Artist Rasika Reddy’s series of hummingbird paintings began as a quest for joy and healing during the pandemic
It’s time to heal, reads the title of the new exhibition at the Kadari Art Gallery in Hyderabad. We may be watching the third wave of COVID-19 in India hoping things don’t darken in the coming weeks, but seeing the over 100 watercolors of hummingbirds at the gallery is having an effect. calming. Artist Rasika Reddy began working on the series at the start of the pandemic, to distract herself from the uncertainty and gloom surrounding her.
“We were all at home figuring out what to do, beyond the regular cooking and cleaning activities. A feeling of helplessness settled in as the pandemic raged in New York, ”recalls Rasika Reddy, the artist from Hyderabad who now resides in the United States.
She took her brushes and drew a bird, then two, and enjoyed the process. She learned about birds and was intrigued by hummingbirds: “Birds are adaptable. [and their music is] known to be healer and cheerful – the attributes we need to get through the pandemic. “
She had previously worked with media ranging from oil to acrylic, but had chosen watercolor for this series. At the start of the lockdown, when the supply chain of non-essentials was briefly hit, she borrowed colors and brushes from her granddaughter’s coloring kit and began painting, until she can get their own tools.
Rasika painted hummingbirds and shared them on Instagram. “I’ve never been too active on social media, but I embraced it because it was the only way to reach out.” The comments she received prompted her to paint more.
Soon she was painting a bird a day. “The idea behind the series was not overwhelming; it was meant to put a smile on the viewer’s face. I have painted around 240 birds and plan to do more. There are nearly 350 species of hummingbirds.
Some paintings focus only on the birds framed on a white background, while others place them on a tree branch or in the middle of the foliage. Rasika wanted nature-like hues and experimented with mixing and matching colors. “The colors of the birds and their surroundings are ridiculously beautiful. Every day while painting, I noticed that it was also a source of joy for my family.
Initially, she found herself on a learning curve with watercolors. “The technique used to showcase something is different from acrylic. While we paint a few layers to highlight something in acrylic, for watercolor we darken the surroundings of the area we want to highlight. I learned this from my son who is an amateur painter.
Rasika did her Masters in Philosophy at the University of Hyderabad and moved to the United States. She studied the arts at Brooklands College and West Surrey University of Art and Design when she lived in the UK on and off.
In her previous series, she explored themes inspired by Indian culture, gender and karma using different media and techniques and states that the commonality would be the meditative quality of her work. According to her, the hummingbird series also had a meditative and prayerful effect on her.
(It’s Time To Heal is on view at the Kadari Art Gallery, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, until January 19)