Mrs. Neelima Bassi, an Ex-Teacher, and mother of two, is working on her brand called
‘Neelie Chhatri’ out of her love for gardening and painting. Since last few months, she
has turned her guest room into her art studio, where she paints kettles while sipping her
hot cup of ‘Chai’ & enjoying the view of Garh Ganesh Temple and Birla Mandir.
Last weekend I got the chance to interact with her!!
Here I am presenting an excerpt.
Have a look :
Sonalify : Hey Neelima!! Please tell my readers about you!
Neelima : Hi! I am Neelima. For so many years, my identity has always been an army wife, mother of two, nature lover & teaching interspersed in between.
If somebody has to describe me then, I am just a ‘Nurturer’. You give me anything, I will nurture it.
Anything and everything – I have nurtured my kids and family, my students, my plants all over India and my pets too!
Sonalify : As you said, you were in a teaching profession then, what brought you in the artistic world? What inspired you the most?
Neelima : I don’t really see it as switching my job…. from teaching to a professional artist. ‘Life happened’ when I got married!!
And due to the nature of my husband’s job, we were moving a lot. All my time was devoted in settling down to new places, finding help, kid’s admissions, searching job for me etc. Therefore, I never found time for a dedicated art.
I have always been quite a creative person. I am so fond of creating that when I got a little space on terrace, I created & decorated a garden for me. Everyone says, you have got a beautiful home but, you don’t get beautiful homes, you make them beautiful.
I remember, when we were in North-East and kids flew from the nest. During that time, I was getting a good amount of free time to appreciate the greenery and the beauty around me. It actually moved me towards painting and since then, I started dedicating my time towards art.
Sonalify : How did you start Neelie Chhatri?
Neelima : Well!! There is an interesting story behind it. We were in Bagdogra and we drove to Mirik. There I saw someone selling delicious momos and thupka and as a mom I thought of my daughter who was at home and studying for CAT so I asked the lady to pack momos and thupka for my daughter.
She said, I shall pack momos but it’s difficult to pack thupka thus, why don’t you get an empty box from outside. So I went to a small shop and, I didn’t want any plastic box so I kept looking around until I saw an aluminium kettle there.
I bought it and got the thupka in it. During that time, I was planning a garden in my house and when you plan/decorate a garden.. you think about your garden most of the time and thus, I painted that kettle to keep in my garden.
When one of my friends saw the kettle and, ‘placed an order’
She asked for the amount then, I told her that I am painting these just for fun but then, she said, “No! let’s decide on the economics and you have to take an order from me”.
I was so thrilled to complete my first order. I discussed this thing with my kids and they encouraged me to start ‘Neelie Chhatri’.
They brought this venture on social media platforms and that’s how it all started.
Sonalify : What’s the history behind this name ‘Neelie Chhatri’?
Neelima : My son has given this name. My nick name is Neelie
So he coined this name and gave my venture an artistic touch.
Sonalify : What does your artwork represent?
Neelima : Ah! words fail me to describe this feeling! Well.. Whatever my dreams and hopes are represented in my tiny balcony… they all are telling the story of my artwork.
I am very fond of colours as I always tell my friends that ‘Life is too short for beiges and browns” So I try to find colours in nature.
The play of colours…how flowers bloom, how intersected stems of a plant move towards sun, the play of sunlight on a plant.. all these represent my hopes, my dreams, my desires and my choice of colours and that’s all are represented in my artwork!
Sonalify : What keeps you motivated?
Neelima : My motivation lies in my customer’s positive feedback and how they crave for having Neelie Chhatri’s kettle at their home. When people send me photos of ‘Neelie Chhatri kettle’ from their gardens, that keeps me motivated
Sonalify : What do you think about the impact of social media on the contemporary artist’s growth?
Neelima : If you talk about from the perspective of an artist’s growth, social media has definitely given me a platform to showcase my art. That’s how social media is a great platform to connect with end users as well.
If we see the darker side then, I can say that everything is superficial on social media. It’s dangerous for younger generations because they can’t figure out easily…what’s real and what’s fake!!
Sonalify : Any funny moments?
Neelima : When people ask me if they can use these kettles to pour tea/coffee.. I found it little funny as these are not heat proof paints! We don’t get heat proof paints in India. Although you can serve something cold like Aam Panna/Jaljeera where you don’t need to rub the kettle through Scotch Brite!! She Sighs
Sonalify : Are there any moments when you are not satisfied with your art?
Neelima : It happens with everyone!! Give yourself and your art some time.
Once you start after that artist’s block, you’ll keep going!
Sonalify : Your sweetest memory as a professional artist?
Neelima : When one of friends said : “ Ye naa Aisa lag raha hai.. Jaise Manish Malhotra ki koi sareee ho’ and then, she asked to make a kettle for her as well. We both laughed
Sonalify : Last but not the least, any valuable piece of advice that you would you like to give to the young artists/ generation.
Neelima : As an artist, I would say that create something every day, because there is nothing wrong you can do in art. There is no right or wrong in art and it’s good to think out of the box!
And dear parents, let your kids paint out of the box, there is no harm in that!!
Thank you Neelima Ma’am for your time. It was indeed a blissful conversation.
You are a beautiful soul ❤