Painting and pencil shading has been a part of me right from childhood though pencil shading is what started it all...the 1st spark of talent was discovered in me when I was 8 years old and I drew a portrait of the then ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan. Though it wasn’t very perfect, I did manage to make it look human & somewhat like him too :P ..."Hey u drew this???Not bad huh!!" was the reaction I got from my parents, sister and everyone else. The acknowledgement inspired me and I drew more and more portraits, landscapes, rough sketches...newspapers, magazines, photographs on supplements were my main sources of subjects to draw...some looked weird, some came out pretty good...it'd always been a 50-50 way.
My school[in Abu Dhabi] didn’t encourage art much...though we all did have an art period, they restricted our creativity and wanted all of us to draw whatever was drawn on the board >_< [and guess what was our teacher’s ever favourite subject to draw? A house with a tree! All the time! Nonsense!]. So basically there was literally no support or encouragement from school...it was my family that stood with me [esp. my Ma], encouraged me to draw more, draw better :) And I am ever thankful to them for all that they've done!! :')
My very 1st prize was for a colouring contest held by Quality Walls Ice cream, they gave the colouring sheet and I came out 2nd in the entire primary school [competition was among all students of kg1 through grade 6]...I was in 2nd grade and I was awarded a trophy and a certificate of appreciation...I was literally on cloud 9 that day ;) Lols :D
Things got a bit more serious when I joined Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Ernakulam in my 6th grade...the 2nd stage in my art life. There, the scenario was totally different[compared to Abu Dhabi, that is]. We had an extracurricular period once a week and what we wanted to do in that class was completely our choice...options included Music [singing], Musical instruments [tabla, veena, mridnagam], Drawing 'n' Painting, Art 'n' Craft, Classical dance, Sports [Basketball, Hockey]...I was totally clueless what to join because I wanted to be in all of them :D ...After a lot of thought and confusion, I decided on drawing and painting. Our Sir, Mr. Rajan was a very talented person and he was the 1st person [other than my family] who told me "You've got a lot of talent hidden in you, just fine-tune it and you'll reach great heights!"...His words have been a real inspiration for me, and I just can’t forget the way he totally changed my style of drawing. He’s the person who taught me to look deeper into the drawing, to broaden my imagination, to look beyond what we actually see, the different ways of blending colours and a totally new way to look at things when we draw them. While studying there, my sir used to enter my name in all sorts of painting /drawing competitions, sometimes even without asking me :)...I did win in some of them. To mention a few-2 of them at District level and couple of them at school level.
I left CVV, Ekm after Grade 6 and went back to my old school in Abu Dhabi & its 'nonsensical art class' yet again. Students actually used the period to either gossip[the jobless non-studious lot] or to finish off pending assignments/home work [the brainy studious lot]...neither group was interested in drawing and it was just me who wished to draw something new every time[yeah my classmates did feel I was out of my mind :D ]
Thank heavens I shifted to Qatar in high school [Grade 8]. Stage 3 began in Doha. Being a bit more mature, I now knew what each competition expected from its contestants. Throughout 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades, I participated in almost every art competition held within the country. By the end of Grade 8, my school had acknowledged and accepted me for my talent :) ,my classmates 'n' friends suggested ideas, informed me about new contests, and were there for me most of the time[thanks to y'all!]. My art teachers, esp. Mr. Pramod Sir, guided and encouraged me in those days. I’ve represented my school in the senior level for all inter-school competitions and am indeed proud of myself for being able to contribute a little something for my school.
There's one more person who's played a very important role...our neighbour in India, Sasi sir. During our 2 month stay in India before shifting to Doha, Sasi sir who'd been a professional artist taught me in detail about pencil shading and about several new techniques of painting that I was not aware of. He started off with free hand drawing, then subject drawing, a bit of practice on how to draw human features, different ways of pencil shading, portraits, watercolour and finally painting with poster paints. He is a genius! Amazing imagination and almost 99% perfection!! :)
After school, it was goodbye to competitions and I concentrated more on the 'perfection' bit... I’m still doing it. Apart from my mother, Rajan sir, Sasi sir & Pramod sir, I have had no other professional learning background in drawing & painting and whatever I’ve created and is continuing to do is solely because of my practice and passion for the art.
As the famous saying goes "When You Want Something with All Your Heart, The Entire Universe Conspires in Helping You Achieve It!" ;)