Henna Bajaj is NIFT graduate with her bachelors in textile design and masters in footwear design. During the initial lockdown in the pandemic, she drew her first mandala in April 2020. After a few months of experimenting with the artform, she received media coverage in ‘Life in Chandigarh’ which a leading E-newspaper from her hometown. Having found gouache as her go to medium she dove into the world of ornate mandalas and found her niche. She’s since worked on Ornate Mandala artwork commissions for Hotels and independent collectors alike and has conducted 50+ workshops on the subject for both national and international participants.
1. Who are your biggest artistic influencers?
While I find social media artists such as Ailin (Mandalas by Ailin), Ricki Duran, Saudamini (Saudamini.madra) and Sajita Shahi (Perfectcircle0) hugely inspiring, my biggest artistic influence comes from the heart and roots of Mandala Making which is the Buddhist Sand Mandalas.
2. When is your favourite time of the day to create?
I prefer creating artworks either in early mornings or late at night when there’s a lot of calm and quiet around.
3. What is your favourite medium?
Initially I experimented with mediums such as watercolors, poster colors and even acrylics but the dynamic quality of gouache to create watercolor as well as poster color like effects was what made them my go to medium. Since they can be reactivated with water, making them a zero waste product and as they always dry to be matte and even irrespective of the direction of the brush strokes, these seemed the most suitable for ornates and hence became my favorite medium.
4. Do you experiment with other artforms and mediums too?
tezhip (Persian Illumination) and landscape art recently where I sometimes use acrylics or watercolors
5. Where do you find your inspiration?
I normally seek inspiration for the color palettes to be used in my mandalas and that either comes from nature (pics from vacations where I use colors of nature eg. blues of a lake and greys from the sky with some umber from the mountains etc ) or from the most random things such as a movie scene, an ikea brochure, a book cover or even a pet’s tee shirt). My biggest inspiration however is nature.
6. Which colour palette do you prefer using in your art works?
I personally like working with a cool color palette bec its much more soothing to the eyes than a warm palette. Also, since I use a lot of gold for highlights, blues and greens look much more balanced with it than yellows in general.
7. What got you interested in ornate Mandala , and are you a self taught artist?
Yes, I am a self taught artist. The symmetry of the artform and the fact that it involved geometry and calculations to an extent is what got me interested in Mandalas in the first place. Ornates were a result of a lot of trial and error and tons of old paints lying around.
8. How long does it usually take you plan a mandala and what’s the biggest size you’ve created?
Mandalas have become second nature so there’s almost no planning involved. I usually just need to sit down with my art supplies and it happens organically. The biggest size I have created thus far is a 5′ Ornate Mandala.
9. How did you get into this field?
During the first lockdown, I was scrolling through social media pages and came across a couple of zentangle and contemporary mandala artworks which instantly reminded me of the beautiful sand art mandalas from the Buddhist monasteries of Himachal where I ived during college. Having a lot of spare time around then, I just picked up a gel pen and basic copier paper and started drawing mandalas. After doing about 50-60 artworks in ink, I decided to add some color to the mandalas and ornates have become my niche since then.
10. What is the most challenging part of being an artist?
Monetization. To get commissions is not so hard but to create what comes to me organically and sell that or sell an existing artwork vs changing my style every now and then for a client and creating pieces basis that is usually the biggest challenge.
11. How hard is it for you to part with your art?
It’s almost impossible to part with it. I do take breaks just to explore other artforms every once in a while but I always go back to Mandalas.
12. Success to you is?
To be able to sell/display pieces as they were made or thought of rather than customizing it for someone else.
13. What does art mean to you?
Art is the Yin to my Yang. It brings a sense of balance and familiarity in life. Especially when the going gets tough, Art is the constant I can fall back on at any time.