Pranav Yogeswaran said one time he was hiking in the mountains, was sitting down, and suddenly a bear ran past him.

Loving chess as a hobby, the fourth grader at Brooks Crossing Elementary School in South Brunswick’s favorite chess team is the Berlin Bears.

“I connected a hobby with a time in my life,” he said of the creation of “Chess Bear,” a watercolor painting he created for the Heera’s Art Center’s June exhibit at the North Brunswick Township Gallery of Art.

He said drawing the bear was more difficult than the chess components.

“Chess pieces, I’ve seen so many times in my life, so it’s easy to draw them, but the bear had more patterns and shapes,” he said.

He included a blue and orange bear because “a bear itself looks very dull so I tried to use different colors” as well as insignia from various chess teams.

“I love seeing people’s artwork,” he said.

Lakshmi Durga, founder of the Heera Art Center, presented 38 pieces of student artwork based on the theme of animals for her 12th annual exhibit. The artwork could be in any medium, including watercolor, pencils, chalk pastels, acrylics and graphite. The students range from pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade.

She said animals are a very challenging project, no matter the age of the artist.

“Painting animals is not a simple and easy task. The artists have to analyze closely all the intricate shapes and figures that make up an animal. For instance, details such as eyes, skin, texture, hair and folds are very difficult to capture in the artworks,” she explained during the artist meet-and-greet reception on June 13.

Heera Durga, Lakshmi’s daughter and the inspiration for the art center, had the most life-like drawing of a golden retriever named Buddy. Her acrylic painting was based off a photograph of her friend’s dog, with a few tweaks of her own.

“It really brings the dog to life,” she said of bringing out highlights and shadows, especially with the dog’s fur.

“I really like puppies, it’s an animal I adore,” she said.

Heera said art is important, especially as she prepares to attend Rutgers University in the fall after graduating from South Brunswick High School.

“The thinking process is a little different once you know how to draw and paint,” she said. “It’s also calming and relaxing.”

She said exhibiting in a gallery is important because “it raises awareness for other people to get inspired and do their own work, as well as it encourages students,” she said.

Fifth grader Nandita Konduru is one of those encouraged students. She always thought peacocks were “pretty birds” so she attempted to paint one in watercolors for her project.

She said the painting took about eight or nine hours to complete in class, because the strokes of the feathers were harder than she expected.

“I think it helps me concentrate on things more because you have to be very specific on certain details,” the Indian Fields Elementary student said.

Akshara Jagannathan enjoys drawing llamas, flowers, farm animals and people. She chose a turtle for her exhibit because “they are fast swimmers.”

“Drawing the turtle was hard and other stuff was easy” such as the water and the border, the kindergartner from Oak Tree Elementary School in Monroe said.

Ameya Shirsat included a monkey, antelope, cheetah, alligator, bear and toucan in his all-inclusive “Animals” watercolor.

The first grader at Brooks Crossing Elementary said he likes drawing forest animals.

The Argentinosaurus was the focus of Tushar Rakundlia’s colored pencil sketch. He “likes dinosaurs a lot” and included a picture of he and his sister next to the dino “to represent size.”

Aryan Khare, a freshman at South Brunswick High, completed a charcoal sketch of a zebra for the gallery.

“Mostly getting the face was hard” because of the patterns, he said of the one month it took to draw. “All the details on the face I kept redoing, trying to get it right.”

He said as a sophomore he plans to take an art class in school.

Kavya Chunduru chose to draw a mother and baby kangaroo “because my name starts with K.” The fourth grader at Indian Fields said the pair “looks good together.”

She said she was “happy” to see her work exhibited for the first time.

Avni Dalal, a sophomore at South Brunswick High School, created a contrasting red and black and white dragon.

“I found a picture of a dragon online and wanted to do something different, so I did half colored pencil and half charcoal,” she said.

She said since this was her first time she used colored pencils, she had to figure out how to use them, especially because when you color over paper, sometimes the white space of the paper shows through.

She also revealed that it was “more fun” to use the charcoal to show texture.

With aspirations to draw fashion illustrations, Avni said art “just makes you feel better.”

Heera’s Art Center – Center for Creativity is located at 34 Wisteria Court, Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick. For more information, visit www.heerasartcenter.com.

The Gallery of Art is located in the DPRCS wing of the North Brunswick Municipal Building, first floor, 710 Hermann Road, North Brunswick. The animals exhibit is on display through the end of the month.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.

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