Meet Sikh artist Chandni Sahni Mahendra. Chandni dabbles in all types of media and expresses herself through her bold and bright artwork. She sat down with Kaur Life and shared her artistic journey. We hope you are inspired to pick up a paint brush after reading her interview!
What materials did you use in your art?
I use and play around with lots of different mediums such as gouache, acrylics, watercolors, markers and colored pencils. I seem to be the happiest and most comfortable when I am using watercolors. I love the movement, how the colors dance around in their own spirit and the paint drying process is very quick! I feel like this medium fits my personality because I can be impatient at times and watercolor is a medium of immediacy and finality! As soon as I drop the paint, I have to trust in the process- Let Go and Let God! There is no right or wrong, no harsh mistakes, only “happy accidents” as they say!
I enjoy using small paint brushes, I feel more in control and one with the paintbrush. I know a lot of folks get caught up on materials but the best way to find what works is to try a lot of different materials, keep experimenting, and don’t always go for the most expensive item on the shelf. Lastly, always give every brush a second chance, just like people, they deserve it!
Recently, I have been incorporating digital techniques in my work, which I am still learning to use. I use the Ipad pro- Procreate App and my Adobe Photoshop application on my computer to incorporate some of the techniques you see. It has been a new challenge but that is what exploring art is all about, continuously pushing yourself to grow and learning something new about yourself and your craft, daily!
What do you hope your audience gets out of viewing this art?
I know for sure I won’t be on this Earth forever but my pieces will hang proudly for years to come! Through my work I hope my audience sees the love I have for our Gurus and the strength in their beautiful stories that must be passed on to the generations to come! I want my audience to know that there is no limit to the Divine, as for the Divine is “omnipresent, shapeless, timeless, and sightless”. I hope my viewers take away exactly what they need to, the moment they make connection to my work. To some that may be healing, to others it may be light, and to the rest it may just be colors that make things feel like they will be just alright!
Could you talk about the Sikh art pieces you have done?
The Sikh pieces that I have created are honestly my most favorite creations to date. I feel like through them I am not only able to share the stories of our Gurus but stories of my own life. They are my personal interpretations and I am very proud of them! Growing up in our house we had many different pictures of the Gurus, not only Sikh Gurus but other religions as well such as Hinduism and Islam. I use inspiration from those images and the stories my parents shared with us along with the teachings of our Sikh spiritual values and principles to create these pieces.
How and when did you get interested in art?
As far as I can remember, I’ve always had a love for art! I remember as a child, writing my name on my parents’ kitchen walls and then blaming it on my younger brother Mehul (who is also my forever inspiration!). Instead of watching television, you could find me scribbling away in a corner “making” things for my loved ones!
As I got older, my interest grew, I asked my parents to buy me more art supplies as birthday presents. They started to take note of my interest and began to encourage me to keep creating (for this- I am FOREVER grateful!). They also bought my brother and I our first computer when I was in middle school and from there I started to create fun doodles on Paint Shop and MS Word, the possibilities even at that time, seemed endless!
As an adult, my interest seems to grow stronger as each year of my life passes. I continue to experiment with new mediums, currently I am playing around with clay in my ceramics class and learning so much!
Why do you create art? What drives you?
The reasons why I create, is because it is the only way I can truly express myself. Art is for all the things I don’t have words for in my life. Some days, I use art as an escape from daily routine, overwhelming emotions and hardships. We all have our ups and downs but every time I have been lost in life, for whatever reason, I pick up my paintbrush and I find myself again! It’s magic!
Other days, I use art to meditate and connect with my dearest Guru in a place of no expectations and nothing but honest presence. I believe the Divine is the greatest of all artists, after all the Divine did create each and every single one of us!
Don’t forget, I am human so there are definately times when I doubt myself and my work. That is when I have to take time away from creating to recharge my internal batteries and reset my intensions. If too much time passes, my supportive husband (and best friend) Anoop will gently remind me pick up the paintbrush again, even on days when I don’t want to but know I should!
What lessons in Sikhi have you learned through art?
1) Believe in the power of Naam! Naam Japna will get you through all hardships in life and on the canvas! Any time I can’t figure out where to go with a piece, I just let Waheguru take the lead!
2) In a painting, the tiniest strokes make the BIGGEST difference! I have learned that the same is true when it comes to seva, it isn’t about how much money you can give, it is about the small acts of kindness without any expectation of reciprocation.
3) When it comes to art, every artist can learn something new, no matter how experienced they are! I learned that the same goes when it comes to educating ourselves about Sikhi and our Guru’s teachings. We must forever remain students, constantly learning from our Guru!
What Sikh values are embodied in your art?
My work highlights Sikh values of helping others (seva), showing compassion and love towards all humankind, and believing in the power of prayer!
What’s your advice for young Kaurs who wish to pursue art?
1) JUST START! Pick up that paintbrush, grab that clay, the broken pencil on your desk, whatever it is, just pick it up, and START!
2) Get involved in your local art scene- I go to local art festivals, connect with other artists, attend concerts, and visit local museums. You never know who you will meet or what will inspire your next piece!
3) Whatever you do, don’t give up!! Everyone makes things they don’t love. There are times I throw my work away because I can’t bare to see it! And that is OKAY! Don’t foget tommorow is a new day, get up and try again!
4) Make art, to make art, don’t do it for the gram! Do it for you!
5) You are never too old, too young, too blue, or too tall to make art! We are all born artist, don’t forget it!
Art you a full time artist? If not, what keeps you busy during the day?
When I am not creating art, I am a full-time M&A IT Consultant for a management consulting firm. If you want to learn more about my professional experience, lets connect on LinkedIn.
You can view more of Chandni’s art on her website: www.shesartsy.com