What is Basanti? What does it mean? How do you pronounce it?

Basanti is my middle name. It means springtime in Hindi. Sonya means golden in Hindi, so my first and middle names mean golden springtime.

The a in Basanti are pronounced similar to the a in about, above, or America. The i is an ee sound. The accent is on the second syllable, so it is pronounced buh-SUHN-tee. Ask me to prounounce it for you if you see me.

What is a felt sculpture, or needle felting?

Needle felting is a process where wool or other fibers, usually from animals, are tangled together using a barbed needle. This can create a firm, strong, three-dimentional form. Most of what I make are animals, currently.

How do I care for my needle felted sculpture?

Keep it away from moisture, really dusty areas, and animals. Moisture can degrade the fibers and animals can completely destroy the sculpture. Predatory pets, such as dogs, cats, and ferrets, are often attracted to wool and like to rip it apart, damaging or even destroying a sculpture. Keep your needle felted sculptures up high and out of reach of pets, or in a glass case or display bell jar, if it wasn’t already included with your purchase.

Dust can be removed by very gently patting the sculpture, or by using your vacuum hose on the lowest setting with the suction end covered by a bit of hosiery/pantyhose or with a fine mesh.

Moths can be a problem with wool. If you are very concerned or if you have moths already, it is a wise idea to display these artworks under glass. Clothes moths also detest light and air, so displaying your artwork instead of packing it away in the dark will discourage them. Most of the artworks have been infused with a bit of lavender from storage. If lavender bothers you, rosemary is a good substitute to deter moths.

Too much handling can damage your needle felted sculpture. Posing the sculpture too often can lead to metal fatigue of the wire armature, and the armature can break if it is bent too often in the same place. The moisture, oils, and warmth of our skin can also felt the fibers. Many of my artworks have fluffy fur that has been attached so as to resemble the fur on a real animal. Handling this a lot can felt the fur so that it looks less like real fur.

Felted sculptures are not toys for children or pets.

How do I care for my watercolor painting?

Watercolor is a really beautiful and transparent medium. It is also water soluble, which can make the artworks rather delicate. It is important to frame your loose artworks on paper under glass to protect them. Some artworks have been mounted on wood panels. These have been fixed with a satin UV protective varnish. They will not dissolve with a little water, but the paper underneath is still vulnerable to damage. It is best to clean these with canned air or a soft dry lint free cloth. You can also brush them off with a clean dry soft paintbrush.

Display watercolor paintings in an area away from direct sunlight and away from moisture. For example, a bathroom is usually not the best idea because of the moisture in the air. It’s ok if some light hits the painting, but it should not have sun shining directly on it for long periods of time each day. The paints I use are very lightfast, and the paper is archival, but it is still a good practice to ensure that the light exposure is indirect.

If your painting is severely damaged please contact me to discuss whether it can be repaired. Although I do my utmost to ensure the archival quality of my work, I cannot protect it from mistreatment or negligence.

How do I care for my oil painting?

Whether or not your oil painting has been varnished, it is one of the more robust types of material. If it is on a stretched canvas, make sure that no objects can push on or pierce the canvas during display, storage, or transportation. It is very difficult to repair canvas and I recommend taking damaged canvases to a professional art restorer. If it is on a panel, make sure nothing can scratch the surface. Dusty paintings can be gently cleaned with a lint free cloth or soft duster. If there is heavy soil such as a food related accident, a damp cloth can be used to gently remove the soil. Cleaning should happen as soon as possible after the damage has occurred. If there is severe damage or dirt please take the artwork to a professional art restorer

Like watercolor, it is best to keep your oil painting away from moist areas as these can invite mold to the support. Oil paintings should also be kept away from direct sunlight, and displayed indoors only. Make sure the paintings are displayed and are not stored for a long time in the dark, as some white paints can yellow a bit if they are not exposed to any light.

What about a drawing or a pastel painting or drawing?

These must always be framed. Graphite and pastel, as well as oil pastel, are delicate media that can be damaged by surface abrasion. Although the media and substrate are strongly bonded, the surface can be damaged or the drawing smeared. Framing under glass or in a shadow box is the best way to protect these artworks. If they are damaged it is best to take them to a professional art restorer.

What is wearable fiber art?

Fiber art refers to any kind of artworks or usable items made with the long strong wool or fur of animals and fibers of some plants. Wearable fiber art is something made with these materials that can be worn, or used to make a piece of clothing or other wearable item. A common example is hand spun yarn. My wearable items are produced by felting, which is where the fibers are tangled together to form a strong cloth. I can make hats, shawls, hand warmers, scarves, etc. using these methods. These items are quite strong and can be worn and used, as the moisture and warmth from our bodies can make the felt stronger. They can be hand washed or dry cleaned, but make sure to inform the dry cleaner about the exact fiber content so they can clean it properly. Items with a fluffy fringe should not be agitated as that could felt the fluffy fibers. Spot cleaning is the best option for light amounts of dirt.

Are your artworks vegan?

The paintings are vegan. The felted items are not vegan. They are considered humane or cruelty free.

The watercolors I use in my paintings are Daniel Smith Fine Watercolors and Dr Ph Martin’s Hydrus watercolors. These brands do not use animal ingredients in their products. The paper I use is from Fabriano, which uses a synthetic plant based size, and Shizen which is a recycled cotton paper from India which also has a synthetic size.

The oil paints I use are from different brands, but do not use animals in their products. The canvases are all plant based and the sizes and gessoes are all vegan.

The felted artworks and wearable artworks are not vegan as they are made with a product from an animal. They are considered vegetarian and are cruelty free and humane. The reason for this is that I am extremely careful about where I source my animal fiber. For the most part I either know the farmer or I know the fiber artist and where they got the animal fiber. I prefer to purchase from small US farms where the animals are treated well and are considered someone rather than something. Some of my felted works contain rabbit fur. This fur is not a true fur in the sense that the skin is not attached and the animal is still alive. Some of it comes from a local rabbit rescue during grooming volunteer times, but most of it comes from my house bunnies that live in the house just like a cat. Mimsy is a havana and she hardly sheds at all, and Zoobie is a mixed breed bunny who sheds enough for both of them. If you are very interested in learning about the virtues of bunnies as pets I can talk all day about them.

Why is your artwork so expensive?

First, in the grand scheme of things, my artwork is priced pretty average. Remember, when you buy directly from an artist (or a gallery if it is representing living artists) you are purchasing a one of a kind item. This is of course going to be more expensive than something that is mass produced, or even something that is produced in multiples by a single artist.

When you purchase my artwork, you are getting something made with the highest quality materials. They are designed to last a very long time and to be archival, which means that they are less likely to degrade when cared for properly. These art materials and surfaces are expensive, and cannot be replaced with less expensive materials. You can be assured that you have made a sound investment in an artwork that will bring you joy for a long time.

Another thing you pay for when you buy original art is the skill and experience of the artist. I have been pursuing art seriously since the age of 18. It was then that I developed the intent to become a professional. That means over 25 years of hard work and artistic development to become proficient in the skill of drawing and painting. I have been studying photography for far longer and am approaching over 35 years of diligent practice. When you buy original art from an experienced artist, they have spent years, or even decades getting good at what they do. Although it may appear easy now, it took hundreds of thousands of hours and lots of failed artworks to get to a state of making exquisite and beautiful artwork. That is the 99% perspiration that is mentioned in all those quotes about artwork and success.

Finally, no one else in the entire world will have what you have. There is only one of that painting, or print, or sculpture. That’s it. What a wonderful thing to be able to live with the only one of a painting or sculpture.

Do you teach classes?

Although I have taught in the past, I do not teach classes at this time. There are many wonderful artists who do, however, and they can be found on the internet or at your local community college, or art center.

Do you make prints of your art?

I do not make prints of my original artworks, and I do not intend to do this in the future. The only artworks that will be printed are digital artworks and photographs.

I have been asked about prints in the past and have determined that the time, cost, and skill involved in creating an image of an original tangible artwork that can be transformed into a print is just too much to justify making them. Digital artworks and photographs are the perfect type of artworks to offer in a print version, and I will be offering those soon. If you are interested in more affordable artworks, I make a lot of smaller paintings that are designed to be very affordable. If you have your heart absolutely set on a larger artwork that is out of your budget, I do offer a payment plan, which I am quite happy to discuss.

Would you donate a piece of art for my cause, a cause dear to me, or a cause that I work or volunteer for?  You will be able to deduct it on your taxes.

Thank your for your interest in my work. Unfortunately, donating artwork is not actually a great idea for artists. Contrary to the common beliefs, an artist cannot deduct the purchase price of an artwork if that artwork is donated, but rather only the materials. In addition, an artist cannot deduct anything at all from a donation of artwork if your organization is not an arts organization. The only people who can deduct the full value of an artwork are collectors who have their work appraised and then donate it to an arts institution. You can thank Richard Nixon for that.

I am happy to make a donation to some causes, however, in the name of my business. I choose causes that adhere to my values and mean something to me, but I will be happy to investigate your organization.

Can I get this artwork for free/a very low price? I just don’t have the budget to buy artwork from you, but you will get a lot of exposure and a lot of  people will see your art. 

Thank you but I cannot provide artworks free of charge or for very low prices. I have costs to cover as well and it is a poor business practice to give away ones product. You don’t give away your hard work, do you? In addition, most people who will see my art won’t be interested in buying, because they may think that the works are just a decoration, they may not be able to find out who the artist is, or they may believe that if you got it for free, they should too. If you really want some artworks I suggest purchasing some art supplies and trying it yourself. It is a fun and rewarding experience!