The Tweak – The Novella that will remain Free forever!

The Tweak

(Crime Fiction: Mystery & Suspense)

(Gift it to yourself at the Author’s Website.)

When Mr. Jacob, the District Collector, shoots himself dead in his office, the only witness is Negi Ji, the calm middle-aged caretaker of the office building.

Negi Ji has harbored a grudge for the last twenty-five years, but when he hears the last seven words of Mr. Jacob, he sees an opportunity to rewrite the story of his life. But this isn’t the only secret that is buried in Negi Ji’s chest.

He has been wronged by the world, and by the only person he ever loved.

From the world, he wants his life back; from her, he wants hers.

Viral Sin – A Crime Thriller that’s an Honest Commentary on Human Nature

Viral Sin is not just an entertaining crime thriller but also an honest commentary on human nature.

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B088X52QN7

Viral Sin has a 4.8 star rating on Amazon.in. If you read eBooks, do check it out – it might change your views on a lot of things. Among other things, the book is an honest commentary on human nature and how each among us has the potential of being a victor in this fight against the virus.

It is a crime-thriller, and its primary purpose is to entertain; however, the reason it got written was because the authro needed to express what she felt, and what could otherwise have impacted her own sanity during the lockdown.

From the reviews at https://www.amazon.in/product-reviews/B088X52QN7


* Gripping and cleverly woven!


* A quick read but will remain with you for a long time.


* I would like to recommend this to all those people who are afraid of facing the situation. It will definitely bring positivity to their lives.


*The theme and the plot depicts something which is beyond the thought.

If you have a Kindle Unlimited account, the download is Free.

Here’s the Instagram post I made this morning…

View this post on Instagram

From the reviews at https://www.amazon.in/product-reviews/B088X52QN7 * Gripping and cleverly woven! * A quick read but will remain with you for a long time. * I would like to recommend this to all those people who are afraid of facing the situation. It will definitely bring positivity to their lives. *The theme and the plot depicts something which is beyond the thought. If you have a Kindle Unlimited account, the download is Free. If you like the cover art, heart it to make the illustrator smile. Thank you. #crimethrillers #crimefiction #quarantinestories #indianfiction #indianbooks #indianbookstagrammar #indianauthors #kindleunlimited #kindleunlimitedbooks #freebooks #lockdownbooks #lightreading #indianwriters #indianwritersofinstagram #indiannovels #fridayreading #friday #readinggoals #readersofindia #indianreaders #indianfiction #lockdownreading #viralsin

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If you read it, do leave your comments either at your Amazon store or at Goodreads.

Thank you…

Caricature Portrait of Lionel (Leo) Messi – Argentine Footballer and Legend.

Lionel Messi is considered to be greatest football player ever, especially when we aren’t speaking of Cristiano Ronaldo – but we aren’t right now, so we’ll go by Lionel Messi being the greatest.

You know that I don’t like perfect faces – mostly because perfection is difficult to caricature. This is why among the two, Lionel Messi won my heart, and I caricatured him.

One look at him and I saw how beautifully unique each of his features is. His deep-set eyes, his straight long slim-ridged nose that ends in a tiny bump, his chin that sticks out even more due to his prickly beard, the lower half of his face sloping inward toward his neck, his ears with a tiny little lobe and a tinier tragus…but his hair that stands right up (quite like mine when I enter my porcupine avatar,) won me over entirely.

I know you want a quick biography of this football star…my way. So here it is:

Lionel Messi’s tiniest biography in the world.

Leo Messi was born on June 24, 1987, which makes him about 33 years old. He’s got some fabulous awards (six Ballon d’Or, six European Golden Shoes, 34 Barcelona Football Club Trophies) Leo Messi is of Italian descent, he celebrates his goals by looking up and thanking his maternal grandmother who would take him to football matches and training sessions. Quite like our sweet and trusting Indian “boys” he just played football, letting his dad manage all his finances, and ended up being investigated for tax-evasion. <– All this courtsey his wikipedia page here. (Reminds you of a certain Indian businessman who committed large-scale frauds and his middle-aged daughters who said something like, “Dad used to take care of all financial matters…we just signed.” <– Can you guess?

With 157M Instagram followers @leomessi is the most followed Instagram celeb of 2020.

 

Teach yourself – Shapes, Forms, Lights, Shadows, Textures, Depths…and other cool stuff.

I have been toying with the idea of writing some tutorials on drawing and how to use lights, shadows and textures to change your two-dimensional flat sketches into well-formed realistic drawings that have volume and depth.

A drawing has form when it convey depth, or in other words, looks three-dimensional. When a drawing presents only the outlines, it has a shape – and while the shape might be identifiable and extremely well-drawn, it keeps the drawing from conveying realism.

The problem that self-taught artists face is that they are very good at capturing the shapes, but not so great at establishing forms. The reason might lie in the fact that the play of lights and shadows must be learned through careful observation and analysis (where the light-source is, how different textures reflect lights, and so on,) and the self-taught artist draws mainly for the love of creating his own representation of what he sees. He wants to do it quickly and then move on the next drawing, and then the next.

I’ve been through the same grind, and I am still learning, but as I once noted, we all are learners situated at different points on the continuum of learning, and each of us has something to contribute to the learning of others. This is why I wrote “Evolution of a Caricaturist-How to Draw Caricatures?“, which has been performing rather well despite its infra-niche audience, and this is why I have started writing this series.

It begins with the basics. Here’s a rough outline, which might change as the series develops.

  • Shapes
  • Forms
  • Shapes vs. Forms
  • Lights
  • Shadows
  • Textures
  • Placement
  • Depth etc.

The History of Art posts will continue…though erratically, because I must write and teach and to teach through virtual sessions, I must practice a software.

Portrait Painting: US Senator John Boozman of the Republican Party – for the TBP Magazine.

This blog has usually brought you my caricatures and cartoons. However, before starting this blog, I had been mostly dedicated to portraiture. I believe that all other types of art, one must be reasonably adept at portraiture, because they hold the key to understanding proportions. Only when you know the rules, you become good at breaking them. Similarly, you must be good at understanding the correct proportions and placements of the human features, before you start exaggerating them.

Today, while rummaging through my old files (on the computer,) I came across two portraits that I did for the TBP magazine in 2016. One of Senator John Boozman and the other of William Conner Eldridge Jr. He is a member of the Democratic Party. For the  2016 U.S. Senate election in Arkansas, he was the nominee of the party, and that was how I came to paint his portrait.

Here’s the portrait of Senator John Boozman that appeared in the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of the TBP Magazine.

Conner Eldridge’s portrait soon 🙂

You can find the writer me at: http://instagram.com/shafalianand/

Taking a break from posts and inviting you over to my Instagram.

My dear blog readers,

While I come up with more caricatures, cartoons, portraits, drawings and other visual stuff to enchant you, why don’t you visit my instagram page and check out this writer-artist’s candid thoughts. (What? You thought that artists didn’t think?! Oh, we do…and we often think a lot more than you think we do!)

Please come visit me at: http://instagram.com/shafalianand

Shafali Anand's Instagram - Author - Evolution of a Caricaturist and Viral Sin

I’ll be back in a jiffy!

The Unreliable Book of Art History – Chapter 3: The Lion Man, the First Artist, and the Great Lady

hohlenstein-stadel or the hollow cave barn in germany where the lion-man, the first example of human art was found.

Hohlenstein-stadel – The cave in which the Lion Man figurine was found.

The Lion Man, The First Artist, and The Great Lady

(A Story)

c. 35ka to c.40ka.

He loved crafting things. As a child he would take a piece of wood and use a knife to carve it into people and animals and his mother would store them in her sack. She never threw anything away, which in a way, was a good thing, because as he became better, he saw her trading his sculptures for meat and sometimes even for sewing needles.

As he grew up, he realized that he was different from other boys his age. While they were boisterous and loved to go mammoth hunting, he liked to stray and watch. He would climb a tree and watch the action – and then he would carry a picture of it in his mind. He would draw it on the ground for the women who stayed at the cave and waited for the men to return with their prize.

So when the Great Lady came to him and told him that he would be excused from hunting so that he could sculpt the Lion-man, he couldn’t believe his luck. The offer was unprecedented in the history of his tribe.

“What about the bones and tusks, and the tools that I would need,” he had asked.

“You will get the material,” she had replied, “you can design your tools yourself.”

And so he had sat outside the entrance to their cave where the women cooked and talked and laughed – and under the Juniper tree, he set out his tools. His precious carving tools included a flint chisel, a burin, a piece of mammoth skin, a few stones to soften the hard edges that the burin and the chisel would leave behind.

It was a tough job and the women were amused. They didn’t think that such a big carving was possible.

“Will its head look really look like a lion’s?” one of the women asked.

He was wary about it too. He hadn’t seen it up close. All he remembered was the general shape – and he hoped that he would be able to reproduce it.

“I think it will,” he replied.

“The Great Lady will like it, I am sure,” his mother grinned at the tusk that he had soaked in water for softening. She still had her front teeth and her smile. He smiled back, then took out the tusk from the puddle and started work.

–0–

He kept a count of how many times the Sun had gone down since he had begun work by accumulating the seeds of the juniper tree in the corner of the room where he kept his tools for they were precious and used for creating the divine sculpture. The chamber was lit only by fire that the Great Lady carried in a bowl, and nobody went inside, except to look at the divine fire and be blessed.

Today, after ten fists full of Juniper seeds, the precious statue was finally done. It stood shining under the morning Sun mesmerizing everyone who looked at it. “The head of the statue,” confirmed the hunt-leader, “looked exactly like the head of a lion.”

They marveled at how he who had never fought a lion could bring about such likeness and how he could make the head look like it belonged to the statue. They looked at it with awe.

Then the Great Lady came out, leaning on a stick. She came right to the place where the statue was and bend a little to pick it up. She examined it by turning it left and right, and when she was satisfied, she looked at him with a benign smile.

The Lowenstein figure or the Lion Man - Material: Mammoth Ivory.

The Löwenmensch figure or the Lion Man – Material: Mammoth Ivory.

“This Lion-man will now be the source of our power. It shall now forever reside within the fire-room.”

The men and women jumped up and down and swung sideways to share their happiness and celebrate the momentous occasion. Then they all followed the Great Lady inside the cave.

He sat under the juniper tree, feeling oddly strange and empty. He had lived with that statue for such a long time, and now it had been taken away from him. He was glad that he would see it everyday, but now he would never get to touch it or caress it, or add another detail to it. It was no longer his.

He didn’t know that 35k years later, his creation shall be called the first known piece of art and become the origin for the art history of the world.

But he was an artist, and he didn’t care.

Here are the previous two chapters of this book:

To Instagram or Not a.k.a. Insta-Confusion! (Cartoon)

Question 1: Should I be on Instagram?

All artists, caricaturists, cartoonists, photo-shoppers, grasshoppers, nitpickers, felt-tippers are on Instagram. They post an average of three pictures a day. They garner likes in hundreds if not thousands. So you see, Instagram is like a galaxy that had a million solar systems that have a billion stars with their planets that together have a zillion satellites. (Read about a Billion Instagram users here.)

Caricature cartoon in black ink of woman girl artist confused about social-networking and trying to decide whether to use instagram or not.

Insta-Confusion!

And I don’t disagree that one should be on Instagram, because that’s where a lot of my audience is.

The answer to the question, “Should I be on Instagram?” lies in another, more practical set of questions.

Question 1 a: Do I have the energy to make, say 3 posts a day?
Question 1 b: Can I actually make 3 posts a day – because that would mean making three caricatures/portraits? And if I can’t…will I be fretting over who is going to find my feed interesting?
Question 1 c: How much time will Instagram demand? 1 hr a day, 2 hrs. a day…
Question 1 d: How long will it be before the time-guzzling Instagram will begin to yield in terms of artistic satisfaction (measured these days in number of likes (or hearts as in IG)?

So you see, questions abound – and the answer is hidden under their fog.

That brings me to the next main question.

Question 2:

Why should I be on Instagram? I really mean WHY?

Question 2 a: As an artist, will it help my work reach more people? (And I mean as the “introverted, stay-in-your-corner-even-on-social-media artist.)
Question 2 b: As a person, will it help me feel better? (I don’t think there’s a lot of interaction happening on Instagram. It’s mostly quick comments and heart-ing.)

I also found some posts that preach the opposite, for instance “I Gave Up Instagram. Here’s why?” and I find myself nodding to a lot of what the post says. And then there’s “What is Instagram an Why should you be Using it?

Pen and Ink Caricatured Portrait of Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker.

I had wanted to do this caricature of Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker for the last ten days – ever since I watched the movie.

Caricature portrait of Joaquin Phoenix as Joker of the Batman movies - a Pen and Ink Drawing.

Joaquin Phoenix: The Joker – Pen and Ink of Strathmore 9″x12″ Acid Free Art paper.

As you can see, I’ve added a couple of things here – one is the thoughtful posture (aided by a gloved hand,) and a cartoon jester/joker – the Joker’s alter-ego. The cartoon jester is the one with whom The Joker shares his plans and ideas – he is the one who is forever happy and playful – and while The Joker must plan his crimes, the cartoon jester is only a sounding board for his ideas.

About The Jokers of the Bat Man movies

We’ve seen four Jokers (if we discount the animated one in the Killing Joke,) played by Jack Nicholson (Batman,) Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight,) Jared Leto (Suicide Squad,) and now Joaquin Phoenix (The Joker.)

Note: Never did Heath Ledger’s portrait/caricature but I might do one now. However, here’s a Jack Nicholson caricature i did years ago.

Caricature or cartoon of Jack Nicholson, the Hollywood actor, and two enterprising birds.

The Secret is Out – This is How Jack Nicholson Accomplishes it!

My personal favorite still is Heath Ledger’s rendition of the Joker, but recently I happened to watch Joaquin Phoenix in The Joker – and now I find it difficult to choose.

My Mental Image of the Joker before The Joker

I had always thought of The Joker as a comic book villain, who liked killing people and playing (death) games with Batman. I have imagined Joker as someone who had a grouse against Batman, who was clearly his antithesis in every possible way.

  • Batman grew up rich, the Joker didn’t.
  • Batman is sane, the Joker has mental issues.
  • Batman is handsome, the Joker is not.
  • Batman fights to save the innocent, the Joker lives to kill the innocents.

So, Joker = !Batman

Why I Liked The Joker Movie (Even though it drained me.)

It was interesting (though draining) to watch The Joker (2019.) For one, it breaks the stereotype of forever-right – however-wronged women. I’m fedup of women being painted as saints and fairies who never do wrong, never lie, never cheat, never fool men – and who are always the exploited and never the exploiter. Though presented meekly (under the garb of mental illness,) The Jokers shows us a manipulative woman as Joker’s mother. I think that this itself was an act of courage on the part of the creators.

What I loved about the Joker in The Joker movie

The other thing that I loved about Joker (2019) is just the opposite of what I loved about Heath Ledger’s Joker, which was his supreme, almost ridiculous caricaturization of his character. Heath Ledger’s  joker fascinated me everything – his dress, his slurping and touching his facial deformations with his tongue, his walk, his intense look.

Joaquin Phoenix, on the other hand, mesmerized me by the intensity of his performance. He was real. He felt it all – and then he transferred all those horrific feelings to the viewers.

The Unreliable Book of Art History – Chapter 2: The Point of Origin – the Lion Man.

First, I must save my hide, so please bear with the disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER

These posts aren’t meant to be educational – they merely present the view of an artist. In fact, a specific artist, that’s yours truly. This is why I request you to consider these posts as a work of fiction inspired by historical facts. I am not sure if I can keep the historical facts correct to the t, and I take no responsibility if you fail an exam because you thought you could use my posts to study.

Remember that I am not an art historian, an art critic, or even an art teacher. I am an artist – and in this book (if it becomes one,) I’ll be presenting the history of art from my own tainted and distorted viewpoint.

The Upper Paleolithic Period (or the time between 50K to 10K years ago,) was the time when invading homo sapiens had gotten rid of the neanderthals in Europe and they were doing new stuff all the time. This is why between 1900 and 1950, archaeologists found art done by them. This art was created in material that was easily available at that time, namely animal bones, mammoth tusks, wall-paintings and so on.

Two Important Artworks of the Upper Paleolithic Period:

In my opinion two extremely important works that have been discovered by archaeologists and that may be classified as art are:
The Lion Man (made of mammoth tusk)
The Willendorf Venus (made of limestone colored with red ochre)

An Extra, Non-arty Nugget:

And two important inventions of this time are:
• Sewing and shoes (Check out a 50,000 year old needle.)
• Flutes made of bones (Check out some paleolithic flutes.)

We aren’t really interested in the inventions (except when they led to art,) so quite selfishly, we’ll only speak about the Lion Man and the Willendorf Venus.

Putting the Lion Man First (and why?)

Lion Man: The Beginning of Human Art

While everyone else may disagree with me, I think that the Lion Man or the Lowenmensch figurine, which stands a little more than a foot tall, is the first example of human art. In my opinion, the timeline of art history begins with the Lion Man.

Here’s the Lion Man

The loewenmensch figurine - or the Lion Man - carved from Mammoth Tusk - Upper Paleolithic

The Lion Man: Image Credit:  Thilo Parg / Wikimedia CommonsLicense: CC BY-SA 3.0.

But why is Lion Man Art?

My reasons are simple: The Lowenmensch figurine is an example of human imagination (thus creativity) used to create a visual expression, that has both aesthetic and emotional appeal. The cave paintings are depiction of what was “seen” – and so there isn’t enough imagination, individual or collective, that would make me see them as art.

(Check out Chapter 1 for the definition of art and art history.)

And Why not the zillion Venuses? Why aren’t they art?

Note: Before the term Venus floods your mind with images from renaissance paintings and you start imagining slim and beautiful young women with streaming blonde hair – Read about the Paleolithic Venuses so that you and I are on the same page.

Weren’t the Venuses a Product of Human Imagination?

As an artist I believe that the Venuses (including the Willendorf Venus) weren’t a product of imagination either – mostly because the way their bodies are sculpted, you need to have seen the effect of gravity on a corpulent human body to be able to sculpt that. The Venus of Hohle fels is more from imagination, I think – and yet, it could also be an inability to reproduce the real effect of corpulence, aging, and gravity, merely due to artistic incompetence.

But Willendorf Venus? Isn’t it art? Everyone says it is.

Here’s the Willendorf Venus:

Venus of Willendorf - Paleolithic Art - Figurine of Limestone

Venus of Willendorf: Image Credit: Oke / CC BY-SA

Ok. Let me call Willendorf Venus art but for another reason. I’ll call it art because of its apparent uselessness.  Remember Oscar Wilde had once said: “All Art is Useless.” Since we love to take quotes of famous men and women as gospel truth, we can use Oscar Wilde’s statement to confirm that Willendorf Venus is indeed art.

Caricature Portrait Reflection Picture of Oscar Wilde Dorian Gray Alfred Douglas and Caliban.

“All art is useless.” – Oscar Wilde

The Willendorf Venus depicts an unusual skill of execution – and for the reasons we call Portraiture art – we can (and should) also call the Willendorf Venus a piece of art.

So is the Lion Man a better example of pre-historic art than the Willendorf Venus?

Yes, I believe it is. The head of Lion placed on the body of a man is clearly symbolic and it requires certain degree of imagination fueled by thought. That the lions and the sabers could bring a mammoth down, is something that would make humans revere the Lion and want to be “like” a lion, and from that emanates the creativity that makes such a figurine possible.

This is why for me, dear readers, the art history timeline starts at the Lion Man – and this is why this book and its contents are quite unreliable.

The next chapter (Chapter 3) will tell us the story of the Lion Man’s creation.

Read “Chapter 1: Defining Art History and Answering the Question of Time” here.

 

Tribal Pen and Ink Portraits: A Gadaba Woman with her neck-rings.

Did this portrait as a diversion from the rather mundane task of editing my novel.

The Gadabas are an Eastern Indian Tribe of Odisha and Andhra. The Gadaba women wear two silver rings around their necks (called Khagla) that together weight between 1 and 1.5 kgs. These rings are never removed (require a blacksmith’s expertise for removal) are removed only after death.

A Young Gadaba Tribal Woman with Silver Neckrings - A Pen and Ink Portrait

A Gadaba Woman. Medium: Pen and Ink on Acid Free Strathmore 9″x12″

It isn’t easy…

I have closed my eyes and tries imagining the rings around my neck – weighing down upon my clavicle when I sit or stand, hitting against my bones when I run, and pushing against my neck when I turn my side to sleep. I don’t think I could wear them for even a few hours – but then habituation is such a marvelous thing.

Stay tuned for my second pen and ink portrait on the Nose-ring, which is coming soon. (You can view the first one here.)

However, the next post shall bring you Chapter-2 from the Unreliable Book of Art History. (Read Chapter 1 from the Unreliable book of Art History here.)

Getting back to work now…

(BTW, if you like any of my works, click/tap the Like button…and your comments are forever welcome.)

The Unreliable Book of Art History – Chapter 1: Defining Art History and Answering the Question of Time.

As promised a few posts earlier, I’m here with my first post on History of Art.

I believe I must begin by disclaiming all that I’ll be writing in these history posts.

DISCLAIMER

These posts aren’t meant to be educational – they merely present the view of an artist. In fact, a specific artist, that’s yours truly. This is why I request you to consider these posts as a work of fiction inspired by historical facts. I am not sure if I can keep the historical facts correct to the t, and I take no responsibility if you fail an exam because you thought you could use my posts to study.

Remember that I am not an art historian, an art critic, or even an art teacher. I am an artist – and in this book (if it becomes one,) I’ll be presenting the history of art, as an artist.

With that out of our way, let me begin by cobbling together a workable definition of Art History.

First, let us define Art and History separately.

1. ART:

Let us begin by understanding Art.

Art is a creative visual expression that is aesthetically or emotionally appealing.

This definition is quite clear if we understand the essence of the term creative.

CREATIVE:

The term Creative means original and/or imaginative.

So now can rewrite the definition of ART as:

Art is an original/imaginative visual expression that is aesthetically or emotionally appealing.

Let us now review the term History.

2. HISTORY:

History is defined as the study of the past events.

Now putting together a workable definition of ART HISTORY is quite easy.

1 + 2 = ART + HISTORY:

Thus,

Art History is the study of the past of aesthetically or emotionally appealing visual expression that is original or imaginative.

Now equipped with this definition, we can figure out art in our own imaginative way. Instead of focusing on the years (and the complex methodology of presenting those years) and the details of the objects and paintings found (the dimensions, the provenance, and so on…) we will quietly try to slip into the skin of the artist and feel the creation of that art work.

But before we begin, we must get some terminology right.

Tackling the Question of Time:

Let us say, you encounter “c. 35 ka” in my posts. Now what could that mean?

Note: If you are shaking your head with confusion write large upon your face, you aren’t alone.

Here’s what this cryptic term means:

“c.” is circa (used for “approximately” – often it’s difficult to be exact for the time before humans had invented the calendar and before being historian wasn’t in vogue.)

And

“ka” is kilo-annum or a thousand years,

so “c. 35 ka” would translate to “approximately 35 thousand years ago.”

Super!

Another Note: c. 5 ka back, in Ancient Egypt, “ka” meant the soul.

Once in a while, you’ll also encounter the term BP, which means “Before Present.” However, the present in this case isn’t right now, but 1950. We’ll stick to ka because when you are dealing with circa in thousands, a few tens of years here and there don’t matter.

The Clown with Broken Spine – A Pen and Ink Drawing.

While the Corona virus has almost half the world under house-arrest, after being held captive by my own feelings, my imagination finally grew wings and I’ve been freed from an oath I swear long ago. Under lock-down, inside the house, in my little art-studio, I’m re-discovering the fine art of standing with my spine straight.

I did this drawing of the clown in March…I think right after the lockdown. I hadn’t watched the movie “The Joker” until then, but when I did, I noticed that in the movie, Joaquin Phoenix too has a rather twisted spine.  I’ll be sketching/drawing him one day…but he is very different from this guy here – who is more me than him.

If you are still interested in reading, note the expression behind the facial paint, the unnatural and broken line of the spine, the twisted hands and ankles – the guy is completely bent out of shape. We would be like that too, if we were suddenly sucked up in a twister and thrown miles away – we’d be a mangled heap of flesh and bones – and if we could somehow put ourselves together again – we’d be all bent out of shape too…like the Joker here.

The Joker or the Clown - Pen and Ink Drawing - of a broken clown

Smile, sing, dance – but don’t break hearts.

More…soon.

Caricature/Cartoon of Ajit Ninan – The Great Indian Cartoonist.

——————–Reposting from 2011———————-

(The Original Post with its Comments can be read here.)

Presenting Ajit Ninan, the Indian Cartoonist who breaks all established standards of quality in cartooning.

Caricature, Cartoon, Portrait, Sketch, or Drawing of Ajit Ninan, the Great Indian Cartoonist (Times of India.)

I foraged the web to ferret out some information on Ajit Ninan, but returned empty-handed. I don’t know when he celebrates his birthday, I don’t really know a lot about his early life, and except for a few details, I know nothing about his professional life.

So what does the Caricaturist do when faced with a blank page?

She closes her eyes and lets her thoughts travel into the past, where she sees a young boy with a dimpled smile, who would become the Ajit Ninan whose drawings tell her that there are people who refuse to kill their skill – come what may.

Here’s the story of this little boy, who became one of the two Indian Cartoonists who’ve made me experience both pride and joy in equal measures.

The Caricaturist concocts a story:

Leave the Roses and Embrace the Thorns

He loved the afternoons. Hyderabadi afternoons were scathingly hot during this time of the year but the heat didn’t deter him from enjoying them. He’d walk back from school with his friends, feeling under the hot glare of the Sun on his brow, his arms, and his spindly legs only half covered by the shorts of his school uniform; but he always looked forward to the afternoons. They were his to do whatever his heart desired. Deep inside he felt that whatever he might end up doing all his life – these afternoons would remain etched in his memories forever.

This was one of those unforgettable afternoons. Ajit had returned from school, and after a quick snack of Idiyappam that his mother had made for him, he was now lying on his stomach, with his feet up in the air – letting the coolness of the marble floor seep into his body. His sketchbook lay open in front of him and propped upon his left elbow, he drew in it feverishly. He had wanted to finish the drawing of that toy car before his father arrived home from work. He looked over his shoulder to check the clock in the living room. It was past four already!

He returned to his drawing, and then drew away to look at the whole picture. What should he do with wheel? Should it be a little bigger? Would it look funnier if he made it bigger…a lot bigger than the other one?

Thoughts swirled about in his mind, blocking everything else…reducing the sounds around him to an unrecognizable medley – the slight hum of his mother’s voice in the kitchen, the distant din of the vendors in the street, even the creaking sound of the door opening…

So when he heard his name being called in his father’s loud but stern voice, Ajit almost jumped out of his skin. The drawing pencil shot out of his hand and landed under his table that was set near the window, and his sketchbook lay open on the floor – the proof of his being a wayward son.

“What are you doing?”
“Nothing, Father.”
“Doesn’t look like nothing to me,” his father took a step forward. Ajit shrunk away. He wished he had listened to his intuition, but then his father never came home early. What was different today? And then it clicked. His parents had to attend a wedding today! While Ajit’s revved-up mind was busy figuring out all this, his father had picked up the sketchbook.

Ajit held the edge of the table to steady himself. This was going to be one of those days.

“You made all these?” His father asked.
Isn’t it obvious? It’s my sketchbook, isn’t it? Ajit thought.
“Yes, Father,” he said.
“You think that these scribblings would get you a job?”
“…
“You think that I am spending on your education, so that you could become a painter?”
“…
“How many marks did you get in Math last year?”
“…
“How many? I am asking you a question. Answer it.”
“45,” quaked Ajit.
“45. 45 out of 100! How you’ll ever make it into Engineering is beyond me.”

“Tell me. How will you ever become an engineer, if you go on neglecting Math for these…these…” his father struggled to find the right word.
“Drawings?” Ajit couldn’t stop himself from supplying the word, but regretting it immediately after.
“Drawings. Yes. You are good at making these – and this skill will help you a lot when you study engineering. These tractors, these jeeps, these pumps…” he continued as he flipped through Ajit’s sketchbook, while Ajit waited for the tirade to end.

It ended, as always, when his mother intervened. Oh, how he loved her. She was the only one in the whole family, who truly supported his love for drawing – but even she fretted about his future. If only he could prove them wrong.

Later that evening, as Ajit sat at his table near the window, absently trying to resolve those improper fractions into proper fractions, random pieces of conversation floated in from his parents’ bedroom.

“He takes after you…all these feminine habits.”
“He takes after both of us.”
“I never got 45 in Math.”
“But he’s as stubborn as you are.”
“I am telling you…he’s got this stupid thing for drawing! I am telling you, I don’t want him writing letters to the black sheep of our family.”
“I don’t think he writes to him.”
“I don’t know. Who knows anything about what that boy does? You have to ask him.”

Ajit turned his attention to his notebook. Those fractions kept changing into cartoon characters. Why? Didn’t 2 look almost like a serpent and the number 8…he found himself doodling two meshing gears into the 8! The “black sheep” of the family. That had to be his uncle Abu Abraham. He worked for this American Publication called the Guardian, but he was shortly returning to India. Abu’s atheism and the way he thumbed his nose at traditions had ensured his symbolic ouster from the family.

His whole body tensed up in anticipation as he waited for them to leave. Ajit’s parents were going out for a Punjabi wedding, which meant that they’d not return until late in night. He could now look forward to many hours of unadulterated drawing pleasure.

Ajit Ninan’s Nonexistent Biography

I couldn’t find his biography, so I tried to glean whatever information I could from a variety of sources, especially from this post by Abhijit Bhaduri.

Here’s the sum total of my learning.

Ajit Ninan was born in Hyderabad in 1955. His parents were from Kerala though. Ajit studied at Hyderabad Public School where he manipulated his way into the library, so that he could go through the Cartoons in magazines. When he was young, he prefered to draw mechanical drawings, which I presume, must’ve made his father believe that his son wanted to become and engineer when he grew up. Fortunately Ninan wasn’t good at Math (I say fortunately, because had he been good at it, he’d have ended up becoming an engineer; which would mean that India would’ve lost one of its few great cartoonists,)so he studied political science, and became a political cartoonist.

Ninan published in first cartoon in Shankar’s Weekly, a magazine that his equally illustrious uncle Abu Abraham also drew for.

Ninan’s Inspirations include Mario Miranda, James Thurber, and Arnold Roth (he used to spend his precious out-of-class-in-the-library hours poring over the drawings of JT and AR.) Ajit Ninan worked with India Today as a Cartoonist and an Illustrator. He then moved to The Indian Express. He currently works with The Times of India as their Group Art Consultant.

Here are some interesting links for you to follow.

What this caricaturist has in common with the Great Ninan?

Believe it or not, I have the exact same lamp on my table that Ninan has on his. I had bought it 15 years ago. I wanted to buy another of the same kind, but failed 😦

Caricature: Johnny Depp as Tonto – Pen and Ink Drawing – Lock down Creativity.

At the outset, I’ve not watched The Lone Ranger and it’s not for want of trying. Honestly, it’s a tough movie to watch, so it doesn’t surprise me that it won the Golden Raspberry  Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel award and Johnny Depp was nominated for the worst actor award too.

I’ll begin with my expression of Tonto 🙂 (click the image for a bigger view.)

Tonto of the Lone Ranger - Caricature in Pen and Ink of Johnny Depp's character.

Pen and Ink Rendering of Tonto – Caricature Drawing – 9″x12″ Strathmore Acid Free Paper.

So who’s this Tonto?

In the movie The Lone Ranger, Tonto is the Lone Ranger’s companion and the story’s narrator. If you are interested in western movies and haven’t watched The Lone Ranger, which was a box-office flop, you can read the plot here.

Dead Birds as head-dresses have been around

Dead Birds as Head-dresses have been there in tribes around the world. In a tribe in Kenya, certain rituals require that dead-birds are strung to the head-dresses of the young boys who’ve killed them, in some American Indian tribes, dead birds (including crows and eagles) were worn on the head – and there was a spiritual significance of it.

Tonto’s look & the “I am Crow” painting

Tonto’s look is attributed to a painting “I am Crow” by Artist Kirby Sattler.  Please visit the link to view the painting – and you’ll simply love it. Honestly, I loved Kirby Sattler’s rendering a lot more than the look of Tonto, but then the character of Tonto isn’t that of a serious mature man – it is that of a follower and a slightly funny narrator.

About the dead bird being live in my caricature:

I love them alive. I like to believe that the subject of Kirby Sattler’s “I am crow” communicated with the birds at a spiritual level – and felt them to a point where he felt that he was one of them. When I had sketched Bette Midler as Winifred “Winnie” Sanderson, she too had a live crow on her head.

caricature, cartoon, black and white sketch portrait of Bette Midler as Winnie Sanderson, the witch of Hocus Pocusx

Caption in reference to her recent tweet (May 16, 2013) about the IRS Raid on the Tea Party office.

A diversion to Game of Thrones

Incidentally, I was also reminded of Bran Stark “is” a three-eyed raven – and who can fly about by transporting his spirit into the crow. Since I wasn’t too keen on Bran Stark (mostly because his face reminded me of a real-live witch,) so I drew someone else – a  Mr. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister – my top fav among the GoT characters. Here’s he for you.

Caricature, Cartoon, Pencil Portrait of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) - Game of Thrones

Knowledge and Cunning are my most lethal weapons!

Tonto and the live crow of my caricature

In my part-caricature of Tonto, Tonto is in disagreement with the bird. While the bird has seen more and traveled farther than Tonto, Tonto being human suffers from the I-know-best syndrome. Thus, the bird and Tonto are forever arguing.

Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow & Tonto obviously don’t see eye-to-eye.

Why?

Here’s the answer. Don’t you think Jack Sparrow looks rather peachy when compared to Tonto?

Caricature, Cartoon, Color-portrait of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow (with his two mice) in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow – Actual Print Size of the Image: 12 inches x 12 inches at 300 dpi.

I hope you liked my rendering of Tonto and enjoyed this post.
More later 🙂

Lock down, Art, Writing, and Stuff.

It’s about a month and half since we’ve been in lock down and the only saving grace, the only way to connect with the world, for me has been the Internet. Since we had moved the house just a few days before the lock down, there’s still no TV, and of course, there’s been no going out either.

I’ve been focusing, losing focus, refocusing – and attempting to stay as productive as I can, which means I’ve been writing, drawing, and painting.

I’ll be sharing my caricatures, portraits, and other drawings here. I intend to do a series of pen and ink portraits on nose-rings (check the first one in the series here.) Other than that I’ll be making some Art History posts that I might later collate into a small book. I believe that though there are a lot of books on Art History, none of them are written by artists. An artist’s viewpoint differs from a critic’s or an academician’s in that an artist would try to get under the skin of an artist of the past and try to see a painting from his/her perspective. You’ll know what i mean after I’ve written the first few posts 🙂

Right now, leaving you with an artist who lives in my heart.

A caricature, cartoon, sketch, portrait of the great artist leonardo da vinci who was also a sculptor, an inventor, and a writer.

Monalisa’s Creator – Leonardo da Vinci.

Until soon then!

And until then…Draw to Smile!

Tribal Pen and Ink Portraits: A Dhaneta Jat Woman.

Just finished this portrait of a Dhaneta Jat Woman. Dhaneta Jat is a Gujarati Tribe of Sunni Muslims, that is known to have arrived in India from Iran. When the women of the tribe get married they start wearing a gold nose-ring that is quite heavy and must be supported by black threads that are attached to their hair.

Dhaneta Jat Woman wearing traditional dress and nose ring - a pen and ink tribal portrait.

Dhaneta Woman Portrait – Size 9″x12″ Approximately – Strathmore Acid Free Paper

Read more about Dhaneta Jats here.

 

When The COVID 19 Lockdown Ends and Life Returns to Normal…

When Life Returns to Normal,

This morning, I read an article on life returning to normal in Wuhan. Nothing in those pictures appear normal to me and if this is going to be the new normal, I believe that we as the human race would change forever.

There shall be New Don’ts,

Don’t talk (how will people fall in love? On chats and texts?) don’t move in groups (how would Indians get married?) don’t talk while eating (romantic dinners, business dinners, Christmas dinners – how will we celebrate?)

And New Dos,

The list of don’ts is long but list of dos is longer. Take temperature – go green, orange, red. Get the app – go green, orange, red. Wash your hands. Worry yourself sick and then when you get a fever, go green, orange, red.

And we will Change Fundamentally,

Honestly, we are going to change in a very fundamental way. For instance, inviting people into our houses may remain an anathema for a long time to come. Don’t come – let us talk on Skype of Facetime. We’ll save money and time both. Super!

We will become a Collection of new Attributes

We can’t go out, so we’ll go in, as The Times of India’s Speaking Tree feature so kindly pointed out today. We will become more spiritual (I am not sure if I understand that term,) more “ikulkhure” (a term that my Mom used to use, which broadly means: in love with ourselves and abhor the company of others,) more virtually savvy (check out my return to blogging and fbing,) more unsocial – and all this, brace yourselves, will make us more like Generation Z Isn’t that awesome? We would be the new Benjamin Buttons of the world.

And find a New Tangent of Normalcy!

So you see, when life returns to normal…we’d have forgotten our previous normal and we’d be flying off a new tangent of normalcy.

Amen!

 

COVID-19 Lock down and The Claws of Hunger – The Migrant.

Pressure-cooked in the corona lock down, feelings made tender, absorbed the news that trickled in and simmered in its aftermath. The effect of the lock down on us, who could stay in the comfort of their homes, was different from that on the ones who couldn’t and found themselves on the roads. For many of the migrant workers of India, COVID-19 became a destroyer of hopes and dreams, and for some it also brought along the fear of starvation. The trickles of their pain froze in our isolated minds and turned into icicles that pierced through our hearts.

The Migrant worker during the COVID 19 Coronavirus lockdown in India - pen and ink drawing and verse.

Drawing Details: Pen and Ink Art on  23.5″ x 16.5″ Derwent 300 gsm sheet – Artist: Shafali Anand

About the Great Indian Migration of 2020

On March 24th, 2020, India effected a nation-wide lockdown to control the spread of COVID 19 or the Novel Corona Virus. The lockdown stopped all travel (air/train/buses/autos) and required that people stay inside their houses. According to some estimates, India has about 140 Million migrant workers who travel outside their home-states and work in different industries including construction, garments, hospitality (mostly the unorganized sector – in dhabas and small restaurants,) and others. When India came to a halt on March 25th, these migrant workers faced the biggest dilemma of their lives – whether to stay or to return to their homes. Millions took to the roads and traveled hundreds if not thousands of kilometers. Some were asked to go back, some found ways to continue on their journey, others were stopped at the state-borders and given shelters. Men and women who had left their homes to earn and feed their families found themselves accepting giveaways – their self-esteem left in shreds – so when one man with dried tears in his eyes said, “I hope COVID gets me, because if it doesn’t, starvation surely will,” he spoke for the lockdown-hit Indian migrant worker.

Two days ago (on April 28th, 2020,) the Government promised to bring the migrants back to their home states. It’s not going to be an easy task. It would require the states to work together, but when it’s done, it would be remembered as an act of kindness by the affected migrant workers and also by those whose hearts bleed for them.

Where are they?

The caricaturist, the writer, and the artist?

  • I haven’t seen the caricaturist for a while. The boat she was on, capsized. She clung to the sides while the waves lashed out on the boat and flung her aside. Last I saw her, she was bobbing up and down on the violent seas…a ghost, a speck, a point…and then nothing.
  • I have been meeting the writer off and on. The humorist, she told me, is dead – the romanticist thrown in a dark dungeon of her own mind, only the realist continues to grapple with the truth, writing stories that don’t end.
  • The artist is alive – feeding her emotions, stoking her expressions, painting her canvasses – loading them with truth.

When and if the roles will ever change again, I haven’t a clue.

But if the past is any indication – the caricaturist doesn’t die, the writer keeps transforming, and the artist usually is the glue that keeps the three together.

Until December then…