Kanchan Rathna,Visual Artist

"we'll have to start from the beginning" said Anna Korobitsina when I approached her for some interactive art sessions in Russia in 2011!This wasn't going down too well with me because I thought that as a Commercial Artist & several projects under my belt as an illustrator with 'The Week' & other design-based projects with Hotels & resorts, I certainly wasn't a 'novice' & I didn't think I had the patience to start from the basics!

What followed was about to change my outlook, approach & my art practice forever!

As a little girl, growing up in a small town, Bhilai, my favorite activity was doodling. The last pages of each of my school notebooks was filled with doodles & sketches of faces, flowers & such. My biology projects & school magazine illustrations would be a huge hit in the school. My parents encouraged me & I would use every occasion to showcase my talent by making greeting cards. But to take up art as a profession was a thought that never occurred to me until I applied to Nirmala Niketan College, Mumbai for a Commercial Art course.

I followed it up with a year of training & work at a premier 2D cel animation studio, Ram Mohan Biographics. Mr Ram Mohan, the ‘father of Indian animation’ is a close relative & has been a huge influence on my decision to take up art professionally. I would keep watching in awe as he would sit & draw life into his characters!

The years that followed were a mix of struggle & gratification. My exhaustive 2D work, which involved hand drawing each frame & each character of a film at Ram Mohan Biographics held me in good stead as far as illustrating was concerned. Being married into the Indian Navy meant frequent transfers & freelance illustration projects were my best bet & kept my creative fires burning. It also gave me an opportunity to meet with my Guru & mentor, Shri T Kaladharan while in Cochin. He encouraged me to paint for my own creative satisfaction & under his guidance & tutelage, I participated in my first ever group exhibition, which was followed by many group & solo exhibitions.

I cannot thank the Indian Navy enough for bringing us to a remote town called Severodvinsk in Russia, where my Ruski Guru- Indo Shishya relationship with Anna Korobitsina began & the two years that I spent  with her gave me immense learning, direction & confidence to develop a style of my own.

A career in Art is an extremely fulfilling one, yet it is full of challenges. The biggest is to be able to carve out an identity & space for oneself. Like my guru Kaladharan sir would say "your art is no good if it doesn’t tell a story to the world".

An artist is a visual communicator, who needs to be heard, to be seen!   

The journey is long ,full of learning & myriad experiences & I have miles to go before I sleep!

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