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,  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.

 

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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 🙂

 

Cartoons vs. Caricatures – What is the difference?

In this short post, I would like to differentiate between cartoons and caricatures, and then discuss the gray area that lies between the two.

I’ll begin by reaching out for my Merriam Webster Collegiate dictionary – Tenth Edition. Yes, I do it the old way…lug that bulky tome to my table and then patiently flip the pages until I find the word that I am looking for!  I find the word “caricature” – in the first column of page 173. Let me pick the definition for you.

“A caricature implies a ludicrous exaggeration of the characteristic features of a subject.”

And now I flip a couple more pages to find the term cartoon.

“A ludicrously simplistic, unrealistic, one-dimensional portrayal/a preparatory drawing.”

As you can see, a caricature exaggerates the characteristic features of a subject (person, place, or thing,) whereas a cartoon is a simplistic, unrealistic, one-dimensional(?) portrayal (of what? – anything, even that of an abstract concept.) Notice the elements missing from a cartoon – a “real” subject, whose features are being exaggerated, also notice the additional element of simplistic rendering.

So exaggeration of the defining features would lead to a caricature – ex: caricature of Bill Clinton, with his nose, his jaw, his florid complexion – all exaggerated, leading to his picture becoming a funnier version of the subject’s likeness.

Icon President Bill Clinton - Cover Art and Two Page Spread done for Talk Business and Politics Magazine.

And a simplistic rendering of anything (including a subject: person, place, thing, concept) would be a cartoon – ex: the following cartoon drawing includes cartoons of three persons, a few objects, and presents a concept.

Toony Pretzels Cartoon of a doctor operating upon a patient while a nurse looks on - Theory vs. Practice

 

But then a caricature of a person may be rendered simplistically enough to be called a cartoon too, and hence the confusion. For example, the cartoons of Ajit Ninan published in The Times of India are not just simplistic renderings, but they also exaggerate the characteristic features of the politicians to poke fun on them. While they are still cartoons (simplistic rendering,) they are also caricatures of specific subjects.

Hope this boring post has managed to clarify matters 🙂

Now hop to my art gallery here to enjoy some colorful caricatures.

Interview with StudioVox

Dear Art-lover Visitor,

This one is for you. StudioVox interviewed me last month, and the interview went live just a few hours ago.  StudioVox is an online network for creative professionals. They’ve recently partnered with Robert Redford‘s Sundance Studios to provide artists with an opportunity to exhibit their works in the Studio’s gallery.

If you are interested in learning my thoughts on caricature-drawing and painting and are looking for a few quick tips, head over to StudioVox.

Shafali Anand Caricaturist Interview with Studio Vox

If you want to set up and Art Gallery and connect with fellow artists, Studio Vox provides an interesting, easy-to-use environment that facilitates connecting with other artists.

Oh No! My child is an Artist-in-Diapers!!

Yesterday, once again, a well-meaning parent wrote to me about his little one…and he sent me looking for this post I did a couple of years ago. This post is for parents who believe that their little one is an artist. I’ve said it all in this post, so I won’t say it again here. If there was a way to repost the post, I would 🙂

Do read it, especially if you’ve got a little one who dabbles in colors and makes you wonder if he or she is the next Picasso.

5 Childhood Symptoms of an Artist: A Post for the Parents of an Artist-in-Diapers!

And a little something to help you overcome your art-addiction.

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

Click to download in a format of your choice.

Another post coming up for blogging101 friends 🙂

Who I am and why I’m here?

More importantly…why is this post here?

This post is here because I’ve enrolled in Blogging 101 program that will run for three weeks, and this is our first assignment 🙂 I’ve already taken the whimsy in me to task, and she’s promised to stick to the guidelines. I don’t trust her, and I warn you not to trust her either.

The first question is: Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

Answer: Bipeds are social animals. Why do you think we got up, straightened our limbs, forced our two hinds to carry our whole body weight? To free our hands so that we may use them for shaking other people’s hands. I could’ve kept a private journal, which would have been found by archaeologists in the year 3015; scanned and preserved in a 250 Zettabyte pin-drive – so that some historian could download it into her head and use it to craft time-travel stories. Oddly, that doesn’t appeal to me – I’d rather write, read, and be read, here and now 🙂

The second question (a mere guideline) is: What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Answer: No idea. I end up writing about the strangest things (People trapped inside computers, Atlantis, Tatooine, Politics, Art, Artists, Writers) and I write the strangest stuff (short-stories, parodies, serious commentary on world affairs, biographies of people who inspire/irk me.) I can, however, tell you what sort of images you’ll find here – you’ll see caricatures (people made to look funny with their features pushed, pulled, tweaked, and twisted,) cartoons (you know the stuff,) and portraits.

The third question (and a very important one) is: Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

Answer: Two kinds of people:

1. Personally, Fun-loving people – those who like to see the world through glasses tinted with humor. Who step into your world and brighten it up by their mere presence. They post a “hi” in your comments, and you grow wings 🙂 BTW, most of us fall in this category…if you think you don’t, you’ve just misplaced your humor-tinted glasses.

2. Professionally, prospective clients for my illustration-work. As an artist, I illustrate for magazines, books, and novels; and I also license my images for commercial use. I have another blog where I maintain a portfolio of my works here.

And finally,

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to accomplish?

1. New Friends for my Heart.
2. New Clients for my Art.

Signing off…

and

going back to “Draw to Smile” 🙂

Why Symbolism can go where Realism can’t.

Let us begin by understanding the two terms.

Realism:

Realism, especially modern realism, which flourished at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and since then has fallen into a predictable rhythm, is about depicting a scene as-is, with almost photographic precision. There has been another school of art also called realism, which flourished in the medieval times, and which presented an idealized and beautified version of a picture.

Let me explain through an example. If you were to paint the scene of a bench in a park with a garbage bin in the vicinity – as a modern realist, you’d show the banana peel under the bench, and if perchance the garbage disposal squad hadn’t arrived by then and the bin was overflowing, you’d diligently paint the garbage too.  However, if you were attempting to replicate medieval realism (closer to romanticism,) your painting will have replaced the banana peel with a dandelion and the garbage bin with a statue of a voluptuous woman. In both cases, you’d have painted the proportions, the colors, the lights and shadows…and everything else very, very realistically.

So that was about realism. Now, let us talk about symbolism.

Symbolism:

Simply speaking, symbolism is the use of symbols in your imagery. For instance, if you want to show pain and agony along with the feeling of being trapped, you might use objects that relate to these feelings (so an artist may decide that the imagery of a barbed wire fence with a bloodied rag could convey the feeling,) or you might use a totally different representation to “show” the mental condition of such a person. How an artist wishes to symbolize a feeling, an idea, a thought, is for the artist to decide.

Do you see the difference?

Realism vs. Symbolism – The Difference

Realism is a faithful replication while Symbolism is the presentation of the artist’s interpretation. For this reason, odd and unrelated imagery may be found in a symbolist’s art. The artist would always have an interpretation for the artwork that he or she created, but as a person viewing the artwork, the audience must carry away their own interpretation of it. Just the way a writer explains a character’s personality, thought-process, plans, ideas, fears, expectations etc. all through the use of similes and metaphors, the artist uses the visual counterpart of these tools to establish a story within an artwork.

This is why Symbolism can go where realism can’t. Realism can present you with the faithful representation of the visual that the artist sees, but it cannot take you into the hearts and minds of people, it cannot tell you the story of a person, it cannot transfer feeling and emotion into the artwork. No amount of realistic imagery can tell you anything about the thoughts that crowd the mind of a woman who becomes a dacoit after being gang-raped; Nothing in the domain of realism can show you the mental strength and capability of a man fighting his own schizophrenic demons. To paint such pictures, you must step out of the comfort zone of realism.

Photographers – The New Realists

The photographers today do a better job at realistic depiction of visuals. Some photographs have the ability to evoke emotions so powerful that they move nations into action. And yet, a single photograph cannot take you on a visual odyssey into the world of feelings, thoughts, emotions, or even stories – because stories don’t happen at a point in time, they happen over time – and this is where the artist steps in and  takes you beyond the surface of the paint, into a world that begins to make sense…little by little.

Most artists start as realists. They faithfully paint what they see. Then they begin to feel the constraints and start exploring. Dali discovered Surrealism, Andy Warhol found Pop Art, and Picasso got Cubed. I don’t think that artists deliberate too much upon the path their art would eventually take – I think their art finds its own direction and then they just follow.

I think I’ve just finished writing the Dummy’s Guide to Realism vs. Symbolism 🙂 I am sure you’ve got it all. Now I must find my digital easel and get back to work. 

Portrait Art – Hats that Women Wear: Hat No. 1

The hat is an odd accessory. For men, it’s utilitarian. It protects them from the sun – and that’s all that it means to them. For a woman, a hat is a lot more than a sun-screen – it is a fashion-accessory, an art-piece, a status-symbol, and for all these reasons a woman’s hat expands to an incredible size and becomes a weight that must be carried around carefully and sometimes unwillingly.

When I look at women in hats, I think of their heads and what must go within. I begin to wonder if the pictures in these women’s minds were to replace their hats, what kind of image would I see.

Here’s one of those images.

Women Girl Portraits - Face and Hat - Depression - Digital Painting by Shafali

Figuring out the hat isn’t easy, unless you are a woman, or a man who understands women. The clues are in the colors and the imagery of the hat – and I’ve tried to hide them as best as I could – just as a woman hides her woes behind her smile. I know that tomes can be written about the burden that women carry but if a picture is worth a thousand words, every woman should find her story – in this hat or in those that I am yet to paint…because the hats aren’t allowing my imagination any rest – they creep into my dreams and they wake me up at will.

You’ve got a similar hat…but you’d rather not talk about it – would you?

Fantasy Art in Pen and Ink – A Knight and a Beautiful Prisoner.

…Archaeological Excavation reveals drawings done 12 years ago!

So…

all the stuff that was going on in life is finally settling down. The dust still swirls, but who cares…certainly not this caricaturist. During this time, I was also a part of an archaeological expedition. The digging resulted in some long-forgotten, ancient artworks, two of which now adorn the wall behind me. These works were done in 2003 and are some of my first pen and ink drawings.

The ink drawing at the top illustrates a knight striking the final fatal blow, and the illustration at the bottom shows a beautiful woman prisoner being read her death warrant. The second work actually illustrates one of the inflection points in the story – the beautiful woman is in fact a good witch who can’t really be held back with manacles, and she has deliberately put herself in this position – so that she could get inside the castle and save the man she loves. The man is a human (why on earth an all powerful witch falls in love with a mere man, is totally beyond my comprehension, but it often happens in fantasy literature. Perhaps Ms. B. G. Hope can enlighten us.)

Pen and Ink Fantasy Art: Knight, demon, orc, witch, woman, prisoner, death-sentence - Pen and Ink art.

Actual Size: The Fatal Blow (Top): 11″x11″ – The Beautiful Prisoner (Bottom): 13″x10″

 

There were some others too…but the space on my wall is limited. So they had to go back into the loft. I’ll share more pictures and more news…and some caricatures too, but they must be scanned and made blog-ready, so please bear with me.

Later,

Shafali

 

Caricature – A Happy Gypsy: Pen and Ink Work.

When I am most anxious, I take refuge in drawing. It helps reduce anxiety, and to some extent, mental anguish and sadness too. However, the output of art created when you are anxious, comes out looking pretty random. Sometimes, I get a glimpse of hell in the soul of a sinner and I draw that; at other times, I see light at the end of the tunnel  and I draw a happy image.

The following pen and ink caricature of a happy gypsy man happened because I had to wait in an office. It helped me fill my empty minutes that could’ve come-together, gathered force, and spiraled into a twister capable of plunging me into an ocean of anxiety. Simply speaking, this gypsy guy’s laughter helped me stay happy.

Pen and Ink Caricature of a Gypsy man laughing.

Stay Happy!

I’ll publish the darker ones too…but only after I am sure that looking at them will not make me anxious…for now, it’s the gypsy guy.

And he reminds me of another gypsy…Sir Isaac Newton. More on that later.

Meanwhile, all iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch owners can become caricaturists by tapping/clicking here and downloading the Free Caricature Maker App Toonsie Roll on the App Store.

Icon Toonsie Roll - Caricature App for iPhone and iPad - create funny caricatures of everyone - Toon 'em all!

Toonsie Roll – Toon ’em All!

 

 

 

Dog Portraits in Pen and Ink – The Beagle and the Rottweiler.

Fridays are still furry beautiful. This week, I am glad to present two portraits – a Beagle and a Rottweiler.

Beagles are scent-hounds. In my opinion, they are the cutest scent-hounds of all. They look like young precocious children – curious, alert and energetic – unlike the avuncular Bloodhound.

Stephanie Lilley, Regency Romance Author, dog-blogger, and mom to several beagles, captures the beagle-experience beautifully.

“So much to sniff, so little time to bay. A pack of beagles sounds like a symphony with individual instruments–a low oboe, a staccato bell, a bicycle horn, a stuttering trumpet, crescendo and decrescendo until there is just the oboe…and then little whoops…then silence when the scent is lost.”

The Portrait of a Beagle

Dog-portraits, portrait of a beagle - scent-hounds - cute dogs, cats, and other pet portraits by shafali

Beagle Portrait, Medium: Pen and Ink, Size: 8 inches by 12 inches.

And the Rottweilers.

The Rottweilers are dogs of a different kind. They were bred to guard and to protect. Humans being humans, first bred them for protection – because they needed their protection; now they brand the Rottweilers as aggressive and dangerous dogs, because in the protected-by-law environment of today, humans don’t see much use of them.

The press too has been unkind to the Rotties – just the way they’ve been unkind to many other dog-breeds, the worst affected are the Pit Bulls, who were bred to entertain a certain section of blood-thirsty humans. When we denigrate dogs on the basis of their breed, we contradict ourselves on our stance of the nature-vs.-nurture debate.

We don’t automatically brand a murderer’s child a murderer, because we expect that even a child with the genes of a killer father, if nurtured right, has the potential of becoming a law-abiding, even productive citizen of the world. However, we don’t think twice before giving sweeping statements that brand specific dog-breeds negatively.

Dogs, you see, are more amenable to be trained into becoming adorable family dogs. Quite like in the case of humans, dogs too respond to their environment and the treatment that their families mete out to them. A boy born of non-criminal parents, if adopted by an uncaring family could grow up to be a criminal. This is also true for dogs.

So if at all you come across a dog that’s ferocious, check out the family. Chances are that the dog is kept on a leash even when inside, that it’s not petted or scratched or hugged ever by the “owner.” Also remember, a dog is supposed to protect his family and his house. As a human you would do it too – won’t you?

Here’s a portrait of one such misunderstood dog – The loving and caring Rottweiler.

The Portrait of a Rottweiler

 Portrait of a Rottweiler dog - Pen and Ink Drawing - Pet and other Animal Portraits by Shafali

Rottweiler Portrait, Medium: Pen and Ink, Size: 8 inches by 12 inches.

If you love dogs, do visit my Pen and Ink Portraits blog 🙂 There are a lot of other dog and cat portraits, that you can view there. Some wildlife art is coming up too 🙂

 

 

Stealing is stealing! Period. Don’t disguise Plagiarism as Appreciation.

This post is about creative effort. It’s about the ownership of content. It’s about calling a spade a spade and a thief a thief.

This post has been triggered by my friend Barb’s post here.

Artists, writers, music-composers – all those who earn their living through creative effort have felt the pain of their work being stolen. There was a time when I used to wonder why otherwise “honest” people are quick to steal the creative work of their fellow-beings; why people who’d never, not even in their dreams, steal a watch, a cellphone, a diamond ring, or money – would quite readily pounce upon creative content and present it as their own. But that was another time, another era. Since then, through many such misfortunes of my own, I’ve discovered why.

 

Why People Steal Creative Work?

I’ve realized that there are three main reasons why people steal creative work (an act that’s euphemistically called Plagiarism.)

1. The Quality of Creative Work is Subjective.

 I may say that James Bama or James Christensen are better artists than M.F. Hussein or Andy Warhol, but there are hundreds of thousands out there who’d verbally slash me into ribbons for saying so – and they’d have a more objective reason to counter me – the quantum of commercial success.

When quality of the output is subjective, everyone wants to be there and do that. And people who steal aren’t really the connoisseurs – they are those who just assume that all art is equal and available in abundance, and that if they steal an artwork, they are in fact, putting their stamp of approval on the artist. In fact, they presume that artists must be grateful for the attention.

2. Artists don’t/can’t fight back.

They don’t because the environment has trained them to be at the receiving end, just the way others are trained to think of artists as good-for-nothing bums who are just waiting for someone to notice their work and drop a penny in their bowl. They can’t because most artists whose work gets stolen are not famous and rich yet – and so they don’t have the means to drag the thieves to the court and make them pay. Have you ever heard a famous singer’s work being plagiarized in his or her own country? It doesn’t happen. But across borders, the thieves find their nerve, because law is often biased to favor the citizens of that country. And so the cross-border art-thieves are safe.

3. Copying isn’t Stealing!

In some cultures, copying isn’t stealing. Parents help the children trace, they help the children by drawing/writing for them, they even help the children change a few lines here and there so that the artwork appears to have been drawn by the child. The child grows up with the belief that copying isn’t stealing. Unfortunately, in art, in music, and in literature; IT IS! Rote learning is, in a way, learning to copy and learning to accept that copying is moral and legal. When a fourteen-year old learns an explanation of a passage by rote and regurgitates it on his examination answer sheet, only to get a perfect score, he also learns that creativity is crap.

Three Examples of Creative Work being Stolen

Stuff has been stolen from me all my life. Some of the things were material and I don’t recall most of them, but some were created with my sweat and pain, and I remember all those quite well.

Among many  such robberies that shredded my faith in the integrity of my fellow human-beings, here are three such incidents – going backwards in time.

1. Cross-border Stealing

Some months ago, I got an email from a German gentleman who preferred to stay anonymous. He told me that a studio in Germany was stripping my credentials from my caricatures and presenting them as their samples to generate business. They even had a Facebook Page for it. I tried to harness the power of social media to stop the studio from doing so. Of my 50 or so Artist friends, none responded. They didn’t want to fight back. (Point 2 in the first list.)

One of my artist friends once remarked that we shouldn’t waste our energy on trying to stop the scum from stealing, instead, we should focus on creating. I’d like to ask the artists who believe that there’s no need to fight back – if someone stole their car, would they be as willing to step back and let the thief have it, as they would if someone stole their art?

Stripping a creative work of the credit and using it – is stealing. Period.

2. Within-borders Stealing

A little more than a year ago, one of the most prominent newspapers here (this publication also happens to be one of the largest circulated English daily newspapers of the world) , carried a caricature that I had done three years ago. My credit, my signature, all neatly cropped off. It was presented in a manner that it cast the impression of having been created by one of the caricaturists that caricatured the guests at a restaurant featured in the newspaper. It didn’t just hurt me, it also hurt all those who went to the restaurant hoping to get a caricature in the style and quality that was mine. But that shouldn’t hurt me, right? After all, who am I to say that the caricaturists hired by the restaurant at possibly a measly $10 an hour weren’t better than me? Remember point 1 in the first list? The quality of creative work is subjective.

I wrote to the editor…she sweet-talked, then she tried to pin the responsibility on a junior editor, next on an external party – never once apologizing. I was willing to let the matter go, she only had to accept and apologize. So I gave up and wrote to the Managing Director of the Publishing House. I never got an apology, but those I know in there, told me that she did get pulled up for it.

Not apologizing doesn’t mean that it wasn’t stealing. It was, and it will remain. Period.

3. Stealing from a Child

When I was in eight-grade, I used to draw pictures (generally, figures with decorative borders) and sometimes leave them between the pages of my books. A teacher, let’s call her SB (those are her actual initials,) borrowed my book so that she could ask us to read the passages from the book. From my place on the first bench, I saw her open the book and surreptitiously drop that sketch in her desk drawer; my friend saw it too. I felt sad, because it was a rather nice sketch and I wanted to go home and show it to my father. Nobody said anything, but the whole class knew that our teacher was a thief and she stole from the kids.

People who tried rationalizing this for me, told me that she did this because she liked my work, and that I should take it as a compliment.

So, if you like someone’s wife, steal her, because you are just paying a compliment to the man.
If you like someone’s pen, pilfer it, because you are merely expressing your appreciation for the pen.

You won’t.
Because your morality tells you that it’s not right. Because you know, that you cannot clad the act in the cloak of appreciation.

In truth, when my teacher took my drawing without asking me, she stole. Period.
In truth, when you take a creative work and make it look like you did it, you steal. Period.

I know you won’t.
Because you know that it’s immoral. It’s like saying that you fathered another man’s child. You wouldn’t do it. Would you?

So my dear otherwise honest friends, if you want an image for a non-commercial purpose, request permission from the artist. If you want to use it commercially, pay for it. It’s that simple, really 🙂  

 

My New Year Resolutions for 2014 :-)

——–H  A  P  P  Y    N  E  W     Y E  A  R——–

Dear Friends,

I wish you all a Fantastic New Year ahead. May this New Year bring you Health, Happiness, and Joy.

It’s 2014 already 🙂 For me 2013 was a tough year laced with many tough decisions, and I am glad that it’s over.

Here’s a short list of Resolutions that I intend to keep come what may.

1. Publish “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures.” The book is almost final and I am working on its cover. If you’ve got an e-Reader (Kindle, an iOS device, or an Android device,) this book will become available for download from the Kindle eBook Store in about a week’s time.  Yesterday the number of signups touched 100. Thanks so much for your interest in the book, please expect to hear from me in a couple of weeks. If you haven’t signed-up for the announcement yet,  you can signup here.

2. Put all my illustrations for kids together and bring them you through my new blog Illustrations by Shafali I am aiming at making a post a week on each of my blogs. (I can see that smirk on your face. I know that you think I can’t do it – and you want me to look at the past-trends – don’t you? I can and I will. You’ll see :-))

3. Create and publish a Monthly Newsletter called “Draw your Dreams” for the self-taught artists around the world. I’ll announce it before January end. While you don’t know what it is, but if you trust me enough to know that it would be something useful, you may want to  read more about it and Signup for the Newsletter here.

4. Continue work on my next book, Evolution 2 – “Evolution of a Cartoonist – How to Draw Cartoons.” Half of the book is already written and sketched, but it still exists in the form of two notebooks. I need to enrich the chapters, make the drawings, and ensure that it doesn’t stray from its goal of providing real learning to the budding cartoonist. I hope to complete it by the end of July 2014, and I’ll keep you posted on its progress.

5.  Find time to create some caricatures especially for this blog. Recently, most of my time is spent working on art-assignments, which doesn’t leave me with sufficient bandwidth to create drawings especially for this blog, but I intend to correct this trend.

6. Visit other magnificent blogs and make some new cyber-friends.

This long list is a tall order for this short caricaturist, but she hopes to keep her promises.

——–H  A  P  P  Y    N  E  W     Y E  A  R——–

The Indian Caricatures and Portraits Gallery!

I know that each time I disappear, you think Atlantis, but this time it wasn’t Atlantis that pulled me away – it was India.

So, here’s a collection of all Indian Caricatures, Portraits, and Drawings that’ve appeared on this blog so far (almost – unless I missed a couple.)

 

More later 🙂

 

Cover Art -The American Spectator Magazine October 2013 Issue.

First…

———— An update ————

(for the regular readers, others please skip.)

For the last two months, I’ve been working on something very different and something really detailed…something that has kept me away from creating caricatures for this blog (ok…I did Merkel’s caricature, but other than hers, all the other caricatures that I’ve been doing are for that other project…and oh, that project really has nothing to do with caricatures.) Confused? You should’ve heeded my warning.

———— Update ends ———–

Now let me tell you about my recent work for The American Spectator magazine. I painted the cover page of the October issue of the magazine, which features three of the most admired Presidents of the United States. The forever young and handsome John F. Kennedy, the White House Cowboy Ronald Reagan, and the silent but strong Calvin Coolidge.

My copies arrived two days ago, and just before I finished work last night, I took this picture of it.

The American Spectator Magazine Issue October 2013 on my Desk.

The American Spectator Magazine Issue October 2013 on my Desk. The Cover Features Three Past US Presidents – John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Calvin Coolidge. (Click to enlarge.)

The Story of the Cover’s Creation

When I learned that The American Spectator would like to me to paint the three Presidents together, I felt really happy. I love to paint caricatures with stories, and painting three well-known faces in the same picture along with a story that made them look like they were friends-forever, was something that made me want to drop everything else and work on it.

I sent in the sketch. While everything else in the sketch remained the same as what you see here, I had an open window behind President Reagan and you could see the earth through it. My idea was that these guys could get together only in heaven – and this would add to the effect. This of course, didn’t make to the final painting – nor did Reagan’s hat on a peg – because that would have me add a wall behind them, and a wall would make their environment appear claustrophobic. I am sure that even in heaven, the American Presidents would be given beautiful, spacious quarters… so I decided to add those French Windows looking out into a haze of clouds.

Painting the Caricatures of the Three Presidents

Painting John F. Kennedy’s Caricature

I had drawn President Kennedy‘s face before, so I knew his face well. What I didn’t know was the exact color of his hair. I checked out a lot of pictures of his, and his hair looked different in every one of them. It varied from black, to dark brown, to light brown, to reddish-brown, to golden.  I still don’t know. But he looks like himself and that’s good enough for me 🙂

(President Kennedy’s Black and White Caricature done a couple of years ago.)

Painting Ronald Reagan’s Caricature

President Reagan’s face is tough to caricature. If a caricature-artist wants to challenge himself  (or herself – excuse the stereotyping, but truth be told, most of our kind are men,) he should try caricaturing Reagan’s face. I had to do a lot of research to figure out what he liked to wear as casuals. (In fact, I came across a picture in which he was wearing checks in a meeting with Margaret Thatcher.) I realized that he loved horses and I thought that his cowboy getup in denims would be just right for the occasion. He could’ve returned from a pegasus-ride, or could be going for one. (Fellow Artists, note that according to the light outside of the windows, it could be late morning or early afternoon)

Painting Calvin Coolidge’s Caricature

President Calvin Coolidge was a visual enigma. I had sketched him on the right side of the page, which meant that I should show his left profile. After hours of research, I came to the conclusion that because President Coolidge had little hair on the left side of his head, he always got his portraits painted/photographs taken to show the right side of his head.  I had absolutely no idea what his left profile looked like, until I came upon a 1924 video of one of his public addresses (after he had fixed the Great Depression?) and in that video he twice turned to show his left profile to the camera. I know that he must’ve berated himself for it later, but what was done was done – and a happy caricaturist returned to her drawing board – knowing exactly what to paint.

And the Concept…

…that their topic of discussion is this specific article about JFK actually being a conservative (and this is why JFK’s got the magazine in his hand,) was super awesome – it came from the super-creative Managing Editor of the magazine! It just made the picture-puzzle fit. Speaking of picture-puzzles, I am reminded of the project…I need to go back to work.

Meanwhile, here’s the image closer up.

Cover Art for the October 2013 Issue of the American Spectator Magazine Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Calvin Coolidge.

Two other Interesting facts:

More later…

And oh,

do you want to know how “really” Newton happened to discover gravity? I have the inside scoop…return if you are interested 🙂

Brad Pitt’s Color Portrait

Presenting the portrait of Brad Pitt, the guy who once made women swoon as Achilles in “Troy“, who made death appear deliciously attractive in “Meet Joe Black“, and who mystified us as a reverse-aging human in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
This portrait however, is of the Brad Pitt of today and it catches him looking older and a lot more distinguished. I was commissioned to do this portrait by a Brad Pitt Fan, and I didn’t have a choice in the matter of selecting the look, or I’d have picked Joe Black or Achilles. The requirement clearly stated that it should be a portrait of Brad Pitt of recent- and not yester-years.
Brad Pitt's Color Portrait - Poster in digital painting
About this Portrait:
This portrait has been painted in Photoshop. The actual size of the painting is 16.5 Inches x 25 Inches (Poster-size).
Here’s a close-up of the face.
Brad Pitt's color portrait (close up of face) painted using Photoshop cs6
A Portrait?!
Before this caricaturist was a caricaturist, for many long years, she was a portrait artist. Actually, any caricaturist worth his salt should be a good portrait artist too, because if you didn’t know the rules of facial/physical proportions, you wouldn’t know how to break them – and you can’t be a caricaturist without knowing which rules to break. In fact, most artists of all kinds begin their journey by drawing what they see around them, and only later they begin to experiment.
More later,

Cover Art -The American Spectator Magazine July-August 2013 Issue.

I was earlier planning to post a caricature of Julia Gillard along with my story of why she resigned from her position as the Australian Prime-Minister, but when I received my copies of the American Spectator Magazine’s July-August issue, I couldn’t resist from sharing these pictures here.

Let me start by showing you the magazine.

The American Spectator Magazine Cover - July August 2013 Issue Cover Art - The Radio Family by Shafali Anand

The American Spectator – July-August Issue 2013 on my Desk. (Click to enlarge.)

The Story of the Cover’s Creation

When I heard from the magazine that they’d like me to do the cover for the July/Aug issue for them, I felt thrilled yet a bit anxious. A cover is, well, a COVER. I could live with having forgotten to paint those draw-strings on Red’s pajamas, but when an image is destined to become the cover of a magazine, it asks for a lot more dedication from the artist.

The requirement was – an American family of 1940s/50s, gathered around the radio. Sounds simple, right? Let us analyze.

An American family? That was easy. I am so completely into Hollywood movies, American News (CBS News is on my top-bar,) and American sitcoms that I often think of myself as a virtual American.

But an American family of 1940s/50s? I wasn’t even born in the 40s and 50s. In fact, my mom must have been a little girl back then. So, I had to research. I had to research the radio, the dresses, the toys, the papered walls, the floral couches, the pooch (who would’ve been a cocker-spaniel if my friend Nancy wouldn’t have told me that the middle-class family in those days would likely own a mutt and not a spainel,) and the colors that would make it look more like the 1940s.

So, upon receiving the requirement, I did my research, got it all into a sketch, and sent it over for approval. After they okayed it I began painting…and I did little more than paint for the next many many many hours. Eventually, a very tired, zombie-like me sent the artwork to the Magazine , plopped down on the bed and got ported to Atlantis. The next morning, I heard from them that they were happy with it. I took a small break from work and then returned to work on a Graphic-design project.

Then two days ago, I received the copies of the magazine. The cover looked even better than I thought it would. The Design team had done such a great job on it. The subtle, low-intensity colors in the Title, the subtitle, and the top and bottom bars integrate with the picture seamlessly. I was so happy when I looked at it that I decided to photograph it and post it along with the artwork.

Here’s the image closer up.

Cover Art for the American Spectator Magazine - July August 2013 Issue - The Radio family of 1940s - Shafali

I’ll return with Ms. Gillard’s story soon 🙂 Until then keep drawing to smile.

Portraits vs. Caricatures – Some thoughts.

In this post, I’ll differentiate between caricatures and portraits through their intent, structure, and usage.

Portraits – Definition

A portrait is an close approximation of a person’s face/figure in a manner that it captures the person’s attitude and personality. 

Caricatures – Definition

A Caricature is a humorous likeness of a person’s face/figure, created through selective exaggeration of his/her  physiognomy (facial features) and other physical attributes.

(Source: “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures” )

Portraits vs. Caricatures – Similarities and Differences

Let us now compare the two definitions.

Here are the similarities…

  • Portraits and Caricatures both have a likeness to their subjects. (Read about Likeness here.)
  • They are both an artist’s interpretation of a person’s face/figure.

and the differences:

  • A Portrait is a close-approximation of the real face/figure, while a Caricature uses selective exaggeration.
  • A Portrait is based on a serious study to capture the mood, while a Caricature creates a humorous likeness.

These differences can be analyzed and reorganized under Intent, Structure, and Usage.

Portraits vs. Caricatures – Intent

They differ in intent, or in the intention with which they were created. Portraits are usually created as a memorabilia. Sometimes they are created to celebrate a person’s status or to mark an occasion. Generally they are created to address the esteem needs of a person.

Caricatures, however, are tight little bundles of humor, wit, or satire. They are created to present the subject in a funny manner. Caricatures ridicule and sometimes even insult the subject. When the objective of a caricature is merely to present the subject in a funny light, selective exaggeration of the features does the job. Ridicule and Insult usually requires that in addition to making the subject look funny, the caricature should also tell a story.

Portraits vs. Caricatures – Structure

Portraits are created by replicating the proportions and the colors as closely as possible. The objective is to achieve 100% likeness (this objective however is seldom met, except in the works of the hyper-realists, perhaps.)

Caricatures on the other hand, are created by exaggerating certain/all the features of the subject. Thus, a long nose becomes longer, small eyes become smaller, light wrinkles go deep, and a jutting chin juts out some more. Such exaggerations aren’t limited only to the face. A man with a slight stoop bends over totally, a woman with a tiny waist ends up with almost no waist at all.

Portraits vs. Caricatures – Usage

Portraits find their place on the walls of  the living-rooms, the conference halls, the important buildings…in fact, portraits bring forth the need to respect or at least acknowledge the subject of the painting. If you see a portrait of someone in a certain place, you can be sure that the subject of the portrait is/was an important person for the inhabitants of that place.

Caricatures often have a shorter life and generally people don’t want to display them in prominent places. Political/celebrity caricatures are often created for magazines and newspapers so that they may print them alongside to present a witty/humorous angle to their features and stories. Individuals too sometimes get their caricatures done, usually to mark an occasion (such as marriages, birthdays, etc.) Quickly drawn, sketch-caricatures are often drawn live. Live-caricatures are often used to spice up parties and other such events.

To sum up, Portraits and Caricatures are different in more ways than one 🙂

Now the Spoiler:

If we look at the dictionary definition of Portraits, we’d be stumped to discover that portraits aren’t necessarily required to be “close approximations.”

Here’s what my table-dictionary has to say:

A portrait is – ” pictorial representation of a person showing the face.”

So, technically speaking, a caricature too is a portrait 🙂 

Guest Post by Barbara G. Tarn – The Writer-Artist shares her experiences on Creating and Publishing Comics.

My blog is honored to present this guest-post by Barbara G. Tarn. Barb is a fantasy writer and artist who loves to create new fantastical worlds. While there are writers in this world who dabble in art, and artists who dabble in writing,  she’s good at both. Every once in a while she brings her two skills together to write graphic novels and comics. In this post, she discusses her evolution as an artist and an author. This post is a glimpse into a self-taught and self-motivated person, who often inspires me to stay true to my course. I’ve always admired people who have the courage to charter new paths and discover new destinations, despite knowing that the beaten path offers comfort, ease, and security. Barb’s courage is all the more exemplary, because she walks her chosen path with a smile on her face and because she can laugh at stuff that could leave a lesser person, bitter and disappointed.

My Dear Readers,

I welcome Barb on my blog. I recommend that you visit her blog at CreativeBarbwire.WordPress.com and follow it. She blogs quite regularly. If you are writer or an artist, or just someone looking for a spark of inspiration, you’ll love her posts.

The Self-taught Creative

by Barb

I’m self-taught and proud of it. Yes, I went to school (up to the Italian equivalent of high school), I attended an illustration course (and failed the second year when we started using brushes), but then I started working in the most un-creative environment possible, and most would have forgotten their dreams and dropped the pen and the pencil.

I didn’t. I know I’m not a talented artist – if I were, I’d be an illustrator or a comic book creator by now. I didn’t go to art school, so my hand can never do what I see in my head, sigh. I love realistic styles, but I can’t draw them, so I had to find my own way.

I kept drawing because I enjoyed it. It’s the passion that kept me going, both for writing and drawing. I did illustrations for most of my stories, started many comics – improvised, so I kept going until I got bored – and especially when I was in my teens, I mixed prose and art: if I couldn’t draw the scene, I’d just write it down.

I slowly specialized in fantasy settings. I love the Middle Ages, so I have plenty of pictures of castles and books on clothes to get some inspiration. I still can’t draw animals, so my characters tend to travel on foot or through magic spells. And I keep experimenting.

I’ve become proficient at tracing from pictures (so I do portraits of celebrities to decompress from writing and drawing and life), but regarding comics and graphic novels… well, I went through many changes. I also learned to do a sort of script to make sure the story unfolds in a correct number of page, that fits print publication (my first complete comic had 21 pages… what was I thinking I’d put on page 22? An illustration? An author’s note? What?) – although this is less important now with webcomics and ebooks.

A little history: I grew up in France with their varied world of “bandes dessinnées” for all ages and tastes. But I also read Donald Duck stories (always hated Mickey Mouse, LOL) and the Peanuts and Marvel comics – and in the 1990s we had the manga invasion. So my style started “realistic” (like comics), went through a manga-like stage, then settled into something a little more personal – between The Peanuts and a comic book (if you can find one without overmuscled superheroes, that is!).

This was best expressed in Fleur de Lys, which I hope to scan and upload soon. On that one I even did my first attempts at coloring with Photoshop (although I will probably publish it in B&W, as some e-readers are still B&W only, like my Kindle).

The whole evolution can be seen on Mercenaries?! – when I finished it in 2002 (started in 1997), I started redrawing and coloring it because I couldn’t let those characters go. Mercenaries?! is 500 pages and if I republish it (it was a photocopied fanzine that sold 10 copies at Italian comicons in the late 1990s), I’ll have to figure out if I should use the new beginning – having a drop in quality after about 20 pages – or do it in chronological order with the new color beginning at the end or in a separate booklet.

Noticing how inking sometimes “ruined” the pencil, I did one comic in pencil, then with Photoshop made it look like ink by toying with the levels and then colored it (Lady Ice on Smashwords free B&W downloadable version and on Facebook online color version).

My current graphic novel, S.K.Y.B.A.N.D, is the next step – it’s all in color from the beginning (check the WIP post on my blog)! It has pages in prose with an illustration next to it (for those long conversations when not much happens) and, like Lady Ice, it has a more realistic style, as the Fleur de Lys style is more for humorous comics and this is a serious (and adult-oriented) story.

Skyband-by-Barb-G-Tarn

 

I reduced the frames number to an ideal 9 (maximum, can be less for opening scenes). I use a European sheet format (A4), which means it would look weird on an American comic book. And I’ve gone back to inking on paper and then coloring on Photoshop. But it’s taking me a long time to finish (three more chapters to go) because it comes after the prose writing and I’m not sure I’ll do another afterward. Well, maybe another funny one like Mercenaries?! and my personalized style, who knows.

Like everything else in life, it takes passion, practice and patience. If you don’t think you can write the story, partner with someone who can. If you can’t draw, find someone who can – I’d love to do some sci-fi or contemporary comics, but I can’t draw technology or even a car, so if anyone would like to try working with me, let me know. I had some good and some bad experiences working with artists, and enough time has passed since the last very bad experience, so I’m willing to take another chance.

Schools might be good, but if you don’t have the passion to keep going, you’ll never make it. You need to dream big, but keep realistic expectations. If you’re naturally talented (not like me), you might find a job at a publishing house (Marvel, Disney or their equivalents in your home country). Or you can do a web comic, or publish an e-book.

Just don’t give up. And keep learning and experimenting and mostly having fun. If it becomes a chore, it’s time to quit. Happy creations, and thank you Shafali for having me again!

_____

Barb on this blog

Barb on DeviantART

Barb on Facebook

Barb‘s blog

About Hypnotoy Lite and other Stuff that makes me feel creative :)

Dear Readers and Chance-visitors who I hope will come back again 🙂

Recently, I’ve been working my tail off (sorry, picked up that figure of speech from my dog,) which for me means multi-tasking – and everyone who multi-task knows how stressful this multi-tasking demon can be. It’s easier on me when I earmark a day only to draw, and then I really, actually, practically stick to “drawing” and nothing else; or when I decide only to write, and then I just write and not draw that day – but unfortunately, such days are very rare.

Coming to the topic of this post…

Stuff that makes me feel creative is often strewn around, difficult to find when I need it most.  Hypnotoy has been my creative anchor in such times. When I am tired and my mind begins to draw a blank (!) I find the Hypnotoy icon on my iPad and tap it. Those lovely Dancing Experiences help me relax and focus. I loved it through the process of its creation, through the sleepless nights, and through those daintily and painstakingly painted graphics; and now I love it as an App that beckons at me through its sparkling icon and opens its arms to embrace me whenever I tap on it. As the stress oozes out and comfort seeps in, I begin to feel creative.

What I want to share with you is the news that Hypnotoy- The Toy of Joy has now got its FREE version – Hypnotoy Lite! This means that I can recommend it to all my visitors who have an iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Try it out – see if it connects with you, they way it connected with me 🙂

Here’s the link. Click (or tap) the icon to reach the App Store!

Hypnotoy Lite - A Beautiful Lifestyle and Entertainment Free App for iPad, iPhone, and iPod

Hypnotoy Lite is the Free Version of Hypnotoy – The Toy of Joy. Click (tap) to Download.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I must get back to my tablet now…and yes, the third post on “Evolution of a Cartoonist” is due tomorrow 🙂 Until then, relax with your own Hypnotoy Lite.