“Painting is an integral part of my life. It is an expression of my joy in everything I see” – Neela Pushparaj
WAS THERE A PIVOTAL MOMENT WHEN YOU DECIDED TO FOLLOW YOUR PATH AS AN ARTIST?
There certainly was! A chance meeting with a palm reader in the east village resulted in his amazed instantaneous statement that I had a tremendous aesthetic ability that I had never explored. When my husband heard the story, he did not immediately have any comments. But on my next birthday, some six months later, there was a gift certificate for watercolor lessons at the local adult education program from him.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK FOR US?
I am a watercolor artist known mostly for my semi-abstract floral paintings.
WHAT DOES YOUR WORK AIM TO SAY?
My work aims to be pleasing to the eye and uplifting to the spirit. I have had my work in hospitals and many galleries, and what impresses me is the look of happiness and joy on the faces of the viewers.
I recently had a show with peace as the theme, and I felt that I was able to convey that message very effectively.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK FITS WITHIN SOCIETY IN OUR PRESENT TIME?
My work has a timeless quality to it. People who have purchased my work at Rotary and hospital fundraisers meet me ten years later, tell me they still enjoy looking at them and encourage me to continue painting.
My Peace show was very timely, and my current exhibition, “My Cup Runneth Over,” is about gratitude and joy. (my solo shows and spotlight shows can be accessed from the website of Montserrat Contemporary Art Gallery)
WHEN LOOKING BACK, WHAT ARTWORKS COME TO MIND THAT MOST RELATE TO YOUR LIFE STORY?
“Opus 84” is a homage to my husband, who had transitioned. The peace-themed work is close to my heart, as is my current show’s theme.
WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES?
I am a self-taught artist who learned my skill from three important teachers whose workshops and classes I was privileged to attend.
My first teacher was Sarita Anne Cook, who saw something in my work and encouraged me to continue. Next, the Napa Valley artist Barbara Neches taught me all my technical skills. Finally, my art teacher at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Nancy Korde, taught me how to paint landscapes.
My favorites among well-known artists include Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Klimt, and many Renaissance artists. Also Monet, Matisse and Van Gogh.
“Floral Quilt” Watercolor On 140 lbs Arches Paper.15x22in by Neela Pushparaj.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
I usually paint without any reference or sketching. The images and composition evolve on the surface as I create my art. I tend to wet the surface unevenly, drop my chosen colors randomly, and allow them to mix on the surface.
As it dries, I visualize shapes that I enhance or mute with fairly intense but varied darks which delineate the floral theme. I also fill my surface with small intricate structures to form a background.
I also paint some abstracts and landscapes. All my work is on paper or canvas, or aqua board.
WHAT VISUAL REFERENCES DO YOU DRAW UPON IN YOUR WORK?
I occasionally use photos, and often I “borrow” a tiny structure for an illustration or calendar picture.
ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS?
My next solo show will be at the Overlook Medical Center in Summit, New Jersey, from May 1st to July 31st. The current show at Montserrat will be over by April 29th.
I have some requests to participate in European shows, including Paris, Zurich, Barcelona, and Vienna.