Read some, draw some, write some, but blog none? Ho hum!

I last posted about the Song of Ice and Water series by GRR Martin. I can now declare that I am two books into the series already. With the way life’s been this past month, Martin gets the credit for this feat of mine. He weaves such a complex web of tales studded with such intriguing characters, that once caught in it, you can’t leave, until you’ve traversed along every shiny sliver that holds his web of ice and water together.

So I read some.

Then I painted a magazine cover with the portraits of three gentlemen, and now I am painting another cover with a whole mad group of toony looking people on it. I got some inquiries that made me scratch my head rather furiously and lose some hair. I’m also looking forward to painting a couple of beautiful covers for SFF author Barbara G. Tarn, who is also a long time friend.

So I drew some.

I spent some time writing some short stories around the concepts that inspired my hat paintings. I should’ve been writing a new story for the new quarter of the Writers of the Future contest, but for some inexplicable reason, I was more drawn to explore the human mind and its machinations – and so ended up writing these stories, which are more in the realm of psychological fiction.

So I wrote some.

But I couldn’t blog. There are times when you want to find a quiet corner and create. I guess that the last whole month was that time for me 🙂

 

The Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Sometimes somethings come to you unbidden. They steal upon you with the finesse of a cat and surprise you; they wipe the frown off your brow and break your face into a smile.

I had been hankering after The Song of Ice and Fire for more than a year. Actually, since I watched Game of Thrones on TV. I’d look it up whenever I’d visit a book shop, but I could never bring myself to buy it. A set of seven books, each splitting at the seams with about a thousand pages, can make you worry. Will you be able to read them all? Will you like the author’s writing style? Will the story be engaging enough? It’s one thing to sit through an hour-long episode and another to plod through an unending ocean of words. Before you’ve read an author, you never know whether his words are tiny angels that will take you in a world that you won’t want to leave, or little black devils that will plunge you into the depths of reading hell. I had never read anything by George R. R. Martin, so I had no idea what kind of little guys his words were.

Now you must be wondering why I didn’t buy just one book at first and then went for the others? That would be the practical thing to do. Unfortunately, I am not practical. I haven’t made a single practical decision in my life. I am impulsive and emotional. One of the zillion impractical impulses that drive my life is buying books that aren’t just great to read but that also look beautiful. I also like books from an author to look like they belong to him. So unless I’ve already fallen for a specific writer’s work, and I must buy their books as soon as they hit the stalls, I enjoy getting sets. They give me a sense of security and continuity. I know that after finishing one book, I’ll have the next one waiting!

Now George Martin’s books tell one long story, they look mysterious and attractive, and I couldn’t say if I’d be hooked or be saddled – and so the plan of getting the books went into limbo, but the secret yearning didn’t fade away.

Three days ago, I received an unexpected gift. Wrapped in red, it stood on my desk. I suddenly knew what a groom in an Indian arranged marriage feels when he first sees his bride – a package wrapped in red, a bundle of surprises, but first he must lift the veil.

I picked it up, expecting it to be lighter than it was, and immediately knew that it had books inside. All those words, they weigh a lot. For the last whole month, I hadn’t mentioned my craving for GRRM’s books – not once! And yet, there they were! Looking awesome, fantastical, mysterious, rich, and inviting!

Here’s a picture of my treasure:

Song of Ice and Fire - the set of 7 Books - Game of thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Ready to forget myself!

The books in the picture aren’t in sequence. Here’s the order in which you must read the series “A Song of Ice and Fire”:

  1. A Game of Thrones
  2. A Clash of Kings
  3. A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow
  4. A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold
  5. A Feast for Crows
  6. A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust
  7. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast

I’m already at page 359 of A Game of Thrones, and this is just the beginning of my journey into Westeros and Essos.

I am also reminded of the only Game of Thrones character that I’ve ever sketched – Peter Dinklage in the role of the unforgettable Tyrion Lannister – the only Lannister who stands tall (I speak from what I know of him through the first 359 pages.)

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

Knowledge and Cunning are my most lethal weapons!

 

 

Writers of the Future Contest – Honorable Mention.

Here’s the story of the story that I wrote for the Writers of the Future Contest, and which won me this cute blue badge 🙂

Writers of the Future - Honorable Mention badge for my science fiction short story.

It all began in mid-September with David Farland’s newsletter, in which he mentioned that the deadline for sending the fourth quarter entries for Writers of the Future contest was September 30th. Like all serious readers of his newsletter, I considered the date seriously, and noted it on my whiteboard. Then I checked out the site and realized that the contest invited entries only in Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, which meant that the stuff that I had been writing until then, which included modern-day mysteries, thrillers, or even inspirational stories involving non-fantastical real world beings such as cats, dogs, even birds; wasn’t welcome.

This limited the scope somewhat. My connection with fantasy genre is limited to a casual reading of Tolkien’s LOR and an artist’s peek into my wonderful client Barbara G. Tarn’s books. That left me pondering if science fiction was something I could play with. I enjoy watching science fiction movies and I am Michael Crichton fan. My regular readers know that I own a rickety time-machine that has developed a habit of running out of fuel in odd places and times. Oh, and I am an engineer by education. All this made me decide upon science-fiction as the genre for my contest-entry.

And so I wrote a story and uploaded it for the contest. Right after the bird had flown, I began to see the cracks in my story. My descriptions of smells, sounds, even the characters were either non-existent or minimal;  stuff that I had just skipped over suddenly started looking important, the climax of the story came too late, the resolution could’ve been stronger…the list went on and on – the only thing that actually made sense still, was the story, and a wow that it had garnered from its only reader, my rougher and saner other-half. After berating myself for being in such a tearing hurry all the time, I shook my head, got rid of those nagging thoughts, forgot about the story I had sent, and got back to work.

In the first week of December, I received a surprise email from Ms. Joni Labaqui of Galaxy Press telling me that I had won an Honorable Mention for my story. The badge arrived this morning and I just had to share it 🙂

So there you go. That was my story of the story that I wrote for the Writers of the Future contest.

Now I must get back to the drawing tablet 🙂 I will share some of my new creations with you very soon.

 

Paris Attacks – Why?

Paris Attacked

They attack everything that celebrates life.
They love to spread hatred and sow strife.

They do it…
Because they follow orders unthinking,
They walk around like zombies, unblinking.

They do it…
Because they think that the world is theirs by right.
They kill because they want to show their might.


They walk into a concert, they throw grenades,
they blow-up and smoke rises against the colonnades,

They do it…
Because venom was injected in their blood-stream,
long before they began to love, desire, and dream.

They do it…
Because caught in the web of their rote-learning,
they only want to see everything else burning.

Pen and Ink portrait of a girl - 9/11 and Terrorism. Cue-art for Creativity Carnival.

Sometimes the harshness of reality blinds us. It makes us avert our eyes, turn our back, and run away – back to the comfort of our homes, where we think we are safe.
But the reality doesn’t cease to exist.
It exists as 9/11, 11/26, Charlie Hebdo, and yesterday’s Paris Attacks.
We see the flares and wonder how it may have happened.
Then we turn and go back to the comfort of our homes, where we think we are safe.

 

The Caricaturist Returns from Krypton via Atlantis!

Just returned 🙂

A time-travel-space-travel combo can leave you drained! As you might’ve already surmised, my visit to Krypton took place in the past, before the planet had exploded. I didn’t go there by choice, General Zod‘s forces had abducted me and taken me away to caricature the whole council of elders. (Apple-polisher, that General Zod.) I had finished creating all their caricature-portraits just a few days before the cataclysm – and from there I was jettisoned into the future and landed in Argo City. Most of my time there, I was a prisoner who was tortured and had to draw whatever they wanted me to draw.

Superman helped me escape. Mainly because Krypto the Superdog put in a good word for me. I must tell you that Superman might be a great guy otherwise, but he really needs to wash that cape of his.

Unfortunately, before I could land safely back and before my feet could find solid ground, Superman was charmed away by a bevy of Atlantian beauties; meanwhile I was whisked away to Atlantis, where I was once again forced to paint their council of elders.

Last night, I suddenly woke up in my own bed. I have no idea how I reached home, but I have a feeling that the Atlantians decided that I was changing a nation of beautiful people into caricatures of themselves, and so they decided that enough was enough!

And so, ladies and gentlemen! I am back 🙂

Hats Women Wear: Portraits my Heart Painted.

I am painting the fourth portrait now. I started at 2 in the morning.

I love these hats because I paint them for the creator who lives inside me. Each of these hats is special because they lack design. I haven’t attempted to channel or even hide the chaos. Each of these has evolved organically. Usually I start an artwork with a sketch  then paint over it. I do this more out of need, I’d say; when you illustrate for a publication, there’s a review process that entails an approval on the sketch. The hat-paintings are all done without a supporting sketch. I would start painting a face, expressions would emerge; I’d then read those expressions and paint a hat that told the story of the expression on the face.

Artists speak of inspiration, of a portrait that painted itself; illustrators don’t. But within every illustrator lives is an artist. I don’t meet mine very often, but when I do – I paint stuff that’s oddly out-of-place on this blog.

For those who haven’t seen the hats yet.

Hats women wear - hat number 3 - portrait art - shafali - emotional and physical abuse

 

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

 

Portraits of Women - Face, profile, side face, hats that women wear - this is hat 2, the hat of ambition.

 

The hats happened quite suddenly. Then they stopped. For about three months, I didn’t paint any. Now, I’m painting them again.

I can’t explain my behavior. Perhaps you can. I just know when I must paint them – the why of the hats as well as the inspiration, evades me.

 

Fatigued…but will post something new tomorrow.

Dear Fellow-bloggers and my other Visitors,

Thanks for everything. For visiting my blog, for participating in the Creativity Carnival, for choosing my blog to confer awards upon it, and for liking and following. I’ve been a brat, I know. And I am sorry for not responding. I haven’t even been checking the Reader so no blog-visits either. I soon hope to be better and more in my element (the indefatigable artist.)

Just wanted to stop by and say thank you to everyone.

More tomorrow.

Shafali

A Creativity Carnival – for Artists, Writers, Poets, and other Oddballs!

Friends, I still haven’t decided upon a Feature I’d want to go ahead with, but I did have a Creativity Carnival in mind.

I trust the following image captures what I had in mind for it. I’d like to thank my blogging101 friends for their inputs on it. While I am still not sure whether this should be a weekly event, I was wondering if some of us would like to give it shot, if I started it, say, coming Friday (July 31, 2015.)

Possible rules in a nutshell (Please recommend addition/deletion)

  1. Participating bloggers will have a week to make the post.
  2. The Pen and Ink Caricature drawing will serve as a cue.
  3. Participating bloggers would be welcome to write a story, an anecdote, a poem, or even draw a picture or post a doodle in response to the cue.
  4. Participating bloggers  will integrate the caricature-drawing into their posts.
  5. Participating bloggers will provide a ping-back to the carnival post so that other participants can visit their blogs and comment, like, and socialize.

Creativity Carnival for wordpress bloggers

Should I, should I not?

I had tried it once, but such an event cannot thrive on its own. I looked at the Daily Post event form – and a Creativity Carnival doesn’t fit into any of the given categories.

If you think that you’d like to be a part of it, please leave a smiley in the comments 🙂

More later – Keep drawing, writing, and smiling!

 

Interesting stuff about to tumble out of Shafarnia’s cupboard.

Ok. Blogging101‘s moderator Ms. Weber has given us a breather. She says that today’s assignment (about choosing the right theme for your blog ) doesn’t require a post. But this blog requires a non-blogging101 post – if I don’t make it pronto it has threatened to go on strike. I cannot be sure of how my blog got this absurd idea, but I suspect it has recently joined a union of blogs, and the disgruntled blogs are now demanding bonus posts!

Anyone who knows me (and I cannot claim that many do,) know that I am putty in the hands of those close to me – and after 5 years of togetherness, this blog and I have become rather close. So I’ve already buckled under the threat and planned three posts. The subjects of the posts however aren’t happy with the idea of being used for the purpose of pacifying this grumpy blog.

A Public Service Notice:

Please check whether your blog too has become a member of the Blog Union. If it has, you may be in serious trouble. My suggestion is to give in and make some good posts that help you win back your blog’s affections.

 

Title, Tagline, and the Journey of this Blog.

  • Note for blogging101 co-bloggers: This blog’s title is: “Shafali’s Caricatures, Cartoons, and Portraits,” and it’s tag-line is: “Draw to Smile.”
  • Note for all other visitors, this is just another post from your quirky caricaturist.

This blog was born on December 11, 2009. I still remember that morning. It was so cold that if you stepped out of you house, you’d feel your marrow freezing in your bones, immobilizing you and then pushing you deep down into the abyss of hopelessness. Professionally, I was committed to a job that kept me comfortable and well-fed, but my need to draw had never left me. Art was that passionate and persistent lover, who would stalk me all the time and follow me everywhere. I’d have these little secret trysts with art, whenever I had a moment to spare. My notebooks were filled with doodles ready to tattle that the flame of my passion still burned bright for my one true love.

That morning, quite like many other mornings before it, demanded that I perform the chores of my job, without pain, but also without pleasure; with a sense of duty, but without any passion!

As I sipped my tea mechanically, I chanced upon a face in the newspaper. I just picked a pencil and caricatured it to make it funnier. I was drawing a face that could make me smile.

Here’s the face that I drew that morning.

Caricature Sketch of an anxious and worried man - the first caricature.

My first caricature

View the First Post here.

A few squiggles…and a confused yet mocking expression. It would’ve been consigned to the waste-basket where many of its predecessors had gone, but it was meant to change my life, and so it didn’t. My husband saw it – and along with it, he saw my pain.

“Nobody ever sees the drawings you make – why don’t you start a blog where you can scan and post your sketches,” he said.

I tried to wriggle out of it. “I won’t be able to keep it up,” “Nobody would ever visit,” “Who wants to see funny faces,” and many more feeble excuses were made that day.

And yet that evening, we sat down together and created a blog on WordPress – shafali.wordpress.com. At the beginning, it was titled “Shafali’s Caricatures,” then when I began doing cartoons the title expanded to “Shafali’s Caricatures & Cartoons,” and now, because I also do a lot of portraiture work, it’s called “Shafali’s Caricatures, Portraits, and Cartoons” The tag line however has never changed. Drawing has always made me smile, and I think that there’s no point drawing if it doesn’t make you smile 🙂

This was the first header of this blog 🙂

shafali_caricature_header.jpg

Then came this…

celebrity_caricatures_cartoons_shafali_header.jpg

Next was…

shafalis-caricatures-blog-header1.jpg

And now it is:

shafalis-caricatures-blog-header-jul-2014.jpg

 

In the last 6 years, this blog has grown along with my portfolio of works (which began demanding its own space and so I created another blog – of course, again on WordPress,) it has helped me get some very interesting commissions, and more than anything else, it has given me a space where I can present my works, my thoughts, and be myself 🙂 I know I don’t do a lot of blogging stuff right, but I am open to learning and this is why I’ve joined blogging101.

So folks at blogging101, if you are just starting, don’t worry – blogging is like a little garden that you start from scratch…you must care for it and be patient with it. If cared for, it will bloom, that’s certain.

Who I am and why I’m here?

More importantly…why is this post here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answer: Two kinds of people:

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

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

And finally,

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

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

Signing off…

and

going back to “Draw to Smile” 🙂

The Fourth of July – A Happy Time for a Serious Introspection.

A Very Happy Fourth of July to my visitors from the United States.

Fourth of July - Eagle on flag background card for Independence Day of America

 

“My dream is of a place and time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” – Abraham Lincoln

Today, Lincoln’s words ring truer than ever. While Americans celebrate the 257th birthday of the United States – there are still things that must change, and some that must not. As Americans reinterpret their freedoms, new forms of intolerances are born. As Americans take a step forward toward equality of various kinds, individual freedoms are trampled upon. As Americans open their hearts and accept diversity, they let gender-inequality thrive in the land of freedom and opportunities.

The eagle looks skywards and asks – Is this the right direction?

Happy Fourth of July to everyone who loves what America has always stood for – hope, freedom, and opportunity.

Malcolm Gladwell vs. John Paulson – Making sense of a $400 Million donation to Harvard.

I am appalled!

A $400 Million donation to a $30 Billion Institution!!

Gasp!!!

It’s crass.
It’s gaudy.
It’s ugly.

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)

Caricature Portrait of Malcolm Gladwell, the Author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and What the Dog Saw.Here are some of his tweets:

Malcolm Gladwell tweets about John Paulson's $400 Million donation to harvard.

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…)

Argument 1: It’s my money – so I decide.

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.

Argument 2: I’d rather help those who can help others.

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.

Argument 3: You invest in today, I invest in tomorrow.

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? 

115 F, a blistered finger, and feeling blessed.

The middle of an Indian summer isn’t exactly paradise. During the two months of May and June, the fire of hell escapes from the belly of earth and smothers us with a blanket of hot air that scalds the lungs and burns the skin. The afternoon temperature hovers between 110 and 120 F – the computers heat up, and so does my direct-to-screen drawing tablet.

In the middle of all this, I find myself working on an urgent assignment that, as I will later discover, to work from 6 in the morning to 7 in the evening. I wake up, ready to go to work, hoping that I’ll be able to use the air-conditioning for those few hellish hours of the day; and then the unthinkable happens. Right at 5 AM, the power goes off! while the heat hasn’t begun to show its true colors yet, I am devastated!

As I try to introspect and reschedule my work to afternoon, wondering if sending the files to the client in the middle of the night would make any sense; I see a tiny speck of hope. “It’s a planned power-cut of 6 hours,” said the official newspaper reader of the house who is also my organized-to-a-fault much better half.

So I decide to work until the power-backup exhausted itself. No Air-conditioning – aircons are power-hogs and they aren’t plugged-in to the backup. Without the air-conditioning, my Cintiq heats up and starts scorching my fingers. A small selfish part of me keeps praying for the backup to die. It would cut this torture short and give me a temporary respite. It doesn’t happen. The tablet continues to heat up…the air around keeps pace.

The power comes back on 30 minutes earlier than expected. Awesome! A quick breakfast and I am back to work. And then it hits me. The artwork that I was working on was complex and it would take me a very long time to finish it. Especially if I took all those breaks that the Doctor advised. So I do the unthinkable – with my fingers crossed, I take my chances. I decide to work non-stop (except for the loo-breaks) until I am done with my work. I am hopeful that I’d be done by 4 PM. I strike gold – finish the sketch on time – but with an angry red boil on the side of my little finger.

I should’ve been happy that it was done – I should’ve given my tired me a break from work, but I couldn’t. All through the day, I was nagged by the thought that a part of the concept didn’t appear convincing…and I had to handle it somehow. What the client wants is something that you must create, but what your conscience suggests is something that you mustn’t ignore. So I return to my art-mate, sketching furiously – creating an option that would take out the thorn from me side. Providing a possible alternate to something that I feel may potentially harm the client, is my job – or so I think. All that extra work – Not pragmatic? Perhaps…but it leaves me more at peace with myself.

So I work three extra hours and upload the sketches by 7 PM.

Delivered as promised; delivered as it should’ve been 🙂

It made me feel good…but what made me feel blessed was the fact that this morning, I woke up feeling OK, except of course the blistered finger, which reminds me that if these tiny things are beginning to register again, I must be feeling better. I know I haven’t yet healed completely, and by working 13 hours at a stretch, I had taken a chance that I shouldn’t have. And yet…

Right now, I am feeling blessed. Frazzled but blessed.

Feeling blessed - a pen and ink drawing - shafali's art. Artists and Commissions.

Feeling frazzled but blessed!

PS: Need those gloves…pronto – and yet, a delivery deadline met so… despite a blistered finger, feeling blessed 🙂 After all Happiness is…

 

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

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

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

Here’s one of those images.

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

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

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

The Caricaturist develops a hobby and goes to the Dark-side…

The folksy-folks aren’t going to like it one bit. The caricaturist they knew so well has gone to the dark-side. The dark-dorks are going to love me for it. They loved me when I drew Ozzy Osbourne and I know they are going to be super-pleased with me when they see the dark child of my artistic labor.

Among other things that I’ve been either working on or trying hard to work on, is developing a hobby. Developing a hobby is easy when you do mundane stuff all through the day and you want a break so you do something colorful and interesting that relaxes you – but when all you ever do is scribble, draw, paint, write, and doodle….you’ve exhausted all that’s colorful – so either you must do something terribly boring for a hobby (Cooking and cleaning?) or you must stretch one of the things that you do to a point where it becomes even more colorful…and then you do it without the pressure of meeting deadlines.   I chose the second – and I painted flowers – then I moved to painting houses…

And the best part of hobby-drawing is – you don’t have to show it to anyone 🙂 So…no links!

Wowie!

PS: I’ve acquired this hobby recently, and like a newly acquired puppy, my hobby needs to be trained – it must understand that I cannot indulge it whenever it fancies – but until I am able to train it…I must give in, so I must return and complete the witch-house that I am painting 🙂

The Tragedy of Trilogies

I am on the Edge of Eternity, trying to get past the Winter of the World, but the ghost of Divergent doesn’t stop haunting me. So here I am – venting it out in this post.

It all started because I didn’t follow a simple rule. The rule of sequence. The rule that must always be followed when you read trilogies. A trilogy is a story written in three parts. These parts are written sequentially…obviously. They must be read sequentially…obviously. Well…not necessarily, but if you really want a strong, immersive experience – you must read them as the author wrote them – sequentially.

With Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, I broke that rule. I read Fall of Giants three years ago. Then bad stuff started happening around me (the way it happens in horror movies – where the bout of bad doesn’t seem to stop…) To make matters worse I bought the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth and half-way through the second book, I nearly gave up reading. (BTW, between Divergent the movie and Divergent the novel – the movie was a lot better, but even the movie couldn’t keep me awake! But I am diverging…oops! digressing…) So I stopped reading for a while but kept drawing and painting – mostly commissioned work. During my reading-blackout, Ken Follett got badly bitten by the historical fiction bug and Fall of  Giants became the first book in a trilogy.

Unaware of these developments, I received Edge of Eternity, the third book, as a gift. I expected myself to devour it. I did…until I was about half way, and John Kennedy was shot dead. From my extremely narrow viewpoint, Kennedy was the most interesting character in the book, and I sort of enjoyed reading about his escapades with the White House Interns (how cheap of me!) So when he left the plot (of the story) I gave up – not because he left, but because I almost got carpal tunnel syndrome trying to hold that heavy book upright. That book makes you want to buy a Kindle!

Then I did the unexpected. I ordered the middle-book in the trilogy. Why? Mainly because I’m like Hercule Poirot. No, I don’t look like him, and my head isn’t shaped like an egg! I am like him in my love for symmetry and whole-ness. I had book #1 and I had book #3…so I had to have book #2!

Now I have all the three books. I know that if I applied myself to the pages of Winter of the World, I will read it…and yet,

I hope that authors would stop writing trilogies. A concept can be spread only so thin, or you begin to see the holes, and stories can be the told the same way only so many times, or you begin to fall asleep!

That ends my book-rant. Oh, look. I feel better already!

 

Father’s Eyes Fastened to the Summer-skies…

I wrote the first three parts of this poem in June, when I hadn’t experienced the severity of pain that accompanies the death of loved one. That was also when I had drawn the illustration that accompanies it. Now, struggling to cope with my own loss, trying to understand the vast emptiness that accompanies death; I find it almost impossible to fathom the pain of a father whose daughter was brutally raped, murdered, and then hung from a tree. That dreadful sight would never leave him – not ever, not until he breathes his last. His pain would be far greater than the one that I struggle to numb now.

Some of you must’ve read about the rapes that had left India crushed. The one that forced me to write this poem is the notorious Badaun Gang Rape case. It happened in June this year, when fire rains from the cerulean skies and not a speck of white can been seen anywhere; and when every villager in India looks up to find the first traces of those kind dark clouds. In one of the cases, when the father tried to lodge a complaint that his daughter had gone missing, the officer “mocked him, ripped up his complaint and told him to come back in the morning.” Later someone (a policeman, according to some,) came to the father and told him that his daughter and her cousin were hanging from a tree.

After Nirbhaya’s Gang Rape and Murder in Delhi, this incident shook the nation to its core, and yet, these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. We have evils working cross-purpose. female feticide vs. gang-rapes. Which is a bigger evil? There’s a vicious cycle that connects them – these evils, they feed each other.

I added the fourth part this morning. The empty pockets that death creates in our hearts is something that you cannot project upon yourself. I couldn’t have written the fourth part in June, but now I know that her father’s eyes will stop searching the summer-skies only when he will die.

 

Father's eyes - A poem on rapes and murders in rural india - contextual to the Badaun Rape case and Nirbhaya Rape case.

These words poured out of me, as I typed almost mechanically, trying to read my own words through a hazy curtain of tears.

I hope against hope, I cross my fingers and wish him peace…and yet I know…I saw the father’s eyes when the media hounded him down and talked to him – that image is sealed in his eyes – it will stay there forever, until he dies.

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.