Nina Chauhan talks Art, Creativity & Keeping Positive

Passionate artist, Nina Chauhan, talks exclusively to DESIblitz about the importance of art, staying motivated and keeping positive.

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"We just need to love what we do and express it from the heart."

As a keen self-taught artist, Nina Chauhan is on a mission to spread positivity and joy through art, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hailing from Birmingham, England, Nina Chauhan has embraced her artistic passion from the age of 8. She has been dedicated to the craft ever since.

Her appreciation for nature, family and friends resonates through her intimate drawings . With her art world, Nina tries to capture the soul of the object she is sketching.

With low spirits ever-present during the pandemic, Nina Chauhan has been trying to motivate people to get more creative. This is so their mind is free from the stresses of Covid-19.

She believes that showcasing her fantastic artwork will inspire others to pick up a pencil and start creating as well.

As well as motivating others, Nina has also been producing personal and loving pieces for those who have lost loved ones This is not only due to the pandemic but as a result of other causes as well.

This shows that the artwork of Nina Chauhan is built on the foundation of providing a person with a special moment captured in time.

Nina Chauhan hopes that her masterpieces are able to be a tool of support and joy for those that need it during a very unprecedented period.

In an exclusive interview with DESIblitz, Nina Chauhan talks of her artistic inspiration, creative processes and passion for positivity.

When did you first develop a love for art?

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I recall always being attracted to colours, patterns, textures, sounds and detail in everything.

I probably get it from my beloved late mum. She was so creative and used to make homemade handbags and clothing.

When decorating the house, she would paint the ceiling using household objects, which created some hip and trend patterns.

From 8-years-old, I would enter TV art competitions and won a runner up prize for the British Butterfly Mural Competition on Blue Peter, earning a famous Blue Peter Badge.

Often, relatives would compliment my work but then make remarks like “art is just a hobby, what is it you are actually studying or want to do?”

My parents would joke off their ignorance, telling me to just enjoy what I was doing.

How has your passion for art developed?

After university, I took on whatever work I could, ending up in admin-based jobs. This distanced me from my creative work.

I would take on the odd commission for wedding invitation designs, birthday and greeting cards.

I also managed to join committees, assisting in event work for local community projects and events.

That gave me a chance to get creative with designing displays, backboards, table decorations and wedding stationery.

A few years ago, I set up a local Gujarati School.  I took on the role of assisting the pre-school children, teaching them so much through creative means.

The children were a little young to read and write. So weekly projects were set up where we would draw things, discuss colours and play games by speaking and singing in Gujarati.

The children absolutely loved this and were able to learn so many words, phrases, colours and numbers.

Up until recently, I’ve been designing and selling inspirational greeting cards and yoga clothing with my designs on them.

This was more of a doodle art style of work, with creative patterns and shades.

I also make Rakhi’s and bracelets. The proceeds from this along with my other design projects go to Acorns Children Hospice in memory of my dad.

In March 2020, when we went into lockdown, it was a very challenging time for me. Most of my colleagues were furloughed and I kept on working full time throughout the summer.

Mentally, it was a huge challenge for myself and my family. My priority at home was to ensure my son and husband were okay.

Something hit me during the first lockdown. I had decided to grab a pencil and see how my old skills faired by drawing a pic of my son, then nephew and then my late father.

“I posted the drawings on social media and the response was phenomenal.”

But as work was so intense, I did not think much more about it until the third lockdown. I got a message from one of my aunt’s who is also very creative and an amazing photographer.

She suggested I should really try and take my drawings further and to get myself out there.

I posted a few more drawings of relatives and friends. I then got interests from people making requests for portraits of their loved ones.

The families I have drawn for have been quite touched by the work and also very emotional at times too.

It made me feel proud that I was able to offer some form of comfort to others in capturing memories and moments.

I was absolutely loving the process of making these pieces and getting back into what I have always loved.

I felt better about what was going on around us all. It seemed to give me more focus and made me feel really positive and confident again.

What kind of drawing do you like most?

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My degree is in illustration design. So, I have worked on book illustrations, greeting cards and I have loved life drawing.

Still life drawing was one of my favourites as landscape work, but getting into portraiture has been phenomenal.

I love drawing animals and pets too. I believe this is because life has taught me so much about people and personalities and how natures differ, that the technical skill of drawing can bring this to life.

Also, I have actually loved working with colour pastels too. This is something I will practice again when I make time to.

In 2021, my pencil drawings seem to be of keen interest, as well as my scribble artwork and finely detailed illustrative strokes in my portraits.

I have used watercolours previously and oils, but it is not something I have been so confident with in comparison to the above.

Oil pastels are another favourite. My drawings can be quite impressionistic, a little like the style of Edgar Degas, Peter Paul Ruben and Auguste Rodin.

I’m quite open to different styles of work but these have been my favourite artists who have influenced me.

How would you describe your art?

My work style can be quite impressionistic or illustrative. I like to be expressive and to try and bring out the personality or trends of the people I draw.

When I get a request to draw somebody, if I do not know them then I may ask for extra pictures to get a feel of the person and try and bring that to life.

“I’m fascinated and drawn to focus on the eyes more.”

I believe the eyes can tell so much about a person. I recall this from one of the first pieces I drew of my beloved dad.

There have been uncles and aunties I have sketched. I can just sense the personality in the type of person they are/were. This was expressed in a few comments I received when publishing them on social media.

I try and keep my work humble, nobody is a perfectionist.

The support I have had has had an immense influence on how I am developing my work and styles.

How has drawing helped you during the pandemic?

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During the pandemic, drawing has helped me immensely. We all know our mental health and stability can be affected by change and strict restrictions.

My family and I have tried to make the best of it as we can.

For me, my drawing is a sense of release and escape from the enormity of madness that has been going.

So many people have judged others when they didn’t need to. Many have lost connections with loved ones and actually lost people too.

So many have been restricted in their ways of living by the rules set.

For me, I could not lock myself away. I  continued to go on my daily walks for fresh air, vitamin D and some sanity, whilst taking pics of the beautiful nature around me.

I took a break from other roles and responsibilities. This was to release and refresh myself so I’m ready to face whatever is coming next.

“Drawing just allowed me to get excited with the work I was able to create.”

I was getting adrenaline rushes from the interest of my work, but also developed a sense of peace and calm through drawing.

Removing fear and just accepting to be happy in the present moment by getting rid of negative influences made me feel recharged and positive.

I felt a sense of achievement in finally doing something that my parents always supported me in.

As long as we are happy in the present moment and are doing good for ourselves and others, nothing else matters I believe.

What kind of therapy does it offer?

Drawing is so therapeutic; it gives you time to relax and enjoy the experience of what you create. It is an escape from the negatives you may not want to get involved in.

Also, it is also the reality of capturing what good you see out there and documenting this in your style and method.

It is fun, as you can often meet amazing people to work with and also discover techniques, ideas and styles to work on that you may not have tried before.

Trial and error teach you so much too, giving you patience and understanding.

I think it allows you to express what you want to in your own way. It is your personal journey and story and so it needs to be enjoyed in the best way.

I feel very blessed to have realised and made the time and decision to return to drawing and getting creative.

How do you start a piece and how long can it take?

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I work on grid-style drawing.

This is where you create a grid on paper to match the image you are replicating. This helps to ensure that you get the features, spaces etc in the right places.

I start on the facial features, particularly the eyes. This is the focal point of most of my portraits. I find the eyes so intriguing and mystical and often enhance them on the drawings.

From the face, I will move onto the hair/head and then then the rest.

I use different grades of pencils to mark off the light and build shades in the drawings to create depth and add value.

Sometimes I vary my pencil marks and strokes for this too. I can take anything from 5-6 hours to 2-3 days on an A4 portrait drawing of 1 or 2 members.

Larger pieces and more members can take about 5 days.

This is carried out around my day job and family responsibilities. On the weekends, I specifically set time said for this passion.

Which artists do you admire and why?

I am quite open to appreciating many artists and their styles of work. This includes Edgar Degas, Peter Paul Ruben and Auguste Rodin.

There was a sculptor called Alberto Giacometti, a weird sculptor some may say as his work was quite rough including his scribble art drawings.

I saw some of his masterpieces in France and fell in love with them. I’m quite open to styles of work but these have been my favourite artists and influences, I think.

“I love works by the impressionist artists like Monet, Manet, Degas and have visited France about 9 times.”

Italy, Amsterdam and other countries I have loved visiting because the museums have some amazing masterpieces. I went to see the Van Gogh Live show at the Hippodrome.

I was blown away by how well they exhibited his amazing work and it was quite an emotional experience going through how they told his story.

How have people reacted to your art?

I am so blessed and hand on heart, I have to say, I have had so much positive feedback on my work.

Many are very kind, suggesting I am a professional artist, but I believe we all are.

“We just need to love what we do and express it from the heart.”

The volume of interests I have had for portrait creations since I started has been phenomenal. The interests on social media have really grown so quickly too.

I cannot thank everyone enough for being so kind to me and expressing their enjoyment in my work.

What is your most favourite piece of yours?

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I would have to say that my favourite piece is the portrait of my dad.

It was one of the very first pieces I created. This is when I started drawing again and the response on this, when published, was amazing.

For me, on a personal level, I know I had captured my beautiful dad and his amazing soul in his eyes and smile.

“He had a gentle demeanour and a kind nature. I tried to express this in his smile and cheeks and his natural pose.”

This is the piece on my cover pages on social media. It is a piece that really brings me confidence, love, focus and positive vibes in anything I do.

I am sure he is looking down at me smiling at my vibes of enjoyment as I draw.

What are your ambitions with your art?

I was only coming back to drawing to escape the madness of the pandemic and the media noise going on.

But since I have had so much interest, and I absolutely love it and it has served its purpose for what I was doing, I will continue on.

I will bring in other materials and mediums eventually and when I retire one day, I will most definitely pursue this further.

I would like to offer back something to the community like art workshops and classes to enjoy too.

One thing I would like to share is that never think you are not creative, talented or skilled in anything.

Practice, enjoy and make yourself and others grow.

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As rules and restrictions still keep most of the public restricted, Nina Chauhan is hopeful that art will make people feel limitless.

Her passion for creating is clear to see and her embrace of different styles and techniques prove how committed Nina is to her craft.

The way she embraces artistic culture is evident as she wants her pieces to be of meaning and significance and hopes that level of passion transcends to others.

Nina Chauhan wants art to be the mutual mechanism for people to remain strong, calm and most importantly, positive.

You can see more of the beautiful artwork by Nina Chauhan here.

Balraj is a spirited Creative Writing MA graduate. He loves open discussions and his passions are fitness, music, fashion, and poetry. One of his favourite quotes is “One day or day one. You decide.”

Images courtesy of Nina Chauhan.