Be regular on your practice and you’ll never fail: Ganesha Somayaji


Artist Ganesha Somayaji is a senior artist of Mangalore, India. He comes from the evergreen nature background of Dakshina Kannada, in the West coast of Karnataka, South India. His adoration to water colours is something rare, and has only a few compeers in Indian water colour painters. His love to nature, and inspiration that he derives from her is reflected in all his landscape paintings. His authority over the brush and supremacy over the colour combination, could be seen whether it is in a water fall scene or in his painting on fisherman-net-mending.

Be regular on your practice and you’ll never fail: Ganesh Somayaji |

This week, Artist Ganesha Somayaji spoke to Beauty Wall Spot CEO - Vishwas Krishna during the show - “KARATANJALI”  held at Prasad Art Gallery, Mangalore, INDIA.

Every art student cannot become a famous artist, but by learning art one can develop the aesthetic sense and can develop the way of doing things in a systematic way. One may choose any profession, may be a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, or a computer specialist, by his art education he can complete his work in a beautiful way and it will satisfy him and impress others.

- Artist Ganesha Somayaji

VISHWAS: Namaste Sir 🙂

VISHWAS: Wow, I personally am very much thrilled to be with you in your studio. Looking around I can see the play of colours and the art works take me to a dream world. Wow! This is awesome! Everything is Artistic.
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: Thank you 🙂 This is a perfect place for my studio. Away from my house and the neighbours peeping in to my works, I am free from all interferences; more over I can work late nights with out any one distracting my concentration. I am also interested in music, sometime I practice key board at midnight. 🙂

23 years back in this same room, me and my friends started an organisation called "Artists Combines". Now all the members are of the age group of 60+ .  The aim of the group was to develop ourselves, other artists, and in general art by reaching out to the public with exhibitions and promotions.  Also we intended to develop an art culture in Mangalore.  As the group is of senior persons, now our physical activities are restricted.

VISHWAS: So, this room has not only art it has history too. Now I am very much thrilled. Sir, recently you participated in Hampi festival.  I understand this is a very big festival. What is your experience?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: Yes, it is a great festival. It is organised by the Department of Kannada and culture, Govt of Karnataka, the district administration, and the people of Hampi. Many programmes were conducted like art camps, musical programmes and other stage programmes etc and it is conducted every year. This time the camp was conducted under the presidential leadership of Shri M.T.Kale, a very senior artist.  He is 80 years old and still very active which is a motivating factor for us. The camp was for three days, from October 26th to 29th.  33 artists participated.  6 senior artists,  9 contemporary young artists,  and around 18 local upcoming artists.  About 60 art works were created in the camp. Usually an art comp is conducted in a hall, but in Hampi, it was very different. 

There are many temples, were the idols are absent, may be someone has removed them or it has disappeared, only sanctum sanctorum is there, we were allowed to chose one of these places for our work.  The place of idol is occupied by the artist for his creative work.  Hampi, you know is very hot, because of the rocky land, but inside the temples it was very cool, like in an air-conditioned room, due to the granite roofing and the floor. In addition due to the height there was good wind also, giving us pleasant atmosphere helping us to concentrate on our work.  Totally it was a great experience. 

VISHWAS: Wow, It must have been a very unique artistic experience for you. Sir, you are very good in Indian Water Colour Paintings, and very famous for your on the spot paintings. Now you have made your own style in acrylic also,  Sir, how could you achieve all these?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: I appreciate your regards on me, which prompted you to give this comment. But when I recall my younger days, I remember my mothers recollection of memories of my childhood. As a 3 year old child, when my mother was putting the rangoli in front of the Tulasi, I had made a arathi of clay, a replica of the one we had and it was beautiful. Even our neighbours appreciated my clay work. I was the only son to my parents. I was born in a village near Bantwal.  My father was an agriculturist and he goes to the farm and my mother was busy with house hold chores, I used to spend my time observing the nature, the woods, the river the grazing animals etc, which became the subject for my various works. Till SSLC I studied there itself. When I was in the 9th standard every Sunday I used to pedal my cycle to Mangalore, to the residence of the drawing teacher of St. Aloysius School Mr. D'Souza. Whatever he taught I eagerly learnt and it helped me to prepare for my grade examination in drawing. I used to come to Mangalore in the morning and was back in the evening.  In 1964 I could pass my grade exam in first class. My father was not aware of this, including my weekly cycle trips to Mangalore.  He had his own troubles of land litigations, court cases and economic problems.  He suggested me to take up agriculture as a profession and forget about higher studies. He was not that interested in art. He never knew about my grade exam in art.  More over I was not good in studies also. I used to collect old question papers and with the help of these I studied the important topics required for the exams, and I managed every exams in the last hour studies. My father felt if I took interest in art I will be failing in my studies.

After SSLC I wanted to go for PUC, but due to financial constraints I decided to look for some job. Some one suggested me to apply for a drawing teacher's post in Rosario School. It was June and I submitted a handwritten application giving my details to the Headmaster Fr. John Mathias. He observed my handwriting, my interest in art and music and listened to me. He did not promise anything but asked me to meet him after two days. On Thursday morning I went to enquire about status of my application  for the job. On my arrival the Headmaster directly took me to the 10th standard class room and asked me to take the class.  I was totally unprepared.  During those days, I was not having even a pant to wear.  I had gone there wearing a dhoti and a full sleeves shirt.  In the class most of the students were taller than me.  I recollected my school days and started asking questions to students as my teachers were asking and managed the class.  There started my career as a teacher. The students accepted me as a teacher as I could create some interest in the students. I had decided to go for higher education after one year.  But then it took me 4 years, to actually go for my GD Art. For one or other reason I had to stick on the job.  It was a 4 year course and one could appear as an external student.  The exam centre were there in Udupi or Mysore.  In 1973, I passed the exam in First Rank. I was greatly helped by Shri B.G. Muhammad of BG School of Art.  He was a great person, he properly guided me. In Chamarajendra Institute of Mysore I appeared for the GD Art examination.  And thus at an age of 39 I got a job as a teacher without proper PUC or Degree certificate in Rosario school itself.  So I decided to go ahead with my passion of art as my profession and hobby, as any other degree will be of little use to me.

VISHWAS: Wow, that is a mesmerising story!! I have observed many of your students proudly claiming, whenever you release a new work as their teacher's work.
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: Yes yes. I have also noticed many of my students appreciating my new art works through their messages and comments. Many students are there even gone abroad on jobs who keep in touch with me. More than 200 students come out every year, and since the past 39-40 years many have come to me as students and I really fail to remember some of their names and at times fail to recognise them. My weakness 🙂

VISHWAS: Sir, you have thousands of students who are working in India and abroad, always remembering you. What was the advice you gave to them  that made the students love you so much?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: Ha ha [laughs]. I have always told my students that in every artform one cannot become a famous artist, but by learning art one can develop the aesthetic sense and can develop the way of doing things in a systematic way. One may choose any profession, may be a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, or a computer specialist, by his art education he can complete his work in a beautiful way and it will satisfy him and impress others. This is a means to every potential achiever in his career. Many officials have greatly benefitted by their art education. We can observe the working style of an officer who had art education.  In difference to the others, they have an impressive style.

VISHWAS: Sir, In your long career as an artist you must have participated in many art camps and gained great experience. I am curious to know in how many art camps you must have participated?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: I am a lazy person in accounting process. I have not kept any records of my all such activities. I have participated in hundreds of art camps and organised hundreds of art camps.  Since last 10 years I have been a part of the art camp organised in Moodabidri, under the leadership of Dr. Mohan Alva.  In every camp many artists participate and each artist has his own style, technique and creativity, and you get to learn in every camp something new.  Even in the latest Hampi camp I have seen young artists who are younger than my 40 year’s of service, had very interesting talents in them.  I learned some new techniques from them also.

Be regular on your practice and you’ll never fail: Ganesh Somayaji |

VISHWAS: That’s great!! Sir, in your art life what was the best advice given to you as an artist?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: As such my elders and seniors have given me many advices and suggestions, I have accepted many of their directions and it has helped me a lot in my development.  Still I remember one incidence in my life.  During my youthful days, I was creating realistic works,  in fact all my art education was on realistic works only,  people appreciated my works also.  I still remember I have lost many opportunities because of my realistic works. I was rejected in many places because my art is more like photography. Though people did not tell me it directly, I was given information by others the reasons for the missing opportunities.  Those days say about 25 years back Bharat Beedi works  were printing their calendars every year with artworks of Internationally renowned artist Mr. S.M.Pandit from Bombay.  He had created a life size portrait of Mr. Pai, the Chairman of Bharath Beedi Works, and it was sent to Mangalore. It was kept in the house of Mr. Pai. One day I heard that Mr. S.M.Pandit is coming to improve the work to Mr. Pai's house. I went to meet Shri Pandit and showed him some of my works.  He looked at my works and said "You are good at realistic work, but try to be more realistic, observe the objects more closely and you can improve on this."  I was very proud during those days as a good realistic artist, and this advice made me to think. I realised that there is more to learn through realistic art. When I go for portraiting I observe the background. There are plenty of plants and trees, each tree having different shape and each leaf of the tree having different green colour same colour also giving different depth and intensity, like this you get to learn a lot.

VISHWAS: As you earlier stated you are interested in music too, and you also play the keyboard. You are involved in music groups, you are heading the Manikrishna Swamy academy of Music, all these activities show your interest in music.  Sir, is there any connection between music and drawing?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: Ofcourse there is. Music and painting are like siblings. These two art forms are highly connected. One is visual art and the other is audio, one you can enjoy by seeing while the other you can hear and enjoy. In visual art there is the colour contrast, the light and shade techniques, in music you have the pitch and the rhythm. In music once you hear the music you may forget also, but in painting you have the work physically before you for seeing or exhibition.

VISHWAS: This question is too personal for you.  Which is the work of yours you liked the most?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: Ha ha [laughs] This question is like asking a mother of many children, who is her favourite.... ,every child is her favourite.  Similarly for an artist every work is good and as he creates a new one he will feel it as better than his previous one. This shows his development and it is a positive aspect also.

VISHWAS: That was a great answer. Sir, which art work of other artists you like most, so as to say, has remained in your memory as a great work?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: There are many artists whose works I loved.  As you call role model, many artists works I have greatly liked. Many artists who are no more and many senior artists have had influence on me and I could improve myself in my creativity and works.

VISHWAS: As I mentioned earlier, you are a senior artist of Beauty Wall Spot and you have many fans across the world on our platform itself.  What is your opinion about the concept and marketing platform of Beauty Wall Spot?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: This is a good concept. Recent developments has given more importance to the electronic media and today Beauty Wall Spot as a marketing platform is bridging the gap between the art lover and artist not only on the national level but on international level also. This is a necessity also. We the seniors might be not as forward as you the youngsters, but I feel this is very much needed for all of us.  Every information on the tip of your fingers is a wonder for us the elder people. I recall about 20-25 years back if I wanted to see the great works of artists, even Indian artists, I should travel to Bangalore or Mumbai or any other city where the artist lives. Today you can see all these on the screen of a computer in a few seconds. In this aspect Beauty Wall Spot is doing excellent work and will be a boon to all artists. You can be a link between the artists, art lovers, buyers and art related business people. I wish a wonderful future for you. Todays young artists even without participating in art exhibitions are capable of selling and earning money through internet marketing.

VISHWAS: Thank you Sir 🙂 With your blessings we will achieve all this.  Sir, do you have any plans to work on a theme and create artworks and exhibit the same?  Do you think your fans are expecting this?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: When you talk about theme, through art you must give message to people, improve upon the ill of the society, all these should reflect in the art: such art exhibition will not succeed. From my past experience I want to say that people like works which makes them happy. When we create works on war, the poverty, the begging people, the poor child sleeping on the road, all these you can realistically portray, but who will love to hang such works on their wall?  Such works do not sell.  The colours and mixing of colours the lay out and the techniques, all these should make the viewer happy.  I am looking for some such project to work.

VISHWAS: That is entirely true, Sir. As we see the behaviour of customers on our platform, we can firmly conclude that people buy Art which they love regardless of what the theme is. Sir, Final question for you. As a senior artist, what is your message to the youngsters?
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI:Every teacher of all the art forms visual or audio suggest one thing in common. Be regular on your practice. In music unless your practice with your voice or instrument you cannot grow or improve.  Same way in painting also be regular with your brushes and canvas and update yourselves daily, then only you can grow.  If you create some thing today and pack it and keep it as a monument, after 20-30 years you may proudly show it as your old work, if you have not updated yourselves, you cannot create such beautiful works anymore. Around 25-30 years back itself, realistic artists were like untouchables. They are only copycats.  Contemporary artists were considered as real artists. But I have seen many young modern artists, who went on creating artworks and piling it. After sometime when no buyer comes for these, they loose interest in art and look for alternate fields. So I suggest the youngsters to practice with the realistic art and learn art in systematic and scientific way. Once you gain experience go for the contemporary style. You will not fail.

VISHWAS: That is truly an eye opener. Great Advice Sir. Today I had the opportunity to be with you with my questions and it was an interesting interaction with you. Our visitors are looking ahead for this interview and I thank you very much for spending your time with me. Wish you an artful life 🙂
ARTIST GANESHA SOMAYAJI: Thank you, Vishwas. It was my pleasure to be with you. I wish all the success in your venture which is the need of the hour. And I wish every one reading this art story of mine, Thank you and Happy Artful life. 🙂


1 thought on “Be regular on your practice and you’ll never fail: Ganesha Somayaji

  1. Very true and very encouraging guidance to artists who want to practice Art as a profession or hobby.

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