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30×30 Guest Artist : Uma Kelkar

May 15, 2018

30×30 with Uma Kelkar

I first met Uma at the USK symposium in Chicago last year. We’re both about to return (in just a couple weeks!) to teach at the 2018 USK Chicago Sketch Seminar. We’re actually going to be there for the first few days of #30×30, making things extra complicated. (Or, even more fun – we’ll see).

You can find out more about Uma at her website:, or follow her on instagram @umapaints. She also has an artist’s page on facebook.

I’m going to admit – It’s a little intimidating to be teaching next to her.

I’ve been following her work closely, and she’s tapped into a kind of wild spontaneity, that I’m only getting close to touching. I talk all the time about the fundamental need to work without fear of failure. A direct watercolorist has to be completely free to make marks by instinct. Uma has this mind-set on speed dial.

Five Questions for Uma about #30x30DirectWatercolor2018:

When you think about 30 days of daily practice – do you have a theme or a goal that might guide your work the month?

Uma: Yes, of course, I have a goal for the 30-day marathon. And that is to have a sustained habit not just for myself but also for the family around me so that they too help to make time for my painting. The goal, in addition, is to get looser but also to develop the thinking that goes on before the brush hits the paper.

Are there any specific materials or techniques you plan to investigate? Will you use your reliable tools, or use this time to experiment with a new thing?

Uma: I will use the 30 days to hone my skills, so it will be attempting to reach another painting level in the 30 days with tools I am used to.

Do you think 30×30 will be a challenge? Or is one painting a day easy for you?

Uma: Painting once a day, if I had the time, is not a problem at all – it is the making of time for painting that is the issue and which I need to solve quite urgently for my own sanity. I am hoping this 30×30 marathon more than nudges me into fixing my desire to paint every day into an unshakeable habit.

Let’s have a small tip! Give us a strategy people might use to reach the goal of 30×30?

Uma: I think since I want to improve my painting skills, I am going to come up with 4 topics – one for each week and repeatedly paint the same subject one week at a stretch until some of the decisions in painting that topic becomes muscle memory. This I think will free me to think more deeply on brush strokes and value composition.

What do you hope have gained at the end of the 30-day marathon?

Uma: Eyesight! I expect to have gotten a new eyesight, to pick out the important things in a particular genre of paintings, after 30 days of study with mini emphasis on a weekly topic.

Looking for the FAQ/Announcement < click here!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Grace Haverty permalink
    May 17, 2018 8:58 AM

    In this challenge are we not to use pencil or pen. Just directly with Watercolor

    Sent from my iPhone

    • May 17, 2018 9:53 AM

      Hey Grace – I’m going Direct as it’s a goal at this moment. But feel free to practice whatever is on your mind this month!


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