I am an artist, illustrator, art instructor, and A Theater artist.
I was born and raised in Gwalior, India. After my schooling, I decided to move to another field. At the age of 17, I went to a fine art college and obtained a BFA and MFA degree (2002-2008).
By the age of 18, I became an art instructor.
I have featured my paintings in several groups and solo exhibitions. Some of my paintings are in Government and private collections in the USA and India.
I believe in experimentation and innovation. My paintings express movement and a step towards a balance of life, the power of feeling & expressing through rhythm.
I use expressive lines, form, patterns, and vibrant colors. Expressive lines are often rounded and follow unbound paths.
I enjoy work with my 5-year-old girl. She loves painting.
I moved to Chicago from India in 2016. In 2017 My painting “Positive mind” was selected for 6th Annual Exhibition Creek art gallery, Chicago, IL
I was honored with IDW 2019(International Women’s Day) Award, by Mandi Theatre Chicago.
My work Selected and displayed in the Art Competition, Organized by General of India Chicago Consulate, in 2019.
■ Participated in 3rd IndianFestival2019 by Mandi Theatre Group Chicago, and Performed in Street Play Machine.
■ Honored with IDW2019(International Women’s Day) Award, by Mandi Theatre Chicago.
■ Artwork Selected and displayed in Art Competition, Organized by General of India Chicago Consulate, in 2019.
■ Selected as featured artist for a Solo Art Exhibition on IWD 2019 and IWD2020 by Mandi Theatre Chicago Group.
■ Participated in the Wheaton Festival Of Cultures Art exhibition and performed “Street Play, Machine in 2019.
■ Participated in the Bow Wow Dog Art Exhibition, event in 2019 Buffalo Grove, IL
■ Group show at Lagunitas Brewery’s art gallery, 2018, St West Chicago, IL
■ Selected in Creek Gallery, 6th Annual exhibition, 2017, Chicago, IL
■ Exhibited my work Jaipur Art Summit, Jawahar kala Kendra, Jaipur, India 2015.
■ The lexicon art group show at Shipra mall, Ghaziabad 2013.
■ “ARAMBH” group show at Lalit kala academy “Ravindra bhavan” New Delhi, 2012.
■ The lexicon art group show at Ambience mall Gurgaon, 2012.
■ Art of Imagination solo show at Tansen Kalavithika 2010.
■ Selected in Mp State Kala Pradarshini 2007,2009.
■ Selected in Raza Puraskar or Pradarshini 2007,09.
■ Participated in Sahitya Academy Madhya Pradesh. Sanskriti Parishad Bhopal painting Exhibition (Based on Padmakar Poetry) 2005.
■ Selected in M.P. State Competition, Madhya Pradesh Kala Pradarshini devlalikar kala vithika, Indore 2005.
■ First Award in Veerangana Laxmi bai Painting Competition, Gwalior 2003.
■ First Award for painting competition by Youth Hostel Association of India, Gwalior 2004.
■ First Award for painting competition by Inner Wheel Club of Mahanagar, Gwalior 2003.
■ Second Award for painting competition by Youth Hostel Association of India Gwalior 2005.
■ Third Award for painting competition in 2004, Consolation Award in 2002,2003 and Exhibited in 2002,2003,2004,2006 organized by M.S. Bhand landscape painting competition.
■”Sangam ” the Group show at Tansen kalavitihika Gwalior 2006.
And many more Exhibitions in India.
Hi, Reena! Tell us a few words about yourself. What does a typical day look like? Do you just do art, or is art just part of the picture?
Reena: I am a wife and a mother of a beautiful daughter. I have recently shifted from India to Chicago. I feel art everywhere, as far as I can see. My room is full of my art. I see my art decorated all over the wall every morning I wake up. It is the first thing I do as a ritual. My art portrays the emotions and connections to the world around me. It gives me immense pleasure and it is my constant effort to bring something new on the canvas. Most of the day is spent looking after my daughter and house. The rest of it is dedicated to my artwork. It is the way I vent out my emotions and display my thoughts. Also, I have this deep desire to impart my art to the next generation which has made me an art teacher. Even during this pandemic, I have continued through virtual classes. I am enthralled to see creativity in these kids and teenagers. When I chose art as a career, I got deeply connected with art day by day. If I don’t paint or draw someday, I feel restless or irritated. With every piece of my art, I find the inner peace and state of Nirvana. It’s just not a part of my life, I would say art is my soul.
Apart from this, as a hobby, I joined theater recently and participated in a play.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Reena: I paint the emotions, hope, peace, stability, beauty, and calmness. The subjects in my painting are the ones who can aptly depict these feelings through them. A few of the subjects I have used in my paintings are women, landscapes, Buddha, or some special objects.
In my early days, I mostly used a black ink pen. Later I also added acrylic with ink and my art evolved. I love to explore new things, new techniques, and new ways. My style is a mix of contemporary, impressionism, fantasy, illustration.
So far, the different themes I have worked on are – The Buddha, Freedom of expressions, Hope, Behind the mask, Moon lover, Landscapes, Trees. I love to use primary colors as they represent brightness and cheerfulness. I get these ideas from my daily life as I listen to my friends, family, and myself, which makes me realize that everyone is dealing with hard times, negativity, and many other things that are beyond my imagination.
What motivates you as an artist? Is it curiosity, the search for beauty or meaning? And is there a message you are trying to give with your art?
Reena: As an artist, I draw various types of paintings. Some of them are just to capture the beauty of nature and surroundings while some of them I paint to express myself. I am a very emotional and empathic person especially when it comes to women. Being a woman, I can relate with the women’s journey, the different roles they play and expectations from the society. I believe that women find their way to balance in any circumstances. This is something I like to represent in my art. A strong and confident woman. I show the internal strength of the women. Using different shades I represent how a woman balances the negative and positive energies and carves their path to success. Through my piece of art, I want to spread the message that one should not lose hope and keep going, no matter what the situation is.
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
Reena: I am impressed by one of the Indian famous artists Jamini Roy, his bold brushstrokes, beautiful wide eyes of Indian women, especially Lord Krishna, Ganesh, Durga Kalighat style are outstanding. In the future I would like to do a Kalighat series. Generally, I think I am not inspired by any particular artist although I definitely admire the artwork they do. Every artist has its own style and way to portray their art.
My mentor, artist Vinod Prajapati, had been a guiding light for me. His lessons about technique and style have really helped me to enhance my art form.
I have learned life lessons from my family which is very valuable and an integral part of me. They helped me to be a person who am I today. Also, my daughter is a born artist, the creativity and innocence her paintings show at this tender age are very inspiring to me.
Your art is very unique. What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Reena: I think converting your thoughts into a tangible art is really important as well as challenging. To me, if there is even slightest variation in my thoughts and the art, I recreate it till I am satisfied.
Also, considering the ‘ink pen work ‘technique I use in my art is very challenging. I use this technique extensively and I feel most of my art is incomplete without using it. It is a very intensive technique and requires a lot of effort and patience. Sometimes even small pieces finish in a month or two. One wrong pen line or shading can unbalance my work and on top of that, any mistake in it is not fixable. So it is very important to have a fresh and relaxing state of mind.
I usually grab a cup of coffee or tea, listen to old Hindi songs or sometimes just spend some time with my daughter, play and dance with her, click selfies and sometimes go for a small walk then restart my work with a fresh mood. It helps me.
You grew up in India and moved to Chicago recently. How much is your art influenced by your background, and has moving to Chicago opened up some new perspectives?
Reena: Well I think, my background has definitely influenced my work and my every art is the reflection of my background. In India, we worship different goddesses and each goddess depicts different energy and power. We have many folktales where women are the lead character and how in their story, they show their perseverance, sacrifices, stability, willfulness. Through my art, I want to portray these qualities in a woman. I’m working on a series called The Divine Woman. It has been influenced by Goddess Durga, a symbol of strength.
Chicago has definitely opened up new perspectives for me especially in terms of nature. Chicago is a beautiful city and it looks more beautiful in night. I painted one painting based on this and gave the title “City Lights”.
I have never felt nature like this before, a big open sky with different colorful shades, lakes, greenery, color-changing seasons, and beautiful trees. This has inspired me to try my hands on few landscape nature paintings as well. After moving Chicago, I have also experimented with my style.
I have been attending the Mardigrass festival in Chicago for the last 4 years, where people wear beautiful Venetian masks. Inspired by that I have started a series on Venetian masks with faces, which I titled “Hidden feelings behind the mask”.
You say your paintings express movement and a step towards a balance of life, the power of feeling & expressing through rhythm. Tell us a bit more about that. And how important is music to you in that sense?
Reena: When we think in terms of music, rhythm is the particular pattern of movement or sound. I believe life is music and every individual has its own rhythm. In a single life, an individual has different phases and experiences, ups and downs, sorrow and happiness, Rise and fall just like a rhythm. Similarly, I try to capture these different expressions/ rhythms in my art, how one balances or deal with two opposite elements.
To me, music is also a form of art. Any form of art is a way to express oneself without talking.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Reena: My close friends and my daughter always give feedback about every art I make and what they actually infer from my art. Finding them synchronized with what I want to depict is the biggest compliment I take.
Also, there have been instances where people have complimented me and that really motivates me.
I want to share one of my experiences when I appeared for my master’s final exam. We had a visiting faculty on our campus. He saw my artwork. He was so amazed by my black and white pen work, he told me that he has never seen this fineness of art in any master student so far. He advised that I should never stop working (painting/ drawing) no matter what future plans I have after my masters which I have continued, n these words were remarkable and motivational for me.
Another one I remember is during my exhibition at Delhi, Lalitkala academy in 2012. One of the local artists came to me and compared my artwork with a great Indian famous artist. I was really honored by his gesture.
A buyer who has seen my work on a social platform. He liked painting from my art collection back in my hometown in India. Luckily, he was traveling from the US to India at that time. He collected big size painting from India and carried it all the back to US. He took the next step and sent me a wonderful note which I am really touched about.
I received many more compliments but above are few which have really touched my heart.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Reena: Nowadays it is very convenient to get any info or contact with people. When I do something new, I definitely post on social media. The online platform has made it easier to connect with people. I have accounts at many online platforms and people see my artwork there like Mojarto, Pixels, FineartAmerica, Artfido, Amazon, and Instagram and my Facebook page is the best option too. For the local area, I use Let go and Offer up. These platforms have helped the art lovers and buyers to reach out to my work and created job opportunities for me.
In most occasions, I provide my email id so that people can connect directly with me.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Reena: This Covid-19 affected badly, my solo show IWD2020 was canceled which should have happened in March on women’s day by Mandi Theater Group of Chicago.
Many group shows and workshops got canceled. But that has not stopped me from being an artist. I have still kept myself engaged thinking and putting down more on the canvas. I have continued teaching kids through online platforms. When things will get normal which I hope soon, I will definitely show the world my art again.
What’s next for you?
Reena: Lots of new work and art events, Chicago art fair, meeting with more artists, and getting connected with online art galleries. I am working on the theme of “Hope” and I am very excited about it. Will also extend my art in nature landscapes series. My online live workshops will be continued and more working on new easy techniques for the students, which can be taught to them easily. I am associated with the Mandi theater group, and learning theater skills, want to do more theater plays. Many more goals in my list that I must achieve as time comes.
To find out more about Reena and her art, please check: