Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Meet Artist & Air Force Wife Monishikha RoyChoudhury

We're back with another interview from the 'Brigade That Builds Brands' series. It's all about fauji wives / military spouses, who make work work for them through multiple postings, back-to-back social commitments, spotty internet connections, long stints of single parenting, community mindset regarding how military spouses should or should not work and a lot more.

Today, I'm chatting with Engineer-turned-Artist and fellow Air Force wife, Monishikha RoyChoudhury about how she juggles fauji life, motherhood and her art through postings and social commitments.

C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

M. I am a fauji daughter, an Electrical Engineer by profession and an artist by passion. I have been married to an Air Force officer for 14 years now.

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

M. I have always had a passion for sketching but until a few years ago, I regarded it as a hobby only. I began painting two years after getting married, when I saw my mother in law painting .She introduced me to the basics of oil painting, and from there I took wing. A few months down the road however, a long cherished dream came to fruition when against significant odds, I became pregnant.So, I put away my paints so as to keep my baby away from noxious chemicals. 

Once my son was born in July 2009, I returned to blogging and sketching late at night while he slept. By the time he was a year old, I realized that watercolours would afford me the freedom of painting while being around my baby, without having to worry about any potentially toxic fumes. So I jumped in head first into what is mostly known as the most difficult medium of painting, namely watercolours. Thus began a long and happy creative journey of discovery from teaching myself how to paint, onto eventually teaching many a painting class and of late having the confidence to exhibit my work in exhibitions. 

C. Fauji wives make their home in an assortment of obscure places across the country. Our lives are about living in the moment and doing what we can, when we can. Can you share how you stayed creative or found work that satisfied you while moving across the country?

M. Given the uncertain and ever-changing nature of fauji life and houses, I realized that having a dedicated studio and painting time was a luxury that was unlikely to materialize for me. However giving up on painting was also not an option because it helps me maintain my equilibrium, so the workable compromise that I came up with, was having my painting supplies organized, set up and ready to go on a study table and literally stealing at least 15 to 20 minutes of time spread over the day for painting. On days when painting is not possible, I watch many a YouTube artist paint to tide me over till I get time to paint something.

C. How do you juggle that load of social commitments & welfare activities that are an integral part of the fauji community, while nurturing your passions and meeting work deadlines?

M. I’m fortunate in that I mostly paint to please myself and when my completed paintings sell, they do so largely by word of mouth, so I don’t normally need to meet deadlines. Also, I tend to paint quite often when I have no other commitments, so in case I have to participate in an exhibition, I always have some work to show. However in the rare event of having both a professional deadline and social commitments /welfare activities on the horizon, it has always been my policy not to over commit in terms of time to deliver on either.

C. As a creative/entrepreneur + fauji wife, is there something that you cherish very much about being part of this community? And is there something you feel must/can change for the better?

M. As a fauji wife, I cherish the many opportunities to travel and live, in the lap of nature because nature and variety inspire the artist in me. Also being an artist gives me the ability to work from anywhere. There isn’t much I would like to change about this life, except maybe the blanket restriction on conducting workshops or classes at home because it limits the opportunities available to both those with something to teach and those who want to learn.

C. What challenges have you faced in balancing work and fauji life?

M. As I mentioned elsewhere, the restriction on conducting classes only at certain venues, means that unless I have punctual and reliable house help, I can’t cater to a broader community of students.

C. How do you market your business and products while moving from base to base, place to place, and often to remote areas?

M. I share my creative process and artwork on social media, namely my Facebook page, Monishikha’s Art Studio at https://www.facebook.com/monishikhasartstudio  and on Instagram @monishikharoychoudhury .

So far that has helped me immensely in terms of connecting with a large community of artists and art lovers all over the world. In terms of actual sales of paintings, social media and word of mouth are also the two channels which have been most effective. 

C. What tips would you give to fauji wives out there who’d like to pursue their dreams while living at small and busy bases (many still believe or led to believe that you can either be a fauji wife or a professional, and that’s not true)?

M. I would advise them to introspect honestly as to the why, what and how of what they would like to do and how much are they willing to work to achieve their goal. Not everyone needs to be a professional, but having a hobby or a passion makes life that much more interesting. Fortunately, we fauji wives are blessed with circumstances that strengthen our spines out of necessity and bring us in contact with all manner of situations and people, so learn from everyone and everything, network, make a plan, set a budget, get a good internet connection and dive in!

C. A parting quote or philosophy that helps you stay calm and do what you do?

M. When a painting is not going my way, as it often does, I leave it alone for a few hours, and come back with a fresh approach and far less attachment to fixing what wasn’t working. That and venting to my long suffering husband, seems to work every time ;)

Thank you for answering these questions!

Would you like to know more about our fauji wife lifestyle + entrepreneurship? Check out the entire series here.

Wanna read more - this time about simple sari style? You can download my free ebook ‘Everyday Sari Style: 22 Ideas to keep it fresh, fun & fuss-free’at the blog - just sign-up for the blog to receive the ebook link.

And lastly, if you're aware of the way we're (us humans) wrecking the Earth and would like to know more about practical ways to go a sassy shade of green, then, check out our new Women's Wellness & Green Lifestyle e-magazine: Gorgeous Girls Go Green.  Hey, do Like us on Facebook.

#faujiwife #militaryspouse #militaryspouseentrepreneur #entrepreneur #artist #gogreen #greenliving #saristyle


  1. Awesome read, as usual chandana! And kudos to the lady's perseverance and dedication.

    1. Thanks, Maryam! Keep coming back to read more of these stories :)


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