Varshita Ravindranathan can't remember a time when she wasn't drawing or painting. Today, at 17, she has a couple of awards, group art shows and a solo show to her credit. But she's pretty clear art isn't something she sees as a profession or something to profit by.

“When I had my solo show in December, a lot of people wanted to buy my paintings,” says the first-year medical student from SRM. “But somehow I just didn't want to sell any of them.”

Art, she says, is something she does whenever she feels like it, when something reaches out and speaks to her. It might be the strength and power of horses (she's into horse-riding in a big way), or the beauty of the architecture in Paris or Prague.

“When we were travelling in Europe last year, I started sketching buildings or sculptures on tissue paper while on the tour bus or waiting at restaurants,” she recalls.

A mostly self-taught artist, Varshita has been the recipient of The Hindu Young World Painting Competition award three years running, and exhibited her work in group shows at Lalit Kala Akademi when she was just 13. She dabbles in a variety of media, including charcoal, pen and ink, and watercolours, though pencil and dry pastels are her favourite.

But when it came to choosing her vocation, she knew it had to be medicine. “I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was in Class IV,” she says. “But I hope to do some short-term art courses in Paris when I can take a break from college.”

Medical school makes a lot of demands on her time, but she still manages to fit art in, even if it means just sketching the different bones and muscles of the body. “I love anatomy, but it's hard to sit and mug, so I draw and study sometimes!” she says. “But if I'm doing a big piece, I like to work on it in the night, when it's quiet and peaceful.”

That's not all she finds time for; she's doing her seventh grade examination in piano this year and is taking lessons at the KM Music Conservatory. For this young artist and student, it's all in a day's work.