“Colours on canvas heal my soul”

Shivani Khajuria

Sunny Dua
In the world of art, there exist souls whose canvases brim with colours that seem to breathe life. Shivani Khajuria, a self-taught artist is undoubtedly one such luminary. Her artistic odyssey is a testament to the transformative power of colours on canvas and the profound healing it bestows upon her soul. Convinced from her childhood that she wanted to be nothing but an artist, Shivani sharpened her skills in art colleges by taking formal training in art as well and is today fulfilling her dream of painting with bold strokes.
In an exclusive interview to the ‘Daily Excelsior’, she said, “Colours on canvas heal my soul and while I take inspiration from nature to draw, I also prefer to blend my paintings with music to make it more rhythmic”. Having designed a set at Jammu Airport on the theme of Jammu heritage and Dogra culture and painted canvases depicting Shikaras floating on Dal Lake in Srinagar, she claims to work towards promoting art and culture of J&K Union Territory (UT). This is the reason she loves to teach history of art with special emphasis on Basholi miniature paintings at Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Jammu.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely stated, “Every artist was first an amateur”, Shivani Khajuria’s journey into the realm of art began with humble strokes of brushes and a heart full of passion. Armed with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Jammu University, she embarked on a quest to explore the vast tapestry of creativity that awaited her. The Master’s touch from Raja Man Singh Tomar University, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh would become the backdrop for Shivani’s artistic metamorphosis. Here, she pursued her Masters in fine arts, honing her skills and deepening her connection with colours. It was during this phase that her art transcended the realm of mere aesthetics, becoming a profound form of expression.
A Multifaceted Artist
Shivani Khajuria’s artistic prowess extends beyond the canvas. She is a trained Stained-Glass designer and her exquisite stained-glass creations adorn the private collections of discerning art enthusiasts. Her work has also found a home in prestigious institutions within the hospitality industry. The strokes of success in Shivani’s career are not confined to her studio. Having painted on canvases, walls and designed sets she has also drawn Parolas – Jammu’s folk paintings drawn on mud and clay thatched huts to prove her skills. Additionally, she has participated in various art camps, further solidifying her reputation as an artist of immense talent and promise.
An Authority on Art
Shivani’s journey is not limited to her own artistic endeavour. She is an authority on the ‘History of Art’, sharing her wisdom and passion with eager students. Beyond her own artistic pursuits, Shivani Khajuria imparts her knowledge of Basholi Miniature Paintings and art theory to eager learners. Her passion for teaching echoes her love for art, as she unravels the intricate world of miniature masterpieces.
Many of her proteges have gone on to achieve recognition and success in the global art scene. “We teach with clear motive of encouraging students to learn skills and then rise to become entrepreneurs so that they can make a good living from their art”, Shivani Khajuria said.
The Palette of Emotions
For Shivani Khajuria, art is more than just pigment on canvas. It’s a symphony of emotions, a dance of colours that brings solace and satisfaction. Her preferred palette consists of earthy tones, often inspired by nature and the abstract. She doesn’t merely paint; she expresses, and the result is a profound sense of liberation. In the studio when Shivani paints, she immerses herself in a world where music intertwines with her brush strokes. Bold and uninhibited, her artwork is a testament to her fearlessness in embracing the canvas. One of her standout pieces is “Shiv Shakti Maa Durga,” a series she aspires to complete, showcasing her imaginative depth.
Inspirations and Medium
Vincent van Gogh’s bold strokes and vivid use of colour resonate deeply with Shivani. Although she hasn’t copied his style, she admires how his colours render font-like bold strokes. Her preferred mediums are acrylic and water colour, along with dry pastels, which enable her to bring her visions to life. She loves to play with colours, most of the time want to paint nature and abstract using earthy colours. She said, “terracotta, brown, black and red remain my favourite colours and I also love to draw figurative works. Painting gives me solace and satisfaction wherein I feel light and free to create”. Born to father Bhagwati Sharan and mother Kavita Shaminotra, Shivani said, ” I inherited patience and strength from my grandmother Krishna Devi who used to take care of entire family and do household chores creatively that made me lean towards artistry”.
Art Camps/Workshops attended
Beginning from her school days, Shivani Khajuria had remained an active participant in art camps to prove her mettle and learn more about art, especially paintings and use of colours. Over the period, she grew up to attend several art camps organised by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages (JKAACL) and department of Tourism besides private art galleries and art curators. Her recent work of art had drawn appreciations from union home minister Amit Shah and Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha during their visit to various booths.
Shivani Khajuria said that she has learnt a lot by attending such camps and workshops which enable her to remain a good learner and complete her works with much perfection. She claimed to have attended art camps organised in Kashmir by J&K Fine Arts Society, one at Kala Kendra, Jammu organised by J&KAACL in 2020 and also participated in an art show at Dehradun in 2019 where her art works were displayed for the art lovers and appreciated by visitors.
She goes on to add that she was also invited to display her art works in a solo exhibition during the inauguration of Jammu Haat in 2021 where union minister in Prime Minister’s office Dr Jitendra Singh appreciated her works. She has also participated in group/solo art exhibitions held at Malaysia, DLF Mall, Golf Course, Jammu and painted in an art camp organised by JKAACL at Kala Kendra where she used vibrant colours to create an incredible painting of Maa Durga. Besides painting she had also been coordinating art camps and claims to have helped twenty such young participants in an art camp at Kala Kendra, Jammu where youngsters had unleashed their talent in most magnificent manner.
Shivani’s participation in Vitasta Art Camp organised by J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages at SKICC Kashmir gave her a different experience where she painted live before audiences and projected Kashmir’s culture through her artwork. She has done many private commercial works, latest amongst which are nine paintings done for a private hotel in Katra. She has painted murals on the walls of a private restaurant and done Parola Art at Sudh Mahadev, in Jammu.
Very recently, Shivani Khajuria conducted an art workshop for students of K C Public School wherein she illustrating the styles of painting traditionally practised in Jammu and Kashmir. Using a white board, she drew multiple sketches depicting features of Basohli school of miniature painting and punctuated it as well. The event was organised by Jammu chapter of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) under ‘Discover Your Living Heritage’ series. Prior to this, her works were displayed at Jammu University at an exhibition organised by Gandhian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies organised by Department of Handicrafts and Handloom in collaboration with Directorate of Sports and Physical Education, University of Jammu.
Having displayed her talent even at Mansar, Delhi Bal Bhawan and other places, she claims to paint original works with pure imaginations and tells her students, “Never copy and draw without fear. More than that get a formal training from an institute or a teacher so that your work remains unique. She also advises students to lessen their dependency on social media to be original”.
In the world of art, Shivani Khajuria’s canvas is a testament to the power of colours to heal and rejuvenate the soul. Her journey from an amateur artist to an authority on art history is an inspiring tale of dedication and creativity. As she continues to inspire her students and create mesmerizing works, her legacy as an artist remains a vibrant, ever-evolving masterpiece.
(The writer is senior journalist)