Today we’d like to introduce you to Alika Kumar.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I remember one day, as an eleven-year old twisting the dial on our little shortwave radio and having the ability to dial into broadcasts from various countries including the USA, Germany, Kuwait, France etc. and remember declaring that I was a citizen of the world, and that country borders were inappropriate. Well, I have travelled quite a bit since then, and have six different countries represented in my immediate family!
Steeped in two disparate cultures, most of my life has been a delicate dance between the two, and now do I find myself feeling free to let them both flow into each other and make peace. I was born and raised in India, and came to the U.S. in my early 20’s. The two worlds couldn’t be further apart in more ways than one. While one has an ancient cultural heritage with endless diversity and a love of detail, color, and richness, the other is western, modern, simpler and brimming with creativity and vibrance. In a parallel way, I find myself living in a left-brained world of business consulting while my right brain is always calling me to my studio. The balancing that we all do between, work, family and personal passions can be challenging however they contribute to who we are and how we express ourselves. I find that my art is influenced by various cultures, the love of color, and the desire to offer a unique perspective.
There was a time when I yearned to be a doctor (doesn’t every Indian!) and so I earned a Bachelors’ degree in science, but med school was not in the cards for me. Instead, after coming to the U.S., when my kids were old enough, I went on to study business and eventually got two Masters’ degrees in Management and in International Business Management. For almost the last fifteen years, I have served as the Director and business consultant, for a federally funded business consulting organization. While I love what I do, my dominant passion is art and I create art as often as I possibly can. I am lucky that I have a very supportive network of family and friends, which serves well to keep my creativity flowing.
In the last few years, I have spent a lot of time doing art research, studying the works and art techniques of the master artists, past and present, and taken innumerable classes in painting as well as sculpture. In keeping with my childhood declaration, in my art I strive to gather world colors that reflect not only the diversity of life but it’s universality as well.
Please tell us about your art.
The art I have created cannot be characterized with a specific style or type, however, the common factor if any would be the use of brilliant and abundant color. Nothing too subtle to be found here, at least so far! Most of my paintings were drawn from photographs I have taken during my everyday life, or travels or an interpretation of a deeply researched topic of interest. I try to avoid traditional compositions and go for a more unique perspective. When travelling, I often take up to 300 photos a day as this provides a rich database of reference material and one never knows when one of them will be the next painting. I am often asked if I actually experience and enjoy my surroundings if my eyes are always behind the camera. I find this a funny question, because this is how I enjoy the experience, I would not do it any other way, because the photographs provide a permanent record of my experiences that I can view over and over again.
I was born to artful parents, both of whom painted. So, I developed a natural affinity and love for art and dabbled in it off and on all my life, however, over the last decade or more I started to paint more frequently and in the last three years became quite driven to make more quality art by mastering the basics and learning from every source I could find. Most “self-taught”, I have taken online and in-person classes and continue to learn constantly.
The medium I prefer to use primarily is acrylic paints because of its versatility, it can be thinned down like watercolors or applied thick, it dries very quick and cleanup is a breeze. I also enjoy working with pan pastels, although it’s lack of permanence is unsettling. I am on a quest to grow with every painting, whether it is mastering a technique, or learning to render something I have not done before such as rocks under water. I spend endless hours researching artists past and contemporary to see how they paint a specific kind of painting, and then apply those techniques to my own painting.
It is my earnest hope, that my art, when viewed on its own, provides a joyful and lingering experience, that is uplifting or just feels good to view.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
My advice to other artists and creatives is to get involved in the art community. Even though making art tends to be a solitary process, there is a lot to be learned from others who have gone through similar struggles. So, instead of trying to figure it all out on your own, get out and take classes, you might pick up something you never knew which may become a game changer for your art! I wish I had started taking classes in person a long time ago. There is a lot of support and feedback that you get in group settings that can be encouraging and a great source of learning. You also make new friends along the way and share best practices with each other all of which helps enrich both sides. I would highly recommend that one find an art guild to belong to, where you share camaraderie, get productive critiques and feedback, besides many opportunities to be visible and have your work shown. Joining two art guilds has really accelerated my growth, visibility and seriousness towards my craft.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My website (www.alikakumar.com) features most of my current art. Originals can be purchased directly through the website. I also have reproductions available on my website via Fine Art America’s fulfillment site. I also present my art occasionally on Facebook.
In 2018, I participated in several art exhibitions including the following:
• Phoenix Artists Guild Judged Exhibit and Sale at the WHAM Community Arts Center, November 30 -December 28, 2018.
• West Valley Art Council’s Surprise Invitational Exhibit, a juried exhibit at the West Valley Arts HQ, September 24 – October 26, 2018.
• Phoenix Artists Guild Judged Exhibit and Sale at the Thunderbird Arts Center, October 13-December 13, 2018. “Delightful Delphiniums” won first place in the Acrylics category.
• “Interpretations III” by the Arizona Art Alliance at WHAM Gallery, Surprise, March 2-30, 2018, a juried visual arts competition, exhibit and sale.
• Approach of Life Juried Invitational Wham West Gallery, December 1-30, 2017 at the Wham West Gallery, Surprise, Arizona. Selected piece was shown for an additional month.
• Phoenix Artists Guild, Fine Art Exhibit, November 30, 2017 to January 24, 2018.
• 4th Annual Surprise Invitational by the West Valley Arts Council (WVAC), a juried exhibit at the West Valley Arts HQ gallery, October 19 – December, 2017
• Phoenix Airport Museum (PAM) – Arizona Artists Guild’s (AAG) 90-Year Anniversary Exhibition (curated) on display in Terminal 4, Level 3 from October 28, 2017 through May 13, 2018.
Since, I joined several artist guilds, I have had the opportunity to exhibit in juried and non-juried shows quite often. I have exhibited in other cities such as Flagstaff and New York, and my art can be viewed online from anywhere.
- Website: www.AlikaKumar.com
- Phone: 6236280725
- Email: Alika.Kumar@gmail.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlikasArt/
- Other: https://fineartamerica.com/art/alika