Hello, my name is Kratika Agarwal and I am an artist, designer and illustrator. I am originally from India and currently based in the Netherlands. As far as I can remember, I have always enjoyed painting since childhood. My mom sent me to art classes when I was a kid and she would absolutely love my paintings. She would keep gazing at them and praise me. Guess, she was the very first true fan I ever had.
But I think, all mothers are like that. I got busier with school and, soon after, my mom fell ill of cancer and she passed away. I completely lost all my touch with art. I had other daily responsibilities and barely had time to think about anything else. Time flew, I got busier, and I was in college. I completely forgot about anything which was called as art. Until it was just a few months back that I was suffering from chronic depression and major anxiety disorder that I picked up that paper and pen again.
Last year in October, I met with an accident which completely restricted me to the bed and I was on complete bed rest. Having no friends and family around, in a new country, it was really, really hard for me to actually survive!! I was glad enough that my hands were working. I had too much time to overthink about unnecessary things and I wanted the overthinking to stop. I thought of doing something to change my situation. I thought of making digital illustrations.
Though they sounded beyond my imagination, I never thought I would make something digitally. But, I didn’t give up. I picked up the iPad, and started making iPad illustrations while lying on the bed. The first thing I made on my iPad was a mandala. The mandalas I made were mostly on apps like Procreate and Amaziograph. I would think about basic patterns and draw. They helped me calm down a lot. I would pick up a centre point on the app and just randomly doodle around it until I found a pattern around them. Then I would fill it with colors. Vibrant colors would make me happy and I would keep smiling like a little kid and would look at my work and feel proud.
Soon after I started posting those mandalas on Instagram. Only late enough to realise, that people started loving them and they started appreciating the mandalas I would make. It gave me hope and courage! As I was still recovering, I kept making them more and more. It has been around 9 months to my injury, I am still struggling with my daily chores and my mental illness is still not cured, but if it wouldn’t have been the zeal to create something every day, I don’t think I would have been here talking about my art journey.
As I could barely sit for even a few minutes, I would scroll and look for people who would teach on Skillshares. I would look for people who would use a digital medium and to my amazement, I found this amazing artist called Liz Kohler Brown who I absolutely credit for everything that I learnt about digital illustrations and for keeping me sane! Her classes, her resources, she herself have been so so kind to me. I would invest hours and hours to learn the techniques she taught and I was able to create digital illustrations in a snap! I felt overwhelmed and, soon after, I felt I wasn’t alone. I knew there were people out there! I can’t thank Liz enough! I started making Digital journals, wallpapers, surface designs and so much more.
The only thing which I did not like about the digital illustrations was, that I wasn’t very happy with watercolour illustrations. You can barely imitate water and colors digitally, but when you put it on paper, with watercolours, the work is absolutely something else. You have that control on the brush, you know what you’re creating and sometimes, you have no control because it is such a versatile medium that the pigments and water do their own magic! When you put it on paper, the water and pigments react in an amazing way and the results are incredible. I desperately wanted to get back to water colors! I was waiting to be able to sit on a table and chair.
Just until 2 months back, when I was able to sit (yay), I started painting again, I started making florals and landscape. I learnt about artists who would teach on Skillshare and on YouTube. I would watch them and try to recreate with what I knew and what I learnt. I started enjoying the process! I fell in love with watercolours. I make my illustrations with watercolours, gouache and water based markers now! I mostly do landscapes, florals and mandalas presently. I try to absorb every material that I get my hands into!
Staying in Holland I learnt about Royal Talens, those were easily available here as they are made here and I bought myself some Van Gogh watercolors. Those were the first colours that I ordered and I completely adore their pigmentation. I love that I started my watercolour journey with them! I gradually also learnt about brands like Prima, Ecoline, Winsor & Newton, Arteza and so many more. Choosing brushes and paper has been tough for me! When I started I didn’t know, papers are available in such abundance and each has their own speciality.
I learnt a lot about the quality of the papers, mixed media papers, 100gsm to 600 gsm papers! Oh my goodness, there is soo much available! I was always eager to learn more, and happy news came when Canson sent me their papers to try! I was thrilled! According to me, paper makes a huge difference. I mostly work on wet on wet, wet on dry, dry on wet techniques. A good quality paper holds my washes really well! I keep experimenting with colors and brands and presently my colour palette is a mixture of different brands and colors. When I choose my brushes, I am very particular about them, one of my most used brushes are Silver Brush, Da Vinci, Rosemary and Princeton.
I mostly look at pictures from Unsplash, Pinterest and Pixabay for inspirations. I spend a few hours on them looking for the picture I can recreate! There have been some pictures, which friends on Instagram send or pictures which were clicked by me while I would travel. Then the very first thing I do is swatch! I swatch the colors, I play with colors I have in hand. I put them on paper and look at how I can combine those colors.
Sometimes, I come up with such random colors, that they amaze me! I know I have a long long journey to go, but if it hadn’t been art that pushed me, I don’t think I would have ever felt better and recovered so quickly.Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in