photo by Jess Daninhirsch
NASH is home to many budding artists with their own unique visions, styles, and talents. Senior Shreya Chalapalli, however, is a standout amongst them. With various awards and honors under her belt, she continues to create and share her work every day.
“I’ve loved drawing probably from the time I was old enough to hold a crayon,” she said. “I was always interested in observing the world around me to capture it in drawings, while also adding pieces from my imagination.”
Chalapalli began posting her artwork through various social networks at a young age.
“In 2012, I started a small WordPress blog, initially just to share pictures of my artwork and progress,” she said. “In middle school, I started posting articles about art supplies or tutorials more regularly and also started an Instagram account to share my work.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she found a new medium to share her art through.
“While I enjoyed writing and sharing pictures, what I really wanted to do deep down was to make videos, but I always dismissed the idea as too difficult and time-consuming. When we went into the first lockdown, however, I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands and felt inspired to finally try to create art videos,” she said. “After pushing through the struggle of figuring out how to film and edit, I finally started a YouTube channel and a new website for my blog and shop in August of 2020. It’s still a small channel, but I really enjoy producing content for it and appreciate all the warm, supportive comments I get from people who enjoy my work.”
Chalapalli draws inspiration primarily from nature.
“I often include elements like flowers, greenery, water, and celestial bodies in my pieces. When brainstorming concepts, I often draw from important experiences or emotions in my life, whether positive or negative, to help viewers connect more with the piece,” she said. “This piece, called Peony, was inspired by the famous flower fields in Amsterdam.”
For Chalapalli, art is a way for her to express herself while having fun.
“To me, art is any form of self-expression that allows me to be genuine and share some idea that is important to me,” she said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that the final product will always be appealing, but I create primarily to enjoy the process.”
Chalapalli’s love for the process shows in her work.
“This colored pencil drawing on toned tan paper is called Reverie and depicts a subject daydreaming surrounded by flowers and butterflies,” she said.
Chalapalli sees art as an opportunity to explore and learn about different cultures and people.
“I think that visual art is a powerful way to connect people from all over the world and break cultural and language barriers to serve a wide variety of purposes—some art is comforting and beautiful while some can be more unsettling or thought-provoking,” she said. “ I occasionally make pieces that connect with my South Asian heritage, but I also get inspired by clothing, food, architecture, artwork, films, music, etc. from other cultures.”
She finds ways to challenge herself and grow in her craft.
“This is a page from my sketchbook when I was completing the 100 heads challenge, which is when you draw 100 faces in ten days,” she said. “I observed different angles, ages, and types of faces to improve my portraiture skills.”
Chalapalli enjoys experimenting with different tools and styles.
“I made this illustration, titled Stepping Stones, last December when I was experimenting with some new watercolor and ink supplies,” she said.
Chalapalli believes art is for anyone, no matter the skill or experience level.
“I always hear people say that they wish they had the talent to draw, but I really don’t think anyone should feel restricted from making art, regardless of their skill level, since anyone can create for fun,” she said. “This is an oil pastel drawing of a flower field that I made just for fun. I enjoy using oil pastels since you can have fun with the colors and overall impression rather than getting caught up in every little detail.”
Although she does not plan to pursue a career in art, Chalapalli will continue creating for her enjoyment, eager to learn and improve.
“I don’t plan on pursuing art as a career and am not too interested in selling my work, although I have sold pieces in the past and occasionally do commissions. Still, art is a very big part of my life that allows me to be creative and de-stress, so I will never give it up as a hobby,” she said. “I will keep on practicing and learning so that I can continue to improve my skills and discover new forms of art.
Chalapalli’s art can be found on her website, her YouTube channel, and her Instagram page, @shreyachal.