Day 3 of the Storyteller series brings to mind this quote by Picasso, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Read on for Bakula Nayak’s story and her take on the creative process and journey.
With an undergraduate degree in architecture and an M.S in Communications Design from Pratt Institute, Manhattan; I began my career at a fragrance house in New York. I followed that up with a long stint in retail package design with L’Oreal, Mikasa, and Ralph Lauren. After more than a decade in New York City, I moved back to Bangalore, India, and had my own design studio. I gave all that up 3 years ago to paint full time.
Collecting vintage paper is a passion I have had for several decades. I love to imagine their life stories and the people who owned them. I started illustrating on them 2 years ago to give them a life outside of the cupboards they were stored in. My illustrations are an attempt to give new life to these forgotten pieces of beauty. Aged gorgeously, they form the perfect canvas to interpret the reality of my world, an unfinished inventory of my day dreaming, my love for all things vintage, and reﬂect my insane desire for romance, aesthetics, poetics and seduction in everything.
What does creativity/ being creative mean to you?
I live in an alternate world. Or maybe THAT is my real world; I look at this world passing by – in montages, sometimes in fast-forward and sometimes in slow motion. Reality constricts me, and I am not in sync with it. Motherhood thrice over, has further complicated my crazy bonhomie life. It has led me to a whole new elevated level of vagueness, amnesia and franticness. The chaos within me is a danger to my beautifully ordinary life that mostly revolves around a great husband and 3 lovely kids. But one day they both collided in my illustrations and became beautifully extraordinary together. My work is inspired by the stories woven in the paper themselves, my own life, and peppered with liberal doses of my story telling abilities. My work is my escape from my reality, a chance to pause and enjoy the romance in the mundane.
I live in an alternate world. Or maybe THAT is my real world; I look at this world passing by – in montages, sometimes in fast-forward, and sometimes in slow motion. Reality constricts me, and I am not in sync with it.
Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, has your environment (childhood experiences, current situations, etc.) help shaped your creativity?
I think I am. All credit though goes to my mother. I liked to paint but was reluctant to make it a practice. She however ensured that I did, and nurtured my talent relentlessly. Also, as a young child she made me think beyond drawing mountains and trees. She encouraged me to come up wth concepts for my drawings – something that has gotten so ingrained in me that any project I do has a “thought” behind it.
As a young child of under 10, I had painted the Ethiopian famine, the famous treaty between America and Russia, the horrific practice of sati in India, etc. One day, I was cleaning my parents house (both have passed away now – my mother nearly 2 decades ago) and I found a file full of drawings from my childhood. Surprisingly, I seemed to have liked to draw the same things then – flowers and birds! I loved firangipanis even then… I didn’t know this.
I restarted my painting 3 years ago, and my biggest support is my husband. I sometimes lose sense of reality for days at a time painting, absorbed in the ancient literature or my current inspiration for paintings and he will take over the responsibilities of life seamlessly – kids (I have 3), homework, school, cooking etc. My children are my loudest critics and biggest fans. They are so involved with my work that we have frequent discussions on art, art movements, poetry and history – this encourages me to move because I want them to have an appreciation for these things in their younger days. That is my biggest motivation to continue.
What helped your creativity develop? What didn’t?
Constantly painting and putting my work out there in the world through art competitions, exhibits and exposing it to the world at large helps. When people love your work and show interest and tell you that your paintings made a difference in their life, however small… it helps. It encourages you to do more.
I don’t think there really has been anything that is a roadblock.
The most important thing for any creative to know or that you would tell your younger self?
To not be distracted and to have quit. When I turned 16 and started college – I was too absorbed with friends, college, boys and my studying that I totally gave it up. I wish I had recognised that I had a gift and that I needed to nurture it. I have now returned to it after nearly 25 years. I have been painting nearly everday for the last 2 years and I see the progress I make with time spent on painting. The 25 years lost is a tiny bit of regret I carry.
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