The Paper Artist - Swapna Khade

For a writer nothing is more liberating than a blank sheet of paper. The possibilities are endless. A single idea can spark off a barrage of words that fill page after page and until it finally ends up as a paperback on a bookshelf. The same applies for artists too, where one creates a world with words, the other creates worlds with images. But the good thing is there are no rules governing the use of paper. No one said that you must only make art on paper. And an example of that is Swapna Khade from Pune, who prefers to make art out of paper.

Swapna does what is called as Paper Quilling, where strips of colored paper are rolled into various shapes and then stuck on paper. There are other artists who practice quilling but more often than not they limit themselves to floral designs and the like. Meanwhile Swapna adds her own twist to the art form by making quirky representations of everyday objects, and even combining it with typography to create colorful and inspiring messages on paper.

 She came across the paper quilling by chance, ten years ago, while scrolling through her newsfeed on Facebook. She saw some intricate floral designs done on colorful strips of paper and she was completely enamored with it. Seized with the inspiration to create her own spin on the art form, she started learning by seeing tutorials on YouTube and interviews of other artists. Before long she started making her own paper quillings and other people also began to show an interest in them and she started receiving orders for personalized pieces from the locals.

Apart from combining quilling with typography, she also combines them with other mediums of painting like acrylics and watercolors. She tells me that she learnt from her mother, who also painted occasionally. At that time it was something she pursued little more than a hobby. Now apart from acrylics and watercolors, she also paints gouache. She posts all of her paintings in a separate account @kingproteabys.

 Her interest in typography began as a similar passing interest, or to use her words, a ‘curiosity point’. For a long time she loved to write slogans and quotes in a different, more beautiful way. And once when she made a gift for a friend, using her skills in typography and paper quilling to create a flourishing and elegant versions of a couple’s initials, she realized that she was on to something new here. “I compile whatever I learn and I love combining mediums. I find it calming and satisfying” she says.

On an average it takes Swapna anywhere between 8 to 10 hours or even 40 days to complete a piece of artwork, depending upon the size of the canvas. She lives by a strict routine, where she works on her art for two hours a day, then she spends an hour to learn something new, and then she spends half an hour painting. Swapna is an ardent lover of nature and she often expresses her love for it through her art; she also tells me that she is an avid gardener and she is constantly inspired by the plants in her garden, apart from that she also goes on hikes and treks whenever an opportunity presents itself.

Apart from being an artist Swapna also has to take care of her daughter and she tells me that it is rather difficult to juggle both of these roles. “Being an artist and a mother is tough right now, but hopefully things will get smoother in the future.” She tells me that her daughter is always around and she sometimes even paints with her. Previously her Paper Quilling Instagram page was called, Swapna’s creations, but she changed it to @Mirascrafts after her daughter. Swapna has a family who are extremely supportive and understanding of her career as an artist. Her siblings are doctors and initially they were surprised at how she could earn so much by being a full time artist

Apart from bending paper to her will and creating ethereal paintings of landscapes, Swapna also does a bit of teaching. Since the Pandemic has sent everyone indoors, she has held a few online workshops. Apart from that, she frequently posts tutorials on Instagram by asking her followers what they want to learn, “If I receive more than twenty requests in the same category, I post a tutorial video about it.” Apart from that she also moonlights as an interior decorator, specializing in wall and tabletop décor.

She advises young and aspiring artists to never stop learning and to practice a lot. “Practice every day, and record your findings and feelings, however you can.” She ends with this nugget of wisdom, “You should focus on developing your own sense of style, which is true to yourself. It is very important to be original.” 

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