A casual visit to a stained glass exhibition in Chicago let 39-year-old Delhi-based Madhurima Chatterjee Mathur rekindle her love for painting that was buried away in some corner of her life. What followed has been a brand new journey using her heart as a compass and steering her life towards what she loves the most – painting! With that, she started a warm and cosy home-based venture – Creative Rumblings.
From a Casual Announcer with AIR on their Yuva-Vani channel for over a year, a Retail Banker with HSBC for four years, a Technical Writer/Editor with TCS and other companies (as a freelancer) for over eight years, this self-taught artist has come a long way with her love for art and resuming painting all over again.
How did it all begin?
“I have always been creatively inclined, right since school. But back then; art was viewed by most as something that could not be made into for a full-time profession. My mother told me to earn my own money before I started spending on art materials to fulfil my passion for painting, and so art got relegated to the background,” recalls Madhurima.
She started working, got married, had kids, and art was just an occasional indulgence. What brought her back to the crossroads with her love for art was when she visited a stained glass exhibition in Chicago in 2005 and was completely blown by the gorgeous pieces she saw there. “I came back and started with the basic glass painting kit available in the market. Even at that early stage, I did not rely on any available template but used my own design,” adds Madhurima.
Madhurima says, “I actually started with almost zero investment in terms of money. With a view to trying my hand at painting bottles, I started working on Dettol and Amul drink bottles that were lying around the house to be given to the kabaddi. I visited a stationary fair and bought some paints, and then the obvious happened. After the first couple of bottles came out well, I got hooked.”
She further adds, “What I did invest were time and effort. First I set myself a target of painting weekly, then it became bi-weekly, and now if I don’t do something creative on a daily basis, I actually get withdrawal symptoms!”
There’s a story behind every dream that gets materialised and so does Madhurima.
She tells us how she came upon the brand name Creative Rumblings – “There is an interesting story behind that. In the last company I worked for, one day during lunch I was surfing home decoration sites for ideas to do up my new home. I came across a flurry of blogs that not only introduced me to the world of blogging but also gave me the idea of starting my own. Seeing those blogs, I felt a hunger arise within me to finally do something creative; just as your stomach rumbles when you are hungry! That is how the name Creative Rumblings came about. Most people find the name interesting and different, not something run-of-the-mill. But I haven’t yet given much attention to building it up as a brand name. I just use the name to give my work its own unique identity.”
As she started creating more artwork, Madhurima realised that framing her painted glasswork was an issue as it was difficult to store unframed pieces for fear of breakage. It also meant relying on a third party to frame her paintings.
“That is when the idea of painting on used bottles came up in my head. Though I couldn’t really start right then because my kids were too young, and I had my hands full. Later, in 2008, after I had quit my full-time job for good and was keen on preparing unique pieces for my new home when the bottle painting started in full steam. When the initial pieces caught everyone’s eye and was appreciated by family and friends, there was no looking back,” smiles Madhurima.
One of the main challenges that Madhurima has faced is the unpredictability of materials in the market. She recalls, “Once I was working on a set of coloured bottles with a white outliner, but ran out of it before I could finish all the bottles. When I required some more and went back looking for it, it was out of stock. After weeks and months of tracking down the product from various retailers, I finally realised the company had stopped manufacturing it altogether!”
Another huge challenge is changing people’s mindset towards recycled products. They appreciate the idea but are seldom ready to pay for it. The assumption that plays spoilsport is the “old and used” associated with the product. She strongly feels that people need to change their perception.
She adds, “It is also a daily challenge to keep the balance between running my home and devoting time to my hobby. I’d like to give more uninterrupted time to my work, but since I live in a joint set-up, often my other responsibilities come in the way.”
Blogging her art
Madhurima started the blog – Creative Rumblings at the same time she started painting pieces for her home. Though initially it was launched as a platform to showcase what she painted for her home. But somewhere down the line when people started appreciating her work, both bottle and other paintings, that Madhurima started devoting more time to her hobby.
“Since I hadn’t touched brush and paint for years, it took me a while to shake off my initial hesitation. But I loved the de-stressing that came with the process of painting regularly. One day my husband (who has been a huge support throughout) put up a link to one of my bottle painting posts on his Facebook page, and that is how I got my first client. When I actually sold some pieces, I understood the need to take my hobby more seriously,” quips Madhurima.
Recycling is another big reason why Creative Rumblings worked. People really liked how Madhurima got hold of the regular stuff lying around the house (like old CDs, tin foils etc.) and turned it into something pretty – a work of art. Then again this whole present concept of reducing your carbon footprint – at an individual level, what do we do about it, except maybe celebrate Earth Hour or Earth Day.
“But that isn’t enough, says Madhurima, “it is imperative for us to be more conscious of our surroundings and environment. I feel that by promoting recycled products as one of my passions (through my unique Bottle Art, and other recycle projects I feature on the blog), it is my minuscule effort at helping the planet. I also like to paint on corrugated cardboard pieces salvaged from packaging. They are sturdy enough to be hung directly on the wall, and yet are light and easy to carry.”
What makes Creative Rumblings unique?
While most people sell their work through galleries, Madhurima prefers to sell most of her work online through her blog Creative Rumblings and her Facebook directly. It not only makes the interaction with the client more authentic, without any third party involvement but it brings down costs for the buyer. “This concept works very well overseas but in India, it is yet to pick up, though the scenario is fast changing,” feels Madhurima.
She also mentions, “I also like to keep my designs exclusive, so I try to make all my paintings (both the acrylics and the bottles) different. For instance, if the same design has been requested by two separate clients, I’ll make minor changes in the design or colour scheme so that at the end of the day, they have a unique painting each, not a carbon copy product.”
Madhurima’s work reflects her love for nature, especially flowers. “I also grew up in an environment where I was taught to love and nurture the greens (my mum being an avid gardener). Even today, when I go for my daily walk in the park, I actually take time out to pick out fallen flowers, seeds and pods. I notice the behaviour of the birds, how they respond to the flowers, which trees they frequent, and so on. So flowers, birds, insects all feature in my work regularly. I also paint figures of gods/goddesses in my unique personal style. I guess my love for folklore and heritage also inspires me indirectly.”
The Creative/Art Director of the SPAN team had spotted Madhurima’s blog and liked her bottle art. He appreciated the concept of recycling used bottles and turning them into décor items or vases. So when they were doing an issue with an environmental focus, he immediately recalled her Bottle Art and wanted to publish it.
Before signing off, Madhurima adds, “Bottle Art is here to stay and neither will I stop painting acrylics, whatever is the surface (canvas/paper/board etc.). I’d like to add more products to the Creative Rumblings fold. I used to do a lot of papier-mâché stuff in my college days, making masks and other decorative items. Maybe someday, I’ll go back and do a line of those products. But for now, I wish my exclusive, hand-painted pieces and paintings find wider acceptance.”
And we hope you will make this world a more creative and a colourful place.
Order an acrylic painting from Creative Rumblings
When she initially started out, Madhurima dabbled in pastels, watercolours, acrylics, ink, even charcoal. She created mixed media paintings too, but ultimately her favourite medium is acrylics. Personally, she loves their brightness and quick drying qualities. She makes her own paintings and puts them up on the blog. She also undertakes customised painting orders from clients.
People who like her work, or want something similar (in a different size, or with some other specifications) can contact Madhurima through her blog, Facebook page or email. She’ll be happy to do a few initial sketches for a client to approval about the exact requirement and then finalise the painting.
For the hand-painted bottles, the pricing starts from Rs.650 and can go up to Rs.2000-2500 depending on the bottle size and the detailing that a particular design involves. “For the acrylics, I am a believer in making art affordable to the common person, and so the price mostly covers material and shipping costs besides including a small mark-up for my work,” adds Madhurima.
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