Art Break: Studio Snapshot with Ashwini Bharathula

Written by Daniel Crumbley Category: Arts Issue: October 2018
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An artist and an academic, painter Ashwini Bharathula uses her own reference photos to re-create people, urban landscapes and water surfaces in acrylic.

photo by Angelina AragonOut of her converted home studio, painter Ashwini Bharathula works to maintain a marriage between her two drives: the art of science and the science of art. As a child in India, Bharathula used pencils to sketch her favorite Disney characters and figures of Indian myth. As an adult, she earned a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering. After working briefly for Intel and Lam Research Corp., Bharathula decided to pursue art full time. The painter uses acrylics to create canvas and wood panel art based off her own reference photos featuring people, urban landscapes and water surfaces. “A lot of my pieces are inspired by my travels. I am drawn to scenes, most that feature bold, complementary colors,” Bharathula says. “I hope, as an artist and an academic, that I can work to change the left-brain, right-brain theories that separate concepts like science and art from each other.”

Bharathula is at work on a canvas piece depicting people in the Swiss Alps, which she recently visited. “It was raining, it was drab, but there was something appealing in the imagery.”

photo by Angelina AragonInspiration for this portrait came from a temple in India. “I was accosted by this very persistent flower seller, so I asked her if I could take her photo for reference. I ended up buying some of her flowers, too.”

“I am interested in the controversy behind plastic and wanted to... see if I could somehow bring life into lifeless things,” she says of her “Plastic Life” series.

Some of Bharathula’s portraits are works in progress. “It is unfinished, but I love the coloring,” she says of a noir portrait she began while taking a workshop in Scottsdale. “It reminds me of my earlier pencil sketches.”