First Attempts at Digital Art

After moving, its been really difficult to keep up my art. Ive been sketching and drawing but not for myself. So in an attempt to get back to it, I tried digital art on my iPad. I used Adobe Draw with my Apple Pencil. I can definitely say now that the pencil works seamlessly with the iPad and I really enjoyed the whole process. Now, keep in mind this is my first attempt so don't judge too hard! 

This is the image I based it off of; definitely one of my favorite photographs (taken by Steve McCurry)



I began with an initial sketch and then experimented with a couple brushes to get a feel of the app.

Initial Sketch

Yeah, I know, its a very very rough sketch but it served as a baseline for laying down the color. I struggled with the proportions as I had the picture printed (old-school) next to my Ipad and was trying to sketch, but I think in the end, I did it justice.

The final piece 

So, there you go. My first attempt. I don't have too many positive things to say about the final piece but, hopefully, that's because Im really not used to it. Maybe this will become my primary medium some day in the very very distant future. But right now, everything about this was a struggle. I don't even feel comfortable sketching yet. 

If you have any tips, comment below!



Venice I

Recently, I visited Venice, Italy on holiday. As it was a city that Ive always wanted to go to, so, of course, I planned each day to the minute to try and do as much as possible. To be very honest, it wasn’t enough time in the city. I wish I could have spent a few more days just wandering and exploring. Its a truly wonderful city; you can be walking through the narrowest of streets with only a strip of blue sky above you and suddenly it will open onto a beautiful square, probably with achurch. It inspired me to begin this series of sketches which I will post here in three posts. Now, don’t expect too much, they are just scribbles created standing in the middle of a busy square. Hope you like them! 


Admitting to Defeat...

This post may have a gloomy title but, I promise it won't be that bad! I'm trying to record my failures here so I can learn from them. So here's the development of my latest piece that really didn't work (but let me know what I could have done better!): 

Testing the Pallete

Putting the colors and textures together before you begin your piece is always a good idea. Thats what I did here. I even attempted to add streaks to the blocks of color but I quickly realised that did not fit with the rest of solid colors. 

Practice Piece 

I then practiced the technique required. I used a palette knife that I cleaned before every stroke. This allowed me to realize that mixing colors would make the palette more interesting. But the lightest yellow would allow the background to show through.  

The Unfinished Final

This is the final piece that I eventually gave up on. I genuinely loved the color pallet and therefore background but the original plan included the 'swirls' overlayed. However, as I started to build it up it began to darken the background colors and become more of an eyesore. Perhaps if I had enlarged the design it may have worked together better. All in all, not my best work but I am still genuinely proud. The color pallet is one I will use again and I tried to bring life to my idea! So I thought I would write this post to make sure your failures don't go in the trash or in the back of your closet. Learn from them!



Art is a Language is an online portfolio as well as store for Shivani Sarjan’s artwork; focusing on sharing development, processes and final works as well as how an amateur artist may accomplish these. 

Using Sketchbooks

Currently, I have three sketchbooks running simultaneously. One is dedicated to my art, one to design (for university) and one travel sketchbook that I take with me everywhere. Here are a few examples of how I use them:

Firstly, my art sketchbook (my favourite one but definitely not the most important one):

Artist Study

I use this sketchbook to explore my favourite artists. In my opinion, looking at other artists far improves your skills. Look at the composition, the concepts the mediums used and it will definitely help your art (or artist block!). But since Im a little bit of a dork I research their lives and record that as well. I have a reason! It really helps my understand their art - specifically the personal reasons behind their pieces. 

Exploring Mediums

This page is pretty self-explanatory. Testing mediums and practicing a little bit before creating your final piece is a good idea and your sketchbook is the best place to do it. You can always refer back to it! Even if you don't do it in your sketchbook, keep those scribbles! Might need them later.

Subject Study

This is one of the most useful types of pages! A subject study of whatever you're painting/drawing will help you be accurate and understand the shapes, textures and colors involved in your subject. This exploration can take the form of sketches or photographs (really, whatever is easiest at the time). This page was for my charcoal trees. 

Case Study

Similar to the Artist Study page, this to explore other artists but one or two works specifically. Again, it helps develop your skills,  knowledge and ideas. These paintings are by Deborah Cauchi (see the post Unknown!) 

Recording Development

This may not be very important in your process or you may do it differently but I like to record the development of many of final pieces.  

Now my design sketchbook...

Design Ideas 

I use this sketchbook to sketch my ideas for facades, structure, construction etc etc. Its good to record all of your thoughts as its later easier to explain it to your classmate/tutor/client. 

Field Notes

I also use it for field notes. Like the site section above.

Finally my travel sketchbook...

Exploration Sketches

To be honest I use this sketchbook for everything but here's an example: I use it to explore buildings. I love sketching my way (does that make sense??) through a building or even a city as it helps me truly enjoy the details. It's also a requirement of the trade (as an architecture student)!

Field Notes (again)

I may have multiple sketchbooks but even I don't have a full-size one on me all the time. This is where the travel sketchbook comes in handy for field notes (for paintings, buildings, design, sites etc etc). Having one of these all the time really helps your quick sketching skills as well!

That became a really long post, I didnt realise how much I record! To be honest I don't do this for every piece. There are definitely those impromptu 2 am paintings that are stuffed in the back. Of course, I would only display the good looking pages!! Anyway, hope it helps you use your sketchbook!



Art is a Language is an online portfolio as well as store for Shivani Sarjan’s artwork; focusing on sharing development, processes and final works as well as how an amateur artist may accomplish these. 

Inside my "Studio"

Happy New Year, everybody!! Hope you've got your new year's resolutions in order. But to be honest, mine have never lasted past January. 

Since I'm not in any way a professional artist, I don't have a dedicated studio space. I have a Pinterest board for one (check it out!), though!! I have so many dreams of a studio space, entirely dedicated to my art but they aren't reality just yet. So for this post, let me take you through the reality of my "studio".

My "studio"

My "studio"

So this is the set of drawers most of my supplies fit into. Ill take you into it but before that, a short disclaimer: most of this revolves around acrylic paint as thats my primary medium and some of my supplies are not currently in this (they're in a different city which doesnt help when you need them). 

My pencils and drawing tablet sit on top of it. I dont own too many pencils; the top box are my faber-castell color pencils and the bottom box is a mixture of sketching pencils (8H - 8B) and charcoal pencils.

The first drawer

The first drawer

This drawer contains my brushes, paint pens, ink pads and my metal palette knives. It's essentially my primary tool drawer. I got the dividers at a kitchen/houshold supplies store.

The second drawer

The second drawer

Ok, this drawer is a little bit of a mess. It contains my plastic palette knives (they're bigger), smaller pots of paints (lots of strange colors), ink, tiny trial canvases, stands (to hold up wet work), a pot of Gouache (bottom left) and my business card making supplies. Yeah, its definitely a huge mess. 

The third drawer

The third drawer

Finally, the last drawer which is meant to be a filing drawer but it really is perfect to store paint bottles and tubes. It also holds my flow aid and pouring mediums. 

So, this a very incomplete post as it does not include the rest of my dry mediums, fixative sprays tc etc. But I hope you enjoyed this peek into my "organization".



Art is a Language is an online portfolio as well as store for Shivani Sarjan’s artwork; focusing on sharing development, processes and final works as well as how an amateur artist may accomplish these. 

Building a Portfolio

Assembling a portfolio can be very difficult. The process is full of hard decisions. To me, the key is to be impartial; be critical of your own work. These are the steps I followed for my portfolio to 3 universities and an architectural firm. Please don't take these as concrete steps to build a portfolio; this is simply how I went about it.

1. Research your firm/university/organization

Research: what your organization stands for, some of their outputs and what they ask of their candidates. Their website would be an excellent place to look for this information but look at a few articles written about them as well. If you can talk to someone who has or does work for them, take advantage of their experience! Ask them for advice!

2. Assemble high-quality images of all your work

Photograph all of your work with white diffused lighting and a neutral background. Try to prop your work up (as upright as possible) and crop the image to make your image appear upright (photoshop has an angled crop tool). You don't need a professional camera, most camera phones will do the trick as long as you have decent lighting. Make sure you edit each image: up the saturation and contrast a little and reduce the exposure to avoid bright spots. 

3. Filter your work according to your needs

Refer to your research and filter your work accordingly. Be sure to be critical of your work and include your best! Consider including drafts and development works if you think your organization would appreciate it. You did the work! Show it off!

4. Group your chosen works

Sort through your chosen works and try to group them by media or concept. Play to your strengths; it's ok if your most frequent media is your biggest section. Just don't let it be the only media you include - you need to show versatility. 

5. Write blurbs and labels

Every image must be labeled for someone to be able to understand your thought process. The label should include:

Title, Size, Medium

Write a short blurb (a few sentences) for each final work to bring home your concept. Add a sentence to explain the development images as well. 

6. Assemble pages

Assemble pages according to your groups. Make sure you check any size requirements from your organization (page sizes and number of pages). The amount of work on a page will be dictated by the size of the page, the number of pages and the attention you want to bring to the image. Leave space for your blurbs and labels! For a clean and coherent layout try overlaying a grid while placing your images (in photoshop: View > show > grid). 

7. Export/ Print

Finally, export and collate your pages. Make sure you meet the file size requirements. If it's too large, reduce the size of each page by lowering the quality (in photoshop: appears in a pop-up window after exporting). Label your file clearly before uploading or sending it! If you're printing your portfolio, make sure you print it on high-quality paper and protect the pages with a cover and packaging before sending it off!

Hope that helped! 



Art is a Language is an online portfolio as well as store for Shivani Sarjan’s artwork; focusing on sharing development, processes and final works as well as how an amateur artist may accomplish these. 

Choosing a Title

Choosing a title for your work can be difficult. It's tempting to just call each one Untitled and let the work speak for itself. Don't give in!! I know what you're thinking - but so many famous artists have done it. Yes, they have, but they also have had highly acclaimed art critics to analyze their work and then publish their analysis. (Did that sound rude?? I didn't mean it to!) 

Ok, my point is, choose a title that will support your work. That will bring your idea, your concept, across to the viewer. This is extremely useful as your audience may not know you; they may not know that those hands are not just a pair of hands but a symbol for relationships (for example). 

Easier said than done, right? I had a lot of trouble with this as well. Let's take a look at some examples (cue shameless plugging of my own art). 

Variation (Acrylic on Canvas, 100x 100 cm)

I titled this piece Variation as the concept behind it was to display the variation one emotion can have through shades of gray. The title immediately directs you to the shades of gray if not the emotion. The title of the exhibition (Displaying Emotion) would lead to the emotion behind the painting. Variation would also lead into the blurb for the piece. 

The use of texture, shape and line accentuates the grey scale of colors used
which portrays the range a single emotion can have. It is disorganized and
several areas bleed into each other to show how blurred the lines between,
for example, simple frustration and potent rage can be. It focuses on the use
of black and white and the grays to represent the scale of a single emotion,
though the emotion itself is open to interpretation.
— Exhibition Blurb ; Displaying Exhibition

Struggle and Strife (Acrylic on Canvas, 100x100 cm)

As part of the same exhibition, this piece was titled Struggle and Strife. I choose this title to highlight the struggle between not only the two contrasting colors but two contrasting emotions within one. The title leads the viewer to the conflict expressed by this painting. This then leads into the blurb:

This piece’s purpose was to depict two emotions, namely anger and
depression, conflicting with each other. The composition itself is a gradient -
the colors are harmonic at the top and warring at the bottom. The use of
primary colors is not only visually appealing but makes the emotions
portrayed seem childish. The use of a yellow ochre in the background
accentuates the contrast between the piece’s colors . This compounds the
idea of two emotions that become more and more conflicting.
— Exhibition Blurb ; Displaying Emotion

I hope that helped you name your paintings! Please try to! It really brings across the idea behind your work.


Bauhaus Exhibition

Recently, two of my paintings were included in the Bauhaus Prairie Art Gallery as part of a competition. I am, of course, extremely proud of this but would also like to draw your attention to this gallery for not only this exhibition but all of its shows. It's an amazing gallery in the USA which includes artists from all over the world (making many of its shows purely digital.

Heres the link to the show, I was included in. Check it out!