Natasha Mistry’s creative practice is primarily concerned with the unconscious mind and journeying into her own psyche. She paints intuitively and sees painting as a powerful meditation, a way to access the inner world which is just as important as the external world. Natasha creates colorful abstract oil paintings, and black and white ink mandalas.
Learn more about how she approaches her creative work below:
Looking back, have you had any formative experiences that convince you that you were always an artist or a creative person?
I think all humans are creative. We are the universe, part of creation. Everything is creation and creative in my eyes.
I’ve always known I was a creative person and an artist. So it’s just a feeling of “knowing.”
I spoke very little as a child, but I could express myself through dancing, painting and writing. I think all of my life experiences have been formative, but especially breaking out of my local culture and conditioning by living abroad. It has certainly helped me learn and grow a lot as a person, and as an artist.I see life very differently to how I used to before I left England, and I have really learnt to listen to my inner voice, my “gut,” so to speak. I’ve spent years learning different types of meditation, creating mandalas, and spending a lot of time alone. I feel the magic of life. I don’t watch TV or read newspapers, and I let the creative energy run through me.
What are you working on currently?
I’m working on three mandalas. Oil paintings for an exhibition. I always paint in oil, although after a recent month long residency in the Amazon Rainforest, I learned about natural pigments, and want to incorporate these more. Make my work more eco-friendly! My mandalas are usually very colorful in nature, but the ones I am working on now are mainly black and white, more like my pen and ink drawings.
I am also creating black and white ink drawings in order to print some on merchandise. For a year, I created original drawings, and sold them, without allowing them to go to print. I didn’t want to make them commercial. However, now I think I would like people to have more access to my work, so I’m getting them printed on various things like T-shirts, scarves, iPad cases, etc.
Additionally, I work with children teaching art, promoting creativity and collaborating with them. I work with all age ranges.
How do you balance your paid work with personal art exploration? Do these two worlds often collide, relate or interconnect?
They often interconnect beautifully. I teach art everyday, so all my passion about creativity– the imagination and play– comes out through my teaching. I sell my own work too; paintings and drawings and I also do design work for clients. I regularly create mandalas with children, that practice directly relates to my personal art work. I’m very interested in meditation and healing through the arts.
Tell me more about working with children. Do you find that it’s a collaborative process? What do you learn from working with young people?
I adore working with children and always get really passionate when I talk about kids and their creativity. I guess it’s because I believe kids are the most creative beings out there! It’s lovely the way that they can just become a dinosaur at any moment, create the silliest of stories, or dress up as an action hero – and be that action hero all day! It makes me sad when their creativity is stifled through some forms of education, or if they don’t have the confidence to use their imagination. The saddest thing for me is seeing a child sweat at the sight of a blank sheet of paper. Through working with kids, especially in Korea, I have learnt that I can help them back into using their imagination by working with them as an artist.
I create my own work side-by-side with them and show them that it’s not important to create something perfect. They can see that I’m just going for it, and trusting my intuition, making mistakes, laughing and not taking things too seriously. I often work with children in groups, and we collaborate beautifully. I’ve managed to mediate between children who do not get along with each other, and turn them into friends through creating art together. The art we create can be very healing, and the art room is a sacred space for my students.
I was an artist-in-residence last summer at a school in England; I created 8 giant mandalas in black ink, and held workshops for 240 children. The kids worked on the canvas, and added color to the mandalas. They enjoyed it so much, and I really felt the power, magic and beauty of collaborating with children over that week. The results were spectacular, and the art is displayed all around the school.
How have your culture, nationality, and your current location affected your creative work?
I’m British. My mum’s family originates from England and Northern Ireland. My father’s side is from Gujarat in India. I have experienced two different cultures, and the beauty of both. I am very attracted to bright colours when I’m creating paintings so I think that’s the Indian side coming out. Currently, I am based in South Korea, and yes, I would say through living in Asia and travelling, I have become very interested in meditation and spirituality, in general.
Have you faced challenges in your creative work? How do you stick with it when the going gets tough?
Being disciplined and managing time is the most challenging aspect of creating art. So, I stick with art because it’s part of me, and I need it like I need to breathe air to live.
Have you ever reached an impasse where you thought a project had become impossible? What changed your mind?
No. Nothing is impossible 😉
Are there any projects you keep thinking about but haven’t attempted yet?
I would like to get involved in writing comedy. I have a few ideas and creative partners in mind….
What are your creative goals for the next 5 years?
To open my own creative space somewhere beautiful where ANYONE can come and create, be free, breathe….and be themselves!
Tell us something we don’t know about you yet:
I just learnt to juggle and got three body piercings.
Natasha Mistry, born in the UK, studied fine art at the Manchester School of Art, specializing in painting. She has exhibited her work in several locations in London, Peru, the South Korean mainland and Jeju Island.
Natasha has worked extensively with children over the past 10 years, including teaching mandala workshops with children in the UK, with ages ranging from 4-12 years old. She decided to leave London at the age of 27 and embark on a journey, which led her to South Korea. Currently, she’s based in Busan, working with Korean elementary school children in an American school. Passionate about promoting creativity and play in Korea, Natasha has been creating and implementing her own curriculum, and collaborating with students on projects that tie in with her own work as an artist.
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Past installments of our monthly interview series with a creative person: