My name is Mohana Pradhan, and I was born and brought up in Mumbai, India and am now based in beautiful San Jose, California. I returned to my artistic roots after a career in graphics and web design. A graduate in Fine Arts from L.S. Raheja School of Arts and Architecture, Mumbai, with a major in painting and portraits.
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
After graduation, I had an opportunity of doing a group show at the prestigious Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai. My work back then consisted mostly of landscapes and Mumbai cityscapes in oils and acrylics. As a young artist, seeing my paintings sell quickly, gave me immense confidence especially when I had just stepped out in the world.
But as the years passed, it became apparent that occasionally selling paintings was not solely enough to support me financially or creatively. I had to lay down my art supplies and brushes while I pursued my new interest in Graphic Design. I worked full time for advertising agencies and commercial firms. I also taught graphic design to budding digital designers. The days were long, but the evenings gave a welcome respite to the arts – teaching traditional art to elementary school kids.
After a career of fifteen years in graphics and web Design and working with IT companies, there came a stage where I realized I had put away my brushes for too long. I was missing out on creating something I loved. The universe does work in mysterious ways, and one beautiful California day, I stumbled upon a watercolor workshop. I haven’t looked back since then!
Why do I paint?
This incredible gift of love for art is unexplainable in a few words. My paintings are like how my heart sounds from inside; my inner reflection. They fill me with unexpected happiness, like feeling the warmth of the sun when it’s bitter cold or feeling the touch of raindrops on the skin in sweltering heat. It simply feels good!
I enjoy every aspect of painting, whether it’s holding the paper, feeling the brush in hand, or mixing colors. It’s a total workout that gives me the immense joy of creation.
I have never painted anything without my heart fully in it. Hence the title for my story – “Painting from the heart”. I have to know what my heart is responding to. That feeling of “knowing” what I feel like painting today is incredible and strong!
Where do I get my inspiration?
My inspiration comes from nature’s canvas: people, events, weather and moments of everyday life. The tiny moments and fleeting memories are the catalysts for some of my works. Very often I have more ideas than the hours needed to paint and often worry that I cannot get them on the paper before they are forgotten. I paint what I observe and feel, play with colors, go loose or mostly find beauty in the details. Henry D. Thoreau said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
While in art college, I experimented with diverse mediums – oils, acrylics, pastels, charcoal, inks, watercolor and many more. But over time, watercolor became my favorite. I love the transparency and how the colors appear luminous. It is magical!
As an observer of nature, its endless variety and riddles, its infinite colors have always awed me. I continuously strive to perfect those colors in my paintings. “A painting is never finished, it simply stops at interesting places” said Paul Gardner. How true!
Every painting is as important as the next one, you just have to stay with it. Stay the course and forget what everybody says. You have to practice believing in yourself and being confident. Start every painting thinking it’s going to be great and …the next one will be greater. This is my everyday mantra.
I love being flexible with my art. It can be fully involved in a full blown planned painting project or sit with my small sketchbook and scribble. I mostly work in my home studio and also enjoy painting outdoors whenever I get a chance. When working on a planned project I decide how big the painting is going to be, what colors combinations to use, and the composition.
Once I have the basics down, I just dive in and let things happen. It doesn’t always turn out the way I expected, but it’s okay. I am my best and the worst critic and hard to impress. I feel I have yet to discover what exactly my style is! I am certainly a traditionalist and believe that an artist’s paintings may not come to fruition until there is ample amount of work and those 10,000 hours are put in. I am working on it.
My art supplies include Arches and Winsor & Newton watercolor paper 140-300 lbs cold press. I also enjoy using watercolor blocks. I prefer Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton brand watercolors. I have these brush brands in natural and synthetics – Isabey, Escoda, Da Vinci, Silver Black Velvet and Loew-Cornell.
Life continues to bring new happenings and I am grateful to see the sunrise everyday. When I am not painting, I love spending time with my family and travel around with them. I am active within the Silicon Valley Open Studios, and this will be my seventh year to showcase my new works for 2019. I also give private lessons for kids and take on commission work for family and pet portraits.
I have unending gratitude that my work is appreciated and feel honored that it is in private collections of many. I am deeply thankful to many who have encouraged me along the way and tirelessly cheered me on when I needed it the most. My hope is that by sharing my paintings, they will inspire and touch the lives of others in a meaningful way, just as they have touched mine.
I continue to be creatively motivated and will fan this flame the universe has ignited in me. I look forward to painting every day!Recommended8 recommendationsPublished in