From drawing in his friends’ record books to exhibiting his works in galleries across India, Santhanakrishnan has come a long way.
Life has come full circle for artist Santhanakrishnan. From having his drawing published in the Kaleidoscope page of the Young World as a child to now being featured in it, his life’s journey has been the way he always wanted it to be. Interested in drawing and painting from childhood and never discouraged by his parents, Chennai-based Santhanakrishnan decided to take up art full-time. Even in school he would draw portraits of his teachers and make money from doing his friends’ record books.
Santhanakrishnan did his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from the Bharathidasan University, Government College of Arts & Crafts in Kumbakonam and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Madras University, Government College of Arts & Crafts in Chennai. “To become a drawing master, why do you have to study for seven years?” was a reaction he got, but that never deterred him. He attributed it to their lack of awareness.
Doorway to art
Inspired by the doors of houses at his maternal grandparents’ city of Kumbakonam, Santhanakrishnan set out to create paintings themed around doors. Sixteen years later, this is what he does and he has made a mark in the art field.
“The art scene today is not what it was 30 years ago. Now there is a good market, with many investing in art. Even abroad, there is a lot of respect for Indian artists,” says Santhanakrishnan. The stereotyped image of an unshaven, khadi kurta wearing and a jolna bag carrying artist is passé. Santhanakrishnan wears colourful clothes and always stays positive because he believes his personality is reflected in his work.
As for his typical day, Santhanakrishnan says that he paints in his studio while listening to music and prefers working early in the morning as he feels more relaxed. “I need to travel a lot, especially before a show. There is so much to see in India – the culture and colours – and be inspired. Whenever I see colours, I become happy.”
Besides, there’s also his Facebook page and website that needs to be updated regularly and mails to be replied to. Santhanakrishnan has tie-ups with galleries across India where his works are put up.
“As an artist, one also needs to learn to promote and market one’s work as initially it requires a lot of hard work to gain a foothold in the field,” he advises. The best thing about being an artist is being one’s own boss and seeing people connect with your work emotionally.
Santhanakrishnan’s tips for aspiring artists: “Keep drawing! Scribble a lot and don’t think of the rights and wrongs of it. It’s the foundation for all your future works.” Observation and appreciation of the things around us is a must for artists. “Paints come later, but we learn about colours from the things we see around us.”
As for parents, never discourage children from drawing. “What I am today is because of the encouragement my parents have given me,” says this award-winning artist.