Smita Sonthalia lives in London and has been practicing art for 18 years.
Born in India, and growing up in ancient and vibrant culture, she pursued her Masters in Fine Arts. She is a contemporary artist, primarily working from her studio in North London. She draws inspiration from nature, spiritualism, and women.
Most of her paintings are mixed media and acrylic on canvas though she has done several oil-on-canvas as well as creating a variety of paintings – figurative, floral, folk, and (semi)abstract. She experiments with textures, layers, inks, lines, patterns in her works to create something different. Her paintings have been exhibited at many solo/group exhibitions and art fairs in Singapore, India & UK. Painting is love, work, play, meditation, and prayer for Smita.
When did you begin painting and how did you get started? What did you want to become when you were a child?
Smita: I had an interest in art right from childhood. My mother says that I used to get inspired by drawings of older kids and was always ready to draw and color my own. Later at the age of 9, I started learning the art from an art teacher in the neighborhood. I also loved dancing, so I wanted to become a painter and a dancer!
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Smita: I am a contemporary artist and mostly do mixed media. I also believe that creativity doesn’t have a formula so I like to explore and experiment with different art techniques and materials, to create something unique in each of my paintings. My subjects are mainly inspired by women, nature, and spirituality.
What is the most challenging part of being a mixed media artist?
Smita: All media forms have their uniqueness. While mixed media gives a lot of versatility to the artist, the challenge is that the outcome may not exactly be what you had envisioned. So you need to keep improvising.
Your inspiration comes from nature, spiritualism, and women. Is there a message you are trying to give with your art?
Smita: I feel women, nature, and spiritualism define existence, beauty, and peace. As a woman with two daughters, I feel strongly about womanhood. And I want people to experience beauty and peace through the depiction of nature and spirituality in my canvases.
Do you ever experience creative blocks? And if yes, how do you overcome it?
Smita: I am sure every artist experiences creative blocks. And I feel it’s a very important part of an artist’s creative journey. Often my mind wouldn’t work and I will be a bit lost particularly when I am trying to start something new.
What works for me at that time is to let those moments pass and not try too hard. You cannot do art by force. I often close my eyes, listen to some soulful music and pick the brushes again when I am not thinking of the ‘block’.
Another simple thing that helps me is my sketchbook. This is my companion where I collect my ideas. I frequently refer to it and something usually comes out of it!
What is your most recent piece of art that you have enjoyed working on the most?
Smita: My recent series, “Life of a Woman” is close to my heart. The 5 paintings in the series depict the various phases, both physical and emotional, of a woman’s life journey. Apart from the subject, what I also loved is the unique effect I was able to create by innovating on media. Its a fusion of pouring technique on Indian folk style.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork? If yes, what was it?
Smita: Yes, “Life of a Woman” that I just mentioned was inspired by my own evolution (and every other woman’s) from a bubbly teenager, to a wife, to a mother of 2 daughters and onwards.
You say you were born and raised in India. How much is your art influenced by your birthplace? And how has your art evolved over the years?
Smita: India has a very rich and diverse history and culture. And art is intertwined in the culture there. Whether it is festivities or food, it’s all very colorful! That has certainly had an influence on me. Furthermore, India is vast and different regions have their own unique art forms. I was fortunate to travel extensively within India for several years and took inspiration from the various art forms like folk, traditional, and contemporary.
I then studied art by pursuing my Masters in Fine Arts and got exposed to broader aspects. I tried different techniques and media and learned along the way. Finally, my global travel has also had a huge influence. I have traveled to more than 25 countries and always enjoy immersing myself in the art of the land.
What artists influenced you the most and why?
Smita: My favorite artists are Van Gogh, Dora Maar & Picasso. It’s not just their art and paintings that inspire me, but also their journey and evolution as artists that I find very captivating. I am particularly fond of Dora Maar, as she continuously experimented and explored many art forms, styles, and techniques and grew as an artist all her life. Along with photography, her artworks are amazing.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Smita: Digital Media is a great medium.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Smita: Parallax Art Fair, Kensington , July 2020
Harrow Open Studio, 2020
Pinner Sketch Club, 2020
What’s next for you?
Smita: Continue the creative journey of ‘Explore, Experiment, Experience’. I am creating new paintings and looking forward to 2021 with exhibitions, art fairs and gallery representations.
To find out more about Smita and her work please check: