Have you ever had a hobby that you loved so much, you wished you could make it your full-time job? For most of us that’s a pipe dream, but super-talented mama (and former accountant) Kavita Rajput was able to parlay a watercolour class into a successful career. We’re such big fans of the Singapore scenes she depicts based off photos! Here she shares her advice on bringing a corporate world work ethic to a career in the arts, and talks about the inner strength she discovered when one of her sons was faced with a life-threatening condition. Read on for more great insights and beautiful pictures, mamas!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your career and your family?
I am a watercolour artist and mama to two young boys, ages 4 ½ and 3, plus one furry girl! I worked in the world of finance through most of my 20s, and in my thirtieth year took a sharp turn into the world of art. What used to be a hobby has now become my life path.
My art begins with my camera, and I create my paintings based on photographs that I take. I find that I am most fascinated by images from our everyday lives… images that we see and pass by everyday without really noticing them. Through my paintings, I attempt to make the viewer take a pause to notice the ordinary and even – if just for one moment – find beauty in the mundane.
I also create personalised watercolour paintings from photographs given to me by my clients. The most popular subjects are child and family portraits, but they could also be family homes or memorable holidays. I love the process of creating a special art piece for a family, adding personal touches to it based on my discussions with the client.
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-babies?
As a Chartered Accountant and London Business School graduate, my career pre-babies was in finance. I greatly value what I learned in those initial years – the long hours gave me a strong work ethic, a discipline and commitment to what I do. As a professional artist, it is important to treat your art as work. Waiting around for inspiration to strike might not be the best approach because more often than not, new and exciting ideas come to you during the process of creation. The magic happens when you work.
How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
I took my very first watercolour class in New York, when I was in the third trimester with my older son. After I got back to work following a 4-month maternity leave, in addition to the usual apprehensions of a first-time working mom, I had a new desire — I did not want to give up painting. So every Thursday over the next year, my son’s nanny would work an hour later and my husband would get home earlier to support my nascent dream.
The more I painted, the more I knew that it was something I wanted to completely focus on, and finally I decided to leave the world of finance for a career in art. Very soon after that, our second boy was born and we moved to Singapore. Over the next couple of years, by setting aside some time each day, painting consistently, I started slowly identifying with the ‘professional artist’ within me.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
I make lots of lists, planning my month and week as much as I can. I try to balance the time I spend on the kids’ activities with my own work tasks and goals. I find that planning for the coming week on a Sunday evening goes a long way towards having a productive week.
I always feel saner after … writing in my gratitude journal.
Favourite activity with the kids in Singapore?
Swimming in our condo pool, spending a day at a water park, and playing tennis.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Regular date nights and a mini-vacation without kids once in a while.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Singapore?
If you have a dream that excites you, however scary or impossible it might seem, don’t give up on it. At the beginning you might see a million reasons why something won’t work, but if you start small, ask for and accept help from loved ones and do what little you can with what you have – over a period of time, you’ll surprise yourself with what you have achieved. I really believe that it’s important to take those first steps, however small in the direction of your dreams. As you start walking, a path opens up!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
That babies love routines – the predictability made our first years with the boys a lot saner.
Give us your essential new mama advice.
Know that you are the perfect mom for your baby. There are no right answers as far as parenting is concerned and we all learn as we go along. Respect other moms for the decisions they have made. Ask for advice or help if you need it. And finally, don’t ignore your own needs, because happy mamas make happy families.
As a mama I wish I were better at… being more patient.
15. My most humbling mama moment was…
When our younger son Ranvir was 6 weeks old, he was diagnosed with a rare and life threatening liver condition called Biliary Atresia and needed immediate surgery. Biliary Atresia affects only 1 in 18,000 infants and has no known causes. I had never heard of it before. My immediate reaction was shock and denial, but I quickly discovered a strength within me I didn’t know existed. That was the time when I truly felt that as his mother, my biggest job above all else was to keep faith and firmly and singularly believe that he was going emerge from this a healthy and strong boy and man.
The experience made me a stronger woman, it made me realize that while I cannot control everything in my life, I can control my attitude towards it. By choosing a more positive way to react to a situation, I can help my son and my entire family deal with it better. I discovered what it means to have true faith and welcomed the peace it brought. By Divine Grace, Ranvir has done phenomenally well ever since and every single day I feel immensely grateful for the health, happiness and love in my home.
Thanks so much Kavita! Kavita will be showing her work in her first solo exhibition ‘Moments in Watercolour by Kavita Rajput’ at the Orchard ION Art Gallery from 14th to 20th March. Her work can be found online at www.kavitarajput.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KavitaArasRajput.
And thanks to the amazing Carolyn from Melia Photography for the gorgeous photos!