“Art is like a guardian angel to me. I don’t know if it makes sense, but that’s how I feel. I’ve never been proud of the way I am but it was art that gave me the freedom to feel and the confidence to be proud of it. I’ve never felt more loved.”
Name: Pragya Vashishtha
Art materials: Acrylic paints, graphite pencils, and paper.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a 21-year-old girl from India who has been drawing ever since I can remember. A Computer Science engineer by the day and a self-proclaimed artist by the night. I like to call myself an empath because no other thing seems to justify my emotional state of mind, honestly. Since my art is inspired by my personal life, I never really liked showing it to anyone (which is dark and very emotionally charged). So, I’ve always come across as the ‘clown of the class’ and the fun-loving girl, which I am and like to be known as. But these days, I’m making more art and showing it publically on Instagram and it definitely keeps me happy and motivated.
Can you elaborate a little on what it feels like to be an empath? And how does that kind of mindset play into what you create?
I can’t really say whether I am ‘really an empath’ or not because I don’t know how you do or do not know these things. But I get moved by things easily. I hear people say that you rarely ever cry ‘happy tears’. I cry them once or twice a week. It could be the smile on my mom’s face or the passion in my brother’s eyes whenever he plays the piano. A little change in the tone, seeing anyone getting belittled or anyone having a bad day makes me way sadder than it should. But I think it’s great because it aids me in helping or understanding people more clearly. When my friend got heartbroken, I couldn’t sleep some nights. I would cry and write poetry and make artworks about it. So, this is how it probably helps me create things. Art is all about emotion, the more deeply I feel or connect to something, the better I can portray it. (Still working on it, though. I find painting very difficult.)
Where does your inspiration come from?
Apparently, I am very sensitive, which sounds rather amusing to me because until a few years ago I thought that’s how everyone else was. I’m easily moved by things, words; both good and bad. I suffered from Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety in the past and honestly, that has shaped a lot of my art. Luckily I am now ”well” but I don’t think it ever really goes away. I drew crying self-portraits before and even after the treatment. Now, it just gives me a validation, mental health awareness.
Has the subject matter of your art changed since your health has improved?
I don’t think the subject matter changed, but it definitely got more organized and well thought out. When I wasn’t well, I sincerely lacked technique and patience. I was always in a hurry to get ‘it’ out of me, while now I can think the idea through and give time to each painting.
How would you describe how it feels to create your artwork?
I’m always terrified of ruining the piece but in spite the fear and nervousness, making art is a stress buster, a very calming, exciting and happy process. When I am painting, it is the only thing I’m thinking about and that, in my opinion, is a gem.
Tell us about your creative process.
I don’t think I have a creative process. I just paint the things that are in my mind all the time. I am only communicating.
What is the story behind your artwork, if any?
There are many stories depicted in different pieces. But more than stories, I generally try to capture a particular moment of the story. Like, about the night I was having an anxiety attack and I was crying and hitting myself in the washroom, I tried to paint ‘that particular moment’ I knew I was ‘losing it’. That is usually my attempt.
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