I come from Bagha Purana, a small village in Moga district of Punjab,India. As a
kid, I was fascinated by the Kulfiwala. Not just for the kulfis, but for a portrait
of Guru Nanakji on his cart. I was seven, when I enquired where he got it made
from. On getting the address from him, I went straight to the painter, his name
was Balbir, and asked him to teach me. This was my first sign of interest in Art.
No one in my village knew what Fine Art was, my parents were happy that
everyone from relatives to the teachers appreciated me. That was enough for
them. In my junior college; one of my teachers- Mr. Nihal Singhji had studied
from the Fine Arts College in Chandigarh. I was lucky enough to get his
guidance and had made up my mind to study at Chandigarh. It was a big thing
back then. My science teacher – Gurbeer Cheema Ma’am saw my potential in
art and funded my admission to the Chandigarh College of Fine Arts. I was
financially well then, so this is a God Sent gift for me.
I reached Chandigarh and started my college. I used to come and sit by the lake
after college and practice drawing portraits. I would charge INR 50/- for a
portrait and that would be my pocket money. In a day I would make 7-8
portraits in about 5-6 hours. This was in 1998, and making INR 500/- a day
would be enough to live a good life. In fact, I was making more than most
people around me. This seemed interesting to me. The only challenge was to
sit in the hot sun and put in your best everyday. Before all this happened, there
was a time when I had to go without food for almost 20 days, but I believe all
this is a part and parcel of life.
During my days at Art College, I did not just learn Art but important life skills as
well – mainly communication and confidence. I realized my language was not
Hindi, Punjabi nor English but Art. Initially, I would shiver to go up on the stage
even to collect my awards, but slowly I developed and gained confidence.
A lot of people say – Art is a struggle. I say – Art is a struggle that you will
enjoy. And don’t think it as a struggle, but as an opportunity. Art has the
potential to change your life for the better. It all depends on how you take it.
Don’t get trapped in the money-making mindset, but focus on giving your best
and do it everyday. I have more than 15000+ sketches and artworks today. I still
practice and sketch minimum 4-5 watercolor works daily. Currently, I’m also
compiling a book of my sketches.
In 2008, I started my YouTube Channel. My skills were very basic that time. I
had only one intention – those who did not know even a bit about art, could
learn from my basic knowledge. Whatever you do, do it with good intention
and good results will follow.
Being an artist you are not dependent on anyone. You just need an art kit to
get started. And now that we have an easy access to social media, it has
become easier to promote oneself as an artist. I believe Art has never changed
– it is only people’s perspective that keeps changing. To live a good life – make
sure you know the trends in the world but follow your own rules.
Till 2009, I did a lot of oil paintings. Back then, people knew me as an artist
who worked in oil medium. I had a student who came all the way from New
Zealand to learn from me in Chandigarh. After that, he invited me for an
exhibition in New Zealand. I went there for 3 months and realized people like
my watercolor more, even though I had done a very few water color
paintings. After completing the workshop and exhibition, I recognized that
even though I have potential in watercolor, I had never put enough effort to
practice the medium. So, to polish myself, I started practising more of
Balbir painter, the one who drew Nanakji on the Kulficart taught me how to
hold the brush, Master Nihal Singhji showed me the potential of the brush,
Cheema Ma’am made sure I had a brush, my mentor Ustad Sardar Satnaamji
introduced me to the world of oil painting, Milind Mulick Sir’s books
opened the world of watercolors to me and Bijay Biswal Sir pushed me to be
better at it. Throughout my journey, my parents and now my wife and son
have been my backbone and strength and made me the person who I am