Spotlight On: Tushara Surapaneni

Ever since she could hold a pencil, senior Tushara Surapaneni has had a passion for art. Her great enthusiasm led to her to take first place in Geneseo’s Battle of the Artists. Surapaneni explained that her three-piece charcoal series “India Ink” honors her heritage and expresses gratitude to her parents who have always been supportive figures in her life.

“India Ink” represents the first time she sought to express emotion through an art piece. She added that most of her artwork focuses on subjects like natural landscapes and animals.

She completed the series over the course of three winter breaks, with each piece taking her around 20 hours to finish. The process included watching a slow motion video of ink moving through water and pausing it in four-second intervals before drawing what she saw.

Working on “India Ink” was the first time Surapaneni completed a series piece, as well as her first experience using charcoal. She noted that she taught herself how to use charcoal through a lot of practice and learning from mistakes.

Surapaneni had previously completed a piece depicting ink moving through water with acrylic paint, but decided to use charcoal for her series piece. “I wanted to do something a little more organic and not a precise shape,” she said.

The biggest obstacle she faced was ensuring that everything converted proportionately from the small video screenshots to an 18 x 24 inch grid. Although she had more flexibility since it was a free form shape, she didn’t take the easy route. “I was really committed to the image that I had in front of me, so I was really committed to doing it exactly that way,” she said.

The most satisfying part of the experience for Surapaneni was the final product. “Seeing them all together was really cool,” she said. “Individually, they look nice, but then put together [they have] an awesome effect.”

Surapaneni explained that her source of artistic inspiration differs from many artists. “I know a lot of artists draw their inspiration from some intangible honey pot or from the world around them, but I’ve never thought of it that way,” Surapaneni said. “I pick subjects and mediums that I think will challenge me somehow—which probably explains how I end up with artwork that has no common theme.”

Although Surapaneni has only taken a few art classes, she works with various mediums including oil painting, sculpture, watercolor, mixed media and paper cutting. She has taught herself how to paint through books and videos. Her preferred medium is oil painting because of its “forgiving” nature, but she noted that she willingly tries new mediums regardless of their complexity. “I really enjoy the process of creating something out of nothing,” she said.

Looking to the future, Surapaneni has yet to decide whether she will submit her pieces to other art competitions. She has plans, however, to continue creating art. She intends to work on watercolor paintings and to invest in more supplies during the summer.

“I’ve never done [art] to make money off of it, but it might be something I’ll look into,” she said.