Artist profile - Kumar
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 September 2017
Kumar started painting as a boy back in India and the Wigan-based surgeon has never stopped. He spoke to Barbara Waite.
For as long as he can remember Srirangam Mohankumar – known to family and friends as Kumar – has been painting.
Growing up in Madras, a port on the east coast of India, Kumar remembers art lessons at school using just three colours, yellow, red and blue. From these he learned to mix all the shades he could ever want.
This dedication to learning has been a prime factor in his artistic development. Throughout his school years he kept on painting and as he followed his chosen path to be a doctor, but observation, drawing and painting were still his passions.
‘I was painting all through my time at medical school which started in India and was completed in Britain. I worked as a junior doctor in Manchester, London, the North East and the Highlands of Scotland which gave me a chance to explore the countryside.
‘In fact the very first time I exhibited was in Caithness where I had the great good fortune to be presented to the late Queen Mother, one of the highlights of my career to date,’ he added.
He especially enjoyed the big skies in the Highlands and this has endured though now it’s to East Anglia where he heads annually to paint. ‘The flat land and vast fast-changing skies are a huge inspiration to me.
‘And it’s the light I find so fascinating. Early morning is the best, whatever the weather. There’s just something so special about that time of day.’
Other artists who have influenced him throughout his life include Edward Seago, who coincidentally was collected by the Royal Family and especially the late Queen Mother; tuition from John Yardley whose impressionistic style clearly had a major impact on Kumar, and Edward Wesson who was famed for his bold brushwork.
‘I work outdoors making sketches. Painting en plein air is what I aim for every time although work commitments (at Blackpool Royal Victoria Infirmary where he is an orthopaedic surgeon) and sometimes the weather, mean I have to complete a painting at home.’
His studio in Whiteley, Wigan, is filled with his watercolours and the years of constant practice have started to bring him success and recognition. As well as being runner-up in the Lancashire Life inaugural Landscape Artist of the Year Awards, he has been shortlisted in Artist and Illustrator magazine and Sunday Times watercolour competitions.
He is a member of the Royal Society of Watercolour Artists, the Royal Society of Marine Artists and is an associate member of the prestigious East Anglian Group of Marine Artists and has had work exhibited in the Thornthwaite Gallery, near Keswick, with Lytham St Annes Art Society where he is a member, and at the prestigious Mall Gallery in London where his picture ‘Day Off’ will be shown in this October’s Royal Maritime exhibition.
‘Over the years I have learned by trial and error the techniques I now use. The tone and value of the colours is the important thing and not the detail. The simplicity and focal point should tell the story,’ he said.
‘Constant practice brings its rewards. I have a regular painting companion who I go out with on my days off and my aim now is to reduce my working hours to concentrate further on painting.
‘Holiday travel around the world gives me more scope for painting and my partner, Jayne, and I plan to revisit Venice, Prague and Paris in the near future where I can capture classic buildings, waterways, scenes, boats and harbours.’
Kumar supports several charities including Feet First which treats and prevents physical disabilities worldwide, the North West Air Ambulance, Blue Sky which gives ex-offenders outdoor jobs and Great Ormond Street Sick Kids’ charity. His paintings have also enlivened the corridors at his own hospital.
Those early days in Madras may seem a long way off, but Kumar has been encouraged by his teacher who over the years has kept in touch and came from India to visit him in Lancashire. He was impressed by his old pupil’s progress.
To see more of his work – prices from £350 - visit www.SMKumarpainting