Tanya Garg on Finding Artistic Inspiration

Finding inspiration in the past, present, and future.

The works of Tanya Garg can be described as many things- fanciful, delicate, whimsy, colorful, energetic, inspiring- the list goes on. Tanya creates genuine art pieces that are full of beautiful perspective, not only in the form of paintings, but also in the form of clay mushrooms and beadwork. Tanya finds inspiration wherever she has been, goes, or is going, whether it be the past, present, or future. Her works are intimate and incredibly detailed- pieces that I knew needed an audience like the blog! Scroll, read, and immerse yourself in the works of Tanya and how she finds artistic inspiration.


Tanya! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Tanya Garg, I am 26 years old, and an Aries. I went to school for painting and currently I live in India. I have a LOT of hobbies- including (but not limited to) cooking, traveling, dancing, playing with my nephews, online shopping, hoarding things, organizing, making crafts, cycling, gossiping with my friends, watching niche documentaries…the list goes on.

What has your journey as an artist been like and how has your art changed overtime?

Screen Shot 2020-12-10 at 3.43.34 PMWhen I was in school, the only things I made were photorealistic portraits with pencil. The only reason I went to art school was because I thought that was the only thing that I was good at, and I loved the idea of being an “artist.” I really can’t explain why I picked painting, because prior to college, I had never really painted. The first semester I was really awful at it—I knew what I wanted the painting to look like but I could never figure out how to do it. The only parts I liked about the class was going to museums, or galleries. Up until then, my perception of art was still very academic, and I only looked at the great masters of European art for inspiration. I started going to gallery openings on the first Thursday of every month because of the free wine, but it really opened up my eyes to different artists, art styles, mediums, and most of all to the fact that you could have multidisciplinary approaches to express yourself as an artist. 

 I sometimes cringe when describing myself as an artist, partly because I have a horrible case of imposter syndrome, and partly because I feel the formal education I received was quite academic and Euro-centric, and made me blind to the innumerable art forms that existed outside of the “art world,” or in some cases were not considered art at all. 

 The biggest struggle for me when creating work before was transcending my personal preconceived notions of what a painting should look like—what is the right way to paint a vase or getting the perspective right. It took some time to realize that the right way for me to express myself is not painting it the right way, but instead painting it the way that is most ideal to me. What objects can I put in, what colours can I paint, and what materials can I use to make this painting one that I enjoy the most. 

 What mediums do you primarily work with?

Again, I started painting with oil, because in my head that was the “proper” way to paint. I really appreciate oil painting. My favourite brand is Gamblin Colors, because I feel like they are innovative, and not stuck in the past, and they focus on developing contemporary solutions to oil painting, however, I recently switched to acrylics. I love the Golden Acrylic mediums, but now I try to just use whatever I can find.

Apart from painting, I hoard many things. I love making crafts, even though that is a bad word in the “Art World,” but I think that is just because historically women made crafts and the Art men were too insecure to give them the respect they deserve. Only now, people are waking up to all the genius women that were creating masterpieces. Obviously, I am not creating magnificent masterpieces (yet), but I like using materials from my childhood—play dough, papier mâché, beads. I have shelves filled with crap like that. I love collecting tchotchkes, and it is also one of my favourite words. I collect handmade toys, embroidery books, buttons, basically anything that looks pretty.

I also make iPad drawings because I’m bad at keeping a sketchbook. I use Adobe Sketch because I find Procreate too complicated. I only use one kind of brush but it’s so nice because I can work with different layers to have endless possibilities of the finished product.

What does your artistic process look like? What do you use as inspiration for your work and how do you find inspiration?

I don’t have one singular process. Sometimes I paint from photos, sometimes I make it up, sometimes I scroll through houses on Airbnb, sometimes I take inspiration from a book. I like having the tv on in the background when I paint, especially food shows. I am very inspired by my house and garden. I am a big consumer and a major maximalist, I love household objects, I love old things, I love antiques and really quirky objects, so I like to place them in my paintings.

Memory is a big one, since I am a very nostalgic person. Not only for the past, but also in a way trying to preserve memories for the future, and in some ways, I feel as our possessions are the only witness to time changing.

screen-shot-2020-12-10-at-11.50.57-amIn contrast, I do have a profound love for nature, and woodsy things- flowers, mushrooms, butterflies etc. I love painting on a cloudy day, in diffused light. My studio overlooks the kitchen garden, and it makes me feel like I’m painting somewhere in the countryside.

I don’t really draw out the composition with a pencil before painting. I always tint my canvas an outrageous colour and use another outrageous colour to paint out the general picture of where things will go. Throughout my painting life, people have been telling me to paint bigger, which I always resisted, but now I have started painting on the wall, and it has been really fun, and liberating to just put silly colours on the wall. My nephew got in trouble for colouring the wall once, so he keeps yelling at me, “Bua, you better not be drawing on the wall.”

What are some of your favorite pieces of art?

Some of the works that stand out are “This is not a Fountain,” by Subodh Gupta, “Non-Stop Conversation,” by Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy, where she covers a last remaining traditional building in a light pink quilt. Let’s see… I love everything Nathalie Lete does because I feel like she is the true definition of an artist- she is constantly making. I find conceptual artist Sophie Calle really funny- one of her works “Take Care of Yourself” was created when she received a break up email from her boyfriend at the time, and got it analyzed by 107 women in different occupations. Another time she went undercover and worked at a hotel for three weeks, and photographed all the guest’s belongings. I like her work because it focuses on the intimate lives and people and the possessions they own. I also really like her because she’s a little bit like a detective and I really wanted to be one when I was a kid.

If you could have dinner with anyone past or present who would it be and what would you eat?

Salma Hayek because she is so kind, generous, confident, cultured, hot, funny, and rich and we would eat whatever Salma wants because she has good taste and likes eating healthy. She also doesn’t like to diet or exercise so I think she’s the best.

 What do you find the most challenging when working on a piece of art?

Screen Shot 2020-12-10 at 11.51.34 AM

I take forever to finish a painting because it’s the least enjoyable part.

What do you enjoy the most about the creative process and creating your art?

Having an idea for a piece…starting it. The second I finish, I take a photo and post it on Instagram, because I love the validation. But also, because I want to be prolific in whatever I make and so I love posting regularly because it motivates me to make work in abundance. I feel that the more I make, the more I discover and that inspires more confidence and happiness in creating works.

 What is your ultimate dream in terms of collaborators, exhibitions, museums for your pieces to be in?

I worked at a gallery briefly and I really enjoyed being there, but I didn’t love the art world. So many of my friends, and also my mom, majored in fashion so I am always in awe of what they make. I really want to learn how to sew and embroider and those are mediums that I want to explore in my work. I don’t know about collaborations, because I don’t work that well with other people, but I like working with my mom.

Screen Shot 2020-12-10 at 11.48.23 AM

As for showing at galleries, I don’t love the idea of my paintings hanging on a white wall in a row. I imagine them in an environment, and that’s why installation art is so fascinating to me. I despise pretentiousness in art, and sometimes galleries can feel very cold and inaccessible. I make things that are familiar and comforting, so by displaying them on a cold white wall seems very lazy on my part.

I don’t like to take my art seriously, because then it wouldn’t be fun. I would like to work on a bigger scale and make works and objects that vibe with all kinds of people, even those outside the art world.

I feel like I have a lot of learning to do, but I think the ultimate dream would be to always be making and exploring. I don’t like limits and I like to imagine and make generously.

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