable and surprising that can literally do better than what the painter wanted.
My proudest achievement is still my, now finished , challenge of painting one watercolour sketch a day, for 365 days. Many people told me I am crazy and that I should start with something smaller, like a week or month-long challenge, but did I tell you how stubborn and determined I am when I put my mind to it? After 3 years, since the completion of that self-imposed challenge, the ink and wash are still my preferred medium to tell a story.
As most artists, I am an art-supply addict and tend to buy everything every time I have the fortune (or misfortune, depending how you look at it) to end up in an art supply shop. Over these short 6 years, I bought most of the paints and pens I could afford, until I realised there is no point to deny the obvious – I had favourites.
For me, the best watercolour pans are the “White Nights” St. Petersburg because they’re wonderfully large, moist and with a strong pigment that is yet to be equalled by any paints I tried. Put that next to that the fact that they are cheaper than most paints on the market (in Europe at least) and we have a winner. Since I tend to paint small (my largest paintings are about an A3 size), a full pan is quite suitable.
When on location, I tend to use watercolour brush pens – a wonderful new invention of a pen with bristles like a brush, filled with pigment ink – and my new favourites (I have tried a LOT of those too) are the ones done by Vibrant Jungle. Combined with water in a waterbrush pen, will give me the striking colours and the watercolour effects I want without the trouble of carrying paints and jars of water.
I also have three pens I never leave at home – a Uniball waterproof ink pen, the wonderful creation that is the Pentel brush pen (not waterproof, but with the blackest black possible at the end of a brush-like pen) and if I need to enhance some highlights I always use a Molotow white acrylic pen. As you see, there’s nothing too fancy – just perfect for me.
The best way to tell a story? A painting’s worth a thousand words.