Faculty Speaks

The Logical Artist

WITH RUCHI ARORA

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A multi talented classical artist and professor of Analytical Drawing, Volume, Illustration and Live Model Sketching at Ecole Intuit Lab, Mumbai – Ruchi is one gem of a faculty member of our school. Her international exposure, expertise in her subject matter and proficiency in sequentially teaching art makes her a favourite of every student. Does the term “Logical Artist” seem like a paradox to you? Read our professor’s story and believe it to be true. In conversation with Ruchi Arora.

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

An architecture student in a government college in Lucknow, India – the world to me was structured. Designed in blocks and buildings with symmetry and perfection. At home everyone was science oriented which only reiterated my understanding of life. As a topper of Math and Physics, the concept of becoming an artist was alien to me. But when life truly wants to lead you somewhere, it does. In mysterious ways. Today, I’m proud to be an award winning classical artist of my time.

 

THE JOURNEY FROM HEAD TO HEART TO ART

Teaching students a subject is one thing and making them fall in love with it is another. In the first year of architecture I got bored easily. I’d sit in class pretending to be there but mentally create my own parallel universe of cartoons. I made a lot of caricatures of my teachers too that turned out to be hysterical. I further nurtured this talent by contributing to the college magazine, published every two weeks. To my surprise, the entire college loved my work and would eagerly gather and wait at the college ‘shack’ for every new release. People saw my talent. I saw my own talent, and that was all I needed to turn my life around.

 

THE UNPAVED PATH

The way ahead? I contributed to the national magazine, political magazines and even did illustrations for the Times of India for a while. People loved my work but I wasn’t happy with my quality of work. I knew I could get much better but the question was, how? I struggled, eager to learn and explore but only in vain for there wasn’t anyone ready to teach me the subject well. Going for the next best option, I did a 2D animation course by ZICA that helped me combine drawing and storytelling.

Average class age – 20 plus. My age? 40 plus. It was double and I was conscious at first but the young energy and motivation of my classmates kept me going. It was a lot of hard work and effort to keep up with the 3 year programme but by the end of it I can say that I do have an x-ray vision. I can see a body, know exactly where the bones and muscles are and make a photocopy of the same with my hands. Yes, learning has no age bar and I’m proud to be a personification of that proverb.

THE LEARNING CURVE

After getting married, I moved to Ahmedabad with my husband who was a professor at the National Institute of Design. Moving to a city gave me hope to find the teacher of my dreams but sadly every artist I spoke to gave me no real tips of how I could improve. The lack of guidance often pushed me to self-practice and what better models than the langurs, goats, cows and parrots that would often cover my window landscape?

Then I came across the opportunity to go to New York for few years at the Art Students League. Now, for me Frank Porcu is like the Da Vinci of our times and being mentored by him for two years was like a dream come true. I only came back to India, wiser – wishing to pass on the two bits that I learnt about drawing, sculptures and anatomy to the students of India. I taught at the DSK – Rubika International Campus, Pune for over a decade only to be awed by a Sculpture Programme that was being conducted in Florence Academy of Art, Italy.

Average class age – 20 plus. My age? 40 plus. It was double and I was conscious at first but the young energy and motivation of my classmates kept me going. It was a lot of hard work and effort to keep up with the 3 year programme but by the end of it I can say that I do have an x-ray vision. I can see a body, know exactly where the bones and muscles are and make a photocopy of the same with my hands. Yes, learning has no age bar and I’m proud to be a personification of that proverb.

WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE ARTIST OF YOUR ERA?

Michelangelo’s drawings and sculptures, with his impeccable understanding of bones and muscles, were a constant source of inspiration. However, from my era it would definitely be my mentor Frank Porcu for me. I am also keenly inspired by Michel Grimaldi, Colleen Berry, Robert Bodem, Mitch Shea and Per Olav Olsen.

 

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A PROFESSOR?

I know I didn’t enjoy architecture because I didn’t have the right teacher. I fought tooth and nail and sailed across the seas to just find the right teacher but every passionate student may not have the chance to do that. I teach so that I can bring that international exposure and knowledge into our Indian classrooms and schools like ecole intuit lab help me accomplish that. It’s a chance to weave change and make sure no one has to struggle as much as I had to. A chance to make high quality art education more accessible. I enjoy teaching my students here because they are avid learners; producing high quality work because they have been open to learn art the logical way. It may sound like a paradox but it’s not – art isn’t a magical, inherent skill only for the in-born talented few. I believe that passion, hardwork and a systematic teaching approach can make anyone an artist.

 

THE AWARD & FUTURE PLANS

Since I haven’t done my Fine Arts from here, I am not too well acquainted with the existing art society or awards system. A friend of mine happened to call me one day and told me to apply for the Bombay Arts Society Award. The deadline was crossed which is why I applied for the Art Society of India Awards instead which had a one day deadline to submit 2 drawings and 1 sculpture which are not used anywhere else. I chose something from my archives and submitted it and to my surprise 1 drawing and 1 sculpture got selected. Before I knew it I got the “Smt. Durgadevi Saraf Award for Best Painting by a Lady Artist.”

 

WHAT ABOUT YOUR HOBBIES, FUTURE AND FAMILY LIFE?

My husband and I raise 3 cats at home. With the kind of passion I have, I wouldn’t be able to do justice to kids. My work is my favourite hobby and vice versa. About my future – If I have to die in a week’s time what would I be doing? Exactly what I’m doing everyday right now – I’d draw.

Written by: Arishti Sheth | 9th April, 2020

I believe that passion, hardwork and a systematic teaching approach can make anyone an artist.

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