Navigating her way through the busy crowd, senior Anahita Sukhija searched for an empty seat in the Westfield Valley Fair Mall food court to observe the different people rushing from store to store. But instead of placing her meal down on the table, Sukhija unpacked a more significant item of importance — her sketchbook.
Ever since she found a passion for drawing in fourth grade, Sukhija hasn’t stopped sketching. At a young age, she often surfed the online drawing tutorial site Dragoart to draw her favorite animals or famous people. Senior Sayalee Mylavarapu, a friend of Sukhija since ninth grade, explains that anytime she and Sukhija hang out, Sukhija always has her sketchbook and is ready to draw, whether it’s in the moment or taking pictures to draw later on. Mylavarapu thinks Sukhija’s passion for art stems from Sukhija not wanting to miss anything she sees.
“We were at Peet’s [Coffee last week] and [Sukhija] drew me,” Mylavarapu said. “And then when I came [back] in, she was already drawing someone else. [Drawing] is such a big passion for her, and I think it’s really cool that she isn’t giving it up.”
Continuing her passion over the years, Sukhija notes that one thing she has kept consistent in her art is making her drawings look realistic. However, she also notes that her art style and her subjects have changed, as she now aims to highlight the human aspect of art and everyday life as opposed to more posed subjects.
“I think my style has changed in the way that earlier hyperrealism was something I really wanted to achieve,” Sukhija said. “Once I kind of got close to that, I realized it’s not really what I want to do and that’s not the point of art, at least for me. So my style changed from that to being able to just capture more of the essence of things through my drawings, rather than render it to be perfectly what it looked like [before], because that’s a photo, basically.”
In addition to drawing, Sukhija explains that she often writes to accompany her drawings, describing the art itself, her own personal thoughts or funny dialogue she overheard at the place she was drawing. As highlighting authenticity is important to her, Sukhija emphasizes that she only uses pen to highlight human error in art as she creates her works in everyday life. Drawing from life gives Sukhija more freedom to observe scenes from different angles; one of Sukhija’s pieces involves a full 360 degree view of a public transit center. Sukhija likes drawing candid scenes from life because she feels that they’re not only more intriguing to look at, but also bring back memories of those particular moments.
“I have a really bad memory, so one thing I really like is being able to look at my past sketchbooks,” Sukhija said. “In all my classes, all the time I’ll be drawing. So even if I forget what I did that day, I can go back in two months, and I can look at my drawings and I can remember what happened. I [also] love drawing mundane things because I think when you’re able to take a mundane thing and draw it in an interesting way, or highlight important parts of something that’s a little boring, it’s really cool.”
A couple of years ago, Sukhija placed in the top ten in an art contest with her submission of a charcoal piece of a girl who was a “Dreamer.” But even with the accolade, she notes that the piece isn’t one she’s necessarily proud of because it was inspired by a photo of a girl she had never personally seen or knew. She highlights that, in reality, her sketchbooks are the art she’s most proud of.
Sukhija plans to attend an art college, potentially ending up with a dream job of selling her sketchbooks later in life. Even though Sukhija values realism in her art, she explains that art colleges she’s applying to sometimes look for more finished and clear work in portfolios to showcase talent, rather than expression. In addition, even though some people at MVHS and parents see majoring in art as a risky move, Sukhija’s grandma, Shashi Kapoor, explains that Sukhija has her family’s full support.
“Naturally, I [hope] to see her grow her talent and try [subjects] other than human beings,” Kapoor said. “I think at this stage, she is dedicated to [drawing] and [while] it takes a long time to make a perfect picture, she will attain it.”
Sukhija emphasizes the real reason behind majoring in art in college — she doesn’t want to lose her passion for it. She believes that if someone wants to continue drawing, they should, regardless of the level of support they have.
“Just do it anyway,” Sukhija said. “Do what you want to do first and just know you’ll be fine. If it’s what you want to do, you might regret it if you don’t try.”