Wednesday, December 8, 2010

q & a with Kavita Arvind

Little brown girls with big bright eyes and pigtails, goggle-eyed plump birds, blue skies, candyfloss trees and verdant green fields…Kavita Arvind’s paintings are refreshingly cute and Indian. Take one look at the vibrant pictures and her Chidiya Udd website, and you’ll want to know the stories behind the art. 

q. Please tell us about yourself – where your live, your family, and professional and art background.

a. I now live in Helsinki with my 1.5 year old daughter and my husband. Home awaits us in Bangalore and hopefully we will be back by March next year after braving our very first freezing Nordic winter here!

I graduated from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad with Film and Video Communication as my specialisation. Most of my work in film centred around documentaries with women as the main focal element.

And then I went on to work with Television doing graphics and promos, got tired of all the glycerine and soapsuds and quit to go back to my alma mater, this time to teach design. After 4 years in the classroom, I felt I needed to get back to the industry and see if I had gotten rusty. I worked as a senior graphic designer for an E-Learning company. Did the whole mad hours and squinted at the computer screen for long hours.

We moved to Bangalore and a friend looked at my sketch books and asked me to paint something for him. That’s how Chidiya Udd came about.

I have been painting and drawing ever since I can remember. And the five years at NID helped me get a better grip on the pencil! At NID we start our drawing course by learning how to sharpen a pencil with a cutter blade and spent weeks just drawing lines and circles before we get anywhere close to a human figure!

I have gotten back to my paints and brushes after a rather long detour... but everyday that I paint my soul feels a little bit warmer...

q. We love your wonderful and quirky art. Would you like to tell us about your inspiration and the stories behind the cute characters in your paintings?

a. There are so many colours and smells and textures and stories running in my head! I like to paint stories from old, musty memories, from nature, I am crazy about trees and leaves. I also like to paint little things that I see everyday... two little girls holding hands and walking down a shiny street, a sulking schoolboy I spied around the corner. And stuff from dreams, from places that may not exist but where you’d rather be... lots of blue skies and miles of green.

The girl child has been something that I hold very dear in my heart, and nothing makes me madder than crimes against women and children. Meera is a little girl I would love to envelop in a big hug and nurture with all my heart. She is much more than a 6 year old with 2 pigtails and earnest eyes... she is every little girl I see who is trying to find her footing in a world that is chaotic, challenging and exhilarating!

q. Have you always enjoyed creating art? What kind of things do you remember drawing as a child?

a. I remember an old balding teacher who drew a picture and then made us copy it several times exactly the way he drew it!! Almost killed the joy of creating there!
But I survived the ‘teaching’ and I think I drew everything!

q. Before you started Chidiya Udd and took up painting fulltime, what was life as a 9 to 9 design professional? And, what do you enjoy about working for yourself?

a. Working for myself has been tougher in some ways. One needs to be so much more disciplined, all the more so when work is from a comfy studio at home and the couch beckons seductively!

The biggest kick is I can paint what I love with no one looking over my shoulder and saying I should do something different... and to find that my art does evoke a response and people even love it!!

q. What are your weekdays and weekends are like?

a. I have a 1.5 year old baby girl who is frisky and will not sit in one place for more than 5 minutes. I am a slave... sigh.

q. What do you enjoy most as a creative person?

a. To be able to share what I think and feel with daubs of paint with so many people who stop to look and listen.

q. What do you like doing apart from drawing and painting?

a. I love cooking and baking. I also read extensively, watch every film I possibly can. I am a cleanliness freak and spend some agonising minutes every hour setting everything at right angles (all this is made rather futile with the toddler tyrant). I also like watching people and can sit still for several hours doing just that!

Images: Kavita Arvind

Elephant Eulogies

Elephant dung…

What would you do with a glob of this? Wrinkle up your nose and run the other way for sure.

But Mahima of Haathi Chaap won’t. She’ll collect these from the elephant stables at Jaipur and process the poo and then turn the fibre-rich globs into thick paper. Clean, non-stinky and absolutely hygienic, and of course eco-friendly, the paper is then used to create an amazing array of products. From clocks to coasters, notebooks to knick-knacks, Haathi Chaap has a quagmire of products for quirky customers. Check these out.

Bag it!

Roller coaster

Journal journeys

Images: Haathi Chaap