I do not remember exactly when I picked up the drawing. Like all other children of my age, I too used to draw random pictures. The earliest memory I have is of an incident that happened when I was in primary school. I had drawn the picture on my slate, which was that of a train. I had shown the railway bogie, with the door open. This minute observation was so much liked by my teacher, Mrs Kulkarni that she took the slate all around the school and showed it to all the classrooms!!  My joy knew no bounds that day and that incident probably drew me closer to art and drawing. As I continued to excel in drawing later, my mother, who was an accomplished artist herself, decided to send me to Abhinav Kala Vidyalay in Pune, for my future training in art.

Very soon I completed my Diploma in Commercial Art, which was then a very lucrative and popular course. I returned to Belgaum in 1979 and started my own business/profession as a graphic designer and got totally involved and entangled in the profession. For the next two decades, I was busy delivering a range of design projects for a number of clients. My portfolio included graphic design in all its variations, architectural delineations, 3D models, font design and also computer graphics. By the year 2000, everything had changed from 100% manual artwork to computer clipart!! I soon realized that most clients did not need my design talent. I was indeed very much disheartened. By then I was already in my late forties . . . what next??? I made out a list of what all things I could do . . . from drop and pickup service for school kids to tuitions, teaching art and craft, culinary arts to creating a fashion brand . . . I played with, toyed with, evaluated and considered all the options, without fear, favour or prejudice. Those days, I was associated with a reputed newspaper as their page design consultant. Along with that, after a long gap, I dabbled once again in oil colours and watercolours. 

Those days, only four-coloured ballpoint pens were available . . . and I too had one. One day I picked up my four-coloured pen and drew a picture. Lo and behold!! Everyone, including me, was astounded and astonished at the outcome of this newfound medium of art. I created a few more artworks with the ball-point pen and went to my tutors in Pune and also to a few artist friends. They all opined that it was the first time they had seen such innovation in art. Even then, I was not convinced about the uniqueness of my artwork. I then searched on the internet and found that quite a few artists use ballpoint pens for their art but the method, pattern and grip on the ballpoint pen differs. Then came circa 2009 and in my fiftieth year, an exhibition of my artworks, purely done in ballpoint pen, was put up in Darpan Art Gallery in Pune. The response and wholehearted support, appreciation and encouragement that came from the art lovers in and around Pune, became the Fixed Capital for my future journey in the world of art.

The past decade has seen a considerable number of my exhibitions and workshops on art getting organized and hosted. A book about my ballpoint pen techniques is about to be published soon. My creations have reached a large number of homes and offices of art lovers, art connoisseurs and art galleries across the globe. But In spite of all this I always feel there is so much to learn . . . every new creation is an entirely new experience. I always feel this is an endless journey. The beginning of a new piece of art comes from a spontaneous idea or feeling or concept. Then, after a little bit of basic planning, begins an unknown, curious and impatient journey of creativity!! During this process my own existence is lost in the time warp- ranging between four to five hours a day totalling 20 to 40 hours many a time- and suddenly, at one fine point I am awakened from my happy and creative trance when the picture starts telling me, “Your job is now over . . . I am born.“  Although the artist puts his heart and soul into his creations, his heart and soul grow, instead of shrinking, with every creation . . . and that is probably why my experience has always been that almost all artists are large-hearted and loving and empathetic.

The world would be so much better and more beautiful if everyone was an artist!!

Shirish Deshpande


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