TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Standing in the shade of a small tree along Ohio Street, Rajesh Naidu has spent the past nine mornings adding color to canvas.

As the artist-in-residence at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Naidu has been producing paintings he plans to display later this year.

Another recent painting features a barn in the countryside during the afternoon light.

His current subject is the Indiana Theatre during the morning.

"I only work on this until about noon," he said. "That's when the light changes."

Naidu said he could spend several more mornings with his easel and paints set up on Ohio Street east of Seventh Street.

"This has a lot of details, as in architectural details, but even if I'm not getting too detailed, I may be out here another week to get the quality of colors right," he said.

During the next year as artist-in-residence, Naidu is teaching art history and studio classes, while hosting workshops and open studio hours. He is also collaborating with other departments. Rose-Hulman offers a minor degree in art.

Naidu said he has been painting since childhood, but he only turned it into a profession a couple of years ago.

He was trained as a civil engineer, graduating in 2008, and he worked in India for a couple of years as a construction engineer for bridge and road projects. But he knew that wasn't his calling.

The emphasis in India has long been on professions such as engineering or medicine, he said, but times are changing. He was glad his parents supported his professional change to art.

Naidu said he was online looking at art in Terre Haute's Swope Art Museum and was impressed by the collection. He also saw the museum was located close to the Indiana State University campus.

"We have this amazing museum here," he said of the Swope. "You would think this small town would not have a museum of this quality."

He also sought input from his brother who lives in Detroit, and a sister-in-law in Chicago. They told him the American Midwest is a charming place to live with good scenery and a low cost of living.

Naidu was accepted at ISU, and recently earned his master of fine arts degree. In the spring, he was hired at Rose-Hulman as an instructor and artist-in-residence.

As he has traveled around the Wabash Valley, he has kept an eye out for visually appealing spaces he can translate to canvas.

The historic Indiana Theatre with its ornate exterior is a logical selection for a painting.

"This has a lot of details, as in architectural details, but even if I'm not getting too detailed, I may be out here another week to get the quality of colors right," he said.

His next project is not yet decided, he said, but he is being inspired by the local environment.

"I've been hearing the freight trains," he said, "and I've been thinking the railroad tracks are interesting and maybe that is an interesting landscape for me."

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Source: Tribune-Star

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Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com

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