What is it about art and nature that go hand in hand? Nature in its endless character inspires all artists. I thought what better place to have an art show than in nature? An art show in the garden to showcase my eldest daughter Sridevi’s art.
Sri just graduated college and has started her career in marketing. She didn’t want any graduation party of any kind. She didn’t even want one when she graduated high school. I thought how can I have a celebration of sorts for her without it being a graduation party? An art show to showcase her artistic talents seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Sri’s accomplishements and it wouldn’t even be considered a graduation party.
I have been bugging Sri for years to have an art show so our family friends who have seen her grow up with art as a hobby can see the breadth of her artistic talents, but Sri always resisted. She would tell me that she isn’t ready to share her art with the world yet, it wasn’t viewer worthy.
So when I asked Sri only for the upteenth time after she graduated college if I could host an art show for her, I was expecting the usual “No, Mom.” But to my surprise she said “Yes, Mom.” I couldn’t believe it! I asked her “Are you sure? I don’t want you to do it for me, do the art show because you want to.” Because let’s face it parents, our kids are first in line to tell us that they did something only because WE wanted them to, not because they really wanted to. I didn’t want to hear that from my daughter. I had to make sure the art show was something Sri wanted to do for herself. I curbed my excitement and reminded her multiple times that this is something Sri has to want to do. Sri insisted yes, she was ready. And so the planning began for our first ever art show!
Art in the Garden by Sridevi Sheth.
Meet the Artist: Sridevi my eldest of three daughters has been taking art since she was 8 years old. A 2- hour class every week until she graduated High School at the age of 18. That’s over a decade of weekly art classes that I drove her to and from art school. I take some credit for her artistic accomplishments 😊. Sri recently graduated from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Art and Entepreunership. Sri continues to paint in her free time.
Choosing the Venue: Nature provides such a gorgeous backdrop for art of any form. Showing Sri’s art in my garden just seemed the most logical venue.
Organize and Display the paintings: The next step was for us to figure out how to organize and display over a decade’s worth of paintings. I figured a great way to show the progression of Sri’s artistic skills would be to divide her paintings into the three phases of her life – elementary/middle school, high school, and college. Since my backyard is a teraced garden with three levels, my garden fit this organization perfectly.
Select the Paintings & Narrative: We culled through all of Sri’s paintings from the time she was 8 to her latest works from college; we picked approximately 50 pieces to display – these included sketches, drawings, watercolors, acrylics, and oil paintings.
The next dilemma – how to let our guests know what the pieces are about? What was the inspiration for the paintings? Why Sri chose that subject? What was the prompt for that art piece? Etc. etc. etc. This is where I put Sri to work. I asked her to write a short paragraph for almost all the paintings that would be on display. Sri was not happy 😠. But I told her the choices were either write a few quick notes, or talk for hours and hours and repeat herself again and again during the show. Sri wrote the notes ✏️. What a brilliant idea this was. All our guests read every note and loved them all!
Guest List: We invited our long time family friends and a bunch of Sri’s childhood friends, college friends, and friends from her previous workplaces.
Set the Date: We sent the evite for Saturday, September 2nd at 12:30pm. But as bad luck would have it we were in for a severe heatwave – record- breaking heatwave that weekend. Temperatures were going to reach over 104 degrees! We just couldn’t see people enjoying themselves in the garden. We cancelled the show 😞. We rescheduled it to the following weekend on Sunday, September 10th at 12:30pm. It seems Mother Nature was just not in our favor, because though the week leading up to the show was pleasant and cool, by Sunday the temperatures were back in the 90s. But the show must go on 🎨! To our pleasant surprise almost everyone we invited attended.
Catering: Food! What to order for this special occasion? Something vegetarian and cool, especially as it was going to be a scorcher of a day. We ordered veggie sandwiches, edamame salad, pasta salad, vegetarian sushi, potato samosas, and a veggie platter. I made a large decanter of sangria and plenty of water was on hand as well.
The Stage is Set. We were finally ready for our first ever art show.
Caution!! Folks, this is a long post! I apologize for having so many pictures in this article. We did have over 50 of Sri’s paintings on display, and I would like to share with you the notes that Sri wrote for a bunch of those paintings. Let me now take you on a tour of Art in the Garden by Sridevi Sheth.
The Elementary and Middle School Years
This was my first oil painting ever. Looking at it now, it has an impressionist thing going on, but I definitely remember 8 year old Sri getting frustrated with the lack of realism in the painting. I can assure you, this looks nothing like what I was supposed to be painting which was a fall scenery.
This is one of the few pansy paintings I did during middle school. For some reason everyone loved them. I painted one for my aunt, another for my principal, and two for my Mom. It was crazy. Of course, I only liked this one, and by the fourth pansy painting I was completely over ‘the pansy’ as an art subject.
Can I just say, I love the pansy paintings! Maybe it’s the gardener in me, but Sri is right, I went nuts asking her to paint pansies for me 😀.
I get my artistic brain from my grandmother. From what I’ve heard from my Mom, she was an amazing artist. This is the only painting we have that she painted of a red barn and for the longest time I wanted to replicate it. I painted it around middle school and absolutely hated it. But looking back, it wasn’t too bad. I’ll probably try again
The High School Years
Believe it or not, I wanted to go to art school. My parents entertained the idea for a little while, which allowed for enough time to start building an art portfolio to use in my art school applications, and this was one of the pieces in my portfolio. It consists of a handful of some of my favorite artworks by famous artists. It’s such a simple painting, but to this day I still think it’s really cool.
I took AP Art in high school and hated it. I barely worked on pieces because I didn’t like having to paint what I was told. Well the time came when half my AP portfolio was due, AKA I was in trouble. So in about two days I painted a handful of paintings, and this was one of them. It’s a pretty decent size actually. To make it interesting I added little people playing in the tree. Each of them doing something different. Remember Dr. Seuss? They kind of remind me of Whos from Whoville.
This was one of the pieces in my high school art portfolio. I used to stay up super late at night working on this piece- the amount of layers the colors pencil required, especially for the rose made this a piece that required a ton of patience.
When you don’t know what to paint, you Google images. I came across photos of the Northern Lights which are absolutely stunning. I found this image and kept it on my desktop for months. I didn’t know how I wanted to paint with it but I loved the colors and the image. Finally, I was in the art mood one night and busted this piece out in a couple hours. I remember being completely sucked into the painting when I was working on it. I love it!
This was one of the pieces in my high school art portfolio. This one took a while because I was obsessed with making sure that the lines were straight. It’s still one of my favorite graphite pieces.
This was another one of the pieces in my High School art portfolio. I love the crispness of the charcoal and how white the paper is too. It was interesting to work with negative space- but it looks pretty cool to me!
We had a Kenyan piece in the old house that had members from a Masai Tribe, and I loved the background on that piece. I did my own take on that background with watercolor and the rest of it, to be honest I can’t explain! Art is art!
These aren’t normal watercolors. I got them at camp, during one of my summers teaching at Camp Galileo. They’re super vibrant which is pretty cool. In the middle of a crazy day with energetic 4 year olds, every free five minutes I found, I painted something!
The College Years
This watercolor is one of two paintings I did for my Mom’s birthday. She loves farmer’s markets and baskets and had sent me a few photos of her produce. I used those photos as my framework for the two watercolor paintings and they’re two of my favorite paintings!
I attended Santa Clara University (SCU) during a trying time for diversity issues on campus. I was friends with many people who were part of the Unity 4 movement, which strove to achieve equality for minority groups on campus. In support of their cause underneath the painting of the American Flag I included newspaper clippings from The Santa Clara, SCU’s student newspaper. Each article discusses racism and diversity issues that are present on SCU’s campus.
This piece started off as a photo a friend had sent me while he was at a pier in San Francisco. I really liked the photo because the image showed two docks that met in the center of the image. I tried painting it and absolutely hated it. I ended up covering the entire canvas with white paint and starting over. Then I changed the image a bit and decided to only paint one row of boats. I ended up making up the boats as I went along, and scrapping the original photo entirely.
This painting is huge. The canvas is 6 ft x 4 ft wide. There are very few times I buy a canvas knowing exactly what I want to paint on it. This was one of those times. Painting people is HARD, and it’s taken me forever to push myself to even try and paint the intricacy of the human body. I’d been thinking about the subject matter for months before buying this canvas and it took another few months until I was finally ready to paint this woman. To be honest, I have no idea who she is, but I think she’s beautiful!
Panther Beach in Santa Cruz, California is my all-time favorite beach. I’ve gone there many times with friends and with my family. It’s a little hard to get to, you have to go down a steep ravine to get to the beach, but the scenery once you are down there is spectacular. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can climb the rocks (make sure to watch your step) and that’s how I found the view I painted. It was extremely fun to paint, and I somehow managed to do it with only a Forever 21 jewelry tag and a pallet knife!
This is one of two paintings I did of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I painted it in one of my art classes at University and my Professor made it his pet project to make sure I wasn’t painting anything “predictable.” The original goal was to create a two panel painting of the Golden Gate bridge- both in day time. Apparently it’s predictable. Hence the night scene in the second panel. The images are a continuation of each other, so they fit like a puzzle which is what I like most about this set.
My Dad loves elephants! He is a huge fan of elephant conservation and supports the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Kenya to keep the elephant population a healthy number. Dad especialy loves baby elephants. For Father’s Day I painted this image of a baby elephant from an image I found on the internet.
I painted this scene from a photo a friend of mine texted me from his Amtrak train ride home from college at University of California, Davis. The train ride was from Sacramento, California to the Bay Area.
I took a watercolor class in college and one of the assignments involved going outside and picking flowers and leaves etc. We had to bring them back to class and paint one of them. SCU is famous for their roses, so I picked one of the roses and this was the end result!
When I painted this street scene, it was the first large scale water color I had done. It took a while to choose the subject matter; but everyone loves San Francisco! So I Googled “street view SF” and found this image! P.S. I found the exact street depicted in this painting, while in SF about a year ago.
Painting on the beach is amazing, and that’s exactly what I did with this painting. I painted on the beach when we were vacationing in Mexico and it was pretty awesome. This was our view from the hotel!
This is a piece that I made with over one thousand pennies. I spray painted each penny, cut a large piece of sheet metal and morphed it into a moving flag. Then glued each and every penny onto the metal sheet to create the American Flag. To make a statement, I also included a painter’s pulley with buckets that read taxes. This piece weighs a ton! I still remember having to carry this heavy sucker from my dorm to art class every week at SCU.
More art pieces by Sridevi:
More photos of this fun afternoon with friends and family.
Lunch in the Garden.
Let’s Eat Cake Sri!!
Chilling in the garden with our guests.
Everyone having a good time 😀😀.
Kids had the right idea!! Cooling off in the pool.
Art in the Garden by Sridevi Sheth 🎨
“Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and color, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end.”
From Winston Churchill’s essay Painting as a Pastime