The $450M Salvator Mundi was not painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

When I read in news that after two years of having been sold for $450M, the Salvator Mundi painting had resurfaced on a Saudi Prince’s Yatch, I scrambled to read all about it. I remember having read about the Christie’s Auction of the painting. Obviously! I remember thinking, a Da Vinci sells for almost half-a-billion – so what? 

But this new piece of information made me look at the images of the painting – over-painted, paint-peeled, repainted (restored) and shook my head in disbelief, because I can’t and won’t accept that it was painted by Leonardo da Vinci – he may have guided the hand that painted it, but he didn’t paint it himself – and I couldn’t be convinced otherwise. And why not? For a number of reasons, but let me start at the beginning…with the artist and not the art.

(For your viewing, here’s the restored version of the painting “Salavator Mundi” that was attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and subsequently sold for $450M.  by Christie’s  to Saudi prince, Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud reportedly acting on behalf of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.)

Salvator Mundi - not-by-Leonardo-da-Vinci-Restored.

Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed (painted and wrote in reverse using his left hand, and wrote normally with his right,) exceptionally well-versed with anatomy (he’d exhume bodies to sketch them,) drew and painted in smooth curves, and was a man in a hurry for he was not only an artist but also an inventor who had a wide variety of interests.

Quoting from Wikipedia…Leonardo da Vinci was

an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology,[4] and architecture, and he is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time.

Also,

He conceptualised flying machines, a type of armoured fighting vehicle, concentrated solar power, an adding machine,[12] and the double hull.

All of this needed time – and to make time for painting, he needed to be really good and quick at it.

As an artist who has spent hours poring over Da Vinci’s works, here are my observations on Salvator Mundi and my complete refusal in attributing it to Leonardo da Vinci.

  1. The hair at the left of the face (at the right hand of the viewer) is painstakingly painted in tight-ringlets – the careless confidence in one’s skill makes an artist paint only the darks and light/brights – something that we see at the right side of the face (your left as you look at the picture,) – is missing from the stylized treatment of the hair that we witness at the left side of the face. Such details are the hallmark of a learner. Vinci always painted hair more naturally (In this painting, the hair at the right of the face could have been done by him to demonstrate the hair painting technique to his student who actually painted this portrait.)
  2. Note the bridge of the nose and review how the brow at the right of the face doesn’t vertically align with the inner corner of the eye (the way the left brow does with the left eye.) The upper lid of the right eye is painted straight while for the left eye, it is painted in a curve. The size of and the light reflected in the eyeballs don’t match. An artist of Vinci’s caliber could get the features right, even if the face of the model had these issues. All he needed was a few brush-strokes. Only a less experienced artist would let an imperfect face become the face of Christ. In all his other paintings, you see perfect faces – then why would he find an imperfect face to paint his Salvator Mundi?
  3. Note again, the details (brown and gold) upon the robe (scroll down to the pre-restoration after-cleaning original image below). Leonardo was a man in a hurry. He had too many talents and too little time. In my most improbable dreams, I couldn’t see Leonardo da Vinci hunched over the robe, painting those crisscrossing golden straight-lines on it. He painted fast (perhaps speed was the reason why he invented the Sfumato technique in which he mixed the shades of a color seamlessly by using the heel of his hand,) and he created such impressions of embroidery/silk by using quick brush-strokes. Check the following image to see how Leonardo worked with fabric, and also to see how he loved his contrast.La Belle Ferroniere
  4. Da Vinci’s paintings had higher contrast of colors (example: The portrait of La Belle Ferroniere above.) This particular Salvator Mundi painting has a very low contrast on the face. The lips appear to have been done by Da Vinci but the rest of the face isn’t painted with any degree of confidence. In the unrestored version (please see it below,) the eye-balls have either been painted over or not placed right, making the bearer of the eyes appear slightly cockeyed. None of the sketches or drawings indicate to me that Vinci was not confident of drawing/painting eyes.(Here’s the cleaned version (unrestored version) of the painting:)Salvator Mundi - cleaned and broken - but original before restoration. Leonardo da Vinci.
  5. The orb (the crystal ball) isn’t refractive (doesn’t distort the background seen through it,) a detail that Vinci wouldn’t miss. It also doesn’t reflect the light that’s lighting up Christ’s face and also the finger-tips of the hand that’s holding the orb. The fact that the fingers that hold the orb should receive the highlight but not the orb itself, surprises me. I don’t believe Vinci would skimp on a couple of brush-strokes that would make the orb look spherical and glassy. His need to get the proportions right got him to invent the grid; his urge to get the anatomy right sent him to graveyards – he was passionate about get such details right.
  6. The left shoulder of Christ juts out horizontally then drops sharply. Not one of Vinci’s other paintings or drawings uses this treatment for shoulders. He always rounded the shoulders off. The gathers on the robe, especially at the bottom aren’t defined clearly at all – in fact, they bear the mark of a learner’s brush. Check out Mona Lisa’s robe for reference. I do think that the gathers at the chest were touched by Vinci.
    Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

A Few Words about the Restoration:

I have no idea who did the restoration of this painting, but it was poorly restored. (Refer to the cleaned un-restored and the restored paintings.)

  • In the restored painting, the border of the robe is only half-constructed at the bottom, while the after-cleaning painting (above) shows the entire border (though somewhat hidden in the shadows.)
  • The restored painting fills in a solid deep blue in the two bottom triangular areas of the robe.
  • The thumb of the blessing hand is skewed to show the nail, which is anatomically incorrect. The restorer could be given the benefit of doubt, if any of the two thumbs (I see two thumbs in the cleaned image, and as an artist, I think the original artist may have painted over the first (vertical one) to let the thumb appear more relaxed.

If this were indeed a work of the Great Vinci, its restoration must’ve been done in a manner that its spirit stayed alive – I have a feeling that the restorer worked on it with the belief that it was a work of a lesser artist and so decided to cut some slack.

View the twenty known works that are/may be by Leonardo da Vinci, here.

Conclusion: The $450M Salvator Mundi was not done by Leonardo Da Vinci.

I believe that it was done someone he knew and guided (another artist who worked in his workshop and learned under Vinci’s tutelage,)  as I can see his technique and his corrective strokes.As an artist, I’d say that most of the work was done by another talented artist who was still learning, and Vinci oversaw his work.

Thanks.

And before I leave,

my 2010 tribute to the Great Master.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edvard Munch and The Attraction of Doom.

Edvard Munch‘s works have begun to mesmerize me. I can’t imagine how a man could exist in such darkness all his life. I’ve experienced darkness – at least twice in my life, and yet during these cold dark-spells, I’ve found some warmth from random flames flickering and glowing in my heart. Through these spells my loneliness had been complete like Munch’s, but for me these spells had a finite beginning and a finite end. Munch’s loneliness resulting from his early losses of his mom and sister, the demons of his father’s illness, the apparition that influenced him through his life – Hans Jæger, and his ferocious need to spill his anguish upon the canvas – they have come together to produce such nerve-jangling works of art that the viewer cannot help but feel the anxiety seep out of the paintings into your mind and soul.

I find myself wishing for the violence of Munch’s brush, the vein that fed the colors of his fevered imagination into his paintings – I know that for me, the pain will dull and eventually pass; I also know that I don’t exist in complete darkness like he did, and that for me this is temporal even temporary – I realize that I cannot stop seeing beauty and love and ambition and success in sudden flashes – these flashes pick me up and ready me for another go at life – unlike Munch.

Perhaps this is why Munch captures my imagination so completely. Despite his dark colors, the opposites of mine; I look at his works and wonder about the man and the artist. The artist, I understand. The need to express what he felt, that I understand. But the man – I don’t. And then I also ask myself the question whether I want to.

“From my rotting body,
flowers shall grow
and I am in them
and that is eternity.”
-Edvard Munch

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. 

Pran – The Creator of Chacha Chaudhary and Shrimati Ji (1938-2014) – Memories of a brush with his Work.

I am writing this post in honor of Pran, the artist who gave India its own super-hero. At the onset, I confess that as a child, I didn’t appreciate his work; I also confess that today, when he is no more and when finally my daily newspaper decided to publish his interview (given to Alok Sharma in 2009,) I appreciate all that he did and understand why his work has a historical significance.

In these moments of realization, I sketched his portrait.

cartoonist-pran-portrait-sketch-of-the-comic-artist-creator-chacha-chaudhary-shrimatiji-saboo

Pran – The Creator of the Comic Strips, Chacha Chawdhary and Shrimati Ji. (1938-2014) R. I. P.

 

Pran was born in 1938, in Kasur, which is now in Pakistan. Like many others who had to leave their home, their occupation, their land, and their way of life, and move to India; Pran arrived in India as a nine year-old son of a family that had to start their life from scratch. He liked to draw, but in the India of those days art could only be a pastime of the kings and the nobles; obviously his parents were against the idea of Pran becoming an artist.

Before I recant his story further, let me draw a picture of those times for you. Pran must have been about twenty or so when he began sending his cartoons to magazines and newspapers. So we are taking about late-fifties. That was the time of no Internet, no computers, and no Photocopiers. All that was available was carbon paper. In all probability, when Pran sent his work to the editors, he either redrew the cartoons entirely, or he put a couple of carbons underneath the master to create copies. He could obviously not trace more than three copies in a row, because the lower-most copies in the stack would become dull and useless. So he must’ve tediously gone through the process of tracing them again and again; or worse drawing them again and again.

I salute his hard work and his dedication towards his work. Those of us who crab about how difficult things are for an artist (include me among them,) must be ashamed of ourselves. True, there was hardly any competition back then, but remember that artists like Pran had to break new grounds. In his interview, he recalls how he met the editor of Dharmayug, Mr. Dharamveer Bharti, and convinced him of running cartoons to supplement the poems that the magazine published. Guess what. Mr. Bharti gave him a chance, and his work accompanied the poetry of some great Hindi poets such as Dinkar, Nirala, and Pant .

And yet, his biggest gift to India was Chacha Chaudhary. He looked at the western comic heroes and thought that the Indian kid must have an Indian hero. Indians aren’t big and muscular, he thought, they aren’t all that good-looking either; but they are super-smart. So he created Chacha Chaudhary, the old turbaned man with a frayed-toothbrush mustache, who was small in stature, but who was the wisest and the smartest guy in the neighborhood. Chacha Chaudhary was the Indian male and relatively active counterpart of Miss Marple, who solved all kinds of crimes – small and big.

Chacha Chaudhary was my first brush with Pran’s work. I was nine, and totally in love with Amar Chitra Katha and Indrajal comics. I was shortly going step into teenage and  fall in love with Bahadur (character conceptualized by Abid Surti and illustrated by Govind Brahmania), but I hadn’t met that dashing young man until then. We were taking a train home, and one of my uncles bought me a couple of comics at the railway station. As is always the case, the child is never consulted about what he, especially she would like to read. So I ended up with a Chacha Chaudhary and if I remember right, a Lot-pot. My father saw that I had a couple of comic books in my hand, so he skipped buying me more, which meant that I was saddled with two comics that I had never read before and that, in this odd child’s opinion, had somewhat uninspiring covers. I was a kid who loved mythology and who loved beautifully drawn pictures; who’d not let my father buy an Amar Chitra Katha that didn’t have a specific kind of nice looking drawings (which I later discovered were all done by Pratap Mullick.) So, the comics were hastily flipped through; and then I demanded my kind of comics. A nine-year-old can be very persistent – so on the next big station, I got what I wanted, and the two almost unread comics were promptly seized by the other kids in the train compartment.

But the point is…
all those other kids devoured those comics and from the looks on their faces, savored them too. I still remember the scene, and also the twinge that I felt…I wanted the comics back – but that couldn’t have happened. What was given away was given away. I never read another comic by Pran, except of course, the comic strip Shrimati Ji that appeared in Sarita, that my mom used to subscribe to. And yet, I kept seeing Chacha Chawdhary on the stalls and in the hands of kids everywhere. That’s what Pran achieved; and that’s what makes him great – he reached kids. Only a handful of snotty kids like me preferred the heavily illustrated stuff; only a handful of us were left out when a conversation about Chacha Chaudhary and Saboo broke out. Then there were Pinki, and Billoo, and Rocket…but I never met them. Now I wish I had.

Today, Pran is no more. He succumbed to cancer. He continued to draw through his illness. He continued to bring a smile to the faces of Indian children – with his comics and later with the Chacha Chawdhry TV show.

Today, I understand his work, his strength, his will, and his love for the art of creating happiness. May his soul rest in peace. May his characters live forever.

Pran’s Facebook Page.

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 🙂  

 

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.

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——–

Neanderthal Man Outclassed while Gaddafi and Hitler enter an Art Competition!

Some more search terms that brought people here…and my favorite is…”Neanderthal Man realizes that he’s outclassed by Homosapien Man”!

Search Term 1: Types of Artists

There are 4 Types of Artists – Starving, Dying, Dead, and Rich. If you don’t believe me, read this book. If you belong in the first three-categories, will you or your ghost be kind enough to leave a review? I believe the fourth kinds would have neither the time nor the motivation to read it 🙂

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

Click to download in a format of your choice.

 

Search Term 2: Wire Fox Terriers with Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler, Nazi Dictator, German Dicator, Perpetrator of the Holocaust - Satan!
Until today, I didn’t know if WFTs ever favored Hitler. If I were a WFT, I’d have bitten his head off. The Alsatians never had a chance because they were bred by those Nazi jokers. But then, what did I know – until this search made me wiser. Hitler did have a white WFT and his name was Fuchs. His mistress eva braun had a couple of Scottish Terriers – but the lady was no dog-lover, so I wonder whether those terriers were more of a style statement.

 

Search Term 3: I am depressed and lonely

Ah well. In these times of Internet and Social Networking, who isn’t? I mean I am depressed and my dog is lonely. I am depressed because I don’t have enough FB friends, Twitter Followers, Blog Followers etc. and my dog is lonely because I spend hours on Internet – the time that I should be spending with her.
A Toony Pretzels Cartoon - A take on Facebook Depression - Defining Loneliness - emails, facebook, twitter, blog - Depressed Woman.

Loneliness is the state of feeling sad or deserted due to isolation.

I squarely blame my environment for making me depressed and lonely.

Search Term 4: Freudian Slip Caricature

 

Cartoon, Caricature, Drawing, Portrait, Sketch of Sigmund Freud the man who gave us the Oedipus complex and the freudian slip.

I know what you are thinking.

I’d love to sketch a Freudian slip, preferably with a lady inside. You know that it would have two holes you know where. What? You don’t believe me, do you? You are reading the blog of a caricaturist – so what do you expect? Academic brilliance combined with Journalistic Integrity? Forget it, my friend. To me, a Freudian Slip will remain a slip with two strategically placed holes.

Search Term 5: Caricature of Edward Newton

Edward Norton?
Hollywood Actor Edward Norton
No?
Isaac Newton?
Scientist Isaac Newton, Apple, and The laws of gravitation.
No?
Then you must be looking for this gentleman. Sorry – never thought to caricature him.

Search Term 6: Neanderthal Man realizes that he’s outclassed by Homosapien Man

I loved this search. “Outclassed?!” Imagine two classy guys – a Neanderthal and a Homosapien doing all the classy things that men do – stuff like asset-evaluation, what-o-graphy, playing golf, dining out, finding a trophy wife (of the Neanderthal variety) – etc., and the Neanderthal thinking, “Hey! how come his stuff’s classier than mine?”

 

Search Term 7: Robert Langdon gay

Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon
I didn’t think he was, until they found Tom Hanks for the role. Now, I don’t know.

 

Search Term 8: Gaddafi Caricature Hitler

The dictator who refuses to step down as the Head of Libya - A Caricature of Muammar Gaddafi
Hitler was an artist, but he couldn’t have made Gaddafi’s caricature because he was “apparently” dead before Mr. Gaddafi arrived on the scene. I think that my dear searcher was looking for Hitler’s caricature by Gaddafi instead…and ended up finding both the caricatures by Shafali. Tsk…tsk. It’s becoming more and more difficult to find the real thing.

 

Search Term 9:Raised eyebrow sketch 

Just that?

 

Search Term 10: 1 Minute Caricatures

  1. I don’t think they are going to be very good ones. If someone’s asked you to do live-caricatures @1 per minute, he must’ve escaped from 1. A Zoo, 2. An Asylum, 3. Guantanamo bay – so the best course of action for you is to disappear!

 

Search Term 11: shefali.wordprase.com

Nah. Doesn’t return any result – so how did this search get to my blog. Internet appears to be smarter than we think it is 🙂

The Time Machine: Hagar the Horrible by Richard Arthur Browne

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips Posts

I’ve been reading Hagar the Horrible strip for a very long time. In fact, when I had first chanced upon Hagar’s not-so-horrible-and-a-bit-loveable character, I would barely understand half of what transpired in the Hagar the Horrible cartoons.

Last night when I got into the time-machine, I set the dial to arrive in the year 1975, which was a couple of years after Hagar the Horrible went into circulation.

Here’s a quick biographical sketch of Hagar’s dad/creator, Dik Browne (or Richard Arthur Browne).

About Dik Browne

Browne was born on August 19, 1917 and his first comic strip was Jinny Jeep, which he created for the engineering unit of the US Army. Until the mid-fifties, he worked worked as an illustrator for magazines and advertising agencies, but in 1954, he got together with Mort Walker (Yes, Mort Walker of the Beatle Bailey fame,) to create Hi and Lois. The Browne and the Walker family still work together on that strip. (It never ceases to amaze me how the sons of these famous cartoonists are able to carry on their fathers’ legacies…especially as these particular legacies require exceptional drawing/writing skills. As I always say, genes are important…very very important!)

Any way, as it always happens with any smart and intelligent cartoonist, Browne too began to feel some spiritual unrest. He wanted to create his own strip. One that would be built around his ideas. So in 1973, Hagar the Horrible was born with a shaggy beard, a beaten horned helmet, a shield and a spear, and the comic strip was syndicated by King Features Syndicate in newspapers and magazines world-wide.

Dik Browne died on 6th Jun 1989. His two sons, Chris Browne and Chance Browne now write and illustrate Hagar the Horrible.

About Hagar the Horrible and Other Characters in the Strip

Hagar the Horrible is syndicated to 1900 newspapers (including The Times of India) in 58 countries and is also translated in 13 languages.

Some of the important characters in this comic strip are:

Hagar the Horrible

Hagar the Horrible is a Viking warrior who induces fear in the hearts of his enemies, but at the same time, he loves his family and his dog. Hagar is fat and had a slovenly appearance (he doesn’t like baths and avoids them.) At times he’s smart (for instance, he knows how to flatter his wife when she’s angry with him,) but more often he’s not.

Lucky Eddie – friend

Hagar has a friend – a thin, reed-like unlucky (!) character who’s called Lucky Eddie. Eddie is educated but he doesn’t appear to possess common-sense and hence his character is that of a gangly, awkward, unvikinglike viking.

Helga – wife

Hagar’s wife Helga is a huge woman, who is the matron of Hagar’s household. Helga is fussy about hygiene and is always found nagging Hagar for his not-so-clean ways. Helga wants her daughter Honi to grow up with traditional values, but quite like the modern day teenager, Honi has a mind of her own.

Honi – daughter

Honi, Hagar’s daughter doesn’t consider feminity a virtue. She’s tomboyish and prefers to wield a spear and not a ladle. This of course is not appreciated by Helga and so Helga and Honi are often shown having mother-daughter disagreements. Honi wears a winged helmet and she can be quite intimidating when she wants to.

Hamlet – Son

Hamlet loves to read. He is quiet and studious and unlike his sister, completely disinterested in being what he was born to become, a Viking. Hagar wants the boy to become a Viking, and he feels ashamed that his son should not want to follow the Viking order.

Snert – dog

This “v”oofing dog wears a tiny Viking helmet, does nothing, and lazes around. Hagar loves him and is seen trying to make the dog obey is commands.

 

What is the Secret behind the Popularity of Hagar the Horrible?

(The Caricaturist’s Opinion – Don’t use it for submitting Assignments, and if you do, be warned that I shall accept no responsibility for your getting a D…or even an F!)

I think that this comic strip appeals to a lot of people because of the following three reasons:

1. Hagar’s family is enveloped in a sense of timelessness, and the fact that everyday family humor is presented through a family that lived in another age, adds to its timelessness.

2. The characters in Hagar are the kind of people that you find in the real world, yet their characteristics have been exaggerated at times to build the contrast. Compare the character of Honi with Hamlet’s, and that of Hagar with Lucky Eddie’s.

3. The humor is simple. It doesn’t make you think. For every person who loves doing crosswords, there are perhaps 10 who have neither the time nor the inclination to tire out their gray cells…

🙂

Caricature/Cartoon – Remembering the Great Indian Cartoonist Mario Miranda

There was a time when cartoons were made of squigglies put together…squigglies that won’t have meaning unless they were supported by oodles of text in form of captions. Then in 1926, a child was born in Goa and he was given the task of banishing the ugly squigglies from the world of publishing. This child was Mario Miranda, who didn’t need to go to an illustration school to master the art of creating riveting characters that spoke to you without words. The words merely embellished his already rich creations further.

With a heavy heart but with tons of gratitude, I present the caricature of Mario Miranda, one of the very few Indian artists who have left behind characters that will always remind us of him.

Mario Miranda (1926 - 2011) with his characters.

In this caricature, most of his fans will be able to identify B.C. Bundaldass, M.C. Moonswami (Bundaldass’s handyman or “side-kick” as Mario used to call him) (I wonder what the B.C. and the M.C. stood for? – Scatological…eh?!) Ms. Rajini Nimbupani (the voluptuous actress,) Ms. Fonseca (the polka-dots-dress-clad secretary with an hour-glass figure,) the loveable little dog.

I made a post about Mario Miranda on June 14th, 2011.  In this post, I also mention that the other Indian cartoonist who makes me feel like becoming a cartoonist, is Ajit Ninan.

The Times of India today carried Ajit Ninan’s tribute to Mario Miranda.

Quoting Ajit Ninan from TOI – Page 10 – December 13, 2011.

“Mario’s work touched the heart. His characterisation of people, particularly the weakness of the male of the species, was superb. He brought home to you the foibles of man through gloriously detailed illustrations of life in the office, on the streets and above all at parties.
In a nutshell, just as Bollywood brought India to the world, Mario brought Bombay to India. His mastery of architecture and of fashion trends was one of the keys to this. Mario’s ornate illustrations of the colonial structures of Mumbai wouldn’t have been possible for anyone with a less sound grasp of architecture.”

and

“He (Mario) was among the few who could use both black and white in roughly equal proportions in an illustration to create what is best described as a harmony of clutter.”

I am convinced that as I write this, Mario Miranda is busy attending parties in heaven, and that his illustrations will shortly be published in the Illustrated Weekly of Heaven.

The Time Machine: Asterix the Gaul by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips Posts

Introductory Gibberish – Skip it!

Last night when I got into my Time Machine for my umpteenth trip into the past, I forgot to check the fuel-meter. Only when the machine stopped whirring and began coughing and spluttering, did I realize what sort of idiot I had been! Thankfully, the machine stopped in the year 1955, and gasoline had already been discovered. I shudder to imagine what might’ve happened had the gas lasted up to the Neolithic or even the Paleolithic era.

However, the point that I am dying to make is that I turned lucky as the Time Machine materialized in the backyard of a house in France. I stepped out of the machine and looked around. There was snow all around me – and in fact, there was a snowman too. I did a double take when I looked at the snowman. Believe it or not, the snowman looked exactly like Asterix! I shuffled my memories…trying to get the timeline straight. In 1955, Asterix didn’t exist. The world (okay, France) first met Asterix the Gaul in 1959! Something just wasn’t right.

And then I saw a young man wearing earmuffs, a fur jacket, and a pair of snow-boots (No. He wasn’t dressed like Obelix, I assure you.) He was sitting on a log with an A3 Sketchbook on his knees. He was sitting there, drawing people with gigantic noses! That’s how I recognized him. His noses are the biggest in the world of cartooning – and if you tell me otherwise, you must not have read Asterix comics.

I asked the young man about the snowman, and he told me that the snow-guy was a figment of his imagination. Obviously I asked him for his name, and he told me that he was Albert Uderzo.

So, that’s how I ended up writing about Asterix.

Introductory Gibberish Ends 🙂

The Theme of Asterix Comics:

Asterix the Gaul lives in a little Gaulish village that remains unconquered despite rest of the Gaul having been captured by Julius Caesar. The secret of their invincibility lies in a magic potion that Druid Getafix fixes for them. After the villagers tank up on the magic potion, they bash up the Romans and pack them off.

The Characters in Asterix Comics:

While Asterix is the main protagonist, there are a lot of other important characters too, and each of them has his own distinct personality. The second most visible character is Obelix. Obelix is huge and dumb while Asterix is small and smart. Obelix has a cute little dog (a terrier, I believe) who is called Dogmatix (who was called Idefix in French). Then there are the others. There’s Chief VitalstatistixBard CacofonixDruid Getafix, the fish monger Unhygienix, and so on.

The main and the constant opponent is Julius Caesar who is unable to accept the fact that this little Gaulish village makes minced meat out of his able troops.

The Stories/Adventures of Asterix:

Each Asterix book tells a story. The stories are usually set in an around the Gaulish countryside, but sometimes Asterix, Obelix, and Dogmatix travel to distant lands.

The Unique Selling Proposition of Asterix Comics:

Why am I, the forever cynic, sold on Asterix comics?
Honestly, it’s because they are simply awesome. The characters, the action-lines that make the scenes come alive, the strength and the smoothness of the drawings, the composition of the scenes, the details of the clothes, buildings, and places – and the dialogs too!

The Creators of Asterix:

Perhaps every Asterix-lover knows that Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo created this little giant who’s loved the world over (perhaps not so much in America, though I wonder why not.)

Rene Goscinny did most of the writing while Albert Uderzo did most of the drawing…but both could draw extremely well. Unfortunately Goscinny died rather young – at the age of 51. In 1977, he suffered a heart attack while he was taking a stress test. This happened while Goscinny and Uderzo was working on Asterix in Belgium. This book was later completed by Uderzo.

After Goscinny’s death Uderzo continued as the sole-creator of Asterix comics. Thus, Adventures 25 to 34 were created by Uderzo alone.

And

A few other things…

for instance,

  • The Gauls are scared of the sky falling on their heads. (So are the Democrats!)
  • Obelix’s favorite war-cry is “These Romans are crazy!” (What’s not noted in the books is that Obelix’s concern was well-founded. Most of those Romans were tattooed and pierced in all the right and some wrong places.)
  • Dogmatix loves trees and he hates it when anyone attempts to harm the trees. (Obviously, because trees are important for dogs.)
  • Bard Cacofonix is often found tied up to a tree while the whole village feasts. (Apparently, this is to stop him from singing. Where were all those human rights people back then?)
  • Chief Vitalstatistix loves to gorge himself all the time, while his shield-bearers use every opportunity to topple him from the shield. (Thankfully there were no unions in the little Gaulish village.)
  • Obelix is invincible because when he was little, he fell into a cauldron of magic potion (Ewww…the potion has cooled down, I hope.)

I could go on and on…but I’d recommend that you read the real thing instead:)

Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint!

Long ago I wrote a post in which I attempted to define art, purely from a theoretical and also idealistic viewpoint. You can read “Definition of art – A Theoretical Standpoint” here. In that post I had promised that one-day I would write its sequel, which would present the practical viewpoint. This is that post.

Warning:

  • If you are a budding artist, full of hope and brimming with confidence that you’d follow in Hussain’s or Raza’s footsteps, step back now. Don’t read this post. You can come back to read it after you’ve spent at least a decade trying to figure out whatever the heck didn’t work for you. It isn’t for you.
  • If painting is your only skill, and if you’ve got some surety that you’ll have someone to support your artistic pursuits all your life, without of course, expecting success in return (you know about Van Gogh, I presume) still this post isn’t for you. You might yet become what you aspire to be.
  • And finally, if you are indeed someone who comes from a well-connected family, even if you don’t draw, I’d recommend that you paint a few canvasses. The exhibitions, the fame, and even the sale of your paintings; they’ll all happen without your ever discovering why.

However, if you aren’t among the three types listed above, instead you are the more common type (the stereotypical struggling, starving artist who has crossed into his thirties and has a wife and a child to fend for,) you might want to print this post and tack it to your soft-board…or in the more realistic scenario of your not being able to afford a soft-board, you must fold the printout and put it in the only pocket of your trousers that still doesn’t have holes.

Here’s the practical definition of Art.

Art – A Practical Definition:

Art is what sells at the famous art galleries for sky-high prices.

Practically speaking art is nothing more than this.

How you get to sell your art in those famed galleries could be a matter of:

  1. Luck
  2. Slog
  3. Both
  4. The X-factor

Let me explain the above four points in greater detail.

Art Element 1: Luck

You’ve got this fabulous collection of innovative work, and you are wondering how to exhibit it. You get a call from someone who’s seen your work, admired it; and who knows someone who is somebody in the artistic circles. This person comes to your studio, checks out your work, swoons, and decides to exhibit your work in a prominent gallery. Voila! Lady Luck has short-listed you. Now your chances are bright that you’d indeed get lucky.

I’d put your chances that you’d turn lucky at about 1 in 10,000

Art Element 2: Slog (Euphemistically known as Hard Work.)

You’ve got this fabulous collection of artwork, and you lug it around to every gallery, famous, not famous, and infamous; show your work to every body from the doorkeeper to the owner, and you get the boot.  Then one gallery decides to give you a group-show. You don’t sell anything. Then the next year you lug your work around to every gallery – finally, you get a group show, and you sell one painting. Every year the number grows. After 10 years, you get your first solo, and you sell one painting. You go on doing solos. The number of paintings sold grows. Then when you turn 75, you’ve got a 50% sellout! Wow! You are an artist!

You can now tell your family that finally it’s your turn to take care of the expenses. You can now also tell your elder brother that he needn’t send you that Dole-the-Family-Artist check every month.

Art Element 3: The Combination of Slog and Luck

Now if you work hard and you get your solo in a year and a sellout in 10 years; you are a lucky slogger. Chances that you become a “real” artist who earns his bread, butter, mayonnaise…and then later his house and car, in this way – Better than pure luck, worse than only slog. Somewhere in the middle, if you ask me.

But if you’ve got that magical x-factor, then…before I kill the surprise, let me tell you about the x-factor.

Art Element 4: The X-Factor!

The x-factor is a publicly unknown factor, which is seldom made known to the general public by the artist, but which can be discovered if only the public had a keen eye.
The x-factor may include one or more of the following:

  1. High-society connections
  2. Money, money, money
  3. Empowered (and empowering) relatives
  4. The unmentionables (couches?)

I really don’t think that one post is sufficient to cover all these components. I might tell you some stories with the names changed to help you understand why these factors are so effective. I mean you really have work hard not to succeed, if at all you had the x-factor!

Chances of your becoming a famous artist if you have the x-factor: 9,997 out of 10,000!  (I keeping the 3 out of 10, 000 chance as my Get-out-of-Jail-Free card.)

Before I end this post, I’d like to publicly apologize to all the successful artists including the dot-dabber, the horse-rider, the box-maker, the shit-sprayer, the bone-master, and the can-caner!

But…you want to say something. Say it.
Okay. I’ll say it for you. You wanted to say that there are so many of those artists that don’t really appear to have the x-factor…

Observe and Identify…the x-factor.

Really?

  • Figure out whether the lady in question is the wife or the daughter of a diplomat,
  • find out whether her mom is a famous writer and how she was born in a mansion that’s right there in the heart of the city,
  • figure out how an Indian woman born a 100 years ago could get her nude pictures shot by her brother and not get shot in turn, only because she was born a princess;
  • decide why though you can draw and paint almost as well or better than a South Indian king, but you end up in a two-room apartment with a broken, discolored center-table in your drawing room (just in case you are wondering whether I am talking about the table in my drawing room I should tell you that I am talking about another, perhaps a lot more talented gentleman who is about 15 years my senior.)

Begin joining the dots my friend, and turn wise BEFORE you turn old. If you are young, I’d recommend that you try your best to attract a useful spouse who comes in either with connections or with money. If you fail at that, then the best thing that you can do is – join an advertising agency and build the right contacts.

Don’t bet your life on that one random event, which has a 1 in 10,000 chance of coming true (the chance could be even lower for all I know – I just picked a reasonable sounding figure…) If you can draw, first find a job with an ad-agency, an animation company, or a publishing house – and then try to win that lottery.
Or…
Check out one of those reincarnation schemes that assure your rebirth in a family of your choice. What? There aren’t any reincarnation schemes in the market?!! That’s too bad – isn’t it?

A Special Note for the Cynical Reader:

I am not biased against the fine art of selling the fine art. I have also written a moderate, optimistic, theoretical definition of art, which you can read at: “Definition of art – A Theoretical Standpoint”. I hope it will establish me a rational, left-brained, right-handed, useful, non-sinister member of the world community.

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

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 😦

Shafali Hitler shares Some More SEO Humor!

You may have read the SEO Humor Post that I made a while ago. While writing that post, I never thought that I’d be inspired to write another, so shortly after my first attempt at finding humor in the keywords that appear in this blog’s list.

But then what has to happen does. We can’t stop it, can we? Just like we can’t stop global warming, aging, corruption…or on the brighter side, just the way we can’t put a stop to gold-digging, cuckolding, pick-pocketing etc.; we can’t stop posts from rolling out of absurd ideas.

So here’s what I found in the treasure-chest this morning.

Search Term 1: world’s funniest drawings

My dear searcher, you reached the wrong place, didn’t you? I mean, my caricatures border on the funny – but they never go the whole way. They keep twiddling their thumbs as they stand nervously at the edge of the cliff, awash with fear – never gathering the courage to jump into the shrieking swirling waters of funny-ness. So for all the future searchers of world’s funniest drawings, I recommend that they click the “Cool Caricaturists” link on this blog, or resume their search elsewhere without wasting another minute.

Search Term 2: drawings of ugly women

What?!
Aren’t you searching for something that doesn’t exist? I mean, you could find God if you tried hard enough …but impossible to find a woman who’s ugly. If you don’t believe me, organize a random poll and ask women to rate themselves as ugly or beautiful – and check the results!

We caricaturists could make ugly caricatures of women, but women themselves are beautiful. It’s the men-folk who have a large sub-set called “ugly men”. So My Dear Sir (I don’t know why but I feel confident that this search term was born in a man’s mind,) please don’t go looking for ugly women. You are wasting your precious time on an impossible quest. Look for beautiful, pretty, lovely, wonderful, fantastic, fabulous, super, great, glamorous women instead…and you’ll be swamped!

Search Term 3: queen elizabeth’s mom princess elizabeth

I googled that information for you, dear searcher…and when I read the first line on this link, felt so optimistic that I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog.

Why?

Well, here’s why. Queen Elizabeth II’s mom, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was born in 1900 and she lived to a ripe old age (and I mean really truly completely ripe) of 102 years! Wow! But believe it or not Princess Alice is going to beat Queen Elizabeth Bowes Lyon’s record!

If you haven’t seen Queen Elizabeth II’s caricature on this blog, click here.

Search Term 4: Salvador Dali’s Eyebrows

Salvador Dali’s Eyebrows?!
Are you sure that you want to look at his eyebrows and not his mustaches?!
I think you should be looking at his mustaches – they are quite a pair. Here’s Salvador Dali’s Caricature – it’ll help you appreciate why this search made me wonder whether the searcher really knew was good for him.

Search Term 5: i hate my job+cartoon

Oh…oh. I am so sorry. You really hate your job? Do you? And I agree, you do become a cartoon when you begin to hate your job. In fact, you have to be Dilbert to love your work…right? In this horrible horrible world of today, who doesn’t want to be stuck inside a cartoon strip, free from the worries of loan-repayments and medical insurance premiums.

Search Term 6: half old woman half princess cartoon

You make a good point there. I think what you should be looking for is a cartoon of an old woman OR of a princess. In her mind, every old woman is a princess that she couldn’t be in real life (except of course, those anachronisms who even in this modern world stick to being Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses) and, every princess – from the day she’s born becomes an old woman – because she can’t do those little things that make life so much fun…because they have to corset not just their bodies but their emotions as well.

Search Term 7: unhygienic practices cartoons

Eeeyuck!
You mean – nose-picking, @$$-scratching, ever-spitting, not-flushing…etc. etc. etc. kind of cartoons??!!
But why…and where’s the humor?

Oh…I get it. Hee hee hee!

Search Terms 8a,b,c,d: indian necked men/handsome indian naked men/indian ugly man

I am curious. Who are you dear searcher…and what exactly are you looking for. It’s clear that you want to look at an Indian Man but an indian “necked” man? What’s an Indian neck? Are you looking for a Caucasian male who’s had a neck transplant so that his neck looked Indian…or an Indian who has retained his Indian neck or had got a new neck…in any of those great shades of Indian browns?

Oh…oh. it was a typo…right? I looked at the second term and it dawned upon me that you are looking for Indian men au-naturel – and handsome ones too. Now you really need to check out my first post on SEO-matters of importance here. You may not succeed in your search, my friend of either gender.

But what’s that third term? You needed to do a Google search for that? Really? I mean all you had to do was switch channels and watch some political news!

Search Term 9: art from ajit ninan

Thanks for the reminder. I shall make the promised post about the wonderful Ajit Ninan soon:)

Search Term 10: SHAFALI HITLER!!!

No. I am not. I will not take that insult, dear Sir or Ma’am or Bot! I am, and shall remain Shafali the Artist, Shafali the Caricaturist, Shafali the Egoist. Shafali Hitler is one title that I am not going to take lying down. Beware, or I’ll let Hitler the Satan loose!

The Time Machine: Exploration Mission 2 :: The History of the Popular Comic Strip – Beetle Bailey.

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips PostsBeetle Bailey – a comic strip that begun on September 4, 1950, about sixty years ago, and which is still drawn by its creator Mort Walker, has been one of the most popular comic strips that this world has ever seen.

The Protagonist: Private Beetle Bailey

Once upon a time, Beetle was a college student, but after only about six months of the strip’s beginning, he left college to enlist in the US Army, and became their most famous and longest serving Private ever. Ever since he joined the army, Beetle Bailey has remained there – never growing, neither in position nor in age. Private Beetle Bailey is the laziest man at Camp Swampy, and for this reason his boss Sergeant Snorkel is never pleased with him. Beetle isn’t just lazy, he also suffers from bouts of insubordination. You can’t ever see Beetle’s eyes because they are always hidden under his cap or hat, whichever the case may be.

He’s been dreaming of getting out of the army for the last sixty years, but he has been unsuccessful so far.

Seargent Snorkel:

Remember the paunchy sergeant (Sarge) who wears a very wrinkled Garrison Hat, and who generally just can’t stand Beetel Bailey, but once in a while, exhibits maudlin behavior towards him. He loves his dog Otto, and he loves the army. Obviously he fails to establish an emotional connect with Beetle who dreams of leaving the army.

Other Important Characters in the Beetle Bailey Comic Strip:

1. Otto – Snorkel’s army uniform clad bull-dog, who walks on his hinds (well, he does! When he was introduced he walked the four-legged walk, but then he decided to be upright in all matters, including his posture.) He wears the army uniform (thus, looks like a miniature of Sarge) and he too doesn’t like Beetle.
2. General Halftrack – The old, mustached, alcoholic camp commander, who can often be seen with a golf-stick. Halftrack tracks only half the things (for instance, Miss Buxley) and leaves the other half untracked (for instance, his wife Martha).
3. Miss Buxley – The name tells you what she must look like. Yes. She’s the buxom beauty who is Halftracks Personal Assistant…and half the population of Camp Swampy is swamped by her charms.
4.Private Blips (not Bips, my dear Indian readers,) – Well…she’s Halftrack’s military secretary, who obviously doesn’t like the looks of Miss Buxley (Blips’ antithesis). While Buxley is pretty and voluptuous, Blips is thin and…well you know what; while Buxley can’t do anything right, Blips is downright accurate and efficient! To make a long story short, they are like oil and water…and they don’t mix.

New Tech-tech Characters in Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey Comics:

Gizmo: The guy who helps the Commander with all the techy stuff. His name was selected after a contest (from 84, 725 entries – WOW!)

Read about all the characters in the Beetle Bailey comic strip here.

The Creator of Beetle Bailey – Mort Walker:

Mort Walker’s Biography

Here’s a quick Biographical sketch of this prolific cartoonist.
(Source: http://beetle.king-online.com/morts-bio/)

Mort Walker was born in 1923, in Kansas. He published his first comic when he was 11! (Whew!) By the time he was 18, he had become the Chief Editorial Designer for Hallmark Cards. He spent his early twenties in the army and returned  to graduate from the University of Missouri.He then tried for a job of a Cartoonist in NY but he got his break only after facing the rejection of about 200 cartoons (whew…again!) Then he found Beetle Bailey…and rest as they say is history.

Mort Walker’s family corporation Comicana owns Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois and 7 other comic strips.

“Beetle Bailey” is syndicated to 1,800 newspapers, in more than 50 countries, with a readership of more than 200 Million. Read more about Beetle Bailey and Mort Walker here.

Shafali’s Cartoon, A Football Rat, and Handsome Indian Men – Some Long Tail SEO Humor!

Before I begin, let me tell you that the long tail that I am talking about is a funky name for a simple concept.

Most of the people who land on your blog through searches reach there by typing in search terms that aren’t a direct match to your content.

Here are some inspirational long-tail search terms that brought some innocent, unsuspecting visitors to this blog. In this post, I attempt to assuage their hurt feelings by addressing them directly.

Search Term 1: Nobody answers my question, cartoons:
My dear visitor, nobody answers my questions either. I think that we need to start a group of people with unanswered questions and start answering questions for one another. In fact we could swap one question for one answer. What are your thoughts?

Search Term 2: shafali’s cartoon:
Check out the sidebar. That maniacal looking brush-wielding woman with hula hoops in her ears, is Shafali – and the image that you are seeing is an extremely realistic portrait that has an unbelievable likeness to the subject – one of the many Shafalis who burden this Earth with their presence.

Search Term 3: naked avatars:

The Handsome Navi Avatar
What?
Naked Avatars?
Whose?
Not of the Gods or the Goddesses or their messengers, I hope, for your sake. If you don’t know what I mean, please read about the Danish Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the British Writer Salman Rushdie, and the Indian Artist Maqbool Fida Hussain whose lives became miserable because they attempted to create the naked avatars related to such delicate matters – either realistically or metaphorically. You won’t find that kind of explosive stuff on this moderate caricaturist’s blog.

However, if you are keen on a Non-naked blue-colored, long-bodied avatar of a human-turned Na’vi called Jack Sully, click here.

Search Term 4: football rat cartoon drawings

Troy Polamalu of the Steelers - NFL
I have a question.
You want a cartoon drawing of a football-like rat, or a rat playing football, or rat-like football. I like the mouse type of rats who are homey and who prefer to play chess, dine with family, and raise nice educated kid-mice. I am slightly wary of the sword-wielding gladiator mouse, or even the rifle brandishing terrorist mouse…yet they have managed to chew their way into this blog. However, I don’t yet have football playing mice or rat here. Never thought of inviting them over – but thanks for the idea:)

The only time I’ve touched base with football is with this caricature of Troy Polamalu the Pittsburgh Steeler who blocks with his locks (Oh God, please…please…please – let me be right about blocking…or everyone would know that I know nothing about Football!)

Search Term 5: cartoons to draw out difference between force and pressure
This one is easy.
Close your eyes. Now imagine that you are…well…sitting on the toilet seat (a golden one perhaps!). Here’s the difference that you seek to discover:

  • Before you-know-what…is pressure,
  • during you-definitely-know-what…is force,
  • and after you-know-what is – RELIEF!

You got it, didn’t you? Now be a doll, draw that cartoon, and leave me a link 🙂

Search Term 6: joker caricature
You must be joking! A joker’s caricature?! How do you caricature a joker? Uh…oh! You meant Anthony Weiner’s Caricature! But he’s already done a fantastic job of caricaturing himself – trying to beat him at it would be like trying to improve upon perfection.

Search Term 7: definitions of art by known people
You’ve reached the right place, my friend. Click here to read a definition of art by a known person. I am known to my family, my dog, those pesky squirrels in my garden…I am a known person, believe me.

Search Term 8: pen and ink foxes
Pen and Ink Drawing - Dewey Dewster
Pen-and-ink drawings fox me too…and with dogged determination. I mean how do you correct an error in a pen-and-ink? And how do you end up creating all those shades by using only one shade of black! If you find an answer to that question, please leave it here.

Search Term 9: how to draw lady gaga’s outfits

Lady Gaga and her crazy hairstyles!

It’s simple. Create a figure drawing of Lady Gaga (or use a cutout from a magazine – it’d serve equally well.) Keep two large buckets of paint handy. One should contain black paint, and the other white paint. Close your eyes. Dip your brush into one of the buckets and splash paint on the drawing. Then do it again, and again, and again. Then open your eyes, and rush into the kitchen. Find that bottle of tomato ketchup, open it up, and from a distance of at least six feet, throw the ketchup on the drawing. Remember to use the ketchup only once.

Every time you repeat this process, you’ll design a new Gaga Outfit…and yes…when you are done, call the spiders to help you spruce up the Lady Gaga outfits you’ve designed.

Search Term 10: prince charles cartooning
Guys and gals, this is news! Prince Charles is one of us! He’s a cartoonist! Imagine how difficult it must have been to keep such a phenomenal skill hidden from the paparazzi for so long? On second thoughts – can we thank Camilla Parker for inspiring him? Or was it Prince William who asked his father to follow his un-princely passion?

Search Term 11: muammar gaddafi 40 outfits
If a god-man can amass so much, what is 40 outfits for a dictator? I think Muammar Gaddafi is a miser who doesn’t spend on himself, he really needs to look towards certain god-men for inspiration!

Search Term 12: animated photos of handsome indian men
Bollywood Actor Legend Amitabh Bachchan
I don’t know about the “animated” part, but the term “handsome Indian men” makes me think whether the searcher would have done better by using a more specific search, such as: Hritik Roshan, Amitabh Bacchhan, Dev Anand, Salman Khan…at best a dozen more perhaps? Frankly, I am yet to see a “handsome Indian man” on the streets, though “beautiful Indian women” are aplenty. (I know I know, your son is the handsomest, fairest, and tallest man you’ve ever laid eyes upon, and young women swoon when he rolls past, but anyone other than your son, ma’am?)

(Important Declaration and Clarification: I know that using these terms here would bring some vicarious pleasures-of-the-flesh seeking netizens here, and I’d like to apologize to them for devastating their hopes.)

So what search terms on your blog have made you giggle/guffaw?(girls giggle, guys guffaw – please select what applies – unless you are new-age boy or girl…then you have the right to mix and match!)

How to Draw Expressions – Part I – Raised Eyebrows and Artistic Salvation!

Interactive Art Tutorials - Cartoons and Caricatures - By Shafali

A Famous Artist is made of Raised Eyebrows!

If you’ve got your eyes set on becoming an artist of international renown,  and you’ve never ever done anything that raised eyebrows, you are in trouble, my friend. Real artists, artists who make it big, are the ones who raise eyebrows. They are endowed with the ability to raise eyebrows…of others.

Here are some examples:

  • Leonardo da Vinci: Raised eyebrows by digging up and stealing corpses.
  • Vincent Van Gogh:  Raised eyebrows by chopping off his ear.
  • Pablo Picasso: Raised eyebrows through the cubist rendition of his innumerable mistresses.
  • Salvador Dali: Raised eyebrows by transforming himself into a piece of work.
  • Hussain: Raised eyebrows by painting stuff that he wasn’t supposed to be painting at all.

So, have you raised any eyebrows yet?

The least we cartoonists can do is, raise the eyebrows of the characters that we draw. And why stop at raising them? Why not bend, rotate, twist, dip, curve, curl, or spike the eyebrows to change expressions?

Here’s an Interactive Art Tutorial to help you discover the extraordinary role that eyebrows play in helping your characters express their feelings.

Click the image below to download the first tutorial in the “How to Draw Expressions” series. Find more Interactive Art Tutorials here.

(Click the Image to Download the zip file of the tutorial.)

An Icon for How to draw expressions - Part I, an Interactive Art Tutorial by Shafali
So bring out your sketchbook and roll up your sleeves. Let us express ourselves!

Indian Cartoonists/Caricaturists – The Great Mario Miranda

Updated: 12:45 PM, December 11, 2011

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Just heard the news…The Great Cartoonist Mario Miranda passed away today.
He will remain an inspiration to many generations of Indian cartoonists and illustrators.
May he rest in peace.
(A Commemorative Caricature of Mario Miranda)
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In this caricaturist’s list, there are two Indian cartoonists of note and one of these two is also a caricaturist. These two, and only these two artists make me look like a glazed-eye zombie when I look at their work. Only these two remind me that not everyone is willing to let go of the skill of drawing after finding a job. I have obviously not seen every Indian newspaper published in every Indian language, so there might be random lights of talent shining elsewhere too. But of whatever I have seen, these two have made me, the jaded and faded caricaturist, experience a strong need to write a couple of posts in their honor.

You already know that the first name on this short list, is Mario Miranda…the second is Ajit Ninan.

In this post, let me introduce you to the astonishing work of Mario Miranda.

Mario Miranda’s Cartoons and Illustrations:

Wait a minute. Let me find my artistic aptitude. It was lying at the edge of my table when I last saw it…it must be here somewhere. Oh…it’s here – on the floor! It must’ve somersaulted off the desk to avoid commenting on Mario’s work. I mean, how do you comment on a Master’s drawings?

I will keep my promise and tell you what I feel about those highly detailed, cleanly drawn, stylized cartoons – but before I do that, I’d like you to look at his work at the following links.

I first saw Mario’s cartoons in the Illustrated Weekly of India (In retrospect, I am glad that my dad loved that magazine or I’d have grown up an art-duffer.) I remember looking at his drawings again and again, because every time I looked at them, I’d see something new. If I were to list the top five things that I like in his drawings, they would be as follows:

  • Details (He draws crowds…literally. Most of his drawings would have people of all sorts thronging to get their share of limelight, and he draws those crowds as collections of individuals – everyone in his crowds has a personality and a story. You can see connections running between people, you just have to look long enough to find them.)
  • Confidence (His lines are so confident and steady – he can bend them to his will like no one else can. I don’t know if he does rough drafts, he probably does for the crowds – but something tells me that he doesn’t do an intermediary. He just leaps into drawing the final illustration. If I ever get an opportunity, I’ll ask him if I am right.)
  • Style (Mario has a style of his own. A cartoonist whose work you can recognize while standing 10 feet away from his illustration, is a rarity – not just in India, but in the world. His lines are usually curves, and his lines always end in a strong black dot.
  • Perfection (Mario Miranda’s work exemplifies perfection. You can’t find stuff that would make you think that there was no need for it to be there. You don’t look at his drawing and think, “Oh, that line’s going where it shouldn’t.)
  • Life (Mario Miranda is one cartoonist whose cartoons come alive through their interactions with one another. Even when they don’t talk, they communicate. There are always so many of them that you’ll always find someone to party with.)

And…how can I forget those unforgettable characters – Bundaldas – the Politician, Moonswami his toady, and Ms. Fonseca the buxom secretary. (I remember asking my father whether Ms. Fonseca’s dress was a uniform for secretaries!)

Mario Miranda’s Concise Biography:

Mario Joao Carlos do Rosario de Britto Miranda (yes – we are talking about just one man!) lives in Goa and in the hearts of all those people who’ve enjoyed his art. Miranda’s work was first noticed by his mom (naturally,) on the walls of their house (naturally, again.)

He drew a lot of whatever he saw around himself including dogs (a dog-lover? another reason for me to like him); but then as it happens with almost every young man in our country, he too was swayed by the Ambassador Car with the red revolving lights, and tried to become an IAS officer – but thankfully his inner calling screamed at him and pulled him away from that mundane pursuit. He ended up working in an ad-agency. I can realize how painful the ad-agency stint must’ve been for him, but then his inner calling was all tuned up and in fantastic shape, so it screamed at him again, and he found himself working for the Illustrated Weekly of India. The Times of India, which had not selected him earlier, rebounded to him after they saw his work in the Weekly, and soon he was working for them too.

(If you are wondering whether a screaming inner calling is grammatically and linguistically correct, I can’t help you. Instead, I’d advise that you read on…there’s a lot of good stuff coming up about Mario Miranda’s rise to the Cartooning Stardom.)

Mario Miranda spent about 5 years of his life in Europe. His stint in Europe helped his work find international recognition. His cartoons featured even in the MAD magazine. (Sigh! Those mad guys (Oops! I stand corrected – those MAD guys) don’t accept email submissions…gotta get my portfolio sent to them by snail-mail…and they say that due to the population problem, it could be months before they’d get to lay their eyes upon my caricatures. Their loss…right?)

Then of course, he returned to India – back to The Times of India and to another Indian legend of Cartooning,  R.K. Laxman, who he respected a lot.

In 1988 he was awarded a well-deserved Padma Shri and then again in 2002 a Padma Bhushan. Miranda’s solos have been organized in 22 countries! Wow! He still draws, but now he’s settled in Goa (the same house where he grew up…it must be a dream come true.)
(Sources: Wikipedia here.)
Read Mario Miranda’s interview by Romola Butalia here.
Also check out “Cartooning Not Funny: Mario Miranda” here.

MF Husain Dies – Leaves the World Five Short of a Century.

MF Husain or Maqbool Fida Husain, who was born on September 17, 1915. died in London sometime last night. He was 95 going on 25 – and so despite his age, his death came as a surprise to a lot of people in India.

Here are the things that made MF Husain, who was called the Picasso of India by the Forbes magazine, the only Indian artist who acquired the status that Indians reserve for cine-stars and politicians.

The Cake:

  • He became the highest paid Indian Artist ever! His single canvases have fetched up to $2 million at a recent Christie’s auction.
  • He was possibly the first Indian artist to get international recognition. In 1952, his solo exhibition was held in Zurich. Remember that in those days, the world wasn’t as small as it is today.
  • In 1955, he received Padma shri from the Indian Government. This was followed by a Padma Bhushan (1971), and then a Padma Vibhushan (1991.)
  • The vibrancy of his works and the way they changed the course of Indian Art that was dominated by the Bengali Art until the 1950s, made many Indian artists go modernist.

The Icing:

  • Husain’s personality was as vibrant as his work. He did stuff that no other Indian painter dared to do. He changed his muses every 3 years, and his muses were almost always the prettiest Bollywood actresses. For the actresses as well as for Husain – the muse-making was a win-win situation. Everyone got the lime-light.
  • Hussain was an extravagant spender. When he first came into money, he made “Gaja Gamini” with Madhuri Dixit, his current muse from Bollywood (who is now the matron of a US-based Rich Doctor’s Household.) Then he made “Meenaxi” with Tabu, his second muse.
  • He got caught into the web of controversies by drawing Indian goddesses in the nude, and even representing India (Bharat Mata) as a nude. Some Hindu organizations felt that this was stretching the artistic license too far, especially with his painting, the Rape of India, and so they petitioned in the court against him. With the public sentiment having turned against him – it became safer for him to stay away from India. For this reason, he became known as the “exiled artist”. Recently (2010) Qatar granted him their citizenship. This controversy further improved his x-factor with the Indian media and public.

Husain, the man behind the painter was so full of life that it makes you sad to see him go. But he had a good life and he was a happy man most of his life (except possibly the last decade when he had to remove himself from India) – and this is what we should remember him by. We should also remember him for repainting the image of the Indian Artist from the Bata Hawai Chappal shod (Husain went barefoot) no-gooder to a celebrity whose work could fetch millions.

I think I’ll miss him…and I hope that when he is reincarnated he does everything the same way, but refrains from painting the nudes of Hindu Goddesses and of the country that he is born in.  On the other side, I should acknowledge that it’s impossible to really figure out Husain’s work – so I personally am not sure about whether he really drew that stuff – it looks like it, and then it doesn’t.

We’ve had more realistic (and some times more suggestive) nudes by Amrita Shergill whose princess status gave a her an immunity from societal persecution when she photographed and then painted herself in nude (imagine a bourgeois artist engaging in that sort of behavior) and Anjolie Ila Menon, whose work becomes more graphic with each passing year. But oh…we never had anything against nudity…did we?

Thinking of Husain and of the tug-of-war that always went on inside my head when I looked at his work – May the universal God who doesn’t belong to any religion, rest his soul in peace.