My name is Sujit Sudhi and I am a watercolour artist. I live and work between Kochi, India and Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA. I was born and bred in a small town in the India and like any other child from that part of the world, spent my childhood enjoying the beautiful countryside. I have vivid memories of those days and the images of rolling hills, lush green valleys and murmuring brooks are etched deep within me.
My parents would enter me in painting competitions and I won my first prize the day my little brother was born. I remember standing by the hospital crib looking at a tiny him, while my Dad broke the good news to me.
As a kid, I was drawn towards cartoons since I found that funny pictures were the quickest way to get appreciation and was deeply inspired by the cartoons of some of the best Indian cartoonists of those times, including R.K. Laxman. I would copy cartoons from newspapers and magazines onto sheets of paper torn out of my Dad’s notepad and stick them to the walls of the living room.
Looking back at those days now, I realize that one of the reasons why I am an artist today is that my parents never stopped me from ‘dirtying the walls’ of our modest little home and on the contrary, would show off my work to their friends who’d visit us.
Uncle Hamid, who was my Mom’s colleague was also a professional cartoonist. He happened to see my work and offered to teach me. I would make trips to his place hoping to come back with a bunch of funny pictures but much to my dismay he’d get me to do realistic drawings of objects. His advice was “The only skill you need to acquire is the ability to draw. Everything else is technique that can be easily picked up.” Several years later today, I realize that, that was the best piece of art advice I have ever received.
I continued to pursue my interest in cartooning through my school/college days and would win prizes and that kept me going. But, the thought of trying my hand at painting never crossed my mind. After I finished my studies I started to work as an IT engineer and in due course of time, the artist in me started to go dormant. At some point, it appeared as though I had completely given up on art and had started to pursue other interests or nothing at all, perhaps!
One of those days, a childhood friend of mine came to town and we decided to do some catching up. He couldn’t make it to our meeting place on time and in order to not get bored waiting for him, I decided to walk into a book store in the neighborhood and for some strange reason found myself in the art section. That is where I picked up my first book on watercolours and embarked on the most exciting journey of my life.
Painting instruction books have a way of making everything appear very simple and the reader is made to believe that all it takes to churn out a masterpiece is to follow a few easy steps. Though I started to paint, following my first ever book on watercolours I had little success and was being pushed to a point of frustration. That was when I discovered that one of most skilled watercolour artist of the country, Ambadas Mahurkar had his studio in my neck of the woods and, in a heartbeat, I signed up for lessons.
My association with him did not last long though, since he left for his heavenly abode within a year or so. It was at his studio that I took part in the first exhibition of paintings of my life. I must admit that painting under his tutelage – albeit for a short period – is the reason why I call myself an artist today!
For a long time, painting was just a hobby and I’d paint only when I had nothing good to do. But with regular practice I seemed to be making some progress and that’s when I told myself that I would have to work two jobs – do IT consulting to keep a roof over my head and be an artist to keep the fire in me burning.
At this point, I started to practice regularly and also started to closely follow the work of some of the masters like Milind Mulick, Vilas Kulkarni, John Pike, Edward Wesson, Tony Couch and Sterling Edwards to name a few. Following their work not only helped me hone my skills but also provided me with an ample amount of inspiration to paint.
Around this time, an opportunity to work for an IT consulting company that’s based out of Chicago came by and I decided to give it a shot. My employer put me on an assignment to work for one of their clients in the sleepy town of Kenosha in Wisconsin. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that a small town like Kenosha had so much going on in the art scene.
I started to visit local art galleries and to look for opportunities and to cut a long story short, the folks over there were more than happy to welcome me into the Kenosha art fraternity and gave me a chance to show my work at galleries on regular basis.
I also started to submit my work to several international and national juried shows and my work started to go places. Within a span of two years, I ended up having my art displayed in galleries across the United States. I have my work hanging in several private business and government offices including the Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin and at the Jockey headquarters in Kenosha.
My painting titled ‘Morning Light’ made it to the 18th edition of the prestigious publication by North-light books titled Splash, which features the work of the top 120 watercolour artists in the world. It was definitely an honour to rub shoulders with some of the most prominent and celebrated international watercolour artists. I have my work hanging in the homes of patrons in several cities in UAE, USA and India.
My painting process usually starts with moment at which inspiration strikes either from a scene in front of me or from a photograph or from an emotion deep inside. I try not to be a slave to the reference image – be it mental or an actual picture. As an artist, one should focus on creating an interpretation of what he or she sees rather than rendering a subject/scene.
I make quick thumbnail sketches of what I intend to paint in order to finalise on the composition and more importantly to nail down what I’d like to call the value scheme. The value scheme helps me decide what part of my painting has the darkest darks, the lightest lights and what’s in between. Once I am satisfied with the composition and the value scheme, I pick up my brushes and start to paint. I’ve always believed that the fun lies in the journey and what you create in the end is of lesser significance in comparison with the pleasure you derive from the actual process of painting.
My studio is titled ‘Nashaa’, and is so state of the art that it goes with me wherever I go! Though my primary medium is watercolour, I sometimes try my hand at oils and at pen and ink. Some of my pen and ink paintings are on display at the newly opened Kakatiya Dubai restaurant in Dubai, UAE. I have the good fortune to have my work displayed in group and solo shows in different parts of the world and there’s nothing that encourages an artist to work more than appreciation from art lovers.
Where do I see myself in ten years? Like any other artist, I’d like to possess better skills than I do today, but what I am really keen on is to use my art to put a smile on the faces of people. I would love to use my art to raise money for a charity that focusses on improving the living conditions of children in those parts of the world where basic necessities, that most of us take for granted, are a luxury.
I teach workshops and find imparting knowledge to others a rewarding experience. Though I paint portraits and florals once in a while, I find a lot of joy in painting landscapes. My attempt has always been to paint my interpretation of the myriad hues of mother nature and I don’t think I will ever grow tired of rendering her beauty with my brushes.
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!