I recently wrote a small piece for the CMU Dietrich Diaries, sharing my thoughts about how painting elements from nature has helped me through the lockdown.
Two years ago, while writing my grad school applications, I realized how profoundly my passion for painting has shaped me as a person and informed my choices. After moving to the U.S. for a PhD, as I adapted to a new environment, painting took a backseat. During these times of uncertainty and confinement, I again found myself gravitating towards painting. In addition to documenting my surroundings, I have been reliving memories with my brush through the lockdown.
I grew up in a constantly evolving landscape and, in my mind, I have a thriving visual repository of dramatic skies, flowering meadows, glistening peaks and crashing waves. Moving to Pittsburgh added another chapter in this repository of memories. It was my first time witnessing fall and seeing trees blossom after a long winter. This spring, I paid particular attention to when different plants in my neighborhood bloomed. On my walks, I would observe the contours of magnolia petals and wonder what color flowers would the rhododendron bushes bear. During days spent in isolation, as the sun set and I could no longer look outside my window, I escaped the confines of my room through my brush.
Painting in watercolors has been a meditative pursuit for me. Building up paintings, stroke by stroke fills me with the memory of the subject and how it made me feel. I perceive paintings as having a will of their own, with my role being merely to guide them a little with my brush. The interplay of colors and water always finds a way to surprise me. During moments spent holding a brush, I feel engaged and calm, and grateful for this trusty companion, who is by my side through these unsettling times.