a q&a and a dog pet ‘pawtrait’

Hi everyone! Here’s my first studio vlog! I thought you might like to see what I get up to behind the scenes in my sHi everyone! This is my first Q&A along with a pet pawtrait (love that pun on portrait!)… if you have any more questions, please ask in the comments and I will definitely answer.

You can also watch on and subscribe to my YouTube channel. There are subtitles available, and the transcript is below if you need to read as well as watch. I’d love to hear what you think, so leave a comment here or on youtube, or email me. Sign up to my email list as well for more at www.aratidevasher.com

0:00 Introduction
00:37 What inspires you?
02:00 How long have you been doing art?
02:44 Do you see the finished piece in your mind’s eye or does it evolve as you’re creating it?
03:37 Do you have any hobbies?
04:32 How do you pronounce your name? I’m always afraid I’ll get it wrong.
05:27 What do you use as reference? I am learning to draw and want to find some good pics.
06:20 What is your favourite paper to use?
06:53 Who is your favourite artist and why do they inspire you?
08:57 Maybe this is a personal question you might not want to answer but what is your health problem? I am just curious because you said you were shielding.
10:18 Do you have Patreon?
10:43 Will you do more studio vlogs?
11:09 I hate my work right now. How do you make such nice pieces all the time?
15:39 End comments + Framed Pawtrait

I am not sponsored by any brands and nothing has been gifted either; just ask any questions you might have in the comments! I’ll do my best to help you out. Here are the materials I used:
– Fabriano Accademia watercolour paper (purchased)
– Winsor and Newton Designer Gouache paints in a stay wet palette with a rag (purchased)
– Assorted brushes from Daler Rowney, Cass Art, Pro Arte and other brands (purchased)
– Faber Castell Polychromos pencils (purchased)
– Laurentien colour pencils (gift from family)
– Uni Posca pens (purchased)
– Sakura Gelly Roll pen (won in competition)
– EFCO gold leaf & glue (purchased)

Transcript:

Hi everyone, I’m Arati Devasher. Welcome to my studio. If you watched my last video, you would have seen me making this layout for a pet portrait. Now, that pet portrait has since gone to its owner. It has been framed and sent off, but I did video the whole process for you, and while I show you the – obviously, speeded up – video, because this did not take me 15 minutes to make, it took many, many hours… I am going to answer a few questions that I got both here and on instagram, and do it as a voice over over the time lapse. So without further ado, let’s get started.

The first question is…

Q: What inspires you?

A: I’m starting off with a hard one. The truth is that everything inspires me. I observe and record all that I see in some pigeon hole in my brain and somehow it all comes together when I’m drawing and painting. For example, today I was out delivering my products to Oxford Street for the Crafty Fox pop-up shop next week, and as I walked back to the Tube I kind of caught sight of a lady in stripes with a green bag. That combination and her style has kind of stuck in my mind and will probably be used in one of my pieces soon. If I were to specify things that inspire me, it would be primarily nature and food. Recently it’s also been our lovely dog, a labradoodle. You would have seen him featured in some of my cards and my Instagram stories, and the vlog. And my garden is a huge inspiration for color and shapes, reinforced by my indian heritage where colours and patterns are ingrained in my psyche. All this and my emotions and my feelings and my mental state all contribute to what I paint. My obsession with food is also a legacy of my indian-ness, I think. I got… um… a few food restrictions, lately, so I make my cravings kind of go away by painting them out. It’s very cathartic. I did something similar in my early 20s when I was unhappy. Maybe I’ll show you that work someday.

Several people asked…

Q: How long have you been doing art?

A: Simple answer: all my life. I was told at a young age that art was my only talent, and so the focus was always on that. I didn’t have art classes formally in school, but I did a Bachelor’s Degree at the College of Art in New Delhi, India. And then after that I worked in advertising in New Delhi, hated it, moved to publishing and book design, which I still do freelance. All the while I drew and painted, had some exhibitions, illustrated a few books in recent years as well. I don’t draw every day because, well, admin, but it’s an integral part of my life and even when I didn’t run a business selling my prints I still drew and painted just for the love of it and I always will.

Q: Do you see the finished piece in your mind’s eye or does it evolve as you’re creating it?

A: I would say much of the time I spend so long thinking about what I’m going to paint that when it comes to sitting down and actually painting it, it’s all there in my head already. Sometimes it works out on paper and sometimes it doesn’t and I have to start again, but often, especially for commissions or illustrated work I need to work out the rough layout and experiment in my sketchbook before painting the final piece. Usually because I need client approval of a rough before I can actually finish it. If you’re interested in my process, watch my Concept to Painting video where I walk you through my ideation and painting in real time, which I’ll link for you. I could continue talking about this for ages and ages… I’m getting so many new video ideas with… from this… from this Q&A!

Q: Do you have any hobbies?

A: I would say that art is my hobby, that I’m lucky enough to do as a job. But in the time that I’m not painting, I like to crochet blankets and one day would like to learn to make a jumper. I also like to potter about in the garden and my beds are filled with attractive weeds as well as “proper plants” at least those the dog hasn’t destroyed. And my favorite pastime, though, is reading. I’m a massive, massive bookworm and I read every single day, often finishing a book every day or two. I have a wide range of interests as well but I haven’t felt like reading anything serious this past year. Usually I would read everything from science fiction and fantasy to biographies to art books to self-help to regency romance, chicklit and young-adult fiction.

Q: How do you pronounce your name? I’m always afraid I’ll get it wrong.

A: This is a question that comes up a lot. My name is pronounced by keeping the second A silent so it’s not Ar-aa-ti, it’s Arti. Think of it this way – Arti is ‘arty’. I’ve been thinking about changing the spelling of my name a lot lately because, despite it being a popular Indian name – there were always multiple Artis in my class, all with different spellings, my parents just chose a different one – and not even every indian pronounces it correctly. Moreover, if I say my name to someone they pronounce it correctly, but if they then see it written down they seem to lose their marbles and go back to mispronouncing it. This happens so often it’s started to get annoying, can you tell it’s a sore point?! Anyway, moving on… my name is pronounced Arti like A-R-T-Y – Arty!

Q: What do you use as reference? I’m learning to draw and I want to find some good pics.

A: The truth is, I’m not very good at drawing from references or from life. When I want to draw something I use my imagination, usually. If it’s something that I’ve not drawn before or haven’t seen, then I Google it. I look at multiple photographs from different angles and then my brain sort of makes up its own image from everything I’ve seen and digested as it were and then I start to draw from my imagination, because I now know what that thing looks like. I would recommend using Google images or Pinterest if you like but do refrain from a direct copy of any image. Keep in mind that some person took that photograph and it’s copyrighted to them, just like art is copyrighted to artists. This is especially true for Pinterest where the original source is not often linked or cited.

Q: What is your favorite paper to use?

A: I love plain cartridge paper… a heavyweight cartridge paper. It’s a lovely surface with just enough tooth in it and my sketchbooks all have this paper. I use mostly Seawhite of Brighton sketchbooks. Occasionally I’ll use Moleskine, but those are not cartridge paper. For commissions I generally use heavyweight watercolor paper like I’m doing in this video… it’s Fabriano Accademia paper that I’m using here and I’ll list the details in the description box below for you.

Q: Who is your favorite artist and why do they inspire you?

A: Oh dear this will be a little controversial, I think, I have several artists whose work I like and admire, but – and this is a big BUT – I do not admire all of their work, so I can’t point to one artist and say “oh there’s the artist whose work I absolutely love and adore and they inspire me”. I’m inspired by the meaning behind their work or one particular piece, when I couldn’t care less about the rest of their work. Or even their philosophy and work ethic inspires me where I may not even like their actual work. Case in point a modern artist and illustrator, Lisa Congdon. I like a few of her pieces but what inspires me more is her approach to art and how she started and how she continues. Similarly for Myriam Tillson or Ohn Mar Win.

Going back in time a little more, Georgia O’Keefe’s landscapes – not her popular floral erotic paintings – are something I love. The muted colors and fluid shapes are glorious. Or Hieronymus Bosch – some, not all of his work. Albrecht Dürer – if you see my pen and ink work from my 20s you’ll see a lot of his influence. William Blake’s Ancient of Days – a print hangs in my studio. Jamini Roy, an Indian folk artist. The art of Raja Ravi Varma – his mythological portraiture. The art of Rajasthani miniature painting is a huge influence, indirectly. A Ramachandran. Anjali Ela Menon’s early works, not the more recent ones. Or someone like Poh Ling Yelow, whom I discovered through Masterchef Australia.

More traditional works… Michelangelo’s Pieta, da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, Brancusi’s Bird in Flight, JW Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema… so many that I can’t even think about right now, and like I said… I don’t admire all their work, just specific pieces.

Q: Maybe this is a personal question you might not want to answer but what is your health problem? I am just curious because you said you were shielding.

A: I guess I a lot of people have heard me mention my health issues because it’s such a central part of my everyday life. Personal questions are always a bit iffy to answer, but this is more in the interests of a public service announcement too. Get an annual blood test, people, young or old, otherwise you’ll end up like me being told out of the blue one day about nine years ago that your kidneys have failed without you even noticing, and you could die any day. Yes, I have chronic kidney disease, cause unknown, which is currently being treated by a renal kidney transplant, which is why I had to shield last year and I’m still being careful about where I go and whom I meet. Because my immune system is compromised. Alongside that some of the things that have cropped up as a result of my main issue like a tremor in my right hand and chronic gout which affects my mobility happen on and off, but I’m trying to get the latter particularly under control. A few years ago I spoke about the whole experience to a sound artist working with the Royal Free Hospital, and maybe I’ll do a video on art and health one day and how it affected my own work. Let me know if you’d like that.

Q: Do you have Patreon?

A: No. No, I do not. I don’t think I have the time to commit to Patreon and my fear is that everything else I do will then take a back seat to running that, because I do have a life other than work, and I want to keep it that way. That’s not to say I’ll never do it… just not in the foreseeable future. I would, however, love to support other people on Patreon though, and it’s my aim to do that next year.

Q: Will you do more studio vlogs?

A: Yes! A big resounding YES. My first one was so fun and showing you my everyday life was… is definitely something I’ll continue to do. The video after this one in fact will be the June studio vlog. After that I may do one every two weeks instead of monthly because those do become quite lengthy.

Q: I hate my work right now. How do you make such nice pieces all the time?

A: This question was asked on Instagram and you have to remember that what you see on there is the best of the best of the best of my work. I don’t put up failures or things that went wrong on social media, but having read this question, perhaps I should, just so you can see that no one is perfect and no one makes beautiful work all the time. I’m just showing you the work that worked out. I am not showing you the work that went wrong and down the drain or in the bin. I make things I dislike all the time and the famous works of art that you see are probably the result of hours and hours of failure. I mean, in the words of a famous artist, I think it was Lisa Congdon who made that chart where the arc goes up and up and up to “oh this looks good” and then down again to “oh no this is such rubbish, I’m a terrible artist” and then the arc goes right back up to “oh this is good” again. It’s a cycle. Everybody has good work and bad work.

You know, it’s… it’s… a post I saw today actually reminded me that perfection is and I quote “a modern western construct” and I agree. It’s often the journey that counts more than the finished piece and everyone sees their work with a far more critical eye than anyone else. I mean, I’m constantly poking holes in my work that nobody can ever see. If I show my husband a piece and I say “oh look there’s this mistake here” and he looks at it and he thinks… and he says to me… “if you hadn’t pointed out what was wrong with it, I wouldn’t have seen it”. And that is very, very true.

Just remember also that the perfect instagram posts are not the whole picture. You know, they are just… they are just a little snippet of that person’s life that they chose to share with you. They didn’t share any of the tears or the joys or the sorrows that went behind that work, they’re just showing you that end piece.

Do not feel that way about your work because even if it sucks right now it will get better. Just keep at it. You know, one day you look at it and think…. or maybe years later you look at the work that you think sucks right now and you’ll think “oh my goodness, what was I talking about? It was great!” Just keep at it… that’s my…. that is my answer to you. Do not judge other people’s work by what they show you on social media. Social media is not real, it is just a tiny, tiny little piece of the whole.

Just focus on your own work, keep working. Keep working, working, working. That’s what I do I didn’t get to where I am today by comparing myself to other people. I mean, I did compare myself to other people but I didn’t try and let it get me down. Everybody has their strengths and their weaknesses and you can only do what you can do. But please, please, please, don’t judge your work by what you see other people showing you on social media, whether it’s here on YouTube or on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or whatever you use.

Your work is unique. Your work is you. Nobody else can do the work that you make. I think that’s essential to remember. Think about yourself, who you are as a person, and keep doing that. Just think about your core, your message, your inspiration and do that. Take inspiration from other people but don’t make that your be all and end all of life. Other people are not responsible for you and your happiness and the quality of your work, that’s just you.

I definitely feel like social media is to blame for artists having to make work look beautiful and to make work so often that they need to post all the time, and I think Ohn Mar Win and Holly Exley have both spoken about this in detail, and you should definitely go and watch their videos, and then go and do your own work and get off social media. Use it as inspiration, but do not get bogged down by other people’s beautiful feeds.

I think that’s all the questions that I have time to answer in this video. If you have any more questions, please put them down in the comments, and I will do my absolute level best to answer every single one of them!


Hi again, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the voiceover Q&A and the video as well. I was very lucky that my framer is local and I asked her if I could see the piece before it went off to my client and I was able to. She’s framed it so beautifully and the client has chosen such a lovely frame and mat… I think it really sets off the piece and she did choose art glass so there’s no reflection, either. It’s very rare that I get to see a piece that’s framed because often I just send it off to my client and I never ever see it again which is why I scan it, I take photographs, and I document the process… so I don’t really want to forget it because it is a very enjoyable experience to make such a pet portrait or indeed any commissioned piece

My next video will again be a studio vlog for June this time and keep an eye open because quite a lot happened this month.

I will see you in my next video, thank you for watching! Bye!

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