This gallery contains 12 photos.
This gallery contains 12 photos.
I am appalled!
A $400 Million donation to a $30 Billion Institution!!
But when Malcolm Gladwell, the author of several non-fiction super-sellers such as The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, did those smart and sarcastic tweets on John Paulson’s donation to Harvard, some low-thinking individuals tried to bring the house down upon his head. (Read: Malcolm Gladwell just went nuts on a Wall Street billionaire’s $400 million donation to Harvard)
Here are some of his tweets:
First, I’d like to ask the Malcolm-critics:
What’s wrong with Gladwell criticizing the donation?
He’s got all the right in the world to drag Paulson’s name through the mud. After all, even I deserve that $30 Billion more than Harvard does. Why? Because I don’t have a billion, or even a million. I am so much poorer than Harvard – and that makes me more deserving of Paulson’s 400 Million donation.
Twitter has played cupid and made me fall in love with Gladwell who has said what I’ve been saying all along – albeit a bit differently, and a lot more humorously. People who can buy diamonds, shouldn’t buy them for their loved ones; people who have amassed a fortune, shouldn’t leave it their families – why? Because those loved ones are rich too…and hence they aren’t deserving enough – there are enough who are poorer (poverty being a relative concept,) and they must become the heirs to the rich.
There’s a pitfall in my reasoning though and that becomes my first argument in favor of what Paulson did. (Gasp again – I mean, how could he give it away all to Harvard? but I’ll reserve the whining for later…)
Most people are motivated to earn because they feel they have the right to decide how they must dispose their earnings – and most people prefer to spend their money on those who they love or care about. Recall that self-actualization need comes after family and belongingness needs (Abraham Maslow) – and your alma-mater is…well, your “nourishing mother” and hence family. John Paulson admits that he owes his unprecedented success to Harvard – and so he decides to gift “some of it” to his foster mother, who’s already rich no doubt, but who can still use that money to help her other “children” through life. How in the world does this compare with donating for the cause of poverty?
This of course, is one viewpoint.
Another viewpoint is that – helping the ones who can help others results in greater benefit to mankind. So if Paulson thinks that his alma mater could find a good use for his money – he is actually investing in the future of mankind – and that in itself is an act of philanthropy. If an institution consistently produces billionaires and multimillionaires and they donate a part of their wealth for the poor of the world – the poor get more.
For the third argument in Paulson’s defense, I would like to say that who one must donate to (or whether one must donate at all) is a personal choice – and giving money to an educational institution has a far greater impact on humanity than any other kind of donation. True that the impact may not be as immediate as in the case of donating food and health supplies, yet someone has to do it – or in a few centuries from now, we’d all have reverted to growling and snapping at each-other’s heels…we’d be back to living a life centered around fulfilling our basic needs.That would wipe the artists and the writers out of existence. And neither Mr. Gladwell nor I would like that. (Excuse my quick and distorted but inevitable time warp example. I am a caricaturist and I thrive on exaggeration, which brings the imperfection into sharp focus.)
But all said, I am still in love with Malcolm Gladwell – and I defend his right to tweet his thoughts. They are an exact echo of my thoughts, and I thank him for putting them across – because his words are stronger (and far more retweetable) than mine. I too would’ve preferred that John Paulson had directed at least a quarter percent of his donation towards me – the rest could go to poorer folks, along with the donations made by a zillion other billionaires and organizations.
And to top it all…Harvard just doesn’t need that money. The keyword here is “need,” you see?
Saturday was a big day!
Without contest, the third news-byte is the best! A dog predicts the outcome of the Kentucky Derby a week in advance? Now that’s something, isn’t it? How many astrologers got it right? I have no idea, nor am I interested in finding out. All I am going to do before the next Derby is watch Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and hope that he and his pups repeat their performance.
If you haven’t seen the video of the predicting pups, you’ve missed something; and if you had watched the Tonight Show with the predicting pups and failed to act on their advice, you’ve missed a lot! I don’t really want to rub it in, but just think about it…if you had taken the pups seriously…you could’ve struck it rich. Perhaps not as rich as Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, who despite losing the fight, goes home $200 Million richer; nor as rich as Kate Middleton and Prince William who takes home another royal baby – but rich enough.
Readers, we’ve got to take pup-predictors very seriously. This evening, I am going to use my month’s savings to buy my dog a silk cushion and a crystal ball. What are you going to do?
Speaking of the royal couple, I am reminded of the caricature that I did for the royal couple (seen here on this royal wedding invitation card.) Oh…I suddenly realized that it’s been just four years since their wedding…and they’ve already produced two additional heirs to the throne. A couple of hardworking royals…aren’t they?
I’ll see you again…with another work that I did recently…until then…get serious, watch some pup-predictors, and make money!
Update:April 14, 2015
The cat’s out of the bag! Hillary Clinton announced her bid for President on Sunday. After a video-collage of Americans (of all ethnic backgrounds and beliefs (couldn’t spot any Indian in the video though) showing them planning their futures, she said, “I am also getting ready for something. I am running for President.”
Will she…won’t she?
She did…didn’t she?
While Hillary Clinton’s formal declaration on her candidature will be made tomorrow, almost everyone who knows anything about American politics already knows that she’s running for elections. Most of us have been privy to this open secret for years. Consider this caricature that I did in 2013. I didn’t pay a psychic medium, nor did I get a crystal ball to forecast this – I just knew that Hillary Clinton would run for the President in 2016.
Hillary is ambitious, smart, and has been a politician all her life. Before you spring up one of those zillion emails floating around, and tell me that I am a fool to call her smart – I’d reiterate that she is indeed smart. You can’t survive in politics if you are a fool; and she has not just survived – she has thrived. If she wasn’t smart, she’d not have taken the opportunity to be the Secretary of State during President Obama‘s first term. If she wasn’t smart, she wouldn’t have forgiven President Clinton for his Oval-office misdemeanors. She is smart and she knows it.
You’ll also tell me that she doesn’t have a sense for fashion – I’d like to agree but add that this goes to prove that she’s a lot more sensible than the heel-tapping, fashion-conscious women who spend an hour each day, and so about 4% of their lives trying to please the onlookers. I think it’s idiotic…and I feel that nobody with a modicum of common sense would do it. Fashion doesn’t just make you waste time and money, it also makes you stress over stuff that’s done only to please others. Hillary doesn’t need that sort of approval – she’s a confident woman who knows that she has better things to do with her life.
Here’s a closeup:
Will she indeed be chosen by the Democrats as their candidate for the US Presidency?
It’s impossible to say. In the 2008, she had lost to a newcomer in Politics. As always, the US Presidential Elections would be interesting to watch.
Other Newsy Stuff:
To sum it up…tomrrow Ms. Clinton will make a formal announcement begin her journey to the White House. Whether or not she will reach there and sleep in the bedroom she used to sleep in 14 years ago, is something that the American voter would decide.
I did this caricature-sketch of Jesse Jackson Sr. last year. This is a quick sketch, done digitally. As you can see, most of the line-work is fairly rough. The idea was to paint it at a later point in time.
Jesse Jackson (Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr.) is an American civil rights activist, who was born in North Carolina, studied at the University of Illinois, and then joined Dr. Martin Luther King‘s movement at the age of 25.
King appointed him the Director of Operation Breadbasket of SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference.) However, Jackson was considered a bit of a rebel by others in the organization. Later King too began to feel that Jackson was too assertive. The relationship between the two began to deteriorate, just before King’s death in 1968. This is why when Jackson claimed that King died in his arms, many questioned the plausibility of his assertion. Among those who didn’t appreciate Jackson’s methods, was also Al Sharpton.
In 1971, Jackson formally parted ways with SCLC, and started PUSH (People United to Save (later changed to Serve) Humanity.) This was also the time when he began to explore the political possibilities.
In the next two decades, Jackson rose from being a national figure to an international personality. His rise to fame however was marked with controversies. His anti-jewish remarks drew a lot of flak (he called the Jewish people, “Hymies” – hymie being a disparaging term used for a Jewish person.) He has also been criticized for his anti-Israel sentiments.
On the personal front, just a week ago, Jackson’s handsome son (who’s got dimpled cheeks,) Jesse Jackson Jr., was released from the prison. He had been sentenced to a term of 1.5 years for misusing about $750,000 of the election funds for personal use (and buying stuff such as a $43K Rolex watch, and believe it or not, $7K worth of stuffed elk-heads!) After his release, his wife would serve her sentence of 1 year for the same offense.
Jesse Jackson has also been in news for fathering an illegitimate child who, her mom Karin Stanford calls a “miracle child”. His daughter Ashley, now 15, wants to be a singer. Karin was a worker in Jackson’s organization PUSH. (Such mentor-mentee, boss-subordinate, leader-worker kind of affairs transcend national and religious boundaries and are found almost everywhere – refer to the Kumar Vishwas – AAP party-worker affair, or to Bill Clinton – Monica Lewinsky affair.)
But then…I must be turning into a cynic. Reading Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy does that to you. I am on the 888th page of “Edge of Eternity” and John Kennedy‘s numerous flings with the fair ladies of his staff must be crowding my imagination.
I like the following two:
Did you know that David Cameron had worried himself sick (got ulcers) on the issue of the Scottish Referendum. When he heard the result and realized (realised) that Scotland had voted for “no divorce” for a moment he couldn’t believe his ears. In fact, the Queen was so happy that she purred (as told to the media by David Cameron.)
The look of slight confusion (the eyebrows raised in the middle, the partially open mouth) and yet relief creeping up at the corners of his lips – it actually fits the situation perfectly. As an artist, I’d have spent hours trying to get that look right – but I used Toonsie Roll and got the whole caricature along with the emoji, the text, the signature, and of course, the caricature – in four minutes flat. Isn’t that cool? All on the basis of intuition. The point is – it’s tons of fun to caricature people you know – for instance, your boy/girl-friend, your boss (oh yes,) or even your friends – and all you need to create a caricature master-piece is this app in your device 🙂 Send me a message through the contact form, and I’ll let you know when it hits the App Store!
Anyway, coming back to Cameron’s delight upon the positive (er..negative) vote – the percentage that voted for divorce (45%) and that voted for staying married (55%) doesn’t show a very wide gap, which means there still is a sizable population that wants to separate – so his worries might not be over yet. Amidst allegations of vote-rigging, the Scottish referendum of 2014 is already stirring up emotions instead of settling them down.
If you want to skip reading about my connection with this app…please use the contact form below and I’ll ping you when the App goes live 🙂
This Gallery Update was pending for some time, and while I still haven’t been able to put together the icons for my graphite and pen-ink artworks, I got the icons of the painted artworks together to update the gallery.
I am reproducing the updated part of the gallery here – just in case, you are a kindred (read: lazy) soul.
|Mike Ross – Asa Hutchinson
CEO – Amazon
Host – The Tonight Show
Author: The Tipping Point
|Pat & Babs
Characters in a Novel
|Mark Pryor vs. Tom Cotton
TBP – Arkansas
|Gandalf the Grey
Lord of the Rings
I’d love to mention how the post that I did on Nude Celebrity Pictures has been getting all the attention. I think a new caricature genre with nudes as its central theme could become quite popular, only if someone had the talent and the will to pursue it. The fact that I am sharing this priceless idea so openly with you, must tell you that I’ve decided that my caricatures stay clothed and dignified.
Before I make this post, I’ve got to ask you something? Do you want to make caricatures? (Note that I am not asking you whether you’d like to draw caricatures.) Click the following sticker to find out more about my caricaturing app “Toonsie Roll”, which is going to be in the App Store soon 🙂
That’s all for now 🙂
Recently I had the opportunity to illustrate a medieval jousting match between Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson in Present Day Arkansas. As you can see this is a fairly detailed scene that has three important points of interests. 1. Knight Ross on his horse, 2. Knight Hutchinson on his horse, and 3. The Capitol Hill Building in the background. However, it was the crowd in the background (yep, I know, you never noticed it,) that made me lose my sleep. I had once read Tom Richmond’s article on painting crowds, and I had since been wondering if I too would ever be asked to paint a crowd. Friends, with this artwork, I can now proudly claim to have worked on a crowd scene.
Here’s the artwork that I did for Talk Business & Politics, Arkansas:
The experience of illustrating this scene oscillated between being challenging and entertaining. When the Art Director first explained the idea to me…honestly, it sounded slightly intimidating. The gubernatorial candidates in armor riding their horses, carrying lances, charging at each other, with a crowd watching the joust, and the Capitol Hill Building in the background. Sure! No Problem. Except that there was no reference images of these two guys looking angry/charged up…anywhere on the web. Always with honey on their lips, always with a twinkle in their eyes – they are the sweetest two guys you can find anywhere on the planet! Next, their jousting gear! Guess what – Knights wear helmets that cover their faces. Here the whole idea was to create the caricatures of Ross and Hutchinson – and if I had stayed true to the actual helmets that knights wore, then short of labeling them, I’d have to no way to tell who was who.
But then, I had my own knight in the shining armor, known elsewhere as the Art Director, who did a quick composition of the scene and sent it across. That was super-sweet of him and the composition really charged me up. I am rather good at putting expressions on people’s faces…so I got down to work and sent the facial sketches over to the client…and of course, some little ideas of mine (the helmets, the feathers, the laughing horses, and those banners that are being held up by the crowd.) I also did a full-sketch, which got approved and I was set to go.
When I started painting, considerations of light and the amount of details cropped up. I also had to decide about the right amount of shine on the armor. (If you stood in the crowd, you’d be pulling out your RayBans.) I played around with the idea of giving them an armor that didn’t shine so much (more like the fantasy art thing I used to do many years ago) but then I thought that for this battle, they’d sit up the whole night burnishing it…won’t they?
I also took these passport-sized closeups of the two knights – just in case some of you are interested in a closer view.
I wish the these two gentlemen the very best for November 4th, 2014.
How to Draw Caricatures?
On a different note, I’ve been receiving queries from artists and art-students on how to draw caricatures. Some of you have inquired if I conduct any online/on-ground classes for caricature art. My answer, while not totally affirmative, could result in a more inexpensive and quite effective learning possibility for you.
In the beginning of this year, I had written a book that could actually help you create excellent caricatures. The book assumes that you like drawing and now want to learn the fine art of caricaturing faces.
Check it out on Amazon.
I hope it helps 🙂
Important Note for Hobbyists who wants to create terrific caricatures without drawing:
In a few days, I’ll be announcing an iOS app that I’ve helped develop, and which when used to apply the principles given in the book can help hobbyists create very interesting caricatures.
If you have an iPhone or an iPad and are interested in hearing about it, use the contact form and send me a message with the subject “Tell me about the Caricaturing App,” and I will send you a message when the app goes live for downloading.
Today Jimmy Fallon is one of the most recognized faces in America. He’s the guy who slipped into the flip-flops that Jay Leno left behind and captained the ship of the Tonight Show with equal ease and finesse.
Here’s the Jimmy Fallon caricature that I painted.
Fallon debuted as the Tonight Show host in February 2014. Before The Tonight Show, he had been hosting Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for almost six years. The good news is that The Tonight Show is doing better with Fallon than it was doing with Leno. The ratings of The Tonight Show among adults are up by 34%.
Jimmy Kimmel‘s show Jimmy Kimmel Live (telecast by ABC) is Fallon’s closest competitor. As the number enthusiasts closely watch the Jimmy vs. Jimmy ratings match, the gentleman on my blog appears to be the winner 🙂
Ladies and Gentlemen, that would all for now.
Stay tuned for more caricatures – and Draw to Smile and Beat the Blues.
Robin Williams died on Monday, August 11, 2014. I will always carry with me the impressions of his movies, which unlike most other movies that I have watched, refuse to fade away with time.
His alcoholism and cocaine-addiction is being cited as the main causes of depression, which could have led to his suicide. In this hour of sadness, one must not give in to conjecturing, but one cannot imagine this Robin Williams giving in and taking his own life…and yet, drugs lead to unimaginable psychological consequences.
I had done the following Robin Williams’ caricature in 2012. Today, when I look at this caricature, his smile appears stretched between two opposing emotions that culminate into an expression of knowing something that others don’t. A sadness that spreads from his eyes and reaches the corners of his lips, tilting them ever so little at the corners – stopping his smile from become carefree and happy.
The original caption of this caricature-portrait read, “I’ve seen everything.” At the time of writing it, I was guided by his expression; I am now saddened by the thought that if Robin Williams actually committed a suicide, this might have been the thought going through his mind around the time I did this caricature.
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.
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.
Here’s a grey caricature of Gandalf the Grey that I did a couple of weeks ago. Just some sketching in Photoshop. As I said earlier, I don’t do a lot of digital sketching…but every once in a while, when I want to take a short break, digital sketching comes in handy.
Gandalf is a wizard of the Middle Earth. We first see him in The Hobbit (well, the chronology of the movies in which Gandalf’s character is played by Ian Mckellen, is different from the fictional chronology of the Lord of the Rings saga.) In fact, we see him almost right at the beginning of the book – when he meets Bilbo Baggins the short-statured but totally lovable hobbit, who is persuaded by Gandalf to join a group of dwarves who desperately needed his help to open a door guarded by the dragon.
Among all the characters that populate this famous trilogy (which gets rather verbose and on-the-verge-of-tears boring, at times,) I like Gandalf the best. He is multi-skilled and his personality multi-faceted.
In fact, if he was a real person instead, he could have chosen any of the following five highly remunerative and rewarding professions.
The guy is smart and sensible; on the inside he’s quite like the CEOs of today who specialize in getting others to do things that themselves couldn’t accomplish in ten lifetimes. Here’s an example.
He tries to recruit Bilbo for the team; when he doesn’t succeed, he sends the dwarves to Bilbo’s hole, and then attempts to get him onboard. Later, when he’s sure that Bilbo is sub-consciously sold on the idea, Gandalf leaves with the dwarves. When Bilbo joins them later, he thinks of it as his own decision. That’s exactly what CEOs do. They make us believe that we are the ones making our choices, when actually, they’ve already made the choice for us. Trust the judgment of a cynical caricaturist: a highly successful CEO of today lurks behind that grey beard and grayer robe.
In today’s world, Gandalf would be a politician par-excellence. He understands the need to create a persona…thus the hat (not seen in this caricature, though), the robe, the muffler, and the gnarled stick. He is a slick talker and has the knack to disappear from the scene just when things begin to heat up. Remember the time when the dwarves and Bilbo meet those three trolls who’d have enjoyed a dwarves-roast, had Bilbo the blundering underdog of the story not blathered to save them? Where was Gandalf then? Guess what – He was away…working, sweating, finding information – for them…not for himself. Gandalf doesn’t do anything for himself does he? It’s all for the people he represents. And we are always expected to take his word for it.
If you don’t remember Mitt Romney, here’s the gentleman doing just the thing that Gandalf would’ve advised him against.
Gandalf would’ve really made his parents proud, had he chosen to work as a consultant. He comes across as an extremely risk-averse guy. You never see him putting a single penny of his into the adventures. He just rides along. He guides the adventurers with his knowledge and uses his contacts to ferret out useful information, but do you see him creating or manufacturing anything?
For a moment, assume that those adventurers didn’t have Gandalf to consult with; then what? Would they not reach their goal at all? Would they all sit like morons and do nothing. I don’t think so. In the good old times that existed before the now-ubiquitous-consultants arrived on the scene, the world was doing well. In fact, consultants are needed only when people and organizations get into businesses that they know nothing about, so thinks the caricaturist.
In this world of ours, Gandalf could’ve been a psychologist with a roaring practice. The LoR trilogy presents ample examples where Gandalf attempts to soothe crushed egos and bleeding hearts. (OK, not just a shrink, an agony aunt too.) He understands how the human mind works. In fact, he also understands how elves, dwarves, trolls, orcs, dragons and all the other creatures of the middle earth think. In fact, if he were real and he lived today, Sigmund Freud might’ve been his disciple – after all Freud could only claim that he knew about the machinations of the human mind, and especially how every mundane human act was powered by sexual desires.
I request those with a keen sense of observation, to compare the expressions of Sigmund Freud below to those of Gandalf’s above. You’ll see what I mean when I say that Gandalf could’ve been the coolest shrink ever.
And yet, we couldn’t have an LoR without him, because he’s the guy who knows – and in the days of the yore, in the times of the middle earth, a man with knowledge was indeed handy. He was the middle earth counterpart of the Internet. The adventurers of the LoR trilogy had to just spit out a search-string and Gandalfoogle would whirr into action – spitting out results.
In my previous post, I had promised a caricature of Malcolm Gladwell. Here it is 🙂
An apt question.
Here’s how it happened. I was talking to a friend in Pittsburgh, and she happened to mention Malcolm Gladwell. She had seen him on a TV show and she appeared impressed by him. I had heard of the guy’s name and somewhere in the far recesses of my mind and in my faded and almost invisible schema of the management world that I once belonged to, a forgotten node began pulsating. A decade ago, he had written something that had catapulted him into fame…this was all I remembered of him.
So I did a web-search and there he was. Looking dapper in that glorious cynosure of a hairdo. On his twitter account, he calls himself “The Skinny Canadian,” which of course is a euphemism for his vertically linear framework. He has a rather striking personality, and quite obviously, it immediately struck me that I must caricature him.
The first rough sketch was done right then and there – the two-minute sketch as the art-gurus would call it. I had Mr. Gladwell’s profile beaming at me from the monitor, and I made a rough. It was close but not what I really truly desired. This prompted me to make another sketch – this was done in Photoshop, and this was something that I could paint.
Rest was all painting. As you can see, I was focused on the face and skin… and I wanted to capture that look in his eyes. Unlike my full-length caricatures where fun is the primary goal I strive for; in this particular artwork, I wanted to take it nearer to a portrait in treatment and yet keep it a caricature that adds to the personality of Mr. Gladwell.
As this blog’s tradition dictates, I must now talk about Mr. Gladwell and his life thus far.
I know I can’t beat the short and succinct autobiographical statement on Mr. Gladwell’s Twitter Account, which just reads “The Skinny Canadian.” I won’t even try to, because I think that there’s actually a lot more to him than the fact that he’s skinny and Canadian.
He was born in England, in 1963. In 1984, he graduated with a degree in History from the University of Toronto. His first job as a journalist was with The American Spectator (now that info byte is extra-special because as some of you know, I’ve been illustrating for The American Spectator for almost a-year-and-half now.) Then he wrote for another magazine before moving on to writing for The Washington Post. It was in 1996 that he began his career at The New Yorker.
Gladwell’s written 5 books. They are:
(Source for all the above information is dear old Wikipedia here.)
Gladwell isn’t married, he writes about everyday stuff that happens in malls, in streets, in homes, and in corporate boardrooms – and I think he and his hair are super. BTW, when he was younger, his hair wasn’t that wild. In fact he used to look quite normal 🙂 But then, I wouldn’t care to caricature him then, would I?
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.
Now the story behind the creation 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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.
Here’s a close-up of the Caricature of President Obama.
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.
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.
Believe it or not, until the time of creating this caricature, I was completely oblivious of the fact that much before Jay Leno‘s magnificent chin was seen and admired on The Tonight Show, it was seen in Hollywood movies. Recently, a friend spoke about his impending retirement and I thought that I must caricature him, chin and all, to bid him farewell. It was then that in order to present you with his power-packed nano-biography that I went web-scavenging for information and came back leno-wiser.
Here’s Jay Leno, as seen by this caricaturist.
Here’s his anti-leno-chin biography for my esteemed reader.
He was born in 1950 (April 28, if you want to send him a Birthday card,) in New York. His parents’ parents had immigrated to the US from Scotland (his mom) and Italy (his dad.) His first brush with the stage happened in 1973, when he started a comedy club in his college. However, Leno’s big break came with his appearance on The Tonight Show that at the time was hosted by Johnny Carson (started 1962 – ended 1992). What I didn’t know and many non-American readers may not know, is that Jay Leno worked in some movies too. However, most of Leno’s earnings come from his Standup comedy shows, especially in Vegas.
1987 onwards, Jay Leno started stepping into the shoes of Carson and then five long years later, he replaced him. Many expected the honor to go to David Letterman. It’s widely speculated that this didn’t happen by chance, and a journalist Mr. Carter wrote a book “The Late Shift” (which eventually became a movie,) on this specific incident. If you go by the plot of the novel/movie, Leno’s success should be attributed to her manager Helen Kushnick.
For a very long time, things were hunky-dory but then about four years ago Leno’s contract with NBC ended and another gentleman Conan O’Brien took over The Tonight Show show from him. Leno remained with NBC and started a new show called The Jay Leno show. However, unlike what happened with Two-and-a-Half Men, where Charlie Sheen’s departure and Ashton Kutcher’s arrival worked well for the show, both The Tonight Show and The Jay Leno Show didn’t do well. In a year, Leno was back on the show and O’Brien was given a huge payout ($33 Million, which some say is Leno’s yearly package) to leave the Tonight Show. This however, didn’t help The Tonight Show re-attain its previous glory.
Leno’s retirement is imminent and he will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon, yet everyone doesn’t believe that the transition would be smooth.
Read more about Jay Leno’s retirement here.
Notice the following in Jay Leno’s caricature above.
Jay Leno’s chin juts out and drops down. It isn’t just a long and heavy chin that dips down vertically, it’s a chin that projects out (quite like the slide on which children play,) and unlike most other long chins, the elongation starts at his lower lip. He has a good head of hair and his hair falls over his forehead. I was looking for a shape in his face, and the shape that I found did justice to his profile, was of a crescent moon. Note that I have exaggerated nothing else. If you refer to the book, you’ll see that I’ve applied the rule of exaggerating only those features that are characteristic (the hair and the chin) and that deviate from the standard. Here’s a FREE pdf outlining what “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures” contains.
Liam Neeson has a striking face with the most hypnotic deep-set eyes I’ve ever seen. I think his eyes must have hypnotized me into drawing this caricature.
For the very few who do not recognize this fabulous actor, here’s a quick biographical sketch.
Neeson is an Irish actor who was born in Ireland (in 1952) and who finally made his way across the Atlantic and the vast expanse of the North American continent to arrive in Hollywood 35 years later. He almost won the Best Actor Oscar for his role of Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (Tom Hanks wrested it from him for his role in Philadelphia…another awesome movie with an absolutely riveting performance by Hanks.)
Known for his gripping performances in movies such as Schindler’s List, Kinsey, and Taken, Neeson caught this caricaturist’s eye in his role of John Ottway in The Grey, and then more recently in Kingdom of Heaven (he isn’t the main protagonist in this movie – Orlando Bloom is; yet he plays an important role.)
One of the reasons, of course, is that he is most recognizable in his profile. His eyes are deep-set but to realize how much, you need to look at his profile. The root of his nose doesn’t connect with the forehead in the usual depression seen in most other faces, and this deviation is a lot more pronounced in his face because he has a very strong brow ridge. All in all, he has a very unique face and its important deviations are more pronounced in the profile. (I’ve discussed the selection of the important deviations in “Evolution of a Caricaturist.” If you have the book, check out the chapters “Caricaturing the Brow and the Brow-ridge” and “Caricaturing the Nose.”)
PS: I am just wrapping up an App-design assignment so the newsletter will be going out soon 🙂 Thanks for subscribing. (If you haven’t subscribed yet, click here.)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please join me in welcoming Arvind Kejriwal’s caricature to this blog. Most of you aren’t Indians, so you may not recognize this gentleman. However, I’ll try my best to introduce him to you, so read on 🙂
However, if you are an Indian or an Indo-phile, you will instantaneously recognize this broom-bearing simpleton as the recently Shot-into-Fame Wizard of Delhi’s politics.
Here’s my visualization of Arvind Kejriwal, the new Chief Minister of Delhi.
Note for the International/Devnagri-challenged Audience: His cap states “Main Hoon Saaf Aadmi” or “I am a clean man.”
Arvind was born in 1968 (and so he’s fairly young to have become a Chief Minister, especially as his dad isn’t a politician,) studied Engineering at IIT-KGP (he was a smart kid – I couldn’t crack the IIT-JEE…so definitely smarter than me,) and then funnily, instead of taking the most common IITian-shortcut to success namely MS in the US, he stayed back and worked for TISCO. Later he joined the IT department and worked there for a while. But then he decided to call it quits and became an RTI (Right to Information) activist.
As this blog’s tradition dictates… I must cut to the chase and talk about stuff that matters. So…
One thing led to another, and Kejriwal found himself working closely with Anna Hazare for the Jan Lokpal Bill. This brought him into limelight (more than the Magsaysay award that he had won in 2006 – because then I hadn’t heard of him…so much for awards.)
He and his team fell out with Anna Hazare when he decided that in order to fight corruption they will have to enter the political arena. Kejriwal thought that to weed out the corruption in the governmental machinery, they would themselves have to enter the system. Anna Hazare’s opinion was that if they entered politics they too would become dirty. This resulted in a rift between Hazare and Kejriwal, and they decided to part ways. Kejriwal and his team formed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with the agenda to clean up the System, and weed out corruption.
The Delhi Elections resulted in Kejriwal becoming the Chief Minister of Delhi. Now Kejriwal and his rickety team put together with a band-aid supplied by the Congress Party, is trying to fulfill their 17 promises to the people of Delhi, and his infant party is also preparing to fight the Parliamentary elections this year.
Kejriwal and his team have a Herculean task ahead because what is corruption to one man is a perfectly honest way of living for another. He has fought white vs. black election for the gray common man. Some among these are closer to white, most are medium gray, and other are closer to black.
The corruption that Kejri cleans up reappears in the system…somewhere else, in some other form – as another “dharna”, as another defection, or as another compromise by the party. Intentions can take you only so far, then you need strength and the ability to make strong decisions…and beyond all this, you need to be there, consistently, for a long time. Systemic changes don’t happen overnight.
This is why the dustbin has a hole and this is why the mice make merry.
The common man still remain where he is – trying to make ends meet through means that he’s learned to use. Some stay corrupt, others made corrupt, and a few honest men and women continue their struggle, working hard hoping that the dustbin will be plugged in their lifetime.
In the caricature, I wanted to capture Kejriwal’s smile (he’s got a cute smile) and make him appear hopeful and full of trust. This is why I made his features somewhat neotenous (please refer to our discussion on neoteny in the book.) I chose a triangular shape for his face and head (a larger head is a neotenous feature) and focused on his nose, ear, and mouth as the three most important characteristic features. If you relate the exaggeration of the nose and ear to the Feature Frame Method and the corresponding Anchor Points, you’ll be able to follow the entire exaggeration of his face.
If you are interested in exploring the content of the book, you can download this Free pdf here.
Nelson Mandela, the man who despite all odds remained the Master of his fate and the Captain of his soul, and who rose to become the first African President of a nation plagued with Apartheid. With respect and awe, I present this caricature of Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela was born Rolihlahla Mandela the son of the Tembu Tribe’s Chief, on July 18, 1918. He completed his B.A. and then joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1944.He completed his study of Law, but that was later, perhaps while he was in prison. At ANC, he worked towards the Apartheid policies of the ruling party. He was tried for treason in the latter half of the 1950’s but was acquitted in 1961. However, this didn’t dissuade Nelson Mandela from following his ideals, and he was once again charged with the attempt to overthrow the Government. Following his trial, he was sentenced to life-imprisonment, and he was jailed for 27 years, from 1964 to 1990. In 1990, he was released. It was in 1994 that South Africa held its first multi-racial elections, in which ANC (Mandela’s Party) won and came into power.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
– William Ernest Henley
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to caricature two most talked about talk-show hosts of America: Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Most of my readers are aware of the pains I take to hide my ability to travel through time. But as they say, it’s impossible for talent to stay hidden for long. Someone must’ve blabbed about my ability to time-travel, to the American Spectator Magazine. They hired me and my time-machine to transport Limbaugh and Hannity into the past, dress them up as the nobility of those times, and transform them into pamphleteers!
While I usually don’t like to take passengers on my trips into the past, I couldn’t refuse this particular offer. After all, these two distinguished gentlemen have been striving hard to make America see the pluses of Conservative thought. I also knew that they’ve each got about 15 million viewers of their talk-shows, and if only 1% of their viewers thought that they looked awesome in their retro-gear, and decided to hire me as their fashion-designer, I’d be famous too.
So this caricaturist hauled up this precious cargo to the past, dressed ’em up in wigs’n frills, made ’em stand in front of a printing press, handed ’em those pamphlets to pose with – and shot this picture. Then she got ’em back, took out her wand and used the obliviate spell to wipe their memories of this event. (This is why they’d deny ever accompanying me on this trip!)
Here’s a snapshot of the magazine on my desk 🙂
I know that you’d like to see the details of their dresses (especially, if you were to hire me as your fashion-designer,) so here’s the closeup.
Both these gentlemen have their websites too. Check them out at:
I’ll return with more next week, when Bigsaw Classic arrives on the App Store 🙂 In the meantime, download and play with Bigsaw Designer – a custom picture puzzle-making machine for your iPad.
It’s true that I didn’t like him as Robert Langdon in Angels and Demons, and it’s also true that he looks a lot older than the actual Captain Phillips; but we can’t fault him with that, can we? He doesn’t get his wrinkles pulled and pushed, and he looks his age, which is just fine. He isn’t a woman who is compelled to look ten years younger all her life. He is a man, and men have the right to look their age.
With that, I put a lid on this discussion that reeks of gender-bias; and btw, gender-bias has nothing to do with Captain Phillips, Alabama (the Maersk ship – the location where the hijacking drama played out,) or the Pirates of Somalia. (Come to think of it – neither the crew nor the pirates had women among them!)
Here’s a slightly younger Tom Hanks looking somewhat professorial and Langdonish.
I’ll keep this post short and not burden you with the details of how I painted this caricature. I’m going to be slightly busy the coming week (Yes, I’ve been invited to Atlantis once again! Don’t let jealousy tear you apart, my friend. I AM the chosen one.)
If you want to see how Tom Hanks looks in black and white, check out this link.
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