The Art and Spirit of Mataji Sharma

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mataji Sharma, her life, art and spirit
We are but tiny specs in this universe. As minuscule as we are, there is always something to make us feel big about every day. Today, I’m grateful for the opportunity to interview a truly gifted artist.

Mataji V. Sharma is an educator, a traveller, a mom, a wife, a person brimming with passion for the arts. She celebrates her strong connection with the universe and shares this through her art. Even when she’s traveling around the world, she continues to touch people’s lives through her workshops. 

I’ve always loved tribal art since I was a kid. Most of Mataji’s tribal pieces speak strongly about the beautiful Filipino culture that, whether we admit it or not, has been drowned out by modernity.

More than just a lovely addition to the homes of her patrons, Mataji’s tribal art is a visual reminder that there are a lot of things to love about the Filipino culture.

Mataji Sharma talks about her art. She tells us that there is an artist within us and that we should not pass up on this chance to explore what we can create and share with the world.


How old were you when you fell in love with the visual art and realized that it was something that you wanted to do?

I suppose every child is an artist at heart; and the love for art is an innate thing. Little hands want to do art even before adults come along. However, my parents took conscious effort to instill the love for art in my brother and me at such an early age (six or seven years old); by buying us artbooks, bringing us to museums and meeting real artists in their studios. I also grew up watching my parents paint and sketch.

What were your first paintings like? The genre or theme?

My first oil painting on canvas was on Juan Tamad on a branch of a mango tree, when I was about 14 years old. It was a painting I found in an encyclopedia of Filipino Art; and I wanted to make my version of it. It was a combination of  portrait and landscape painting of a classical approach. My watercolours in my elementary years were often landscape; and in college I would sketch a lot of dramatic contorted bodies or angels. I don’t ever remember doing Abstract when I was younger, but now I am in-love with abstract art.

Has your style changed over time?

I experiment a lot. My style changes week after week; sometimes a few times within a week. For me, art is an exploration, not something that is fixed. I want no identity in my art. I want it to be about growth, exploration, experimetation and evolution – as well as expression, of course.

"Sister Love"

 What inspires you?

Artists inspire me. Explorers inspire me. Deep spiritual people inspire me. Creative entrepeneurs inspire me. And of course, Nature and everything in it (including the human made world)– are my sources of creativity. Practically, that means everything around me – from a tile design in a public toilet to a ripped ad streamer by the street that presented an abstract pattern. Music, books, conversations etc. you name it.

Which artists do you consider influential in your life and art?

So many to mention! My 3rd graders for one! Of course, there are also the masters, of all genres. To name a few, Van Gogh, Matisse, Julie Dumbarton, Monet, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klimt etc. The ones who are still alive, the artists that I found on the net,  are the most influential to me – Flora Bowley, Iris Scott, Claire Desjardin, YanYan Pan, etc.

How do you balance your time between painting, teaching, being a mommy and a wife?

If you mean equal time for everything, then my life is not balanced, but I guard my time like a hawk. I keep a journal to assess whether my days have become imbalanced. I try to ensure that every area of my life is not being sacrificed, to the point of breakdown.  I have a very supportive hubby and daughter, and I communicate my choices and the rationale of my behaviour to them. I explain myself to them - why I have to do this now and that later. But quiet tea afternoons and cuddling with hubby and tickling my daughter in bed are the non-negotiables. Yes, even homework is negotiable – but not the lovey dovey times. They demand it too!

 What advice would you give young people who want to try their hand on painting?

Forget what people will think of your work. It’s just paper/cloth and paint – it’s not the entire declaration of who you are. They are figments of your constantly evolving moments, do not attach to them. Create, because it is your nature to create. Let it flow. Research and be an aggressive learner. Expose yourself to various genre of art and keep yourself inspired by following artists online. Be brave in posting your work and sharing them with the world. Know that someone will always hate it or love it, what matters more is that you shared a part of who you are – just in case it might inspire somebody watching quietly (or loudly). Don’t hold back. I don’t believe in masterpieces because everything is practice. A masterpiece is a practice piece – because art is never done.

What do you want to tell moms who also want to try painting, but have no confidence since they've never had formal training?

It requires no formal training. Many Fine Arts graduates regret attending art school; they could’ve used those years painting and producing more. Practice and experimentation play a strong role, for you to be able to express what’s in your heart.

It is all about the process, not the product. The product is always guaranteed to be beautiful, because you already are. A human being, in its deepest and grandest level is perfect. Painting is an experience of facing our personal judgments; it is a journey of taking risks, letting go, changing routes and accepting each stage as a possibility for the next step. You can stop at any point of time and work on it again on another day. Like I said, it’s never finished – but it can only be finished for the day or when you declare it to be done. It is a documentation of your growth as a person; a record of your self-acceptance and celebration of what is, of any moment of your life- making everything sacred.

Take time to paint. Do what feels right (strokes, colours, etc). There are NO rules nor  principles in painting. Forget the traditional training, it doesn’t have to look like anything. It’s your painting, it’s your life. Somebody will always resonate with it – not that somebody has to.

Enjoy, laugh, cry, if you will. Painting’s got to be an exhilirating experience where time and space collapse for you. There is no space in true artists’ hearts to impress others. At times, when we get lucky, we find ourselves through art.

Who is the most influential person in your life?

It’s impossible to have only one. I have many! But if I must, at least allow me to name a few. My parents. They are grand souls, beings extraordinaire! Without my unconditionally loving hubby, Rahul, and my free-spirited daughter, I don’t think I can achieve much with so much ease.

Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why are you proud of it?

Yes. My abstract pieces. They are unpopular, but they are the most liberating. They are pieces of me that I am yet to explore. I love the unknown, so they represent adventurous things that I would love to explore!
My own Sharma
You can find more of Mataji Sharma's paintings here.

cure for mondays is a top homeschooling philippine blog, best mommy blogger, top asia women's blog, best homeschool website, family issues blog, manila mommy, antipolo, antipolo sunrise, mataji sharma, mataji art and spirit, art, abstract, tribal painting, filipino artist, roxas city, indian art

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