Vijay Kiyawat – the CEO Water Colorist

Water Colorist Vijay Kiyawat started his painting career much later in life.  After four decades as corporate CEO, in fact.  An Engineer from IIT Kharagpur when he started his corporate career, and a self taught artist since.

Mr Kiyawat, the CEO Water Colorist .. as I thought to myself when I met him first at his show at Triveni about five years ago.

Mr Kiyawat in his living room, as we discuss his journey from corporate to the world of art ..

His first show was in 2010, and his works have since showcased in various group and solo shows across the country.  And, the world.  They adorn walls and collections of discerning buyers, as they eagerly wait for his next series.

Mr Kiyawat is emerging in the Indian Contemporary Art scene.

And he is very clear when he says – ‘I paint for your joy’.

Whether that is the premise to his watercolors or does it happen most naturally, is something I found myself musing over again as I stood viewing some of his new paintings at a solo show earlier this year.

And, it was at this solo show at the Open Palm Court Gallery, Habitat Center that I nodded to myself – yes, there is much a piece art captures of the artist too.

The vibrancy of the colors reflects Mr Kiyawat’s own optimism, his explorations in his art itself.  The challenges he opens himself to constantly to try something new, an element of excitement at each new stroke ‘discovered’.  The dynamism.

And, the subtle shades reverberate tranquillity.  Meditative almost – like his approach to his art again.   Delving deeper, a little quieter sometimes .. a hint of silence .. a hum of music. Water colors, a chosen medium, again, for their ‘spiritual element’.

The colors and strokes juxtaposed with a deep love for nature, travel and literature.

And somewhere emerges, in his own words, a world of mystery.  Of fantasy.

Of joy.

Joys of explorations and experimentation with the medium too – varying size of the paintings, more definition to strokes.  The commentary is evolving constantly.

And like he himself says, the paintings remain drawn from the three major interests – nature, travel and literature.

One can see the influence of Delhi’s lush green sprawling gardens, trees and flowers in his My Dream Garden Series.  My Dream Poppies and The Meditation Series too are a riot of blossom colors.  And then in other paintings which might not be so much about a garden per se, yet a blossom would be peeping out mysteriously some place .. little quirk of its color .. a dash of saffron in ‘kahwa’.

Nature finds its way onto his paintings.  Much like the monsoon sun which streams in through the large French windows of his lovely home in Vasant Vihar.

Travels to Middle East, Europe, South East, U.S.A .. besides across the country  .. are inspirations again.  More than a hint of a Spanish villa in the show at Open Palm Court this year, for instance.  The visions collected seem to pour onto paper.  The vibrancy .. and the tranquility.  The blue of a very Turkish dome is reminiscent of a visit thereabouts.

Travels .. travel onto Mr Kiyawat’s paintings.  Most naturally.

The artist with one of his paintings behind him. His lovely home is dotted with many such frames on the walls.

And then, Ritu-Sanhaar Series (Kaalidaas) .. is a sight to behold again.  The dialogue on various seasons .. the ‘ritu’ .. has a conversation within itself .. and with the other of the series.  Literature brought alive in colors.

While each painting is a work of love and labour, there goes as much serious thought on the framing too, he insists.  Three people sit over it debating on the colour of the frame and all other aspects – his wife, the dedicated framer and Mr Kiyawat himself.  It has to be a consensus.   There are no compromises on the quality.  And it shows.

As Mr Kiyawat weaves and paints his way through this beautiful medium, creating ‘joy’ .. its easy to see the  influence of years in corporate too.  If the Mechanical Engineering backdrop gets captured somewhere in the ‘structures’ in his compositions, a certain structure to his pursuance of his passion for painting is evident too.   Reflects on the importance he gives to framing, professional packaging and transportation to ensure good condition.  Most paintings are accompanied with a brief short label describing it as well.

As you view his works, you also are educated on the quality of paper and other supplies used.  In fact, he has a video channel on YouTube which details much of this. You can see him speak about water colors here.  He also shares about what inspires him as a water colorist in another video on the same channel.

Sharing, engaging and creating a reach.  For his art, and his thoughts too.

And spurred,  Mr Kiyawat created a webpage which he manages himself.  He writes a blog there, and even sells his work online.  You can visit him at

We were standing in his studio – a beautiful sunlit corner in his lovely home overlooking a huge expanse of green – as he detailed some more perspectives.

He stressed on the need for ‘focus’ for any artist.  The passion for painting has to be kept stoked constantly.  He himself spends 3-4 hours painting every day.  Not only about discipline – it also helps create a space to grow in your own art, technique, practice and experimentation.  And production, of course.

Production, along with Recognition and Marketing .. are what he considers the three important aspects for any artist.   The three hallmarks for a successful career as an artist.  And these need to be constantly worked at and maintained, he insists.

One of his recent blog entries got us speaking about another interesting aspect on water color painting.

When we look around, we do not find as many watercolorists as there would be perhaps those painting oil and acrylics on canvas.  Drawing from his own experience, Mr Kiyawat shared some interesting pointers which could have impacted this.  For example, he found guidance from his American art teacher in California more helpful largely because of the simplicity and crispness in her download of information.  Whether it was about specifications of supplies or explaining of techniques, the crispness helped.   Detailed and printed on paper for clarity too.  Read more on what he has to say here .

Ambiguity and casualness which assails most of our spaces could have seeped into art teaching too, yes.  Lack of information?  Or perhaps .. lack of interest to go read more.  The casualty, as he says in his blog too, is that most people give up half way.  He insists it is important to always read up more on whatever one is pursuing.  Like, for instance, an informative read has him framing his paintings with the bottom border a little broader than the other three.  That’s lending an advantage to showcasing, no doubt.

While he ensures he keeps reading, Mr Kiyawat ensures he keeps learning too. He attends classes two days a week to learn and hone his art more.  The Workshops that he organizes with the help of eminent Watercolorists (Milind Mulick of Pune, Sankar Thakur of Delhi) benefit too from his efforts to promote them.

And as Mr Kiyawat goes about pursuing his passion and creating ‘joy’ with his brush and water colors .. it is easy to see where one of his most important inspirations comes from.  The few times we have met .. it has only made me smile that much more.  If it is the radiance of Mrs Kiyawat’s smile .. it is also the quiet of her presence by her husband’s side.   I did speak of vibrancy and tranquillity:).

The writer with the artist’s wife at the solo show – Triveni, 2010

Mr Kiyawat’s compositions dull out the cacophony of urban living that surrounds us mostly.  The colors happy, the visuals serene and meditative – each painting exudes positivity and peace.   You can hear the rustle of the trees almost as fragrance of the odd blossom reaches you.

No wonder then the joy.