The Indian Artist, Revamped: The Last Hurrah, Year 3!

Good afternoon everyone! I hope that you are all doing well and that your semester came to a successful end. Knowing that I am done with my junior year of undergrad is incredibly exciting yet terrifying at the same time. Time has flown by and I am so excited for the journey to come next!

I am currently in the process of applying to medical schools, about to depart for vacation with family, and trying not to let the anxiety of applications get to me. It has been very tough navigating the onslaught of COVID-19, moving out of home to a new environment for the first time, and juggling a part-time job, research, full course loads, and life all at once. Things did not go as planned. There have been so many hiccups and nothing turned out exactly as I had planned for. However, I truly think that I will end up where I am meant to (in the least cliché way possible).

There have been a few big lessons that I have learned this year. I have learned to stop looking outward and doing what people expect of me, and rather to treat myself with compassion and love. I have notoriously been very good at pushing myself to the nth degree. However, over this past year a lot of that has started to catch up and really affect me mentally and physically. I am trying to learn to listen to my body and mind, assess what I need to do to myself, and allow myself to prioritize what makes me happy. I am not good at following this advice, but I have learned the hard way how important balance really is.

Pursuing a career in medicine, I realized that it is important for me to establish ways of taking care of myself in order for me to fully take care of others. Nobody truly prepared me for the challenges I have faced, and the ones to come. What I have learned though is that I am fully capable. All it takes is patience, compassion, resilience, dedication, and flexibility.

Patience to wait out the bad times and know that good things are coming my way. Patience with myself as I struggle and push through challenges.

Compassion to others and myself. Compassion for those that I serve, my friends, my family, and my own limits.

Resilience to keep going, especially when things get tough.

Dedication to my passions, endeavors, and work. Dedication to my goals, to myself, and to my dream of becoming a kind, good, and successful physician.

Flexibility of mind, allowing myself to adjust my plans and sail with the changing ocean tides.


As I write my final blog post of the year, I hope to embody each of these values and more. I keep the image of my young self in my mind and award her the grace, love, and kindness that she deserves. Be kind to yourselves. Life is too short not to live it to the fullest. Have a beautiful and restful summer everyone!

Until next semester,



The Indian Artist, Revamped: Pareidolia

par·​ei·​do·​lia ˌper-ˌī-ˈdō-lē-ə -ˈdōl-yə
: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

James Jean is an incredible Taiwanese-American artist/illustrator who has worked with Disney, Marvel Comic, and Prada. He is one of my absolute favorite artists and I cannot believe that I have not done a post on him yet!

Tiger III – James Jean | StoreThere is something magical in James Jean’s art. In his large-scale paintings, James Jean depicts detailed cosmological worlds filled with allegorical, abstract, and contemporary imagery. He incorporates elements of traditional Chinese and Japanese scroll paintings, Japanese woodblock prints, Renaissance ideas, and beautiful imagery into his work. When I first saw Jean’s work, I was enamored. The very first art book that I bought was Pareidolia and I often find myself from time to time curled up on my couch just flipping through the pages, taking in the mastery. One of my favorite pieces is Tiger III. It is a gorgeous illustration that has a slightly psychedelic and 3d aspect to it. The details in the piece do an incredible job of drawing in the viewer.

I have learned so much from just viewing and being a fan of James Jean. He is unapologetic, authentic, larger than life, and creative. I have done a few piece thus far inspired by different artists such as Kehinde Wiley and Bijay Biswaal, I would love to do one inspired by James Jean someday. Stay tuned to see if I do!

With the semester coming to an end, this will be my second to last post. I will be doing my third year-end sign-off next week and will return back in September with a brand new completed painting! As always, if any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me!


Until next week,



The Indian Artist, Revamped: At The Precipice of Art & Medicine

I take a few steps back to really take in what I have created in front of me. I scrutinize each and every brushstroke while searching for the likeness that I am striving for. There’s something missing, something not quite right in the eyes of my subject. I pick up my smallest filbert and place a speck of white on the canvas. There. I think I got it.

I have always been made to feel like a walking contradiction, an antithesis of a being where dichotomous passions mix and find a unique juxtaposition. I had to pick, I could not pursue a career in medicine while also being a producer of art. When I tell people that I am a Molecular Biology major with a double minor in Art & Design and Sociology, I usually get looks of curious wonder mixed with confusion and doubt.

“Well that’s a different combination, your parents are forcing you to be a doctor then, huh?” asked an elderly gentleman with whom I found myself engaging in conversation at the Union. I reply with a smile and a light laugh, “I am very passionate about both. There is more in common than you might think!”

This was not the first time that I had encountered a similar line of questioning. We have been told that art is connected to our right brain and science our left, separated, immutable, immiscible. The practitioners of science and art are forever segregated with no opportunity of crossing over.

Science and medicine allow us to understand the fundamental inner workings of human beings. However, art allows us to navigate deeper emotions such as pain, love, and hope. Art is the avenue through which I communicate my culture, dreams, and inner machinations that oftentimes cannot be put into words, a symbolic language meant to illuminate the human condition.

I awoke from my appendectomy with a sharp pain and an overwhelming feeling of cold. I was panicky, covered in sweat, and… itchy? What was that, paper underwear? I remember displacing the stress and pain that I was feeling in the form of frustration over incoherent undergarments. It was odd that the calm I had felt before surgery, the calm that allowed me to pat my mother’s hand and reassure her that the surgeon would take care of me at the tender age of nine, had been replaced by what I can now only describe as a temper tantrum. I remember that I was feverish and irritated, inconsolable even though the laparoscopic surgery was successful in removing the ruptured vestigial organ. I remember feeling alone, cold, and in pain.

At that moment the surgeon handed me a pencil and a small drawing pad. A small smile danced on my lips. As I occupied my hands, my mind cleared. Of course, a pair of my own underwear sweetened the deal.

The surgeon’s actions spoke volumes more than any words of comfort could have. She must have remembered that I had said that I loved drawing before the surgery. It was at this moment that I understood the power that art can have.

Years of keen observation, studying the human form, and perfecting it into the craft of hyperrealist art has allowed me to deeply understand the art form that is medicine itself. Medicine is a practice, one that is meant to be extremely personal, patient-centered, culturally informed, and flexible. Just as every painting, every sonata, every tango has an intended audience, so too does every patient. The unique craft of each physician is honed over years of study. Each move in and out of the operating room is perfectly crafted to the subject, aimed at producing a masterpiece in caretaking, confident yet malleable, reaching yet refined.

“Good morning, my name is Riya and I will be your nursing assistant today!” As I introduced myself to Robert at the beginning of my day shift, I knew right away that I had found a fellow art-lover. Prints of beautiful paintings covered the walls of the hospital room and light sketches showing the signs of an aging, unsteady hand were strewn across the overbed table. Over the course of the next twelve hours, I came to learn about my patient’s favorite mediums, the collection that he acquired over the years, and his overall love for art. I shared with him my own portfolio, teaching him about the aspects of my Hindu culture that I integrate into my paintings. I showed him the progress that I had made on a hyperrealistic colored pencil piece depicting the festival of Holi. Was it possible that the years of cultivating creativity, years of teaching myself to approach each model from every perspective, had allowed me to offer something even more in patient care, the next level of conscientiousness where I empathized with his pain and worries, was receptive of his unique background and culture, and lacked any judgement whatsoever.

This is what I wish I could have told that man at the Union. This is the reason behind my seemingly dichotomous endeavors. I am privileged that art has given me the empathy, patience, detail-orientation, perspective-taking, and cultural competency to be able to approach science and medicine with fresh eyes.

I would like to think that there is courage in putting one’s imagination on display. There is dedication in the time and years of repetition that it takes to foster creativity and curiosity just as there is in the time it takes to cultivate a career in medicine. Like flexibility, these are things that need to be practiced and reinforced so that they remain malleable, understanding that no one treatment, no one approach to the composition, suits every subject. There is uneasiness in speaking your mind and exposing yourself to vulnerability and criticism, but there is even more humility in learning to accept fingers that are pointed directly your way. Art has taught me more about myself that I could have ever imagined and instilled in me the values I use to benefit those I serve.

The Indian Artist, Revamped: What The F Art Fair

Good morning everyone! I hope that this blog post finds you well! I had the great opportunity of being one of the artists at the 3rd annual What The F Art Fair this past Saturday. The fair was dedicated to showcasing the art of women, queer, and BIPOC artists across all different styles and mediums. It was incredible to see so many female artists under one roof, sharing their passion, talents, and skills with others!

Participating in a space that gives female artists across the community a platform to share their passions, and make a bit of money, was wonderful. I truly look forward to taking part in the experience next year as well! I could feel a kindred sense of community as soon as I stepped into the room, surrounded by women keen on showcasing their love for art.

The prints that I was selling consisted of Payal (Oil on Canvas), Modern Brahma (Watercolor and Acrylic), American Dhulan (Mixed Media), The Festival of Colors (Colored Pencil), and finally Govardhan (Oil on Canvas). The most awarding part of the night was getting to meet so many new people, share a part of my culture, and learn more about their own love for art. Making the rounds myself and looking at the booths of all of the other artist was amazing to see. You better believe many art swaps happened at the end of the evening!

If any of you attended the fair, I would love to hear from you in the comments! As always, if any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me!


Until next week,



The Indian Artist, Revamped: Art & Mental Health

Good Afternoon Everybody! I hope that you are all doing well. For those of you who are students, hang in there, the semester is almost to an end!

This past week I decided to do one of the hardest things that I have ever done. After much research and deliberation, I embarked on a journey to do a 5-day water fast. This means that I did not eat or consume any calories for 5 days and only drank water with basic electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium substituted. I was hoping to go 7 full days; however, I made sure to listen to my body and stopped when I felt that I needed to. I wanted to write this post to demonstrate how my art was the sole thing that made this process easier.

Water fasting: Benefits, weight loss, and how to do itAs a bit of background and for anyone who may be asking why I would every do this, here it is. I have struggled with my body image and relationship with food for quite some time. The past 6-7 months have been very challenging for me and I wanted to do something positive that would not only help me regain control physically, but mentally as well. Fasting has proven evidence of reducing risks of cancer and diabetes, increasing autophagy, decreasing anxiety and depression, and of course aiding in weight loss.

Though this was a mentally challenging process, I turned to my painting and art to take my mind off of some of the physical difficulties throughout this process. I found that this was a test of mental fortitude and discipline more than anything else. Focusing on classes, work, research, and my art were the best things for me. I have found over the past year that when things get tough for me, I end up prioritizing everything over my art. As someone who gleans cathartic release from art, I have slowly taught myself that doing art is a form of self care. Working on your mental health is oftentimes the most important in order to achieve any external goals.

For those of your who are artists, enjoy art, or maybe have never even tried it, I urge you to take time for yourself and engage in something to take your mind off of daily stressors.

As always, if any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me!


Until next week,



The Indian Artist, Revamped: The Story Behind the Composition

Good Afternoon!! I hope that you are all well. As promised, this week I will be sharing with you all the new piece that I started inspired by the Bhagavad Gita and one of my favorite artists, Bijay Biswaal. Strap in!

For those of you who are not aware, the Bhagavad Gita has been colloquially termed as the “Hindu Bible.”  It is one of the holy scriptures of Hinduism containing 700 verses dictating a conversation between the deity Krishna and the soldier Arjuna. The Bhagavad Gita does not talk about religion at all, it speaks on the values necessary to lead a good life, how to be a good person, and the answers to daily struggles. It is said that if you were having any problem, open to a random page of the Bhagavad Gita and you will gain some wisdom!

Bhagavad Gita: Moralistic guide of Life | Sambad English

As such an important part of my culture, I decided that I wanted to create my next big piece based off of the famous cover of the Bhagavad Gita. The most common picture that you would see if you were to buy the book is shown to the left. Interestingly, the cover is factually incorrect! There are supposed to be 5 white horses, not 4!

The chariot represents the human body. The five white horses are the five senses—tasting, seeing, hearing, smelling and touching. The chariot’s reins, which the charioteer uses to drive his vehicle, symbolize the human mind. Finally, the driver represents human intelligence while the passenger symbolizes a person’s spirit or soul. The first time I heard this I thought that it was such beautiful symbolism. It gives one full autonomy to control our sense, giving way for our soul to go down the correct path.

I am so excited with my progress on this piece. I decided to recreate the cover of the Bhagavad Gita according to scripture, making sure there were 5 horses instead of 4. Additionally, I wanted to stylize the piece more and took inspiration from some works by Bijay Biswaal, who’s work I am very fond of and have recreated once before (check it out here!)

I am doing this piece, untitled currently, on a 40″x50″ canvas with oil paint. The underpainting was done with acrylic and was painted over an old existing painting. I still have a long way to go and many many details to sculp. I look forward to keeping you all updated!

As always, if any questions or thoughts arise, please comment or reach out to me!


Until next week,