Ishika Guha approaches a blank canvas by following the impulses of energy that flow within her. She works freely; expressing raw emotion as vibrant poetry. For Ishika, art and creativity complete her. Her vibrant colours become her voice when nothing else works, they are her tool for communication and deep healing. She shares how her growing Instagram community empowers and inspires her; how she pushes past feelings of self-doubt; and how she embraces her night-owl solitude for true dream-time.
My creativity gives me wings and unlocks all those aspects of my personality that otherwise would lie dormant inside me – silent and nebulous
Talk to us about your vibrant paintings, where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration from everywhere, or sometimes while staring at a blank canvas – it comes from nowhere! Some days it can be something stuck inside me from real-life experiences; something jumping out from all those big and small visual salads that our day to day life makes for us and other days it is just my feelings, struggles, hopes – anything that gives me the boost to paint my socks off! Nature-trails and summer-hikes also peek their way into my work and inspire me to paint something that doesn’t exist anywhere else, something absolutely new and wild – or beautifully crazy (at least to me).
Moreover, I have to give credit to my social media accounts as well. I am on Instagram and Twitter. Having these art accounts helps me get inspired by looking at other artists’ works; their colours, brush-strokes or movements – they do fascinate me! I believe that for staying motivated and inspired, you have to associate yourself with like-minded people who can stimulate you immensely. I get so full of ideas at the end of the day that I feel the urge to squeeze some out through my own paintings!
I like how you create poems with your art – tell us about the influence of poetry in your art, who are some of your favourite poets?
I love poetry, yes! It is like another language that helps me to communicate or speak out when nothing else works. I write poems myself and it comes directly from my soul, just as my art does. So no wonder why many of my artworks are heavily inspired by Charles Bukowski, Ogden Nash, Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling, Jibanananda Das or Sylvia Plath. The emotions and the messages in their powerful poems spark those butterfly feelings for me that inspire me to translate them into my own forms of poetries – my artworks.
As I paint mainly for myself and it is mainly about those impulses of energy that come from within, sometimes it is like writing a poem; using my own colours, it is like dreaming within my dreams!
Walk us through your creative process … what are the different stages of your work? From initial concept to the execution of your idea.
I am a self-taught artist, I work spontaneously and mainly for myself. It is a joyful ride for me that not only enlightens me but also can be deeply moving at times. It is something that heals me, gives me hope and makes me feel free.
I am a night-owl, I don’t function that well in the mornings! So, after a busy day being a mum and then other life stuff, I go back to my happy space at night where I paint my heart out while my daughter is fast asleep. I can skip a few hours sleep happily just to finish off my paintings! That is the space where I dream more – who needs sleep!
I write poems myself and it comes directly from my soul, just as my art does
My creative process is very free-flowing. I sit with all my colours, keep looking at them until one or two calls out for me, and then I start splashing them around. I like to work like a free bird, without rules or plans or any notebooks. It is just my raw emotions oozing out and I let them flow! Sometimes they go super quick – in just one sitting – but other times it can take days! If I am struggling with a particular piece, I don’t fight with it, as it can make it really uncomfortable for both of us! I just leave it aside, maybe after a day, or a week, or even a month, I can finally go back to it. Few times they work, few times they don’t, that’s ok for me. I let them be themselves !
And I love to work in silence, when it’s dead-quiet! It helps me to connect to my emotions and respond only to what feels right in that very moment. I personally like plenty of down time and I do take time for solitude, which ultimately helps me to do what I do best: toying my colours around! So, from my initial urge to the execution of an idea, it can go super wild, super fast or dead-slow. But however it goes, it always brings out the best in me.
What does a typical art day look like for you? Do you have any art rituals?
I do not have any specific art rituals as such. I am an explorer, always looking for something new that can excite me. I am not scared to take outrageous risks when it comes to my painting; it is like an adventure where I can just play around with my acrylics, oils and watercolours to make my own unconscious conscious, which makes me feel more whole at the end of each process. It is a journey to find my own self, to dig out whatever inner wisdom is there – if any!
So, a typical art day includes my daily routines as a mum, and then finding my own inspirations from anywhere and everywhere! And then going back to my art-space where I can finally play! Sometimes my works look like child’s play, some other times they can surprise me with their fancy sophisticated vibes. Messy or pretty, they are all my babies. They are my psychological self-exploration that loves to stay out of any practical analysis or meaning-making!
I like to work like a free bird, without rules or plans or any notebooks. It is just my raw emotions oozing out and I let them flow!
Social media is a great way for artists to promote their work, however it can be overwhelming to navigate. Do you have any tips for artists looking to grow their audience? Which platforms work best for you?
Social media is a fantastic way to promote art these days. I started uploading my works on Instagram when I was getting super bored by all these lockdowns happening in London (in 2020). And it worked wonders for me! All the support I get through my Instagram page, all the love and encouragement – it is mind-blowing. I feel extremely humbled and super grateful. I know if you are new on Instagram or Twitter it can be overwhelming at first. But, if you know what you are doing, it can be really fun to share, to inspire and to get inspired yourself!
I am not an expert, but I try to enjoy the journey! It is always the journey for me that matters most rather than the destinations ! When you are enjoying yourself, sharing what you painted last night or showing how you painted that special artwork, your audience will sense the joy, too! And they will definitely want to follow your art journey. I do, always. I get inspired every time I see my super talented artist friends making something extraordinary that gives me the boost to try something new for myself. So, both my Instagram and Twitter work brilliantly for me and I can’t really thank them enough!
What are some of the challenges you typically face in your practice and how do you overcome these?
Oh wow, another brilliant question Harriet! Talking about challenges, sometimes, it is me, myself – my biggest challenge ever. There are days I judge everything I do, I doubt every single process, I question all those rough patches, those messes or mucks, and I start over-criticising myself. It can frustrate the hell out of me, but I don’t stop. I keep painting; I keep unlearning those “facts” that make me think ‘I am not good enough’, those harsh remarks, comments or smirks. I just paint, I forgive those that I haven’t before, thank those that I have already; I keep splashing my colours until those strange feelings leave me alone, and eventually they do!
Another challenge I face is to draw that thin line in my life – prioritising stuff. To not let life get in my creative way can be really tough at times! I have a busy life and then my art , and then there are those occasional melodramas that the universe throws at us. I try to power my way through those crises by not overthinking too much and always keeping my art with me. There are days when I also need to feel when not to paint, when not to push. I try to listen to those calls as well.
I keep splashing my colours until those strange feelings leave me alone, and eventually they do
How does art and creativity affect your overall well-being? And how do you feel when you create?
My art and creativity makes me complete. I am not myself without them. So, my overall well-being is very much dependent on the creative side of me; the best of me, the happiest of me is when I am painting and expressing all those strong emotions trapped inside me. Sometimes I paint only for the very reason people want to talk – to communicate! My vibrant colours become my voice when nothing else works.
My creativity gives me wings and unlocks all those aspects of my personality that otherwise would lie dormant inside me – silent and nebulous. It provides the much needed catharsis that makes the reality bearable to me at times. It is that switch-off, that escape, those deep-breath moments. And sometimes it is that postman who delivers all those long-lost happy memories stuck inside my brain, helping me to appreciate the beauties of life. It is absolutely incredible when it happens, makes me smile a mile-wide!
What are your hopes and dreams as an artist?
That is such a special question- hopes and dreams- my two favourite words!
I dream to make art every day, every single day of my life. Whether they make sense or not, whether they are pretty or not, I just want to keep on painting. That is the ultimate dream, of course.
Anything coming up that we can look out for?
Hopefully I will be taking part in a group exhibition in Italy later this year, I’m still sorting out the processes. Although this pandemic has given me so much time to paint, for exhibitions, it has been quite a tricky situation. Hopefully things will get better for all of us!
And lastly, what does art mean for you?
Art means happy, art means free!
Everyday is a new day for me when I am painting – it gives me new challenges and makes everything fun. All those happy accidents while painting, those delightful messes while splashing my colours out, that is art for me – a blissful mess!
To view more of Ishika’s work: