We had the good fortune of connecting with Durba Sen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Durba, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This is a seemingly easy question but requires quite a bit of reflection! For every artist, entrepreneur or small business owner – we start with a vision; a vision to create, solve problems or address a need. There is usually a road map, partial or complete, an idea as to what we want to achieve. But each and every one of them will tell you that everything they have thought or planned does not come to fruition, or works out as planned! There are roadblocks and hurdles, some not within our control. As an artist, these hurdles are numerous and varied. There are days when I am sitting in front of a blank canvas, and I cannot seem to come up with an idea – even though I woke up in the morning with a bag full of them! There are times when as an artist, you feel very low and down because you have received yet another letter of rejection for a show. At times you wonder if it is worth going! So do you give up? Heck no! For every two steps forward, you take a step backward – look closely and you’ll see all is not lost! You start small, start slow; grab every opportunity that comes your way; sometimes with networking, you can make some of those opportunities happen. You get recognized, remembered at events, you build your contacts – for me as an artist, I try to attend a few shows, though I would ideally like to attend much more! The whole process is a learning curve, including what you paint! If you are passionate about what you’re doing,and it brings you joy, try not to give up over a few hurdles. Of course, there might come a time when you feel the amount of effort and time invested in your work does not remotely equate to it’s outcome – and that you do need to give it a second look to see if it is worth pursuing. You might have to make that tough decision to cut off the losses. For me, I cannot envision myself without my creative “bug”. As an artist, the way is not all smooth – there are hills as well as plateaus and valleys. I have learnt to adopt other artistic means like teaching art and conducting paint events that does not let me lose touch with my artistic self, supplements my income and propels me forward to keep creating and showing my work at galleries, coffee shops, and online!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a California artist and I love abstract paintings – landscape, figurative, geometric or abstract expressionis! As a child, I took a few customary art classes, and explored quite a few mediums and worked on portraits, landscapes and still life. But with time, I have come to realize that what excites me the most and makes me come alive is abstract expressionism. I love interpreting subjects, emotions and life with vivid color and texture! Unfortunately, the going has not been easy! A friend once said to me that she loves the colors and feel of my art, but she doesn’t understand it! It’s easy to relate to and appreciate realistic paintings of landscape, animal life and portraits. It is tougher to make a niche for yourself and sell abstract art – there are more rejections than acceptances. What changed my perspective was when I heard a gallerist and curator talk about how his viewpoint about art might be very different from someone else’s and that a rejection of a piece for a juried show does not necessarily mean that the art is worth nothing! He also advised never to take it personally or give up! “Creativity takes courage” said Henri Matisse! I teach art to kids and adults and this experience helps me grow and mature as an artist and fuels my creativity and funds my art career. In this difficult time of the dreaded virus and stay at home order, I am fortunate to be able to conduct my art classes and paint events on a virtual platform; and blessed that I am able to keep painting and grow my portfolio for better times ahead! I am the most happy and content when I am painting or creating art! It’s always an added bonus when your painting adorns the walls of others! When not painting, I am working on networking, updating my website and social platforms, and taking care of the mundane but important business side of art.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Living in the Bay Area, during normal times, there are a ton of places to show someone visiting from out of state or country. We usually head to San Francisco in the north or Carmel and Santa Cruz in the South. But there is a lot to see, experience and savor between the two points. Before heading to San Francisco, I would like to make a stop at Oakland – 20 minutes from San Francisco, but oh, so different in character and identity! While San Francisco is a “mecca for entrepreneurs and inventors”, Oakland is a “mecca for people of different culture and color”. Oakland is a big city with it’s own social movements, characterized by work, labor, docks and warehouses on one side, art galleries and independent stores on the other. Being an artist, visiting a place is not complete without visiting at least a couple of art galleries and museums. There is so much to see and do in Oakland – from visiting the Hidden staircases into Oakland hills for spectacular views,rolling hills, to the stunning historic section of old Oakland to hiking in one of this city’s beautiful redwood parks, or catching a game at the Coliseum. A must visit is The Crucible, Oakland’s industrial art school and the Chabot Space and Science center! One can make it a 2 to 3 day trip with visiting the Angel Island, Tiden Regional park, Jack London Square sitting right on the water, gazing along the bay to San Francisco. Go on a Urban Wine Trail, visit the Rosenblum Cellars, and sample a few of the varied cusine of the world here, like tacos at Nidos or at Cholite Linda; macaroni and cheese at Homeroom, amazing BBQ at Everett and Joes, Cam Houng for its banh mi sandwiches, Penrose for its North African and middle eastern cusine, Juhu Beach Club for its dosa waffles to name a few. The First Friday in Oakland is a fun and festive event every month with all galleries and restaurants open, eagerly welcoming it’s visitors. A perfect way to end the day would be with live jazz at Yoshi’s Jazz Club! Moving from Oakland to San Francisco is a continuation of the over stimulation of the senses! A fun way to explore the city is through Urban Adventure. A visit to SF for me means lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf with clam chowder soup in a bread bowl and fish and chips. Art galleries galore, a visit to SF MOMA, rides on the cable car, exploring Union Square with all its shops and eateries – but wait there’s more, and one day is definitely not enough! The beautiful and peaceful Japanese Gardens or the Yerba Buena gardens, the Crooked Street, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps designed by a local artist,Palace of Fine Arts theatre, catching a show at The Fillmore, The Independent amongst othersor a jazz performance a the SF Jazz Center, taking a ride on the Golden Gate Bridge to visit a quaint art city, Sausalito. With so much sight seeing, indulging in gastronomical delights is a must. Ghiradelli square with its chocolates to Fang’s for Chinese, Slanted Door for fusion Vietnamese food, Mister Jiu’s – though some require reservations! La Taquria or Cala for mexican fare, DOSA or Rooh for Indian, Cotogna for Italian – the choice is endless. The city is divided into sections and each section has its varied choices of restaurants, and I have never been disappointed to date! A week seems like enough time to visit a few more places, but for me 7 days is not enough to do justice to these two very different and unique places. I usually love to soak up the culture and feel of a place and experience it to the full!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shout out to my husband and partner in life, Prosenjit for literally pushing me to follow my artistic endeavors; and to him and my kids for being my avid supporters and critics of my work! They have always stood by me, encouraging me all the way, pulling me up when the going has been tough. They have helped me set up for open studios and art fairs, keeping me company for the long hours; and provides valuable insight and guidance in marketing and selling – some of which I incorporate and follow!