We had the good fortune of connecting with Srishti Wilhelm and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Srishti, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
This is an interesting question, and my answer does not come in a fashion of giving up on your efforts and your dreams. No. When I think of continuing or letting go of something is when I feel like I have expressed enough of that which I want to pursue; in other words it was calling to me and wanting to be expressed but now having expressed it I witness what has come forth. Whether I marvel or appall at my creation is not what is keeps me going, but it’s the process of creation, it’s the state of feeling alive while being in the process of creation. I am an impressionist-plein air artist; embracing the methods and the philosophy of the French Impressionists of the 19th century, I paint exclusively from life. My art is all about frisson, getting thrilled by nature, of feeling large in the process of creation. I don’t start a painting unless I am moved by what I see. Sometimes, I would wander around or drive around for hours, but if I am not moved from the very beginning, I don’t start, and when I am (moved) I continue as long as I am in a state of enchantment or that which enchanted me and wanted to come through me is no more. The minute this enchantment breaks, I am done. For me it’s not about finishing the painting, but about being moved. I “give up”, or more precisely, I stop continuing or rather I even don’t start if I know that I am not moved by what is in front of me. So, the short answer is, “let go” or “give up” if you are not intensely “feeling alive”, not enchanted by it while doing it anymore.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Short story- I paint 100%, exclusively, from Life. To find out how and why I got there and what inspires me to pursue this, read the Long story below… ~~Long Story~~ 20 years ago, when I first drove through Arizona, I knew it! I knew that I was in love! The vast open spaces, the empty deserts, the mountains , cacti and Saguaros, and to be able to see as far as you can and no signs of humanity, wow! Growing up in India and raised to follow the rat-race of civilized society, I never knew I could feel this way. I felt a special place opening up inside my heart as I fell in love with nature! But it still took several more years to realize how I could feel even closer to Nature than just “being” in Nature. Art to me is a ways of finding and defining who I am most. I have been an “artist” -as we all are in our own rights- on and off, most of my life. More intensively in last 10 years, I focused on “being” an artist. It began with trying to paint from photographs, etc. We all start that way, when we forget that we were born as an artist and we get “caught up” in life and don’t remember any more what it is that makes us feel alive. I spent countless hours indoors, painting from pictures, it was fun in the beginning, and even though I enjoyed the process of painting, I did not know why I was doing it or who I was. I had several successful shows and got some recognition, but I was not alive inside. Then I discovered French Impressionism. Impressionism is about what is truly in front of us, Our impressions of it, the vibrations we feel when we stand in front of Nature and we put them down on the canvas. How I like to say, Impressionism and painting from life, to me, is veneration of Nature; it is a step closer to being able to touch – to really touch – Nature. Several years into my art journey, while loving painting but not really feeling alive, I made a decision that I was done painting locked up in my studio from photographs. I was only going to paint from life – plein air, still life or humanity. Through wind and cold, or sunshine and fair weather, I can be found looking for the play of light and shade, colors and lines out there in nature that catch my fancy and beg to be painted. No, It’s not easy by any means! The weather, the fast changing light requires coming back, over and over, day after day to catch same weather and light conditions. The hikes and clambering over boulders and rocks or long trails that have to be endured to find perfect view that sings to me while lugging 10-15 pounds of painting gear keeps me searching for the beauty that I want to capture; a lot of the times I have to retrace my steps back to my car because nothing was “poetry” to me that day. But when I find it, when I am enchanted by the nature, there is nothing else that makes me more alive, gives me the same frisson. It’s a bubbly feeling of losing myself and at the same time finding myself and being a part of the life energy, the life force. It shows up here and there but when I find it I know that I am touching Nature. This is what I am here for and this is what I am looking for. What I paint are the “Impressions of Life” that Life and Nature herself presents to me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First stop, my home in Prescott, AZ, the Falcon Nest. This landmark and an architectural wonder is the tallest single family residence in the world. My husband and I purchased it almost 3 years ago and we feel like it was made for us. It has a built in 30 feet high galley space that was designed to be able to hang and view up to 200 paintings at eye level and I am having fun painting away and watching the walls fill up! It’s a fun destination, and I invite the readers of this article, as well , to contact me if they would like to drop by and come say hi and see my artwork, my “Impressions of Life”! My other favorite place, here in Prescott, is the Granite Dells, the beautiful lakes of Prescott surrounded by amazing boulders. Often, I can be found painting and lost in Nature in these rocks and never miss a chance to revisit and take friends and family here. The Art Galleries and summer art festivals in Prescott are a blast. You can see some really amazing artwork from a lot of good artists here. What an inspiration it is, always, to get a chance to visit any one of these. But, being a Nature worshipper, my favorite places are always the beautiful, endless hiking trails in Prescott. That is the main reason I am here, beautiful Nature and the amazing hikes.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost, I would give a shoutout to my husband, Ernst Wilhelm, who invited me to start painting together in the evenings after sending our (then young) children to bed. He has supported me and encouraged me through my ups and downs and my doubts and successes and has always been there to provide all the technical support from hanging my paintings to fixing my easels. Thanks sweetheart! My kids, Himanshu, Kirati and Adelaide, who are the most creative people and inspire me every day with their creativity. You all are truly amazing! My mentor, Jerry Fresia, who guides me through my efforts and keeps me true to the spirit of impressionism. Truly appreciate you Jerry!