It all started when she was learning art herself and faced difficulties in finding the right course and good instructors to help in building a strong foundation for her learning.
When she organized a watercolor workshop with an art instructor in her own drawing room, she realized that there were a lot of people waiting for a platform to help unleash their creativity.
As more people kept looking forward to the sessions from Paint Lab, there was nothing stopping Minal thereafter. She built Paint Lab into a platform to solve the problem of art – for the artist as well as the learner. She works tireless towards her mission to uplift the community of art and craft practitioners globally.
The two things that the Indian middle-class values culturally, are hard work and education. Education begets respect and thus all children are taught to focus on studies. Parents spend a lot of time, effort and energy on providing children with infrastructure and support to further their studies.
The Education System in India is such that kids are always under the pressure of their parents to perform. In fact the identity of parents is derived from the performance of their children. I come from a generation where getting a first rank in your class in school was the top most priority. Art and craft sessions were cancelled to make room for extra classes for maths or science because exams were approaching. Because I was fairly intelligent, sincere and wanted to be loved and respected by my parents, teachers, and friends, I too pushed aside my love for art to make studies and performance my priority.
It is heartening to see nowadays that several schools are trying to create a balance between logical and creative learnings.
As I started working hard to enter the main-stream career options, I realized that my creative thinking is more powerful than my logical reasoning abilities. Since I was attracted to career options that gave me creative freedom like copyrighting, graphic designing, advertising and communication. I decided to go for MBA in Communications Management.
The latent creativity in me was waiting to be unleashed. But I kept postponing my need at the altar of my duties – studies, post-graduation, a lucrative job in an MNC, marriage and raising the most wonderful baby on the Earth.
Once I nurtured my baby and delivered him, I decided to take some time out for my creative pursuits. And the medium I chose was – painting. I immediately entered a world where mistakes are not considered errors. One of my early instructors had once said that in art there are no mistakes and that everything is possible. That statement immediately removed all inhibitions and I fearlessly started expressing myself on paper and canvas. I could just paint for hours together - I guess I had too much pent-up craving for it!
Art is an ocean and I am convinced that a diving instructor is a necessity. Watercolor, acrylics, drawing, soft pastels, clay sculpting, I dabbled in all these mediums from various Instructors. In this quest, I realized how difficult it was to find a good teacher who could help me dive deep into the ocean of art. Some of them were too far away, some were too busy and some too expensive to afford.
With my 5-year-old son I encountered the same set of problems. I remember walking thrice a week to his drawing class in a nearby society and waiting there for hours for his class to get over – so that I could provide for him something that I couldn’t get. For me, the effort was worth its weight in gold when I saw the twinkle in his eyes as a result of his creative abilities.
One day while attending a watercolor session with my instructor, I discussed the idea of conducting a workshop on watercolor. I took it up on me to invite people to come and attend this first paid session right in my drawing room. That MBA in me immediately sprang into action. I quickly made arrangements to offer a high-quality learning experience. Chairs, tables, art material, refreshments, and all other comforts were meticulously organized. I realized that organizational skills and hosting come instinctively to me. I was confident of at least five good serious learners - to my surprise we got 25.
The art instructor was extremely happy to see something like this and was eagerly helping students with several watercolor tips and techniques. The session progressed with learnings, laughter, mingling, and smiles. No one wanted to leave the venue and they lingered on long after the session was over, discussing passionately on the subject with the instructor.
That day I realized that there were a lot of people waiting for a platform to help them unleash their creativity. That’s when I decided that I will provide that platform and had initially christened it - Kindle Arts. As I progressed in my journey, I re-christened it as Paint Lab. A place that provides all the guidance so that you can express, experiment and explore the world of art and craft freely.
Making a difference to the people’s lives through this art event made me immensely happy. I realized how I could become the bridge between the “Guru” and the “Shishya” and solve the biggest problem for art learners – finding a good Guru. And at the same time help the Guru or the artist reach out to several people outside his studio.
But the road was not as easy as it looked to me initially. After several failed attempts and few successful stints at organizing workshops, I slowly build the brand credibility by creating a community of good art instructors, offering a variety of unique learning sessions, pricing the offering right and curating a wonderful experience for the customers who enrolled.
Soon results started showing. Several women attended our sessions to go back to painting just like I did. Some of them even started their own small business after attending sessions with us. I remember when a lady called up to say that she has started a business of selling chocolates after attending our session on chocolate making.
Several children too enrolled for our workshops. Summer vacations were no longer boring waste of time. Paint Lab was there for parents to keep their kids busy with productive and creative work. There were times when even people suffering from terminal diseases or mental health issues took to our sessions to feel rejuvenated and happy.
Paint Lab being the Bridge between the Artists and potential artists, our aim is to benefit both. To solve the problem of the artists of having to look for clients as also provide them the platform to showcase their talent to the world. As also provide our participants access to quality artists and quality learning experiences. As I told someone who asked me what we do, ‘we solve the problem of art – for the artist as well as the learner.’