Nothing is unachievable if one stays focused and committed to one’s passion. Twenty-nine-year old painter Sujata Behera from Dhenkanal is a self-taught artist who has carved a niche for herself as a painter. She shared her story with Orissa POST.
Sujata never received formal training in art, nor did she attend art school. However, her works in acrylic and watercolour speak volumes about her grasp over the medium. “I was attracted to painting even as a small child. I loved sketching. I would look at photographs and sketch them on paper. I would try hard to make my work resemble the original photograph,” she says.
Sujata participated in painting competitions in school and college and often won prizes. Although her parents never discouraged her, they wanted Sujata to focus more on academics, as they wanted her to pursue a career in banking.
“Studies were a priority, so I could not give much time to painting. When I was in Class VII, painting began to take a backseat because of increasing academic pressure. I thought I could resume painting after Class X but that too didn’t happen, as my parents wanted me to focus on my Plus II studies. But I somehow managed to find time to practice painting,” says the young artist.
Sujata says that painting gives her immense satisfaction and inner peace. “I just forget everything about the outside world and express my feelings and emotions on paper,” she says, adding that she loves working with bright colours in acrylic and softer shades in watercolour.
Interestingly, Sujata, who specialises in landscapes, never puts her works on sale as she does not want to turn her passion into a business venture. “If you are passionate about art, try to nurture it first by devoting more time to it. It’s not because I don’t understand the economics of art, but I have never really wanted to make money by selling my paintings. I have never made a painting thinking of selling it,” says the artist, who has more than 200 paintings all carefully preserved in her house.
Painting gives Sujata much creative satisfaction. She says, “I wanted to join an art college after Plus II. I expressed my desire to my father, but others told him that he should not let me enrol in an art college. I did not protest and decided to do what my father felt best for my future. I still think that joining an art college would have helped me a lot, but I don’t have any regrets and I am happy as an artist. I am also grateful to my husband, who has been a constant support.”
“If I have come to prominence today, it is only because of my husband. After he came to know about my interest in art, he encouraged me to take it seriously. He took the initiative to get my works displayed at exhibitions in Kolkata and Mumbai and in different places in Odisha. It was only because of him that I could have a solo exhibition of my works at Subhadra Art Gallery. That exhibition gave me a lot of prominence as an artist,” she adds.
Sujata, who also won an award at an online exhibition-cum-competition titled Artline, says, “My work titled Blossoms of Life which was showcased at the Literary Festival, 2018 was appreciated by many. It depicts how women lead a difficult life but still sport a smile. I was surprised when I was called to the stage to receive an award for my work. Also, my painting titled Wish won accolades at Thackeray Gallery in Mumbai. It shows a girl reluctantly selling fish, as she always wants to see herself as a fairy. She imagines herself wearing an angel’s outfit and selling fish,” says Sujata.
RASHMI REKHA DAS, OP