Supriya Dogra: A Self-Taught Artist And Her Journey To Becoming A Painter

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Supriya Dogra is a person with many facets. A fitness enthusiast who runs the half-marathon, a swimmer, a cyclist, she is also a writer of merit and a talented artist. Punekar News caught up with her in her studio at home and in a small tete-a-tete over coffee, explored the artist and her art. 

Punekar News – Well Supriya, for starters tell us a little about yourself. How did you start painting?

Supriya – Well actually, my paintings came about in a bit of a lark. I had always been making little sketches and drawings – usually portraits and caricatures of friends, which they seemed to like. I had also tried my hand at small paintings, which I hid away because I felt they were not good enough. I had shown my paintings to my niece Katherine and my sister Alka and they encouraged me to start – they even got an easel and canvasses for me. I think the turning point came three years ago, during the COVID pandemic. Cooped up in my room, I began painting again, and people seemed to like my work. That gave me the impetus, and led to these works here. (Laughs and waves at the paintings strewn all around her room) 

Punekar News – Where did you learn the basics of your art?

Supriya – I never did have any formal training. I watched different artists and their works and sub-consciously tried to emulate them. Perhaps my lack of formal training was a boon, since it allowed me to experiment with my own style.

Punekar News – And how do you paint? Is it a formal process, or just a spontaneous outburst?

Supriya – Actually, it is a little bit of both. I don’t set out telling myself that I will paint this theme or subject. That usually comes sub-consciously – maybe when I see something that strikes me. Then, I sketch the layout of the painting that I have in mind – first a rough outline in pencil and then add the details and the colours. I keep building up till I feel it is done. But every so often the end result is different from what I had in mind. It is almost as it the painting acquires its own identity along the way.

supriya dogra painting

Punekar News – And how would you classify your different genres of work?

Supriya – I wouldn’t classify them into genres as such. My early work were pencil sketches, then I turned to water colours and then oils. I began initially with landscapes, then went on to figures and portraits, then did a series of Buddhist monks and monasteries, then horses – a theme I particularly like. I then moved on to abstracts, which were the most difficult but most satisfying. In between, I also did a series of paintings on plates and pottery which were a slightly different form. I would say the output of my work is a mix of them all. 

Punekar News – And what is next on the agenda? What do you see yourself doing now?

Supriya – (Laughs) I really don’t know. My first exhibition called ‘Poetry on Canvas’ is being held this week. That has given a tremendous boost. But what I put on the canvas after that, will come at the spur of the moment. 

woman painting by Supriya Dogra

Punekar News – ‘Poetry on Canvas.’ That’s an interesting name. How did you home on to it?

Supriya – I always felt that poetry is an expression of yourself, of the artist’s soul. Whether in words, on canvas, in any medium – not necessarily art. And what I strive to do is express myself through my work. If it comes across truly and spontaneously, that is my poetry on canvas.     

Punekar News – Thank you. That was an interesting insight. You must have been inspired by other artists. Who are your favorite artists and painters? 

Supriya – Well, that is a difficult one, since my favorite artists seem to change all the time. But yes, I like the French impressionists very much. And Van Gogh – because he bared his soul like no one else. But my favorite would be Raja Ravi Varma, just for his simplicity and the manner he brings out the different aspects of everyday life in India. I think his “Lady with the Lamp” is one of my all-time favorites. 

Thank you Supriya. We wish you all the best in your art and look forward to seeing more of your poetry on canvas – and in any other medium you choose.