Cover Artist Usha Shukla

Ethereal Beauty

By Lucy Arnold,  Art Editor

Usha Shukla painting

“Flower of Life,” oil on wood panel by Usha Shukla


Usha Shukla’s images are ethereal and cosmic, with no physical references. They distill the intense colors, movement, and light found in nature. Shukla developed a unique process to create her large, vibrant, abstract paintings. Instead of using conventional tools like brushes and palette knives, she moves the paint on wood panels using an air blower.

Usha Shukla

Usha Shukla

Shukla was born and raised in New Delhi, India. As a young girl, she enjoyed walks in the countryside, taking in the beauty of nature. The vibrant colors of India left a strong impression on her.

When she moved to San Francisco in 1996, everything was so different from her native land that she felt out of place and disoriented. The only constant was nature, which became her sanctuary.

“Outdoors, I feel the same breath of fresh air that I felt in my childhood, and my past and present become one,” she says.

Her paintings are the representation of a harmonious balance of the subconscious landscape and the physical world.


“Cymbidium 02,” 36 by 36 painting by Usha Shukla

After a visit to the Louvre in Paris in 2006, Shukla realized that her true passion was art. She then began her formal art education, adding a master’s of fine arts degree in painting from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco to her existing graduate degree in English literature and diploma in fashion design.

Shukla won the 2016-’17 Clyde & Co. Art Award for Emerging Artists and, in 2018, the Best of Theme Award in the Pleasanton Art League Annual Show and two Juror’s Choice awards at the SF Women Artists Gallery. She has had solo exhibits at Gallery 1317 Grant in San Francisco and at Sun Gallery in Hayward. She also has a public art mural in Livermore, California, and was selected for a public art commission by the Alameda County Arts Commission.

“Grand Orange,” 24 by 24

“Grand Orange,” 24 by 24 painting by Usha Shukla

Artist’s Statement:

My journey of creation begins with a thought-out color palette. In a meditative state, I immerse myself in the process and let the painting guide me. It is always a balance of letting go and being in control. As my head, heart, and hand become one, something pure and personal happens. Vapor-like shapes appear and disappear on the panel, leaving only traces of the initial layer, like the mere reverberation of a memory. Usha Shukla, Diablo-Alameda Branch