• Aishwarya Deopujari

Naked – my journey to self-discovery and healing a broken self by art

Before I start off with a brief introduction about who I am, you pretty much must’ve figured out that this blog is about art and my personal journey. I’m certainly not the first person to write about this and won’t be the last one.

This write up will be divided in three chapters, three quotes and three stories about me. I’ll introduce myself thrice, you’d know by the end which one to pick.

Chapter 1- The fearless child

Creativity takes courage”

Henri Matisse

My name is Aishwarya, born in a family of architects and art enthusiasts, the first thing that I ever got my hands on even before toys were crayons. The walls of my home in Dubai were my canvas. How courageous was I to fearlessly scribble on the wall trying to reach my hand on to the top point rotating it with a red crayon in circles and trying to create some crazy artwork.

This is not me, but this is what I exactly did. Scribble.

I made a painting every day for my mother and ran to show it to her the moment she used to be back from work. People have different first memories, mine has always been to draw.

At the age of 5, I was behind a friend on a bicycle and we met with an accident which left me with a fractured right arm. I never knew what I’d be experiencing post the accident won’t be less than a nightmare. During a surgery to fix my broken arm, the surgeon accidentally cut my Ulnar nerve, which left my right hand paralyzed.

A paralyzed right hand. Do you know what it means for a kid who loves to draw more than anything on this planet? Well, in words, it left me with the inability to feel external sensations or stimulus, most importantly, it gave me the disability to draw and write.

It took immense strength for my parents to consult to various doctors and for me to have faith in myself that one day it will heal and I will draw again.

Our prayers came true and after a successful surgery in India, my right arm was fixed. The challenge came after that, post-operative healing. Another four months for healing during which my mother put in a lot of efforts to make me regain the strength of my hand by various grip exercises and daily scribbling. I used to get angry, feel pain, but I knew, I will draw, nothing can stop me. Nothing did, I went on to love art and continue making paintings, to winning art competitions in school.

With courage, I drew again. Be a child. Be fearless. Believe. Have faith in yourself, beyond the limit of the skies.


Chapter 2 – The confused adolescent

“Art is a line around your thoughts.”

Gustav Klimt

Post completing my school I went on to pursue architecture and here come the years where you’re trying to establish a mark in the field that is going to be your defined career. It’s only defined if we force ourselves to keep it definitive.

As much as I love Architecture, it drifted me apart from art a bit. This is back in 2013, I remember staying up at night and drafting sheets for my building construction submission, where I was constantly asking myself, is it true that I have to give up on my passion due to my career choice? Do I have to stop focussing on art in order to perform better in architecture school?

Oh that impatience and itch, I started sketching on my drawing board, made this eye back then which nowhere looked like one. Why does this look terrible? Because I was out of practice.

The eye I drew 5 years back. Horrid, right?

The eye I drew a month ago. Practice, honey!

In order to improve, I decided to join a weekend art class so that I have a defined slot where my time is only devoted to art. I started with open ended sketching, sketched anything I saw. Sunil Sir has always been one of the most motivating teachers in my life, he pushed me to draw people and objects in less than a minute which helped me develop my sense of proportion and visualization. I improved.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai. In my sketchbook under 30 secs.

The thing is, you will stumble across people and places which will inspire you only if you find your inspiration there. On a trip to Barcelona, I saw people celebrating art on the street, in the form of painting, dance, music…etc. Now these people are doing their jobs, have families, yet they gather to do what they love to do! That gave me my answer, I don’t ever have to give up on art because of my career, I’ll be foolish if I do so I started carrying a diary where I did a lot of urban sketching, making people and buildings. It helped me a lot. By 2015 I was back on track, painting canvases.

Flamenco dancer in watercolor, Barcelona.

If you love something, you will take out time for it. We create our own barriers, by not managing time and not prioritizing different activities right! Take out time for yourself and devote time to art!


Chapter 3 – Finding Myself with the right ARTitude

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

The worst thing a person can ever carry is the three letter word which has a lot of weight, EGO. I too, had a lot of Ego that whatever I do is the best and there’s no one better than me.

A year ago, I got into the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad to start off my Masters in Furniture Design. It’s quite competitive to get in here, if my friends from NID must be reading this one I’m so sure they would be smirking at this. I completed my thesis in architecture, got into a new relationship and suddenly I get to know one day that I got selected into this prestigious institute. I had to pack everything up and start off with a new chapter here.

On starting off with post grad school, I realized how I am not the best and I’m surrounded by people who are the best from the best. It sounds fucked up. It is fucked up. It shattered my ego from inside and left me vulnerable. I stopped painting when I saw the works of my batch mates, trust me, here everyone is great at art and everyone could draw anything! I felt I stood nowhere amongst all of them. How will I keep up with the name and repute of this college?

It became a whirlwind spiral, I was having fights at home, my relationship was in ruins, I had confidence issues, didn’t know what to do. I became crazy. The worst I could think happened, communication with my parents was at bare minimum, I broke up and most importantly I stopped painting. Fuck my life! I was in depression and happiness was a far-fetched word.

One night, I reminded myself the story of my childhood self and decided to let go of the pain by reminding myself to be a part of the present day. To be fearless and to stop thinking of what people think of me. I made new friends here, few of the best people I’ve ever come across, their desire to learn new things, to selflessly reach out to me and to help me get out of it by making me laugh made me better.

I started painting again. My friends gave me art supplies and few mdf pieces to paint on (Vishu, Harshit and Gautam, hope you’re reading this!). I painted with happiness that art is here to heal me, I’m the child who scribbled on walls and I shall continue to do so. Posted my work online, received so much love and support from everyone. Since then, there has been no turning back.

'Done with you' - sketches on scrap MDF

Today, I devote time to art every day, I always carry a sketchbook in my bag with a watercolor palette or charcoal sticks. If someday I don’t carry either of the above, I’ll draw on a tissue paper or even a leaf, whatever comes to my sight, I am addicted to drawing.

The worst we do to ourselves is to seek validation from others and to constantly put the burden of destructive criticism which pulls us down. If you do this, stop right now. Take a deep breath and know that every artist was once an amateur. If you think of trying and only think, stop right now. Try and try and make it.
Love yourself the way you would love someone else. Love yourself more than that. Don’t compare your style of art with others; it’s like your thumbprint, unique to you.
Art and your life are a journey, it will keep evolving.
Mediums and seasons will change, from watercolor to charcoal from sadness to happiness. Embrace yourself and if you keep practicing, you’ll be a notch better than yesterday and little less than tomorrow.

Present Day charcoal sketches! Dedication and practice build talent.

I hope my story gives you strength and you immerse yourself in art. Reach out to me if you need to speak about anything related to it. Until next time folks!

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Phone number- +91 9899336050

E mail- Aishwarya.deopujari@gmail.com

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