By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Janani Madushika, who is better known by her nickname Janu, describes herself as an aesthete – a person who is appreciative of and sensitive to art and beauty – who believes in her own artistic abilities. She works as a software engineer, but since childhood, she has dreamed of becoming an artist.
Last year, she decided to choose art over technology, as this was the profession she craved, and where she could find inner peace.
The Morning Brunch caught up with Janani Madushika to learn more about her artistic endeavours.
Where did your interest in art begin?
I’ve been interested in art on and off ever since I was in kindergarten. My mother was my first art teacher and one day she taught me to draw a cute little duck – that day I fell in love with drawing. Later in my primary school I tried to draw Donald Duck and it was the first time I thought to myself: “Hey, it’s not that bad”.
My parents and teachers encouraged me to draw more. As I matured I understood that drawing is a skill like any other, which requires practice, patience, and dedication. I always use art where I can’t translate my ideas into words, because through art, I can express my innermost thoughts, feelings and interests. When going down memory lane, I can’t forget sketching during lectures in school, university, and work meetings, it helps me remember the material so much better, otherwise I fall right asleep.
What kind of art do you create? What are some of your favourite media or techniques to use?
Although I am passionate about all forms of visual arts, I am more into creating expressive and emotionally charged media – abstract painting. I enjoy drawing fantasy art, because I believe that when I use my imagination, I can feel everything about them despite not living in those places.
I love to experiment with different media and techniques, but I excel in murals, fantasy and live paintings.
I enjoy mixed media immensely because when I began exploring mixed media art, I knew I had found something that was going to change my art style. The freedom to play with and create some really amazing effects using more than one medium is what excites me.
What is the process behind creating a work of art? From where do you draw inspiration?
For me, meaningful ideas come out at the least expected times, like when I have just struggled with an emotional breakdown, when I’m walking down the street, just scrolling through images, or even before I go to sleep.
But I usually brainstorm about what message I want to give the audience. Choosing the perfect colour combination to emit a certain emotion is really important to me. After completing the artwork, I usually put my work down facing the wall, and leave it there for a day or overnight before taking it in. That way I can catch my mistakes immediately, but it amazes me how differently I perceive my own work. I often hold it up to a mirror and it shows me if I am on the right path or if there are any changes to work on. This mirror trick is priceless to me.
Has the economic crisis affected you as an artist?
Yes, the economic downturn affected me just as it did others. The prices of art supplies have drastically increased and it has affected every artist in this country. I had to increase the price of my artwork, and sometimes I couldn’t find the supplies due to them being out of stock, while suppliers didn’t import those paints and other supplies in the past few months.
You’ve done murals as well. What’s it like, especially compared to working on a canvas?
When we talk about murals, we know that the earliest surviving example of art comes from cave paintings. The walls and ceiling of caves were the first to offer a space for artists to execute and exhibit their artworks.
Both paintings offer different challenges, but a canvas can be adjusted according to the artist’s wish, while walls remain firm and don’t give the artist any respite in terms of adjustments. Canvas offers a submissive surface for an artist to use, sketch, tilt, or hang, while walls test artists with all sorts of challenges.
Murals can give a tough time to artists, while canvas painting appears to be a more comfortable medium, but there are some artists like myself who prefer murals to canvas.
My favourite thing about murals, especially exterior murals, is that they attract all sorts of viewers, but canvas paintings are exhibited to limited viewers. Murals are for people coming from all genres of society; from street-sweepers to presidents, all are equally encouraged to enjoy an element of a mural.
In other countries, muralists and graffiti artists play an important role in shaping a society by creating artwork speaking directly to the general public, and it’s a fact that people feel more connected and confident in criticising or appreciating a mural instead of a canvas painting exhibited in an art gallery.
Are you working on any special projects at the moment?
Yes, I’m planning to conduct an experimental project under the concept of living paintings. Recently, I did a project under that category, for which I used my sister as my subject. I combined visual art and performing art for that project. My next big project will also flow like that, but will be an evolved one.