Michelangelo’s Bacchus and the 4 Types of Artists.

It’s odd how we often we look at things without seeing them, quite like I’ve looked at Bacchus and David and the Creation of Adam that’s painted upon the ceiling of Sistine chapel. We look at them and move on to the next creation by the artist…and then the next.

But among all the creations of Michelangelo, Bacchus left me moved.

This sculpture of the Roman god of wine and festivities is possibly the only one that does justice to him and his fine duties along with the Satyr that nibbles at the bunch of grapes that hang at the god’s side, and yet, it’s the sculpture for which Michelangelo wasn’t paid.

Why?

  • Because Bacchus looked drunk and slightly out of control.
  • Because Michelangelo had gone beyond what was required of him.
  • Because in his depiction of Bacchus Michelangelo had broken the moral boundaries of his time.

But mostly because with Bacchus, Michelangelo had stretched limits of the ability expected from an artist at the time. He had given his figures an exalted form. That, or his lack of training in painting led him to paint somewhat elongated figures on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the artists that came after him thought that elongation of bodies might be secret to his his success. Whatever the reason might have been, Michelangelo inadvertently started the Mannerist school of art, which El Greco took to perfection.

The wikipedia entry on Bacchus tells us…

“Commissioned by Raffaele Riario, a high-ranking Cardinal and collector of antique sculpture, it was rejected by him and was bought instead by Jacopo Galli, Riario’s banker and a friend to Michelangelo.”

I am not surprised that the gentleman who commissioned the sculpture decided not to put it in his courtyard. We don’t know whether it was because the god appeared drunken or because he wasn’t clothed. I’d say it must’ve been a bit of both. We know that after Michelangelo had finished “The Last Judgment” his work was denigrated by Cesna (the Papal Master of Ceremonies) and at a later date  another artist Volterra was commissioned to cover the nakedness that disgraced the chapel. Volterra might not have envisioned how this particular commission would earn him a place in history, and a rather cute nickname that translates to knickers-maker.

Raffaele Riario who was a cardinal himself would obviously be averse to decorating his courtyard with a sculpture of a butt-naked god who looked, “drunken, brutal, and narrow-minded, and has an expression of dissoluteness the most revolting,” according to P.B. Shelley.

And yet, I believe that Bacchus is a master-piece – for it’s a manifestation of Michelangelo’s courage and imagination. Perhaps the first sculpture of its kind – the first to cast a god in the mold of a man both in body and spirit, and yet, it was rejected by the man who commissioned it. In the sixteenth century, an artist was more an illustrator of an idea who worked for a price and delivered per the requirement of the client. The artistic license that Michelangelo took with Bacchus must’ve caused him considerable inconvenience too.

It’s said that history has lessons for us.

One of the lessons to be learned here is that artists must sometimes rein-in their imagination, especially if they want to eat well. They must decide what kind of artist they want to be – Starving, Dying, Dead, or Rich.

The 4 Types of Artists - A Verbal Caricature eBook by Shafali the Caricaturist

Click to download in a format of your choice.

 

 

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My three renderings of Morgan Freeman – A Caricature, a Quick Digital Painting, and a Pen Portrait.

Artists thrive on the emotions that swing from one extreme to another – and more often than not find themselves holding the short end of the stick. I can’t say for sure if that was the case with Morgan Freeman, when he got embroiled in the #Metoo controversy, but there’s a distinct possibility that he allowed the actor in him to get the better of him.

Honestly, I’m a fan of Morgan Freeman. I love his expressive face, his deep bass voice, and most of all, his ability to remain himself while becoming his character. I don’t know how he does it all.

Anyway, to cut a long story short…

Let me share the three drawings/paintings of Freeman I did.

As the caricature of Alex Cross (2009)

Morgan Freeman as Detective Alex Cross of James Patterson Novels doesn't see the dueling mosquitoes.

Will he spot them?

 

As a quick less-than-an-hour painting by a distraught artist

Quick Portrait of Morgan Freeman - Hollywood-Actor

Morgan Freeman – 8″x11″

As a more detailed pen and ink drawing done from a photograph

Portrait Morgan Freeman Hollywood actor accused #metoo

As you can see, the first drawing is a caricature that exaggerates his nose, which is his most characteristic feature, and it also plays with the deviations. (For a detailed study of how you can make caricatures, please check out “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Make Caricatures.”)

The second artwork is painted digitally and my focus was on capturing the lights and the shadows. My aim was to paint it within an hour, and so I began with laying blobs of digital paint to define the form and then just painted in the main features.

The third drawing was done more meticulously. First, I made a pen sketch. Then I scanned it and did the light color sketching in Photoshop.

For the philosophically inclined, I wrote a post yesterday 🙂 Morgan Freeman – In the Eye of the #MeToo storm.

I also want to thank everyone who responded to my previous post despite my inordinately long absence from the virtual world. You guys are swell. THANK YOU!

Portrait – Morgan Freeman – In the Eye of the #MeToo Storm.

Morgan Freeman has finally gotten on the infamous #metoo list. 

A few months ago, I did a portrait of Morgan Freeman from a photograph. This is the one. It’s a pen-sketch with some more sketching in Photoshop.

Portrait Morgan Freeman Hollywood actor accused #metoo

About the recent #metoo controversy…

One Ms. Melas, a CNN reporter, had set the ball rolling. She felt uncomfortable while interviewing Mr. Freeman because he looked her up and down several times and repeatedly said something to the effect of “I wish I were there,” a story that wasn’t corroborated by rest of the crew as they said only one of those comments was recorded.

Morgan Freeman has apologized and said that he never “assaulted” a woman, and that he’s sorry if he made women feel uncomfortable around him.

Now, men making women “uncomfortable” by looking up and down is something that’s debatable, mostly because a reasonably attractive woman just needs to step out of the house and she’s looked “up and down,” and I know from my experience of living in hostels that many women who don’t get looked become very depressed. They attempt all sorts of harmful-to-health effects to get men to look them up and down – including wearing hourglass waist-lined dresses that pinch their midriffs and walking provocatively but dangerously on stilettos.

And this bit about sizing-up isn’t restricted to men. When a male eye candy passes by, women look them “up and down” though less overtly, sometimes from behind their goggles but often not, and a few even drool open-mouthed.

This visual attention is often is appreciation of the human form generally peppered with some fleeting sexual interest that disappears as soon as the object of attention moves out of their visual field.

The human form naked as well as clothed has been the subject of artistic inquiry through centuries. Artists have used both male and female forms with gusto through the last thousand years, and while female artists of the Renaissance period stayed with portraying only the fully clothed female form, the male artists had a field day painting their models au-naturel. Men have traditionally been more brazen (for want of a more appropriate word) in their approach to the human body.

Now when does this supposed “appreciation of the human form” become the subject of #metoo?

When it leaves the woman uncomfortable. I understand that it happens when the man is usually a dodderer and the woman much younger. When a handsome young man (say, Channing Tatum or even Ashton Kutcher) sizes a woman up, it’s admiration but when an eighty-two-year-old Morgan Freeman does it, it leaves women uncomfortable.

Unfortunately habits once formed are difficult to break, and I guess that’s why we find so many old men drooling helplessly – quite like a penniless child who looks through the glass window of a bakery.

The fact that mature women too experience desire upon witnessing the toned muscles and bronzed bodies of men is overlooked mostly because women don’t gape at them open-mouthed nor move their heads sideways to follow their subject of interest like a puppy watches a piece of chicken. This is so because they have spent their youth being the “observed” and not the “observer.”

In my opinion, Morgan Freeman’s fall into the #metoo cauldron was initiated because with his advancing age he didn’t transform into a universal dad or a universal grand-dad (he was even rumored to have an affair with E’Dena Hines, his grand-daughter from his first wife who isn’t a blood relative but about 45 years his junior.)  His long-formed habit of “appreciating” the female form and such rumors possibly led to his #metoo-ing. Ms. Melas’ journalistic sense would have definitely reasoned that with her personal experience with him and his rumored interest in younger women would lead her to more such women who’d like to share their stories with her.

All this contrasts with what I understand of molestation. In my opinion, molestation happens when a man touches a woman inappropriately without consent. Period.

If looking at a woman’s form or making a slightly off-color remark in her presence would result in being #metoo-ed, I think men would have to tip-toe around women, always careful of what they spoke, how they behaved – and that, I believe would render this world quite colorless.

I think Morgan Freeman didn’t molest those women and if he did make them feel uncomfortable, he didn’t do it on purpose. It’s time to accept his apology and move on. Molestation is a serious offense and l don’t think Morgan Freeman deserves to be on that #metoo list. Let us not trivialize the pain of molestation by bringing every little look and comment within its purview.

Note: This is a hobby-sketch done from a photograph that I admired for its lighting. Since this is a proportionate reproduction of the photograph, please don’t enquire for licensing the image. It’s not for sale/licensing.

Caricature-Cartoon: Mark Zuckerberg pumps Facebook Users’ Data – Is this News?

Cartoon Caricature of Mark Zuckerberg on Data sharing with third parties - Cambridge Analytica

“Mark Zuckerberg Pumps FB Data” – Published in The Suit magazine (now known as Advisors Magazine.)

The Facebook Data scandal is hot these days with FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg being subjected to some intense questioning.

In 2014, an app called “This is Your Digital Life” harvested information from about 87 Million accounts (about 270K downloaders and their friends.) This information gleaned by this app comprised not only birthdays/pages liked etc. but also private messages. Obviously, Facebook users were livid when they learned that their information was being transferred/traded with this company, and so many began to close their FB accounts. (I still have an FB account and FB tell me that it’s safe.)

The data analytics company “Cambridge Analytica” used this information to “manage” elections in different countries, including the US and India.

The above caricature was published in the then Suit Magazine, which is now Advisor’s Magazine. You can view this and more on my portfolio blog.

I had done this caricature of Mark Zuckerberg in 2012, and so the world was already wary of data-sharing by FB (mostly to make money, but sometimes to please the agencies.) Now with the CA Scandal out in the open, its clear that FB not only harvests and stores information of its users, but also allows third party apps to soak it up. All that it tells us that FB is devilishly and unethically smart (what did we expect from a platform that had its genesis in a program that allowed guys to rate girls,) and we, the users, naive and foolish.

Enjoy the cartoon.

Mathematical, Fractal, Spiritual Art… or Some Awesome Abstract Beauty?

Folks, I’ve been away doing crazy non-caricature stuff, but that’s not a valid excuse for neglecting my blog. The fact that the non-caricature stuff had been emotionally and physically draining, and it left me with no energy to do things that I love (read: drawing and painting and blogging,) could probably cut some ice.

What? 

It doesn’t?

You are still hopping mad?!

Ok…ok. Let me share with you something out-worldly – Ranjeet Anand’s Poetry with Pixels  also check out PoetrywithPixels on Instagram.

Here are a couple of artworks from this tantalizing, even mesmerizing, page.

Psychedelic Spiritual Mathematical Fractal Generative Art by Ranjeet Anand - Poetry with Pixels - Space Arbora

Title: Space Arbora, Artist: Ranjeet Anand

 

Psychedelic Spiritual Mathematical Fractal Generative Art by Ranjeet Anand - Poetry with Pixels -Perpetual Pixels- The Chthonic Eye

Title: “The Chthonic Eye”
Artist: Ranjeet Anand

I’ve got a strong premonition that after you visit this art gallery, you’ll forgive my blogging lapses. I promise to soon return with some of my own artworks.

Caricature Portrait – Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

A couple of days ago, I sketched this caricature portrait of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary to President Donald Trump.

Caricature Portrait - Sarah Huckabee Sanders - Daughter of Mike Huckabee - Press Secretary White House for President Donald Trump

This is a quick ballpoint pen sketch (I was driven to tint it a bit after scanning,) which happened between two bouts of writing madness.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the daughter of Mike Huckabee, who had also run for President in the last elections. I had done a full-page illustration of Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee for the Talk Business & Politics magazine (one that I like a lot,) and you can view it here 🙂

Padmavati or Queen Padmini of Chittor.

The controversy that’s been raging in India for a whole month lit a fire under me and made me find this portrait of Queen Padmini or Padmavati from my archives.

The lore tells us of a beautiful Srilankan princess who crossed the Indian ocean to be with her husband and beloved Ratansen, the king of Chittor.

Recently, a Bollywood period-drama based on the life of Queen Padmavati found itself in choppy waters, presumably for tinkering with history. The movie, say those who claim that their sentiments were hurt, shows the queen dancing. A queen who tread such high moral ground that she not just immolated herself but led all other women of Chittor into the funeral pyre to ensure they died with their dignity intact, couldn’t stoop so low as to dance. They are also of the opinion that the movie shows some romantic moments between that creepy invader Khilji and Queen Padmavati, which the producers say, actually show Khilji fantasizing about the queen.

There are too many moot points.

  • Whether or not there was actually a queen called Padmini who was actually a Sinhalese princess the tales of whose beauty had driven Ratansen to cross the ocean and go to Sri Lanka to marry her and bring her back?
  • Who is right? The movie-makers or the movie-attackers?
  • Why we still hear of nose-chopping and head-lopping as the right way to set matters of honor straight?
  • How the freedom of artistic expression be curbed “slowly?”

I’m sure the list is longer than my tired brain can produce.

Queen Padmini Padmavati portrait of her reflection in mirror - Alauddin Khilji's attack on Chittor.

A Portrait from the Mists of Time – Queen Padmini of Chittor (Size: 18″ x 22″, Medium: Graphite Relief Work, Copyright 2004, All Rights Reserved.

Actually, upon reading the stories, I do believe that they are more fantastical than historical. (A question that keeps perplexing me is what happened to the children of the women who immolated themselves? There’s no mention of children anywhere. In the days of the yore, I’m sure that in the absence of any birth-control measures, children were aplenty.  Silly question, I know. Yet, I’d like to know how they were whisked away from a fort that lay under siege for so long that people had begun to starve.)

Anyway, the long and short of the Padmavati story is that eventually the dust would settle. The movie-makers will find a way not only to salvage their 300 Cr. investment but also to make it bear fruit. It’s only a matter of time.

In the meantime, lose yourself in the lore of Padmini.

Short Story – The Goldfish Princess (Illustrated with an Oil Painting on Canvas)

The Goldfish Princess

She turned her side and the heat of her body rushed to embrace the cold surface of the bed. This was why she had been postponing the moment until her muscles had begun to cramp. The cold, she thought, would one day freeze the blood flowing in her veins, and when that happened, her frozen blood would expand to first crack and then blast open her veins, quite like the water that upon turning into ice, cracked the pipes.

With sleep having fled from her eyes, she lay on her left side, letting her warmth seep out of her body and warm the cold sheet under her. She could have remained in the sunny climes of her homeland, but then she would have been sleeping on the pavement and begging on the streets. Here she was a princess.

Oil painting on canvas - Princess with gold tail - caricature and portrait art in india by portrait artist shafali

The Goldfish Princess – Oil on Canvas, Size: 13.5″x17.5″

Almost a princess.

The faces around her, all white, all different from hers, closed upon her from all sides, like a wall. They smiled and they talked. They talked in a foreign tongue that she couldn’t yet understand completely. They were kind to her, and they gave her a bed to sleep in.

Back home, Mother would be thinking that her daughter was a princess too, and so would all the uncles and aunts and neighbors who lived in the dirty threadbare tents that they had hitched upon the pavements. Back home, back at the pavement, they thought of her as a princess with a tiara upon her head.

Perhaps they were right. She had a roof upon her head. A roof that the wind couldn’t blow away. She had clean clothes on her back, so what if she had only two changes. One to wash while she wore the other. And she slept in a bed. She had a trunk to keep her things in, and a hopper window that she could open to let sunlight in when the sun was almost about to set on the western horizon, except that she was usually busy in the kitchen at that time of the day.

Upstairs, the kind man and woman, and their children, they slept in heated rooms, and they went out, everyday. The children played out in the sun, the woman wore new dresses everyday. They listened to music, they watched television, they played, and talked, and shopped, and did everything that she wanted to do along.

As she fell asleep again thinking of the pavement and the tiara, she wondered how long would it be before the four a.m. alarm went off. The woman, her mistress, was not cruel until the girl caused her grief, and her mistress liked to see the house sparkling clean when she woke up at seven.

And the goldfish had to be fed too.

Kindred souls.

Discovering the Artist within me (Part IV) – I am what I think.

I am what I think, and because art is an artist’s expression, my art too would have a bit of me in it. If it has then by logical extension, my art is my thoughts. When my thoughts stretch beyond the realm of cognitive thinking and spill over its boundaries, they become my feelings and emotions, so my art should also be my feelings and emotions. This is why my art would be the outcome of my past interactions with the world, for they shaped my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Some of these are buried in my subconscious, but most live in a twilight zone that exists between my conscious clarity and my sub-conscious nebulosity.

In my paintings, I sometimes return to caricatures. Mostly because the watered down version of reality that we often deal with in our lives, doesn’t let us experience life completely. Evil exists, and often its darker than black. Goodness too exists and sometimes it brighter than white. We usually choose to experience life in moderate shades of gray.

The Darkest Grays and the Deepest Blacks

A boy we’ve known from childhood can be a little wayward, but he cannot be the rapist who pulled out the entrails of a girl he violated. A bow-legged nephew who is always so charming in his manners, cannot be a pedophile who molests a woman’s daughter. An eighty year old frail woman couldn’t have gotten her sons beaten black and blue by her husband because she liked seeing her husband beat his sons whom she had hated bearing.

We choose not the believe the darkest grays and the deepest blacks, because believing would lead us to question everything around us, and our virtual safety bubble that allows us to sleep peacefully at nights, would vanish.

The Lightest Grays and the Brightest Whites

We also raise eyebrows when a billionaire decides to spend his billions in research and development that doesn’t turn his billions into trillions but helps the masses that hang from the cliff of their existence by their fingernails. We don’t trust his good intentions. We find ourselves at a loss of words when a client doesn’t try to bargain our skin off our backs.

We see the hand of God at work when anyone goes out of his or her way to help, because such bright and light grays and such brilliant whites appear impossible in our imperfect human world.

I think that as an artist I attempt to capture these two ends of the human spectrum, for what lies in the middle is a diluted version of life. I believe artists must think and feel, and then reach out to pull the two ends into their work. 

Discovering the Artist within me (Part III) – Connecting with the Soul.

Last week, I was down with viral fever. The whole week, all hundred and sixty-eight hours of it, went up in a puff. Then, yesterday, I happened to meet an artist and my conversation with him, fueled up my thought-process.

All these years, I had kept a lid on my need to paint my soul and its connection to the world. I had done everything that wouldn’t let me feel the pain of seeing my own vulnerabilities. I had boarded shut the window that opened into my soul.  The connection of my soul with the world is, as you might surmise, full of knots and tangles. It is going to perhaps be the most difficult thing to paint. But I must paint it so that I can see it as much as others can – for only then will I truly understand it.

Recently, since I’ve begun to connect with contemporary artists, I’ve been learning things that I hadn’t known all this while. That illustration, cartooning, and caricature-drawing don’t qualify as art, and that an artist’s past as an illustrator or a cartoonist, in some way makes the artist’s art less palatable.

Oddly, I cannot nod a blind yes to it, for in my books an artist and his art is the sum-total of the artist’s past – and whatever colors that artist chooses to put on the canvas are made from his sweat and blood, and those countless hours that he spent perfecting his skill. I believe and I seriously do, that we cannot have artists popping out of pre-approved molds.

Yesterday, I stood in a gallery looking at works that didn’t speak to me. They made me feel dead inside. I’m sure the artist felt otherwise. She, in fact had reasons for every little thing she had put into her works, and she was animatedly describing them to her audience. She spoke of her experiences and how it made her art what it was. The art was her expression, but the world that it connected to, wasn’t mine.

I am beginning to think that one of the important characteristics of art is the soul-connection. It should be born from an artist’s soul and then it should embrace the viewer’s. Without this connection, art would never find its patrons, and without patrons, the artist’s work will never be seen.

Discovering the Artist within me (Part II) – Classification.

Artists are classified. Period.

Ironically, periods are what classify artists, as do schools and styles. And if you apply paint on canvas, you’ll automatically be classified as a kind of artist, or your art shall be called a mix of styles.

In past several days, I  have had the opportunity of interacting with an amazing young woman. I draw and paint what I want, and having never set foot in an art school until recently, I’ve been both positively and negatively blessed. Positively because I still think the way I want to and I continue to question what I don’t understand, and negatively because the techniques of art are difficult to come by.

This young person is a vibrant combination of intellect and creativity, and her thoughts on art are mature beyond her years. My learning from her has led me reflect upon what My illustrations done for the purpose of exemplifying articles and news, and my caricature renditions of people for the purpose of satire and/or humor notwithstanding, I draw and paint:

  • My thoughts that often take the form of expressions, faces, mountains, animals of all ilk.
  • My memories that fluctuate between the light and dark but often get personified/morphed into my physical experiences.
  • Motion, speed, acceleration for everything around us is perpetually in motion.
  • Colors – washes, splashes, blobs…but all to bring out my thoughts in a visual format.

My young friend tells me that the artist within me may have surrealistic leanings. I do love Dali’s surrealist renderings, but I’m not sure if I would eventually paint like that. Dreams are different from thoughts – thoughts are anchored in logic; dreams break those anchors, allowing the thoughts to fly aimlessly, meeting other thoughts that they were never supposed to meet, and populating a landscape to give birth to surrealism. The elements of surprise, the realistic treatment of people, animals, and objects – they were the hallmarks of Dali’s paintings.

Oh, now that I’m reminded of Salvador Dali, I must show you the caricature that I did of him a few years ago. A simple pencil rendering, nothing much – but one day, I shall paint him the way he would’ve painted himself, surrealistically.

-artist-salvador-dali-mustaches-moustaches-surrealism-surrealist-caricature-of-dali.jpg

My take on Dali’s work has always been of wondrous respect.

Right now, I stand on a spiritual event horizon. If I cross over, I may not return; if I don’t, I won’t know what lies on the other side. But from the windows of time that rush past me at lightening speed, I’ve been able to catch a few glimpses and those glimpses must be translated into sketches…those sketches might get me my visa to the other side. I just hope that it’s a tourist visa and that it comes with a free return ticket.

 

Discovering the Artist within me (Part I) – Art? What’s that again?

Art is something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings… Merriam Webster.

By this definition, everything that’s created with imagination and skill,  and which either looks/feels good or expresses an important idea or emotion, can be classified as art. For this reason, I suppose, a piece of music that makes the listeners swing and dance (looks/feels good) is art; a caricature-composition that obviously requires a lot of imagination and skill to create and which expresses an important idea, is art; a dramatic scene in a movie that is directed with imagination and acted out with skill, and makes people bite their nails (expresses/conveys important feelings) is art.

By this definition, what may be art for you might not be art for me, for the expression must be understood and felt. By the same definition, something that’s created with imagination and skill, but is neither beautiful nor expresses an important idea or feeling, isn’t art; nor is something that’s created without imagination or skill but expresses and important idea or a feeling – (a pamphlet, a news item?)

As I go through the history of art, learning from it in bits and pieces, I realize that art is evolutionary. What is considered art at one time and place may not be considered so in another. In the late nineteenth and earlier twentieth century when art separated itself from the visual renderings of religious nature, and began acquiring a personality of its own, most of the works that were acclaimed internationally, had one or both of these characteristics.

  1. They evoked an emotional response in their viewers.
  2. They were aesthetically pleasing.

The degree to which each of these characteristics would be experienced by the viewers varies, and yet, these are the two basic reasons why people buy the art of an unknown artist. (The known artist’s work is often bought by art-investors who “invest” in the works of an artist who’s expected to become a star. These characteristics don’t matter then.)

Let us look at two interesting works. (I’m not good with the names of the art-periods and the art-schools, and as I’m studying them mostly to “feel” art, I won’t force myself to remember them.)

The Scream by Edvard Munch.

This painting by Munch reminds me of my times of hopelessness. Most of us have been through dark times in our lives, and while we could argue about the degrees of darkness that one may have experienced, for each individual his darkness is made of the deepest darkest black. Munch’s Scream for me is soundless and endless. It draws a strong emotional response from me.

And this is my response to the painting, not to the artist, nor to the artist’s own pain. I knew nothing of Munch when I had first seen an image of this painting.

The Scream definitely isn’t aesthetically pleasing to me. I won’t want it on my living room wall because every time I’d look at it, I’d be hurled back into that half-forgotten pit of darkness. And yet, for me, it’s a work of art. While it may be pointed out that it’s illustrative or even symbolic and thus doesn’t open itself to multiple interpretations, I still consider it art, for it even darkness is interpreted differently by each one of us.

American Gothic by Grant Wood.

When this painting was first displayed, it aroused emotions of different kinds. Mostly because the Iowans felt that it didn’t really depict the kind of people they were. And yet, after almost ninety years and tens of thousands of miles away, this painting still evokes an emotional response from me. It makes me think of life as a book filled with pages that the read the same throughout. It slaps me across the face to wake me up, and sends me scrambling to find a notebook or a sketchbook; it reminds me that life isn’t about living in comfort and dying within…because that’s my personal takeaway from the expressions I see on the faces of the farmer and his daughter (or Wood’s dentist and Wood’s sister.)

The emotional response isn’t as strong as the one evoked by The Scream, but it isn’t as dark either. If I could afford it, I’d love to own the American Gothic. The painting also has a stronger aesthetic dimension for me. I love the skill with which it’s painted, and I love the overall composition. The straight verticals, the neat and clean house in the background, the expressions on the two faces, the metal of the pitchfork, everything’s been painted with such finesse. I love it!

Over the next few weeks, I intend to look at other major artworks and measure my own responses to them, because I really want to figure out what my own view of art is.

Comments and suggestions to help me on this journey would be appreciated from the bottom of my heart 🙂

 

Plans are…a Switch!

 

Plans are a switch – You toggle them on and off, as you like. 
Or they are a glitch…in every unplanned event in your life.

This is why I don’t like plans.

No, I am not tossing “plans” into the bin without trying them out. You know well that there was a time I’d make plans and announce them right here on my blog, hoping that announcing them to my readers would help me keep them.

But no – my plans were a switch. 

I’d switch them off on the slightest opportunity of having to do something more interesting. It wasn’t working out at all.

So I made up my mind and decided to follow them come what may. I ignored the random fun and happy things that happened around me, and I tried staying true to them. But honestly, all it did to me was make me feel miserable.

And I began thinking of plans as a glitch.

You see, most of the fun events are unplanned. You do them because you want to do them at a particular moment. Or you do them because they’ve been needling you for a very long time…but your plans, your logical and practical plans that you made with a hundred constraints in place were making you postpone them.  So my plans suddenly became a glitch in everything I really wanted to do.

Caught between the switch and the glitch…your plans, you see, are nothing more than a pain in your…oh well, your precious derrière. (The French do have a delicate way of putting things.) I decided to ditch both the switch and the glitch, to let the reasonably trustworthy hand of fate take over the puppeteering of my life from me.

Until reason returns… please don’t hold me responsible for my actions. I would have no hand in whatever I do.

So, don’t ask me why I’m posting Malcolm Gladwell’s caricature here. It just happened.

Caricature Portrait of Malcolm Gladwell, the Author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and What the Dog Saw.

Caricature Portrait of Malcolm Gladwell – Digital Painting – Actual Size: 10 inches by 12 inches at 300 dpi.

Perhaps because we started our careers in publishing with the same magazine, The American Spectator…or because I find the intense look in his eyes disconcerting and intriguing at the same time…or just because in this beautiful moment, I’m making unplanned, unreasoned decisions.

Read the original post about Gladwell’s caricature, and about my first assignment with The American Spectator, and if you are interested in checking out my Portfolio without the clutter of my mutterings and musings, please head over to shafalianand.wordpress.com.

 

Anthony Weiner sentenced in Teen Sexting Case and the Pole-dancing stops.

Anthony Weiner has finally been sentenced to 21 months in prison for sending the pictures of his white underwear-clad nether region to a 15-year-old girl.
Anthony Weiner New York Mayor Sentenced. Caricature Cartoon pole dancing.

For the next 21 months, Weiner would be wondering whether he really needed to promote the underwear brand that he was wearing on the fateful night.

Portrait of a Fortune-teller – A Pen and Ink rendering.

They’ve been called by various names…

Seers, Soothsayers, Oracles, Fortune-tellers, Star-gazers, Clairvoyants, Psychics, Sibyls, Kahunas, Shamans, Healers…

They exists in a liminal space or the twilight zone, where their conscience hovers between the material and the spiritual world.

 

Portrait Caricature of An old person - Seer, Mage, Old man, Old Woman, Healer, Sooth-sayer, Oracle, Fortune-teller.

Title: “The Seer” Medium: Pen & Ink Size: 8″x11.25″ (Done on Strathmore Acid Free 64 lb. paper.)

Pen and Ink is one of my two favorite mediums (the other is digital painting.) I love this medium because, Pen and Ink drawings emerge fully formed, for there’s nothing more for the artist to do. Each line we draw in ink, is permanent…quite like each line that time etches on our faces 🙂

I did this drawing yesterday…and in doing so, almost bled from my eyes. I’m glad I did, for it made the drawing ever more worthwhile and special. This one is for me…and for the years the lie ahead.

Emotions & Expressions – Part I – And the Lefty-Lefty Bond.

Emotions lead to expressions and without expressions, caricatures are merely dead drawings, only marginally better than portraits. To breathe life into caricatures we must attempt to reflect their emotions on their faces, even postures.

According to Robert Plutchick there are 8 basic emotions:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Joy
  • Disgust
  • Surprise
  • Trust
  • Anticipation

If the list was limited to these 8 emotions, and corresponding 8 expressions, the caricaturists would have been a happy lot. The problem lies in the following two facts:

  • humans experience these emotions in different degrees – thus, the intensity of fear could cause either a slight tingling of the spine or a need to…scat. Thus, one might be “apprehensive” or “scared to death.”
  • humans often experience a mix of different emotions and not a single, isolated emotion. We experience a combination of anger, fear, and sadness when we experience jealousy; a concoction of sadness and disgust when we are dumped in love; and a heady mix of anticipation and joy while falling in love.

The following drawing (a very rough sketch. Allow me to quickly blame it on bad lighting and a crick in my neck painstakingly acquired through my bad posture,) too presents a mix of emotions. Which ones can you identify?

Anxious, worried, troubled, afraid, angry? Emotions and Expressions - Caricatures and Cartoons

A sketch from my sketchbook – Photographed in horrible light.

And now…a story 🙂

I was at the bank waiting in a long queue.

I ask you. What does an artist do when she must kill time?

Correct Answer: She draws.

So standing between a rather large gentleman in front and a rather skinny lady behind, I drew out my sketchbook and began sketching.

I ask you again. What happens to an artist when she starts drawing?

Correct Answer: She loses touch with her surroundings.

So as I furiously sketched some furious looking faces from my imagination, I lost touch with reality. People who stood around me realized that they could kill time too…by watching me draw.

I ask you, one final time. What happens when a small crowd begins to watch an artist?

Correct Answer: One of the interested onlookers decides to destroy the artist’s peace.

So while I was floating on a different and rather enlightened plane, hanging safely from the parachute of peace, I heard a chirpy voice, which sliced through the fabric of my metaphysical parachute and sent me hurling back to the harsh terrain of reality.

“Ooooooooh…,” cooed the young fashionista who had materialized in the bank while I was on my plane of enlightenment. “So you are left-handed? So am I.”

I stared at her blankly. Oh wow! I thought. I must be so fortunate to meet another one of the 750 Million lefties of the worldWho would’ve thought of it! Somewhere at the back of my mind, I knew that I should throw away my sketchbook, open my arms, and hug the lefty woman like I would hug my only sister who I may have lost in the Thar desert (and who my parents never told me about.) But I didn’t. Instead, I chose to lose that opportunity by nodding at her and saying, “um…oh,” whatever that meant.

The young woman gave me an odd look (expression?) that I read as, “is she dumb or what?” Actually, I was dumb…founded. I guess the lefty-lefty bond is something to cherish and celebrate, but I can’t imagine what good can come out of it.

  • Could it be that if two lefties walked into a bar, they’d get two drinks for the price of one?
  • Or could it be that if two lefties got together, they could change the world?
  • I mean, what difference does it make to anyone, if two lefties fell in love and had lefty babies?

The only thing that happened that day was that I couldn’t complete my drawing, and she went back with a long-face. So when one lefty accosts another lefty with an “oooooooh…” neither gets anywhere!

Now, back to the drawing board to right the wrong…the sinister…the gauche…the…

Oh, what the heck!

 

She was pretty once…

When she was pretty and lissome, and spring followed her everywhere,

when she was carefree and life was fun, when she smiled at everyone,

when her hair was thick and lustrous, when her skin glowed unblemished…

but that was, when she was young.

Those days are now gone.

Her bones now squeak a little more each day, and she wakes up with a new wrinkle every morning.

Her hair has turned gray,  they are grayer than the smog that hangs low outside her apartment window.

Her nose gets bigger, her ear lobes dip lower, and her lips are now thinner than the heels that she wore…

when she was young.

Those days are now gone.

Her breasts that were once her pride, now sit upon her stomach, hidden under her loose floral robes of silk.

The dull, dead strands of her hair, are dyed a color they never were; ashamed of being seen, they seek shelter behind her tiara.

Her chins that roll upon one another, find refuge behind her many necklaces; her swollen feet are now thicker than the waist she had…

when she was young.

But those days are now gone.

Caricature of a middle-aged woman bejeweled, rich, but unhappy.

Title: “She” (Pen and Ink Drawing – Size: 5″ x 8″ Approximately.)

 

You must’ve noticed that I’m terrible at getting words to rhyme. I apologize for it…but if I don’t try, I’ll never get there.

About this caricature:

The caricature was inspired by a lady I saw at the mall. She must’ve been very pretty once, but she was clearly not able to cope with aging. She was unhappy, perpetually complaining, even bitter, but she was laden with jewelry. I’m not a gemology expert, but I could see four solitaires, a couple of rubies, one emerald, and a lot of dazzle around her neck. The tiara, I confess, is my addition.

Cover Art for Fantasy Novel “Quests Volume 2: The Paths of Fire and Earth”

I love this cover that I did for Barbara G. Tarn’s new fantasy novel, “Quests Volume 2: The Paths of Fire and Earth.”  Fantasy readers, check out Author Barbara G. Tarn’s blog here.

Cover Art for Fantasy Novel "Quests" By Barbara G. Tarn by Cover Illustrator and Artist Shafali

It’s one of my favorite covers so far. I had been waiting for the book to come out so that I could share it with you. More soon.

You can download the book on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071XR1311/.

Caricature/Cartoon – Prabhas as Bahubali – Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?

This one is for S. S. Rajamouli, for directing Bahubali – The Beginning, a movie that made me sit up and take notice. I’d have loved it more if moss had been growing upon the sides of the walls, and if there were a few stones missing here and there – but they wanted to show Mahishmati in good repair, so be it.

So here’s Prabhas as Bahubali, asking the question that India has been asking for two long years. “Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?

Caricature Cartoon Sketch Drawing Bahubali Prabhas Why did Katappa Kattappa kill bahubali

What I love about Bahubali is that it’s a fair attempt at telling a fantastical story. Honestly, I wouldn’t have seen it. Nobody could’ve convinced me to go to the theater and pay for a South Indian movie dubbed in Hindi. I’d rather watch a South Indian movie in Tamil or Telugu, miss half its finer points and read the English sub-titles. I watched the dubbed version of it only because it was on TV. I’m glad I did because I fell for the illogical beauty of the movie as well as the drop-dead flared-nostril gorgeous looks of its tall, broad, and rather humongous protagonist, Bahubali. (Note: His nostrils and his height reminded me of a Telugu guy who had proposed to me in my first year of college – but I assure you that this fact had nothing to do with my mad desire to caricature Prabhas b.k.a Bahubali.)

b.k.a. = Best known As.

So what caught my attention?

First, the songs.

The lead-the-hero-on-his-quest song brilliantly shot.  The end-of-virginity-song  (Our movies often have a song at the end of which our virgin hero and equally if not more virgin heroine lose their virginity) was beautifully composed. Honestly, Bollywood’s pelvis-pounding, booty-bouncing, bosom-heaving efforts look crass when compared to the sensuality of these songs. The tattoo-story that spills into the end-of-virginity-song is one of those many details that make the viewers catch their breath.

Then the sequences.

We first learn of Bahubali Junior’s prowess in the scene where he plucks the gargantuan shivalinga (made of black igneous rock of some kind) and carries it on his shoulder, like it was made of origami. Then there was the scene when Bahubali Junior “alone” stops the king’s statue from falling – note that hundreds of men couldn’t achieve what he did, and quite effortlessly too. In fact, his other hand was free to help a worker to his feet. And then there was Sivagami, the omnipotent matriarch, who for some inexplicable reason was feared by everyone, including her hubby dearest. Her husband, the single-handed king, single-handedly managed to mess up the whole show for Bahubali Senior – the prince she favored over her own son (for no other reason except that as an infant, in a surreal display of power, he had held her thumb in his innocent vice-like grip.) Interesting, because what I’ve seen of mothers is that they’d love a baboon born of their own body more than they’d love another woman’s super awesome genius child.

Finally, Katappa (or Kattappa or Kattapa)

The man who threw the parting shot was Katappa. The man who in the last scene of the movie, confessed to killing Bahubali. He could’ve confessed a little earlier, or waited until the next movie was released. But he chooses to spill the beans right at the moment before the credits begin to roll on the screen. Honestly, I don’t understand the guy at all. I don’t think Bahubali understood him either. Which Bahubali? Well, both, I guess. The guy Katappa appears to be a rather dependable character – one who sides with Queen Sivagami all the time – and he confesses to killing Bahubali. Speaking of cliffhangers – I guess this was even bigger than Bahubali’s own cliffhanging attempt in the movie (recall when Ballaldeva was all prepared to bring the movie to an end by letting Bahubali die, but the director had intervened and saved the movie?)

Bahubali 2 – The Conclusion, is releasing on April 28th. I’m waiting for the release the same as millions of other Indians. We all want to know why Katappa killed Bahubali. Don’t we?