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Usha Rai – Painter at 60 – Part 3

26 September 2010 2 Comments

Hi All,

Today we are having the part 3 of the interview with Usha Rai Maam. Please find tbe links to the part 1 and part 2.

Brief Introduction to Usha Rai:

The artist K Usha P Rai, born May 23rd 1945 in Udupi, Karnataka , India is a well known personality in the Kanada literary circles and is an accomplished Kannada writer and novelist. In July 2005 a near fatal car accident threatened to ruin her life and confined her to bed for almost 6 months. That was when she took to painting seriously as a therapy to overcome the mental and physical trauma. She immersed herself in painting during those rough times and very soon within a period of two years, she compiled her present collection of over 40 paintings.

Coffee With Usha Rai – Painter @ 60
Me: Sundar Rajan G S
UR: Usha Rai

Me: Last time, you mentioned that you used painting as a therapy here. So when did you start painting? Have you been a painter from childhood? What materials do you use?

UR: I started painting at the age of 60 that too after that near fatal accident.

I used to do some water colours in school. Our drawing master used to persuade me to do some water colours even after I left school. He must have foreseen my inherent talent. But I was not that interested in continuing painting since my aim was to become a doctor. Also, there were no institutions at that time in Udupi, which taught drawing and painting in particular. Now there are many. I always had an artistic bent of mind. That was inherent in me, I think. The accident was a spark to rekindle the interest though it was very painful both physically and mentally. But I am happy that I overcame that pain by painting.

Mostly I use oil paints. May be it is easier to correct when we go wrong! I work with water colours and fabric acrylic colours also. I paint on canvas, paper, glass and silk. Now I want to experiment with acrylic paints like water colour. There is no end for learning and experimenting!

Me: Do you have any role models or favorite artists for painting?

UR: In painting I don’t have any role models. May be, because I entered this field very late -that too without any formal training. I have not read much about old artists. I can’t go out much to art exhibitions though I love to. When I get a chance I don’t miss.

I browse internet regularly and go to the sites where paintings are exhibited. I like all the good paintings of old and new artists. Leonardo Davinchi’s Monolisa is my favorite painting and I want to copy it one day. I like Raja Ravivarma’s paintings, may be, because I have seen the prints of his paintings of Laxmi and Saraswathi in my parents’ house during my childhood days. At that time I did not know who the artist is. Now I know.

I don’t enjoy modern art much may be because I don’t understand them. I like traditional paintings. Nature paintings are my favorite. When we see a painting it should make us feel happy and at least for one moment we should forget everything even ourselves and calmness should flow into us. Not the confused feeling. Literature was my field all along though I have not studied literature.

Me: Can you share pics of your favorite works and speak about why you like them? Please speak about your motivation to draw the same.. any relevant stories etc…


1. Universe -This came out of my own imagination. I used pallet knife to create the background. And brush for the Ohm. Today we (all over the world) are living in a confused state of religious misunderstandings, terrorism, increasing heat, wholes in the Ozone, spoilt atmosphere, no fresh air to breath, no good water to drink etc. But all our ‘GODS’ are sleeping without solving the woes of the people. This confused atmosphere may be set right if all the religions join together forgetting their enmity. You can see the combination of the signs of 3 important religions in this painting. Ohm of Hinduism, Cross of Christianity, and Moon of Islam. This combination should over power individual Gods. So I symbolized Shiva over which Ohm stands. All three signs form Ganesha’s face which is the symbol of knowledge.



2. Work at dawn – women working at dawn indicates women power. I like this picture because of the morning light effect.

Work at Dawn

Work at Dawn

3. Jog falls- It is my favorite land scape.

Jog Falls

Jog Falls

4. Morning glory is also my favorite because I have taken it as the sign of life. The light coming through is HOPE.

Rays of Sun

Rays of Sun

Me: They are profound art work as much as they are profound in their meaning.. Great! Can you share some technical tips about painting from your works?

UR: Technical tips! I am not a trained artist. I did not study drawing or painting. I don’t know the basics. I paint on trial and error method. I try and try till I get perfection. I browse through the net and get tips. I don’t trace or sketch before painting a picture. I just do the rough out line with the brush then start painting. When I take the brush in hand my full concentration is on the canvas. I can’t give any technical tips but I can say only one thing when you do something give your full heart to it. Do something with full faith that you can do it.

Me: Sure maam! Definitely.. I read that you have exhibited an art piece of embroidery using human hair.. can you share pic of those if any.. Also can you speak more about them..

UR: Sure.

Embroidery with Hair

Embroidery with Hair

My interest in embroidery has come from my mother. She taught me how to stitch. I used to do beautiful embroidery with silk thread. Once I thought why I can’t use my own hair to do some embroidery. I had long hair at that time. I chose this picture because it will look like pencil sketch. It was very difficult to stitch this because hair is so thin and delicate and it breaks while stitching. I never gave up and I was able to do this embroidery with hair. After that my younger sister also tried it and did a beautiful Radha Krishna.

Me: Wow.. thats really nice.. Finally, can you share some of your learning’s from life for youngsters..

UR: I learnt so many things from life. Life is a big teacher for everyone. I like to share with the youngster’s – do or learn what you really want to. Have some definite goals in life. Give your full heart to achieve it. Plan and work hard to reach that goal. Never get disheartened when you fail. Try again and again. Have patience. Only your confidence, hard work and faith in your abilities will take you to your goal. Here mind power is more important than any other power and you can use your mind power in what ever you want to do.

I want to share something with the retired elders. We have seen everything in life, all ups and downs; failures and successes. Now it is the time to relax. Read, pursue our unfulfilled interests and hobbies. Let us not brood over what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow. Let us live for today, enjoy every present moment because only present moment is ours we don’t know what is in store for us in the next moment! More than anything else BE CHEERFUL!

Me: Absolutely Maam! It was a pleasure to host you on Coffee with Sundar! I must admit that Coffee With Sundar collection has become richer with such great anecdotes and life experiences.. On behalf of all the readers, I would like to thank you once again for sparing your time..

Readers, Hope you enjoyed this edition of coffee with experts. My previous interviews can be found here.

Have a great day!




  • dr kripa shetty said:

    , must say u r a gr8 inspiration to us mam if u started at the age of 60 and could paint such beautiful pics .

  • Vatsala said:

    A wonderful finish to the series. Dear Usha Mam,Your advice is a very valid – We must develop a conviction towards our goal and we must keep at it.

    Very happy to know about you, and happy to be one among the CWS junta 🙂