The Creative Clutter of a Caricaturist’s Corner :)

Creative Clutter?

It better be creative – because if it isn’t, all my lady-associates of -iL and non-iL kind, will have the last laugh. Those voices still ring loud and clear in my ears. “Her room is so untidy,” “her kitchen is so disorganized,” “there’s dust on the table,” and then the sin that overshadowed all other sins…”She made my cartoon!”

One good reason to be born a man in India is that if you don’t tidy up your place, nobody comes after you with a verbal dagger! There are days when I honestly don’t care – when I’d rather sit and draw or write for the whole day and most of the night, without wanting to clean up the damn place…and trust me, that’s the time when these goddesses of perfection would turn up – as though someone had been tattling on me.

But all these critical yet otherwise good-natured ladies who look down their beautifully crafted Nicole Kidman noses on me and my spherical knobby nose, haven’t been listening to Dr. Albert Einstein.

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

(If you didn’t get it, you might be one of the uncluttered lot.)

I’ve met some OCD-ishly uncluttered people, and I can’t fault Einstein’s reasoning. One spends so much time organizing stuff only for aesthetic reasons, that there’s little time left to do anything else. It’s true for me – and I truly think that the uncluttered geniuses must exist only to prove the rule that Einstein stopped short of formulating.

I’d rather stay cluttered and ignore the sniggering, giggling critics. And honestly, my cluttered desk does help me think more clearly. Ironical – but true. So, let me present another addition to the clutter on a hurriedly cleared portion of my desk.

American Spectator Obama Crowns himself - Issue April 2014 on my desk

Wondering why the desk doesn’t appear cluttered to you?

Here’s the reason why.

In the pictures, you don’t see my other two desks, where I push my clutter when I want to take a picture to post here. Who knows when one of the ladies  whom I so highly speak of, and who watch my every step hawkishly, arrive here and discover another missile that they could add to their stash of ammunition.

I’ve been busy with some writing,  and a caricature of Gul Panag (the AAP candidate from Chandigarh,) which I created for a Game App that a gentleman is creating for Android devices. When he sends me a link of the game, I’ll share it here 🙂

That’s all folks. I go back to re-cluttering my desk. Right now it’s too organized for me 😦

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Caricature – President Obama Crowns himself King on Cover of The American Spectator.

Folks,

This month, I had the opportunity to work on a very interesting assignment – President Obama Crowning himself King 🙂  My regular visitors know that I’ve done at least three Obama Caricatures in black and white (you can find them in the Gallery here,) but honestly, none drip humor the way this does.

Let me start by presenting the artwork.

Caricature, Digital Painting - The American Spectator Cover - The good king Barack - Cover Art for the April 2014 issue.

Cover Art – The American Spectator – April 2014 Issue

If you are a conservative and you don’t subscribe to The American Spectator, you can explore it here.

Now the story behind the creation 🙂

Drawing and Painting President Obama’s Caricature

The Assignment Brief

The Assignment Brief was very clear – Barack Obama crowning himself King, wearing a robe, and could be shown admiring himself in mirror – perhaps a half-figure drawing, and on a solid color background.

When you illustrate for magazines, you walk the tight-rope between design and art. The constraints are important because they set the boundaries for your artwork. So you always begin with the constraints – unlike in Fine Art, where you begin with a concept and allow your artwork to evolve and define its own boundaries.

So the first thing to do was, visualize Obama on the cover – with a solid color background. The solid background made it essential that I visualized the entire color palette within the main figure.

Balancing the Colors

Check out the play of primary colors. The wine-red velvet of the robe and the crown; the golden-yellow of the mirror, the crown, and the tooth – were two warm colors (Red/Magenta, and Yellow)- To neutralize the heat of these two colors, I needed the third primary (Cyan/blue,) and so I decided on a blue tie and offered to paint the Eagle rug from the oval office, under his feet.

That’s how the colors played out, the black/gray/white – the neutrals notwithstanding 🙂

The Head/Body Ratio

Also note the head/body ratio. In this particular caricature, the expression of glee on the president’s face was the most important element of humor. The body was unimportant – purely a hygiene factor, necessary to define the composition. This is why I went  for a very high head/body ratio – but I kept the hands big – they had to be, to hold such a huge crown.

Face-Details/Closeup

Here’s a close-up of the Caricature of President Obama.

President Obama crowns himself King - Closeup - The American Spectator Magazine - April 2014.

President Obama crowns himself King – Closeup – The American Spectator Magazine – April 2014.

A Few things to note:

As you can see, I added a few ideas to the original brief. It helps to discuss your ideas with the client. Sometimes, your ideas may be tossed out of the window, because they were too “morbid,” or they needed to be “watered down.” Here are a few things that I added – the diamond stud, the gold tooth, the eagle rug, the flag, and if you can find him – a tiny but smooth operator.

The diamond stud in Obama’s ear and the gold-tooth, both are affectations of the rich and they help strengthen the “King” in him. I worked with Obama’s younger and more enthusiastic look – not the older, grayer one…reverse aging is impossible, but in its impossibility it exaggerates the impact of the caricature. I had to do some research on his hands. The color, the veins, and also his wedding band (couldn’t have missed that.) I thought that a crown with a flag would look good too.

If you’d like to learn how to draw caricatures in a methodical way – check out “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures” on Amazon.  

"Evolution of a Caricaturist - How to Draw Caricatures" available as a Kindle eBook on Amazon.

Among all kinds of illustrations, caricatures evoke the highest response from the audience. A caricature achieves this by weaving the spell of humorous likeness around its subject.

This book establishes a logical method to harness the creative madness that results in caricatures. The author calls it the “Feature Frame Method” and illustrates how this method can be used to selectively exaggerate every facial feature.

Evolution of a Caricaturist helps you master the art of caricature drawing by presenting around 75 artworks and technical drawings, and then analyzing the features of more than 30 celebrity faces.

Obamacare – Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Someone else’s Happiness?

Obamacare reminds me of Atlas Shrugged, and more specifically of Ivy and Gerald Starnes, and the Twentieth Century Motor Company that they run into ground, by their rule of From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

I read that during the recession of 2007, the sales of Atlas Shrugged climbed. I can imagine why. Among all kinds of dystopian worlds that writers dream up and write about, Ayn Rand’s visualization is the most plausible. While I don’t think that Obamacare is the final nail in the coffin of the American way of life, I do think that it has set the ball rolling.

Bluntly put, what Obamacare symbolizes is:
If my neighbor can pay to stave off my death and if government can pay to feed me – why must I work?
And also,
I can’t swim but I am tied to the ankle of the guy who can swim, who wants to live, and who probably has the strength to pull my weight along, why should I learn to swim?

What Obamacare effectively does is – it punishes people to be work hard, earn more, and stay healthy – and it rewards people to do the opposite. It takes away people’s right to choose and people’s need to be productive, because it promises to fulfill the safety needs of people without their having to raise a finger. Maslow’s hierarchy establishes the basic needs as physiological needs and safety needs…and everyone would work to fulfill these needs – except when they are fulfilled automatically. Doles of all kinds result in auto-fulfillment of these needs – and yet I am not against doles per se. Why? Because they allow people to fulfill their basic needs and allows some of them to break out of poverty. Others who don’t want to work because they’ve got habituated to the easy life, become less disruptive, because their basic needs have been fulfilled. So doles do help in keeping societies together.

What I am against however is disguising a dole under a veneer of an “earned” right. If you earn more you pay a higher premium regardless of whether or not you need a health insurance cover. If you don’t earn, despite having never taken care of your health a single day of your life, you pay a lower premium – you get a waiver. And yet both get exactly the same treatment when they need it, if they need it.

  • Does it make sense?
  • How does it make any sense?

Theoretically, this could’ve been achieved by increasing the taxes, or perhaps by revisiting the tax structure and by grading it to make it easier for the low-earning members of the society to make ends meet. But then a dole would still be called dole and if the administration had gone about doing it honestly, a lot of people would have resisted it. It wouldn’t have worked.

Theoretically, this could’ve been done by asking people to be more charitable and people generally are charitable, but when they earn they prioritize and nobody puts his neighbor’s kids before his kids – even when he loves his neighbor. Obamacare requires that you do that – except that you put your money in a kitty with many others…and then that money is drawn and used by many others…and nobody knows anybody else.

So people who could pay were made to swallow the bitter pill by putting it inside a coating of sugar and chocolate. People were told that those who were happy with their plans could keep them…but from what I hear, this isn’t happening. Many Americans have been left holding the short-end of the stick!

To make matters worse, the Obamacare website keeps failing. A gentleman who is my FB friend recently posted his experience with the Obamacare website. He tried for many hours before he could add the information for his wife, and then suddenly it all disappeared. Just like that!

Here’s an illustration that I did around the concept of the failing healthcare website, for the March 2014 Issue of The American Spectator Magazine.

???af_dialog.Label_OK??? by Ira Stoll - Illustration for The American Spectator Magazine March 2014

Accompanies the article “???af_dialog.Label_OK???” by Ira Stoll  (Click the image for larger view.)

I see a lot of similarity between The Twentieth Century Motor Company of Atlas Shrugged and The United States of today. What has made the United States the country it is – is the will of its people to earn an honest day’s wages for an honest day’s work. In the long run, schemes such as Obamacare dry up that will to work, because hardworking people who create value are smart too, and in time they see through any veneer that the administration may use…and when they do realize, something similar to what happened at the Twentieth Century Motor Company, could happen.

If you haven’t read the book, this is what happened at that factory.

All the hardworking people got fed up of seeing the money that was made of their sweat and blood, ending up in the pockets of those who were able to make a case of how needy they were – they got fed up of working to fulfill their neighbor’s need.

In Ayn Rand’s fictitious dystopia, there still was hope – for the prime movers had united and they intended to build America back – but that was fiction and a manifestation Rand’s obsession with super-heroes. What would happen in reality? Who are the prime movers? Are there any prime movers at all?

If America doesn’t go back to its original values, one day the declaration of Independence might be replaced by another declaration – the declaration of co-dependence, and the words “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness” will stand changed to “Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Someone else’s Happiness.”

Caricature/Pen Drawing of a Killer.

A bit of drawing…

Caricature Cartoon Sketch Pen and ink drawing of a murderer, assassin, killer - a generally evil man

I drew this in a restaurant. We had gone to the restaurant for a cup of tea and while we waited for our order to arrive, I saw this man sitting a few tables away from us. He was there with his wife and his son who just refused to sit down. The mother was trying to stop the child from running around but the father wasn’t content with his wife’s efforts to curb the child’s enthusiasm. He sat there, glaring at his wife, and this was the look on his face. He didn’t wear a turban, he didn’t have that bunch of keys hanging on the side of his face, he didn’t have a skull-earring dangling from one of his ears, he also didn’t have a dagger in his hand, but that look in his eyes – I haven’t exaggerated it one bit.

This morning I read about parents who kill their children, and I was reminded of that face. According to the data, every year 3000 cases of parents killing their offsprings are reported in the US alone. Fathers are more prone to killing their sons, and mothers their daughters. Fortunately, this number is relatively small – most parents love their children and would give their lives to save their kids.  Yet it makes me think, how many parents are there who lie on the continuum that stretches between life-givers and life-takers? A black and bleak thought to ponder upon.

These dark musings aside, this man definitely isn’t one of the good eggs.

Note: I sketched this right then and there – I had a ballpoint pen with blue ink…so the actual drawing is blue and it was done on a page of my diary. In blue, he looks particularly menacing.

A bit of writing…still under wraps. I am writing stories and I am enjoying it immensely. I think Mr. Farland’s Daily Kicks have made me burn my cloak of fear – I always loved telling stories, now I am going to write them down for the whole world to read. More on that later 🙂

And…

A bit of experimenting. A friend made an FB post on Oppia (Google’s new content authoring tool,) so I checked out Oppia.org and authored a sample exploration. Understanding their interface was a struggle at first, but after five or six tries, I got the hang of it. The tedium waylaid me and I forgot to do a self-review (I often don’t – I am in too much of a hurry to move on to the next cool thing.) So after having forgotten all about it, a rap on the knuckles made me aware of my complacency. But thanks to the lady who took out time to write, I corrected the error.

So if you want to learn nothing much about the Color Wheel but something about how Oppia works, check it out here.

Additionally, I’ve been working on some magazine illustrations. Yesterday I finished working on a cover, which I’ll share with you after the magazine is on the stands.