GUEST ARTIST: “Just Do It” by Megha Mehra

Megha Mehra Watercolor Artist Woman Playing Violin Between a brick and my dreams

At the school playground, waiting to get dispersed, I heard an announcement about an upcoming painting competition. I had never held a paintbrush. My mom bought me a small paintbox. Loading and unloading paint with the brush was exhilarating. I practiced, took part, and throughout that week painted a blue-green peacock (a fascination then). Although I didn’t win, it made me happy.

My name is Megha Mehra and I’m a professional watercolor artist. I was born and raised in Bangalore, India. I loved to draw, imitating my mother’s painting styles. But like many kids, I fell into the rat race and did not take up painting for years. Eleven years ago, I moved to Virginia.

The Discovery

Watercolors found me when I was about to become a mom. I painted with the belief that my baby would connect with that creative energy (he has, the little painterly scamp!). Little did I know that I would rediscover my childlike enthusiasm for painting.

Bringing up the rear watercolor by Megha Mehra

I paused to raise my son after he was born. Years flew, and I didn’t touch my brush. I picked up my brush again once my son started preschool. I got back in action and did my public solo exhibit. 32 paintings in less than a month was an enormous challenge.

Painting Was Painful

While I did a few art exhibits, I wasn’t happy with my work. Only limited subjects appealed to me. I drooled over watercolor portraits in art magazines but didn’t dare to try. I inconsistently read books and watched videos but failed to make progress.

My work didn’t improve until I committed to painting daily. Soon I bagged my first portrait commission from a client in the UK. My inner voice told me, “Just Do it.” Since then, I have painted many commissions

What’s My Style?

As a self-taught artist, my approach is honest, bold. I love light. It is the essence of my paintings. I strive to paint the child behind the radiant smile; the wonder in sunlight spilling across almonds soaking in a bowl of water; to bring life to mangoes that soon will bring joy to somebody.

When I find myself lost in details, it’s light that brings focus back to me. When I am overwhelmed by choice, light brings out the simpler story within each scene. And when I’m afraid inspiration has abandoned me, the fleeting magic of the light within us returns it to me.

Play & Get Your Hands Dirty

My painting begins in my head. As a realistic painter, I paint what I see, but sometimes I imagine subjects I haven’t captured yet. I paint complex still life arrangement that involves months of planning and collecting stuff them from friends, neighbors and sometimes nagging my parents to bring them from India. The constant question I ask myself is – what is the story I’m trying to tell?

I like to capture in the direct afternoon sun when the light is the sharpest. I take hundreds of pictures and sort them on my computer. This is when I’m thinking of the title to match the painting.

Once I settle on the composition, I pick the colors that match the mood and the story. With color, I’m still a kid. I want them all. My darlings are bold, rich colors and, sometimes, moody greys.
I mix my chart and do multiple sketches before I begin the large final painting. I paint wet on wet and glazing to get the transparent effect. First the subject, then the background.

What Inspires Me?

People and their stories inspire me. It’s so much fun to meet new people and always interested in their journeys and experiences. Public speaking has helped me find many stories that have played an important role in my art career.

Stay young watercolor by Megha Mehra

Most of my ideas come when I’m cooking. Cooking and painting have common patterns. The variety, the mood, the color and playfulness, the sense of adventure relate to composition.
My new obsession is baking. When it’s quiet in the night, I put a loaf in the oven, turn on music and paint away.

The Gift

Life is a waste if you don’t give back. In 2018 my painting ‘The Gift’ was auctioned to raise money for Sahaita, a non-profit organization committed to educating, supporting, and uplifting the underprivileged.

The Gift watercolor by Megha Mehra

These mangoes were a childhood memory when I witnessed kids eating mangoes for the first time in an orphanage. To them, these mangoes were a gift.

The Nurturer

As I painted more, my fans appreciated my work, and they wanted to learn from me. The educator in me was formed. Nothing makes me happier when I see people grow. I love supporting my students and bringing out the best in them. Look at what some of my students say.

Feathers In The Cap

Painting consistently and dedicatedly not only improved my work but gave me the courage to enter competitions and get my work recognized. My painting ‘Play, pause, reflect’ won the ‘Ralph Smith Memorial Award of Excellence’ at the VWS 2019 exhibit.

Play, Pause, Reflect watercolor by Megha Mehra

I also wont the ‘National Society award’ and the Outstanding Watercolor award at PVW and FASO Bold Brush contest respectively in 2020.

Materials

I’m a big fan of Artistico Fabriano and use the extra white 140 lb cold press paper. I enjoy different brands from Winsor & Newton, Da Vinci, Daniel Smith, and Mission Gold. I trust these fine brands. I have tried a variety of brushes but nothing can beat Silver Black Velvet brushes.

They are an outstanding balance of having pointed ends and holding lots of water and paint. I stumbled upon these cheap brushes, which turned out to be of wonderful quality.
Must-haves: Tissue boxes, magic eraser, and the value scale.

Workshops And Commissions

I teach online and offline courses from basics, portraits, moody skies, and still life. I offer commissioned portraits of pets, people, landscapes, keepsakes, and houses. My advice to beginners is to not get trapped in your thoughts. ‘Just do it’.

Megha Mehra
Website
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Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
16 Comments
  1. J A Wilson Wilson 2 weeks ago

    Beautiful 💗 portraits!

  2. Fatima Chamkha 2 weeks ago

    Great watercolorartist you paintings are very vividly!

    • Megha Mehra 2 weeks ago

      thank you Fatima

  3. Mary Roff 2 weeks ago

    Truly beautiful paintings, Megha! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    • Megha Mehra 2 weeks ago

      thank you so much Mary

  4. Kellie 2 weeks ago

    Wow, your paintings are amazing and I really enjoyed reading about your journey and process ❤️

    • Megha Mehra 2 weeks ago

      thank you so much Kellie

  5. Karen Fortier 2 weeks ago

    Thank you for sharing your story and your beautiful art Megha!

    • Megha Mehra 2 weeks ago

      thank you for your support Karen.

  6. Jeff Flesch 2 weeks ago

    Wow. WONDERFUL! 🙂

    • Megha Mehra 2 weeks ago

      thanks Jeff

  7. Lin 2 weeks ago

    Such talent. Thanks for sharing your story and artwork. It was just the inspiration I needed to paint today.

    • Megha Mehra 2 weeks ago

      Happy to hear it helped. Just keep painting my friend, Lin.

  8. somdattadeb 2 weeks ago

    Hi Megha thanks for sharing your story. It is always nice to know the journey of a self learned artist. Being an Indian I know how difficult it is to pursue your hobby and study simultaneously. Great that you continued your passion.
    Few years back I was in a short art course, where one day the theme was ‘light’. the teacher said that ‘you can paint the light as you see’ or ‘what light mean to you’. That time I did not fully understand the second option. Now I know. your post opens up my eyes.

    • Megha Mehra 2 weeks ago

      Thanks Somdattadeb. I’m glad my story resonated with you. I left painting for almost 15 years. I had to started from scratch. Yes, light is something that we can all connect with. Its the hope within us and the energy as well. Take care

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