About Me


I am Uma, an artist-engineer combo from San Jose, California.

There's commonality in both the fields; of watercolor and of engineering. In both, I've found that less is more and while simple is supreme, it takes a whole lifetime to hone this skill. I am on it.

In studio, February 2018


Inspiration cannot be waited on. It wants to see me at the easel. As a by product, everyday things are enough to interest me. There are so many artists who would love to get this opportunity of a physical + financial space to create. If I/we have it, we cannot not paint for lack of inspiration.

Art makes me kind

I found, a bit late, that kindness is everything. It’s imperative then, if art makes me kinder, that I must paint more. QED

It's the process!

Many a times people have to struggle to enjoy the process instead of achieving the end goals. Strangely, with painting, it’s easy for me to be enthralled with the process – to see how sometimes water works, how layering gives different effects in digital medium or how ink lightens in varying tones.
  1. 2022 Jan, ONLINE COMPOSE 2022: a Masterclass (3 spots open)
  2. 2021 Dec 4, ONLINE, 2 hour workshop What’s up with Trees? (Tickets)
  3. 2021 Oct 9-10, ONLINE Juicy Watercolors 2-day weekend workshop.
  4. 2021, Aug 16 – 20, Urban Sketching Summer Retreat, Wisconsin
  5. 2021 Apr – Jun Public Arts Project on Callie, the Bear (Link)
  6. 2021, Jan 4- 31, COMPOSE 2021: a masterclass
  7. 2020, Aug 22-23, ONLINE Juicy Watercolors 2-day weekend workshopread reviews here.
  8. 2020, May – June, ONLINE Juicy Watercolors – click here to read reviews.
  9. 2020, April – May, ONLINE Juicy Watercolors – click here to read reviews.
  10. 2020, Mar – May, FREE ONLINE classes to cope with pandemic.
  11. 2020, Feb 15, Landscapes in Procreate, San Jose – read reviews here.
  12. 2020, Jan 18, Basics of Procreate, San Jose – read reviews here.
  13. 2019, October 26-27, Elegance in Watercolors, San Jose.
  14. 2019, July 24-27, Rhythm is a Dancer, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  15. 2019, July 17-19, Elegance in Watercolors, Delft, Netherlands
  16. 2019, May 26, Urban Sketching 101, Atlanta, Georgia
  17. 2019, May 26, Urban Sketching 201, Atlanta, Georgia
  18. 2019, April 20 USK10x10: Premiere of Rhythm of Dancer, San Jose, CA
  19. 2019, April 12, Stories through Vignettes, Apple Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL
  20. 2019, April, 7-8,  Elegance in Watercolors, Chicago, IL
  21. 2019, March 9-10, Gray Matter, San Jose, CA
  22. 2019, Jan 19, Landscapes in Procreate, San Jose, CA 
  23. 2019, Jan 12, Easy Procreate, San Jose, CA
  24. 2018, Nov 10-11, Gray Matter, San Francisco, CA
  25. 2018, Nov 3-4, Gray Matter, Austin, TX
  26. 2018, July 18-21, Gray Matter, USK International Symposium, Portugal
  27. 2018, June 20, Sketch walk at the Apple Union Square Store, SF
  28. 2018, June 1-3, Gray Matter, Chicago Sketch Seminar
  29. 2018, May 19, Landscapes, quickly! Milbrae, CA
  30. 2018, May 13, Landscapes, quickly! Milbrae, CA
  31. 2017, Nov 30, Sketch walk at the Apple Union Square Store, San Francisco, CA
  32. 2017, October 20-21, Blurred Lines: An extended version, San Francisco, CA
  33. 2017, September 22-23, Blurred Lines: An extended version, San Francisco, CA
  34. 2017, July 26 – 29, Blurred Lines: Atmospheric Watercolor Sketches With Edge Variety, USK International Symposium, Chicago, IL
  35. 2017, May 13, Urban Landscape: How to do a quick capture.
  36. 2017, May 11-12, Urban Landscape: How to do a quick capture.
  1. 2021, Signature Membership of California Watercolor Association (CWA)
  2. 2021, 3rd acceptance into California Watercolor Society’s National Exhibit.
  3. 2021, Signature membership of National Watercolor Society
  4. 2021, Honorable Mention for Thorny but Juicy in the 2nd Annual Women in Watercolor International Competition.
  5. 2021, Juried into 2nd Annual Women in Watercolor International Juried Competition. Piece that was accepted is Thorny But Juicy (Link)
  6. 2021, Juried into National Watercolor Society’s 101st International Open Exhibit. This was a monumental in that it was my first acceptance after 18 no’s from NWS. Read more here.
  7. 2021, Signature membership to Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (CSPWC)
  8. 2020, Juried into 95th Annual Open Water show with Canadian Society of Painters of Watercolor (CSPWC)
  9. 2019, Juror of Awards for CWA member show Autumn’s Allure, Sept-Oct 2019
  10. 2019, Juried into 94th Annual Open Water show with Canadian Society of Painters of Watercolor (CSPWC)
  11. 2019, First Place Ribbon, Falkirk Paint Out, August 9, 2019
  12. 2019, Juried into CWA member’s show at Falkirk Community Center
  13. 2019, Roof under our Heads wins Holbein-American Framing Award.
  14. 2019, Juried into 47th National Exhibit of CWA.
  15. 2018, Second Place Ribbon at the Benicia Plein Air paint-out.
  16. 2017, Viewers choice award + Third Place Ribbon at the Benicia Plein Air paint-out, Benicia, CA
  17. 2017, Juried into Triton Statewide 2-D Salon, Santa Clara, CA
  18. 2016, Juried into California Watercolor Association, National Juried Exhibit, Pleasanton.
  19. 2016, Juried into Valley of Hearts show, Filoli Gardens, Woodside.
  20. 2015, Viewers choice award at the SCVWS Annual Member show.
  21. 2015, Second place award at the SCVWS Annual Member show.
  22. 2014, Lead & curated the Holiday Show of 30+ different artists and 8+ media at Gallery House, Palo Alto
  23. 2014, Choice, joint show at Gallery House, Palo Alto.
  24. 2014, L’Eau en Couleurs, International Watercolor Biennial, Belgium, a juried international exhibit.
  25. 2014, Watercolor USA, National Juried Exhibit in Springfield Missouri.
  26. 2013, Third place award at SCVWS Annual Member show.
  27. 2013, First professional solo show at Gallery House, Palo Alto
  28. 2012, First place award, Plein Air painting competition, SCVWS
  29. 2012, Juried into Think Small, Paint Big, Pacific Art League
  30. 2012, Juried into Gallery House, Palo Alto, the Bay Area’s oldest cooperative gallery.
  31. 2011, Awarded at the SCVWS Annual Member show.
  32. 2011, Silicon Valley Open Studio
  33. 2011, Missouri National Watercolor Exhibit, national juried exhibit.
  34. 2010, Triton Museums’s Statewide Watercolor competition and exhibition.
  35. 2010, Received a scholarship from Master painter Jerry Stitt, AWS, NWS, Summer 2010.
  1. Primary Author
    Year: 2020
    Title: The urban sketching handbook: Drawing with a tablet
    Author: Uma Kelkar
    Publisher: Quarry Books
  2. Primary Author
    Year: 2014
    Title: Behind the Scenes: The Story of Unsung Sketches
    Buy on Blurb
    Uma’s first book on how to fit sketching in your busy lives and why. Contains sketches from her sketchbooks and anecdotes from her personal experience of building an art practice in the modern day and age.
  3. Contributing Author
    Year: 2020
    Title: The urban sketching handbook: Techniques for Beginners
    Author: Suhita Shirodkar
    Publisher: Quarry Books
  4. Contributing Author
    Year: 2020
    Title: The urban sketching handbook: Drawing Expressive People
    Author: Roisin Cure
    Publisher: Quarry Books
  5. Contributing Author
    Year: 2019
    Title: The urban sketching handbook: Working with color
    Author: Shari Blaukopf
    Publisher: Quarry Books
  6. Contributing Author
    Year: 2017
    Title: 5 minute sketching: Landscape book
    Author: Virginia Hein
    Publisher: Firefly books
  7. Contributing Author
    Year: 2017
    Title:  Portrait Revolution
    Author: Julia Kay
  8. Featured Artist
    Year: 2021, on stands August 10.
    Magazine:  Watercolor Artist Magazine
  1. 2021 Oct 21, North Star Watermedia Society (NSWS)
  2. 2021 Sept 22, Clubhouse chat with Urban Sketchers India on Lines and Shapes
  3. 2021 Aug 25, Directwatercolor demonstration for Urban Sketchers Twin Cities
  4. 2021, Jan 24, Night Scene in limited palette.
  5. 2021, Jan 18, Podcast: Defeating Art Block like an Engineer and getting to know me.
  6. 2020, Nov 18, Painting Landscapes, for California Watercolor Association (CWA)
  7. 2020, Nov, Painting Landscapes, for Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Association (SCVWS)
  8. 2020, Oct 2, PODCAST: I paint like an engineer
  9. 2020 July 13, USk talks: Engineers Make Great Artists
  10. 2020, May, Urban sketching despite the pandemic, lecture to University of Bhopal, India
  11. 2020, Apr-Aug Multiple demonstrations with watercolor + digital art  on IG live.
  12. 2019, July, Thinking about Composition, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  13. 2018 July, Digital Planning, Analog Execution, Porto, Portugal
  14. 2017 July 27, Abstraction in Watercolors, Chicago
  15. 2016 East Valley Artists, San Jose, June 16
  16. 2014, Los Altos Art Club, June 9
  17. 2014, Talk Art, A Mid-Peninsula Community Studio production, interview and demonstration.
  18. 2013, Campbell Art Guild
  19. 2013, Silicon Valley Artist
  20. 2013, Gallery House, Palo Alto, March 30
  21. 2012, Los Altos Art Club, Sept 10

Graphs give more information than a CV with listings. They shows trends.

I am building a practice that works for me but also builds and integrates a community along side. The graphs from left to right shows growth of practice as percentage of work done till date, exposure of medium I practice in, absolute # of finished art pieces and workshops.

Exposure and Recognition

This is not just a practice. I am growing a tree.

Countries I've painted and taught in

Unfortunately, haven't been to all 50 states for painting. Invite me to teach in your home state!

I paint anything I fancy and enjoy a vast variety of topics and media. However, owing to busy city life on weekdays, I often find myself hiking and being in greener spaces which obviously means, I have more landscapes than any other genre.

Always relegated to being just a hobby, painting has achieved a pivotal role in my life since April 2009. It is my tool to having a balanced life – it rejuvenates and unwinds me. It lets me be among more sensitive and extraordinarily gifted people. But that’s all for me. With my paintings, I hope to share with you an emotion, a mood, a story which you – the onlooker – continue when you let your inward eye complete the picture.