This article appeared in The Town Courier.
Art has been an endless journey of discovering joy and sharing it with others for Kentlands resident Hiral Joshi. It has taken her from traditional representational to colorful and textured abstract, from her home country of India to Texas, Washington state and now, Maryland.
Most important is the process, Joshi said. That is where she finds joy. And as a teacher, she wants to share that same joy of creativity.
My friends joke that instead of blood, I have paint in my veins, she said.
Joshi began art instruction when she was in third grade, studying with the same teacher for many years. She recalled how her aged teacher would manage a class of 50 or 60 children by sharing art of the masters contained in his large library of books. Toward the end of class, students would show him their work, discuss challenges, and he would suggest solutions. “I learned all mediums from him until college,” Joshi said, “but I never thought of a career as an artist.”
She studied science in college, and then pursued a career in computer graphics. She created animation for educational software, and later worked as a graphic designer and web developer, producing communications pieces and websites for an IT firm.
But throughout these years, Joshi felt pulled toward her art and discouraged by the lack of time for it. In India, she said, there are no 9-to-5 jobs; work hours commonly extend into the evening. Her career and family took up most of her waking hours.
“Then art pushed me,” Joshi recalled. One day in 2005, she just left work and picked up a paintbrush. By 2006, she had left her job to pursue art and teaching fulltime.
“This was a big decision in my life,” she said, adding that she is grateful to her father and husband for giving her the support and encouragement that she needed. “I am happy as an artist and teacher.”
Joshi began teaching art in India, and continued when her husband’s job brought them to the United States in 2010. “Teaching is really learning for me,” Joshi said. She enjoys interacting with her students and answering their questions. Through this dialogue, she said that she also learns—and “to learn something is to go open-hearted and open-minded. … It’s a way of living.”
One she wants to share with others. Learning and especially “painting is a healing thing,” she said. She likens painting to meditation, time when you can get away from negative thoughts and heal your body.
And when you enjoy the process of painting, Joshi said, “the end product will be awesome, fantastic.”
Early in her development as a professional artist, Joshi painted landscapes and more traditional, representational art. But these days, she is passionate about abstract art—and that passion shines through in her work. It’s all about energy and emotion, color and texture. “You don’t have anything planned,” Joshi said. “It’s coming from your heart.”
Her abstract work is created with acrylics, which Joshi values for their intensity of color, texture and versatility. She likes to experiment, using objects like bottlecaps as painting tools and incorporating multimedia like printed paper, tissue paper, fabrics, photos, sand and beads into her paintings. She often works with a palette knife and finger for quick application, and said her paintings are rough in texture but “very well gelled. They don’t look like a collage.”
When you step back from her paintings, the beauty comes into focus. “Life is the same,” she said, “rough and beautiful.”
Joshi teaches abstract art at VisArts in Rockville as well as the Arts Barn and Michaels in the Kentlands. During her upcoming “Art Night Out: Holiday Fun” on Friday, Dec. 15, 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Arts Barn, participants will create a 16- by 20-inch acrylic painting inspired by the holidays in Washington, D.C. For information on the workshop, visit www.gaithersburgmd.gov/leisure/arts/arts-on-the-green. To learn more about Hiral Joshi’s art, go to www.facebook.com/hiralmjoshi.