We live & breathe Goa. Yet every once in a while we stumble upon an artist who's work makes us fall in love with the place all over again.
Be it the manner in which they capture their surroundings, the stories they tell through their strokes or perhaps the way they manage to convey an emotion you've so personally felt but had no words to express. Whatever it is their work speaks to you in a deep & meaningful way.
Richa Kashelkar is someone who's paintings do just that...
'West Coast Summer' & 'Reading Room'
Born and brought up in Mumbai with a background in architecture, yet a profession in photography, Richa whole heartedly embodies the kind of free spirited yet undeniably ambitious creative Goa is known to attract.
"For as long as I remember of my adult life, I have always wanted to leave the city and go to a greener and quieter place. There was an inexplicable connect with Goa, and it had nothing to do with parties and the wild side of this place.
There is something about this landscape that pulls me to it."
'Untitled' & 'July in Goa'
I always loved painting as a kid. Then usual education happened which more or less killed the joy out of it and later pushed it to the periphery.
For the past few years though, I felt a really deep desire to paint. But I told myself that I chose architecture and not fine arts, so now I've missed that chance and that's that! I believed this for a long time and secretly mourned this loss.
I have tried and failed many times earlier; sometimes there would be a mistake I wouldn't be able to correct, sometimes I corrected it too much and the page got ruined, sometimes I wanted to take the painting in a totally different direction, and since I couldn't do that, I lost interest in it.
Then one day I happened to buy a phone with a stylus, and that set things in motion. You can erase as much as you want without a trace, and change directions midway through the painting! This superpower is a boon for all hesitant beginners. There is no fear of screwing up. And this helped me more than I could ever emphasise. I experimented with total abandon and was pleasantly surprised by a newfound ability.
How would you say Goa has influenced your creative style - both personally & professionally?
There is no distinction between personal and professional for me.
My life itself has been influenced by this place. I have always been an ardent lover of heritage homes and lush tropical greenery. Having it all around me definitely pushed my paintings in that direction.
'Lady and the Dog', 'Panjim Streets' & 'Magic Dawn'
So with a degree in architecture & an obvious passion for painting, what ultimately led Richa to pursue a career in photography?
We didn't hesitate to ask of course...
To be brutally honest, I was looking for instant gratification.
In architecture, it takes very many years before you get to design the kind of projects you truly want to do - sometimes not until you're in your 40s or 50s! I still love it fiercely, but I didn't want to design high rise buildings, I wanted to design beautiful vernacular houses. And who was going to give me those projects at 23? If I had no other option, I probably would've preserved.
But just then I happened to discover photography as a hobby; and suddenly here was a field where client approvals, legal permissions, budgets, your age etc weren't issues that were standing in your way of good design.
It gave me an immense hit of creative satisfaction, and so I moved over.
Leading to a wedding photography business Richa now runs with her husband, Pavan.
But was it easy to build a working relationship with your partner?
Yes it was, mainly because we were friends who enjoyed spending time together anyway. Working alone was fine but working with him is more fun (a whole team was never an option because I don't thrive in groups, or enjoy too many social settings).
This was great for us because we could build a life we wanted: work together, vacation together, move away from cities together. Since we both agree on how to live life, it is definitely a factor in making this work.
A work/life relationship becomes easy to manage if both people happen to share similar world views, core values & philosophies, so there aren't any fundamental differences of opinion.
Do you work from home & how has the current lockdown affected your overall work flow?
Yes, I work from home and it was a big prerequisite for me. I feel happiest and most creative in the comfort and freedom of my own space. So in that way, the lockdown hasn't affected me much, and I'm very grateful for that.
Working on anything specific at the moment?
Currently I'm using this forced hiatus to paint to my heart's content. But I usually never know what the next artwork is going to be!
It's like following the inspiration rabbit, wherever it goes.
'Girlfriends' & 'Maximalist's Garden'