Travelling with a Brush

Guest Post: This is a post by Mansi Sood, a grad student at CMU and an avid painter. Please check out more of her stuff here.

Two years ago, while writing my grad school applications, I realized how profoundly a passion for painting has shaped me as a person and informed my choices.  As I moved to the US for a PhD, somewhere between adapting to a new environment, and beginning a new phase in my life, painting had taken a backseat. During these times of uncertainty and confinement, I again found myself gravitating towards painting. In addition to documenting my surroundings, I have been reliving memories with my brush through the lock-down. I grew up in a constantly evolving landscape. In my mind, I have a thriving visual repository of dramatic skies, flowering meadows, glistening peaks and crashing waves. Moving to Pittsburgh added another chapter in this repository of memories. It was my first time witnessing fall, and seeing trees blossom after a long winter. This spring, I paid particular attention to when different plants in my neighborhood bloomed. On my walks, I would observe the contours of magnolia petals and wonder what color flowers would the rhododendron bushes bear. During days spent in isolation, as the sun set and I could no longer look outside my window, I escaped the confines of my room through my brush. Painting in watercolors has been a meditative pursuit for me. Building up paintings, stroke by stroke fills me up with the memory of the subject and how it made me feel.  I don’t like controlling paintings too much, I perceive paintings as having a will of their own, with my role being merely to guide them a little with my brush. The interplay of colors and water always find a way to surprise me. During moments spent holding a brush, I feel engaged and calm, and grateful for this trusty companion, who has been by my side through these unsettling times.

I have tried to capture the colors of the 4 seasons in the paintings below. Which color palette goes the best with each season- winter, spring, summer and fall?

The Himalayan Peaks from a Plane

Bloom Time in Pittsburgh

Sand and Sea in Okinawa

Howrah Bridge at Sunset


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