Portrait Painting: US Senator John Boozman of the Republican Party – for the TBP Magazine.

This blog has usually brought you my caricatures and cartoons. However, before starting this blog, I had been mostly dedicated to portraiture. I believe that all other types of art, one must be reasonably adept at portraiture, because they hold the key to understanding proportions. Only when you know the rules, you become good at breaking them. Similarly, you must be good at understanding the correct proportions and placements of the human features, before you start exaggerating them.

Today, while rummaging through my old files (on the computer,) I came across two portraits that I did for the TBP magazine in 2016. One of Senator John Boozman and the other of William Conner Eldridge Jr. He is a member of the Democratic Party. For the  2016 U.S. Senate election in Arkansas, he was the nominee of the party, and that was how I came to paint his portrait.

Here’s the portrait of Senator John Boozman that appeared in the Jan-Feb 2016 issue of the TBP Magazine.

Conner Eldridge’s portrait soon 🙂

You can find the writer me at: http://instagram.com/shafalianand/

Tribal Pen and Ink Portraits: A Gadaba Woman with her neck-rings.

Did this portrait as a diversion from the rather mundane task of editing my novel.

The Gadabas are an Eastern Indian Tribe of Odisha and Andhra. The Gadaba women wear two silver rings around their necks (called Khagla) that together weight between 1 and 1.5 kgs. These rings are never removed (require a blacksmith’s expertise for removal) are removed only after death.

A Young Gadaba Tribal Woman with Silver Neckrings - A Pen and Ink Portrait

A Gadaba Woman. Medium: Pen and Ink on Acid Free Strathmore 9″x12″

It isn’t easy…

I have closed my eyes and tries imagining the rings around my neck – weighing down upon my clavicle when I sit or stand, hitting against my bones when I run, and pushing against my neck when I turn my side to sleep. I don’t think I could wear them for even a few hours – but then habituation is such a marvelous thing.

Stay tuned for my second pen and ink portrait on the Nose-ring, which is coming soon. (You can view the first one here.)

However, the next post shall bring you Chapter-2 from the Unreliable Book of Art History. (Read Chapter 1 from the Unreliable book of Art History here.)

Getting back to work now…

(BTW, if you like any of my works, click/tap the Like button…and your comments are forever welcome.)

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

——————–Reposting from 2011———————-

(The Original Post with its Comments can be read here.)

Presenting Ajit Ninan, the Indian Cartoonist who breaks all established standards of quality in cartooning.

Caricature, Cartoon, Portrait, Sketch, or Drawing of Ajit Ninan, the Great Indian Cartoonist (Times of India.)

I foraged the web to ferret out some information on Ajit Ninan, but returned empty-handed. I don’t know when he celebrates his birthday, I don’t really know a lot about his early life, and except for a few details, I know nothing about his professional life.

So what does the Caricaturist do when faced with a blank page?

She closes her eyes and lets her thoughts travel into the past, where she sees a young boy with a dimpled smile, who would become the Ajit Ninan whose drawings tell her that there are people who refuse to kill their skill – come what may.

Here’s the story of this little boy, who became one of the two Indian Cartoonists who’ve made me experience both pride and joy in equal measures.

The Caricaturist concocts a story:

Leave the Roses and Embrace the Thorns

He loved the afternoons. Hyderabadi afternoons were scathingly hot during this time of the year but the heat didn’t deter him from enjoying them. He’d walk back from school with his friends, feeling under the hot glare of the Sun on his brow, his arms, and his spindly legs only half covered by the shorts of his school uniform; but he always looked forward to the afternoons. They were his to do whatever his heart desired. Deep inside he felt that whatever he might end up doing all his life – these afternoons would remain etched in his memories forever.

This was one of those unforgettable afternoons. Ajit had returned from school, and after a quick snack of Idiyappam that his mother had made for him, he was now lying on his stomach, with his feet up in the air – letting the coolness of the marble floor seep into his body. His sketchbook lay open in front of him and propped upon his left elbow, he drew in it feverishly. He had wanted to finish the drawing of that toy car before his father arrived home from work. He looked over his shoulder to check the clock in the living room. It was past four already!

He returned to his drawing, and then drew away to look at the whole picture. What should he do with wheel? Should it be a little bigger? Would it look funnier if he made it bigger…a lot bigger than the other one?

Thoughts swirled about in his mind, blocking everything else…reducing the sounds around him to an unrecognizable medley – the slight hum of his mother’s voice in the kitchen, the distant din of the vendors in the street, even the creaking sound of the door opening…

So when he heard his name being called in his father’s loud but stern voice, Ajit almost jumped out of his skin. The drawing pencil shot out of his hand and landed under his table that was set near the window, and his sketchbook lay open on the floor – the proof of his being a wayward son.

“What are you doing?”
“Nothing, Father.”
“Doesn’t look like nothing to me,” his father took a step forward. Ajit shrunk away. He wished he had listened to his intuition, but then his father never came home early. What was different today? And then it clicked. His parents had to attend a wedding today! While Ajit’s revved-up mind was busy figuring out all this, his father had picked up the sketchbook.

Ajit held the edge of the table to steady himself. This was going to be one of those days.

“You made all these?” His father asked.
Isn’t it obvious? It’s my sketchbook, isn’t it? Ajit thought.
“Yes, Father,” he said.
“You think that these scribblings would get you a job?”
“…
“You think that I am spending on your education, so that you could become a painter?”
“…
“How many marks did you get in Math last year?”
“…
“How many? I am asking you a question. Answer it.”
“45,” quaked Ajit.
“45. 45 out of 100! How you’ll ever make it into Engineering is beyond me.”

“Tell me. How will you ever become an engineer, if you go on neglecting Math for these…these…” his father struggled to find the right word.
“Drawings?” Ajit couldn’t stop himself from supplying the word, but regretting it immediately after.
“Drawings. Yes. You are good at making these – and this skill will help you a lot when you study engineering. These tractors, these jeeps, these pumps…” he continued as he flipped through Ajit’s sketchbook, while Ajit waited for the tirade to end.

It ended, as always, when his mother intervened. Oh, how he loved her. She was the only one in the whole family, who truly supported his love for drawing – but even she fretted about his future. If only he could prove them wrong.

Later that evening, as Ajit sat at his table near the window, absently trying to resolve those improper fractions into proper fractions, random pieces of conversation floated in from his parents’ bedroom.

“He takes after you…all these feminine habits.”
“He takes after both of us.”
“I never got 45 in Math.”
“But he’s as stubborn as you are.”
“I am telling you…he’s got this stupid thing for drawing! I am telling you, I don’t want him writing letters to the black sheep of our family.”
“I don’t think he writes to him.”
“I don’t know. Who knows anything about what that boy does? You have to ask him.”

Ajit turned his attention to his notebook. Those fractions kept changing into cartoon characters. Why? Didn’t 2 look almost like a serpent and the number 8…he found himself doodling two meshing gears into the 8! The “black sheep” of the family. That had to be his uncle Abu Abraham. He worked for this American Publication called the Guardian, but he was shortly returning to India. Abu’s atheism and the way he thumbed his nose at traditions had ensured his symbolic ouster from the family.

His whole body tensed up in anticipation as he waited for them to leave. Ajit’s parents were going out for a Punjabi wedding, which meant that they’d not return until late in night. He could now look forward to many hours of unadulterated drawing pleasure.

Ajit Ninan’s Nonexistent Biography

I couldn’t find his biography, so I tried to glean whatever information I could from a variety of sources, especially from this post by Abhijit Bhaduri.

Here’s the sum total of my learning.

Ajit Ninan was born in Hyderabad in 1955. His parents were from Kerala though. Ajit studied at Hyderabad Public School where he manipulated his way into the library, so that he could go through the Cartoons in magazines. When he was young, he prefered to draw mechanical drawings, which I presume, must’ve made his father believe that his son wanted to become and engineer when he grew up. Fortunately Ninan wasn’t good at Math (I say fortunately, because had he been good at it, he’d have ended up becoming an engineer; which would mean that India would’ve lost one of its few great cartoonists,)so he studied political science, and became a political cartoonist.

Ninan published in first cartoon in Shankar’s Weekly, a magazine that his equally illustrious uncle Abu Abraham also drew for.

Ninan’s Inspirations include Mario Miranda, James Thurber, and Arnold Roth (he used to spend his precious out-of-class-in-the-library hours poring over the drawings of JT and AR.) Ajit Ninan worked with India Today as a Cartoonist and an Illustrator. He then moved to The Indian Express. He currently works with The Times of India as their Group Art Consultant.

Here are some interesting links for you to follow.

What this caricaturist has in common with the Great Ninan?

Believe it or not, I have the exact same lamp on my table that Ninan has on his. I had bought it 15 years ago. I wanted to buy another of the same kind, but failed 😦

Tribal Pen and Ink Portraits: A Dhaneta Jat Woman.

Just finished this portrait of a Dhaneta Jat Woman. Dhaneta Jat is a Gujarati Tribe of Sunni Muslims, that is known to have arrived in India from Iran. When the women of the tribe get married they start wearing a gold nose-ring that is quite heavy and must be supported by black threads that are attached to their hair.

Dhaneta Jat Woman wearing traditional dress and nose ring - a pen and ink tribal portrait.

Dhaneta Woman Portrait – Size 9″x12″ Approximately – Strathmore Acid Free Paper

Read more about Dhaneta Jats here.

 

Edvard Munch and The Attraction of Doom.

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

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

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

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

Portrait of Rahul Gandhi 2.0, Indian Politics, and 2019 Elections.

Rahul Gandhi, the rather Caucasian-looking scion of India’s first political family – so Caucasian-looking that my American friend often thinks that he’s blond; is that young Indian politician who has recently begun to bloom. He’s about fifty and dynamic in spurts, and possibly the most eligible bachelor in India.

I did his portrait a few months ago – a sketch that I scanned into the computer and then I sketched upon it some more, mostly to add color. This is done from one of his official portraits. I like it for its subtle, innocent smile. If he were a woman, I’d call it a Monalisa smile – a smile that hides more than it reveals, and which stretches upon a pain that cannot be understood by others.

I’m sure that most of my blog-visitors must be wondering who this guy is and why the caricaturist is so gung-ho about his visit to her blog. So keeping in line with the longstanding tradition of this blog, I’d like to present Rahul Gandhi’s shortest biography on the web.

portrait-rahul-gandhi-indian-congress-president-sketch

Rahul Gandhi’s Extremely Brief Biography:

Rahul was born on June 19th 1970. His political lineage is studded with three important stars of India’s political firmament. His  father Mr. Rajeev Gandhi,  his grandmother Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and his maternal great-grandfather, were all Prime Ministers of India in their time. However, his grandmother and his father were both assassinated – his grandmother when he was fourteen and father when he was twenty-one. Rahul studied in St. Columba’s, the Doon School, then joined St. Stephen’s but moved to Harvard, then to Rollins College (known to have the most beautiful college campus in the US) in Florida, finally finishing at Cambridge.

As it happens often on this blog, one thing led to another, and today Rahul Gandhi is the President of the Indian National Congress. INC is the largest and the only national political party that’s currently in opposition, thanks to its dismal performance in the previous elections. Today it faces the mighty BJP headed by Narendra Modi, whose humble roots, desi appeal, and charismatic rhetoric had brought the BJP into power.

Rahul 2.0

A weak opposition is possibly what cripples a democracy the most. Unfortunately, for reasons best known to the Gandhi family, in past, Rahul has always appeared to be a chance-politician. But since the recent Gujarat elections in which INC and BJP ran almost neck and neck, things seem to be changing.

Recently, we’ve been seeing a new avatar of Rahul. A Rahul who is more confident, who’s done his homework, who speaks Hindi more fluently, who doesn’t roll up his sleeve every two minutes, and who “bhayya-fies” his audience less often. He’s begun to assert himself as a Hindu Brahmin (not that most of us care…or believe,) and the media too is softening toward him.

I wish him luck in the 2019 elections.

My three renderings of Morgan Freeman – A Caricature, a Quick Digital Painting, and a Pen Portrait.

Artists thrive on the emotions that swing from one extreme to another – and more often than not find themselves holding the short end of the stick. I can’t say for sure if that was the case with Morgan Freeman, when he got embroiled in the #Metoo controversy, but there’s a distinct possibility that he allowed the actor in him to get the better of him.

Honestly, I’m a fan of Morgan Freeman. I love his expressive face, his deep bass voice, and most of all, his ability to remain himself while becoming his character. I don’t know how he does it all.

Anyway, to cut a long story short…

Let me share the three drawings/paintings of Freeman I did.

As the caricature of Alex Cross (2009)

Morgan Freeman as Detective Alex Cross of James Patterson Novels doesn't see the dueling mosquitoes.

Will he spot them?

 

As a quick less-than-an-hour painting by a distraught artist

Quick Portrait of Morgan Freeman - Hollywood-Actor

Morgan Freeman – 8″x11″

As a more detailed pen and ink drawing done from a photograph

Portrait Morgan Freeman Hollywood actor accused #metoo

As you can see, the first drawing is a caricature that exaggerates his nose, which is his most characteristic feature, and it also plays with the deviations. (For a detailed study of how you can make caricatures, please check out “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Make Caricatures.”)

The second artwork is painted digitally and my focus was on capturing the lights and the shadows. My aim was to paint it within an hour, and so I began with laying blobs of digital paint to define the form and then just painted in the main features.

The third drawing was done more meticulously. First, I made a pen sketch. Then I scanned it and did the light color sketching in Photoshop.

For the philosophically inclined, I wrote a post yesterday 🙂 Morgan Freeman – In the Eye of the #MeToo storm.

I also want to thank everyone who responded to my previous post despite my inordinately long absence from the virtual world. You guys are swell. THANK YOU!

Portrait – Morgan Freeman – In the Eye of the #MeToo Storm.

Morgan Freeman has finally gotten on the infamous #metoo list. 

A few months ago, I did a portrait of Morgan Freeman from a photograph. This is the one. It’s a pen-sketch with some more sketching in Photoshop.

Portrait Morgan Freeman Hollywood actor accused #metoo

About the recent #metoo controversy…

One Ms. Melas, a CNN reporter, had set the ball rolling. She felt uncomfortable while interviewing Mr. Freeman because he looked her up and down several times and repeatedly said something to the effect of “I wish I were there,” a story that wasn’t corroborated by rest of the crew as they said only one of those comments was recorded.

Morgan Freeman has apologized and said that he never “assaulted” a woman, and that he’s sorry if he made women feel uncomfortable around him.

Now, men making women “uncomfortable” by looking up and down is something that’s debatable, mostly because a reasonably attractive woman just needs to step out of the house and she’s looked “up and down,” and I know from my experience of living in hostels that many women who don’t get looked become very depressed. They attempt all sorts of harmful-to-health effects to get men to look them up and down – including wearing hourglass waist-lined dresses that pinch their midriffs and walking provocatively but dangerously on stilettos.

And this bit about sizing-up isn’t restricted to men. When a male eye candy passes by, women look them “up and down” though less overtly, sometimes from behind their goggles but often not, and a few even drool open-mouthed.

This visual attention is often is appreciation of the human form generally peppered with some fleeting sexual interest that disappears as soon as the object of attention moves out of their visual field.

The human form naked as well as clothed has been the subject of artistic inquiry through centuries. Artists have used both male and female forms with gusto through the last thousand years, and while female artists of the Renaissance period stayed with portraying only the fully clothed female form, the male artists had a field day painting their models au-naturel. Men have traditionally been more brazen (for want of a more appropriate word) in their approach to the human body.

Now when does this supposed “appreciation of the human form” become the subject of #metoo?

When it leaves the woman uncomfortable. I understand that it happens when the man is usually a dodderer and the woman much younger. When a handsome young man (say, Channing Tatum or even Ashton Kutcher) sizes a woman up, it’s admiration but when an eighty-two-year-old Morgan Freeman does it, it leaves women uncomfortable.

Unfortunately habits once formed are difficult to break, and I guess that’s why we find so many old men drooling helplessly – quite like a penniless child who looks through the glass window of a bakery.

The fact that mature women too experience desire upon witnessing the toned muscles and bronzed bodies of men is overlooked mostly because women don’t gape at them open-mouthed nor move their heads sideways to follow their subject of interest like a puppy watches a piece of chicken. This is so because they have spent their youth being the “observed” and not the “observer.”

In my opinion, Morgan Freeman’s fall into the #metoo cauldron was initiated because with his advancing age he didn’t transform into a universal dad or a universal grand-dad (he was even rumored to have an affair with E’Dena Hines, his grand-daughter from his first wife who isn’t a blood relative but about 45 years his junior.)  His long-formed habit of “appreciating” the female form and such rumors possibly led to his #metoo-ing. Ms. Melas’ journalistic sense would have definitely reasoned that with her personal experience with him and his rumored interest in younger women would lead her to more such women who’d like to share their stories with her.

All this contrasts with what I understand of molestation. In my opinion, molestation happens when a man touches a woman inappropriately without consent. Period.

If looking at a woman’s form or making a slightly off-color remark in her presence would result in being #metoo-ed, I think men would have to tip-toe around women, always careful of what they spoke, how they behaved – and that, I believe would render this world quite colorless.

I think Morgan Freeman didn’t molest those women and if he did make them feel uncomfortable, he didn’t do it on purpose. It’s time to accept his apology and move on. Molestation is a serious offense and l don’t think Morgan Freeman deserves to be on that #metoo list. Let us not trivialize the pain of molestation by bringing every little look and comment within its purview.

Note: This is a hobby-sketch done from a photograph that I admired for its lighting. Since this is a proportionate reproduction of the photograph, please don’t enquire for licensing the image. It’s not for sale/licensing.

Padmavati or Queen Padmini of Chittor.

The controversy that’s been raging in India for a whole month lit a fire under me and made me find this portrait of Queen Padmini or Padmavati from my archives.

The lore tells us of a beautiful Srilankan princess who crossed the Indian ocean to be with her husband and beloved Ratansen, the king of Chittor.

Recently, a Bollywood period-drama based on the life of Queen Padmavati found itself in choppy waters, presumably for tinkering with history. The movie, say those who claim that their sentiments were hurt, shows the queen dancing. A queen who tread such high moral ground that she not just immolated herself but led all other women of Chittor into the funeral pyre to ensure they died with their dignity intact, couldn’t stoop so low as to dance. They are also of the opinion that the movie shows some romantic moments between that creepy invader Khilji and Queen Padmavati, which the producers say, actually show Khilji fantasizing about the queen.

There are too many moot points.

  • Whether or not there was actually a queen called Padmini who was actually a Sinhalese princess the tales of whose beauty had driven Ratansen to cross the ocean and go to Sri Lanka to marry her and bring her back?
  • Who is right? The movie-makers or the movie-attackers?
  • Why we still hear of nose-chopping and head-lopping as the right way to set matters of honor straight?
  • How the freedom of artistic expression be curbed “slowly?”

I’m sure the list is longer than my tired brain can produce.

Queen Padmini Padmavati portrait of her reflection in mirror - Alauddin Khilji's attack on Chittor.

A Portrait from the Mists of Time – Queen Padmini of Chittor (Size: 18″ x 22″, Medium: Graphite Relief Work, Copyright 2004, All Rights Reserved.

Actually, upon reading the stories, I do believe that they are more fantastical than historical. (A question that keeps perplexing me is what happened to the children of the women who immolated themselves? There’s no mention of children anywhere. In the days of the yore, I’m sure that in the absence of any birth-control measures, children were aplenty.  Silly question, I know. Yet, I’d like to know how they were whisked away from a fort that lay under siege for so long that people had begun to starve.)

Anyway, the long and short of the Padmavati story is that eventually the dust would settle. The movie-makers will find a way not only to salvage their 300 Cr. investment but also to make it bear fruit. It’s only a matter of time.

In the meantime, lose yourself in the lore of Padmini.

Short Story – The Goldfish Princess (Illustrated with an Oil Painting on Canvas)

The Goldfish Princess

She turned her side and the heat of her body rushed to embrace the cold surface of the bed. This was why she had been postponing the moment until her muscles had begun to cramp. The cold, she thought, would one day freeze the blood flowing in her veins, and when that happened, her frozen blood would expand to first crack and then blast open her veins, quite like the water that upon turning into ice, cracked the pipes.

With sleep having fled from her eyes, she lay on her left side, letting her warmth seep out of her body and warm the cold sheet under her. She could have remained in the sunny climes of her homeland, but then she would have been sleeping on the pavement and begging on the streets. Here she was a princess.

Oil painting on canvas - Princess with gold tail - caricature and portrait art in india by portrait artist shafali

The Goldfish Princess – Oil on Canvas, Size: 13.5″x17.5″

Almost a princess.

The faces around her, all white, all different from hers, closed upon her from all sides, like a wall. They smiled and they talked. They talked in a foreign tongue that she couldn’t yet understand completely. They were kind to her, and they gave her a bed to sleep in.

Back home, Mother would be thinking that her daughter was a princess too, and so would all the uncles and aunts and neighbors who lived in the dirty threadbare tents that they had hitched upon the pavements. Back home, back at the pavement, they thought of her as a princess with a tiara upon her head.

Perhaps they were right. She had a roof upon her head. A roof that the wind couldn’t blow away. She had clean clothes on her back, so what if she had only two changes. One to wash while she wore the other. And she slept in a bed. She had a trunk to keep her things in, and a hopper window that she could open to let sunlight in when the sun was almost about to set on the western horizon, except that she was usually busy in the kitchen at that time of the day.

Upstairs, the kind man and woman, and their children, they slept in heated rooms, and they went out, everyday. The children played out in the sun, the woman wore new dresses everyday. They listened to music, they watched television, they played, and talked, and shopped, and did everything that she wanted to do along.

As she fell asleep again thinking of the pavement and the tiara, she wondered how long would it be before the four a.m. alarm went off. The woman, her mistress, was not cruel until the girl caused her grief, and her mistress liked to see the house sparkling clean when she woke up at seven.

And the goldfish had to be fed too.

Kindred souls.

Three Portraits for Cover Art – Clinton, Bumpers, and Pryor

I recently did this artwork for the cover of TBP Magazine’s March-April 2016 issue. While it might look like three regular portraits of three gentlemen standing in suits, sharing a joke; the assignment was a challenging one, and when the client’s approval came in the first shot saying “I like it a lot,” it felt great.

Here’s the artwork:

Portraits of Bill Clinton, Dale Bumpers, and David Pryor for the cover of Talk Business and Politics (TBP)

 

The cover:

Portraits of Clinton, Bumpers, and Pryor for the TBP Magazine
And the story:

Portraits of Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, Bill Clinton - for Talk Business and Politics Magazine.

Photograph Courtesy: Bryan Pistole

 

The Challenge:
This might sound like a problem from the GMAT Question-paper, but it isn’t – it’s real, factual data. Mr. Bumpers (the gentleman at the left) is about 10 years older than Mr. Pryor (the gentleman at the right,) and Mr. Clinton, the rather cute looking gentleman in the middle is about 10 years younger than Mr. Pryor. Mr. Bumpers belonged to the expensive and low-res era of photography and so the web isn’t choke full of his pictures (which obviously means that the references weren’t easy to come by.) Mr. Pryor was close to retirement when the digital era began, so there were some pictures of his older self available but not many of the time when he was politically active. However, there was no dearth of pictures, as far as Mr. Clinton is concerned.

But this is just one part of it.

I needed to paint all the three gentlemen as they looked in the past; as their younger selves. That and the differences in their heights – all that had to factored in while creating this artwork. I enjoyed the challenge and also the fact that I was drawing and painting portraits for a change 🙂

So that’s that. Coming up soon is a post by the writer in me.

 

Queen Elizabeth II becomes the Longest-reigning British Monarch.

Queen Elizabeth II (British Monarch: 6 February 1952 to Present.)Caricature Portrait Color Painting of Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest reigning monarch of Britain. Overtakes Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria who reigned as the Queen of United kingdom from 20 June 1837  to 22 January 1901, and who also remote-ruled India from 1 May 1876 to 22 January 1901, has been dethroned as the longest reigning British Monarch by Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Victoria was Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great-grand-mother, so she might’ve been genetically pre-disposed to long reigns.  Queen Elizabeth II never ruled India. (her reign upon the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Nations began on 6 February 1952, almost 7 years after India gained independence from the British.)

And yet, the fascination of the British with their monarchy never fails to amuse me. Perhaps they love to keep alive their connection with their glorious past, when the British, being the tiny nation they were, had conquered more than half the world. I don’t understand the reason why, and yet and as an artist I can’t marvel at the beauty of her crown, her dress, and her bearing. This is perhaps why I painted her caricature a couple of years ago.

I’ll end with an honest quote from Her Majesty The Queen.

I have to be seen to be believed.
– Queen Elizabeth II

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.

 

Yuki’s Portrait – Novel Cover Art for Galaxy Police by Barbara G.Tarn

I worked on a novel cover this week, and loved the experience.

Here’s the Cover of Star Minds’ Interregnum – Galaxy Police, a book by Barbara G. Tarn.

Cover Art for Novel - Face of Chinese Woman Galactic Police of Star Mind series by Author Barbara G. Tarn
Visit http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014QDXQXE to download the book, and http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com to visit the author’s blog.

About my Client and the Author Barbara G. Tarn:

Working with Barb is always a fantastic experience. She gives me a lot of independence, allows me to add the details that I want to, and accommodates my idiosyncrasies. – but above all, she’s a lovely person.

I begin on any of her cover assignments after I’ve understood the storyline and figured out the role of the cover-art subject(s). Yuki, for instance, works in the Galaxy Police and she has a special ability – she can read clothes. The Yuki I met in the story is a confident woman who has a soft heart. Chinese faces are neotenous (they have childlike features – you can read more about neoteny in my book “Evolution of a Caricaturist,”) and a smile would’ve made her look even younger. So I went for a serious-but-soft look. If you are wondering about what made that look soft, you must look at her lips. Her lips are very slightly parted and turned up at the corners.  As one ages, lips thin out and the line of the mouth straighten in the middle (the pursed lips look.)

 

Do visit “Creativity Carnival – Faces” before you leave 🙂

Behind the Boarded-up Window – Portrait Art: Hat No. 3

Hats that Women Wear – Hat # 3

Boarded-Shut!
(Chapter 1)
I looked out of my window. The house across the park that was directly opposite mine, gleamed in the afternoon summer sun. The house looked like the houses around it, but in my eyes, it was different. I knew that if I opened the gate and walked along the southern wall of the house, I’d come across a window that was boarded-shut. I doubt if anyone else had noticed it. The honeysuckles that grow around the house are dense, and that particular window has a sandpaper-vine twisting diagonally over it – ensuring that even the board would be seen only by those with a lot of imagination.
Those others…their imagination was jaded, sucked dry by their daily rut. But I was different. I had seen strange things happening in houses that looked perfectly normal, so when I saw that boarded-up window, I knew something wasn’t right. I looked around. The streets, the park, the verandahs of the houses, all bore a deserted look. The hot sting of the summer wind kept everyone inside in the afternoons.  I knew that a middle-aged man lived in that house. Every morning, five days a week, he’d open the gate, wheel out his motorcycle, shut the gate, and ride away. Every evening around 7, he returned. On weekends, he stayed home. At this hour, on a weekday, the house would be vacant.
All I had to do was go down, walk through the park, open that gate and walk in.
I locked the house, set my phone on Silent, and went down the steps of my house. Outside, I looked around. If anyone were looking they’d just see a housewife running an important errand. Satisfied, I walked through the park, crossed the street on the opposite side, slid the catch on the gate and got in. I was there. I could hear my heart thumping, beating against my rib. And then the enormity of my action dawned upon me. I was trespassing. I looked around again. Surreptitiously. The streets were still deserted. I looked up – to check the windows. A few were open, and I wondered whether those dark square holes contained a pair of watchful eyes.
I shrugged the thought aside. I could just be lady calling upon her neighbors. What was wrong with it? Nothing!
I turned around and walked into the house – right to that mysterious boarded-up window. I bowed a little to reach under the sandpaper vine and tried to find a hole from where I could peep in, but in vain. Someone had done a thorough job of sealing it up. Then I tip-toed around the house and stepped into the backyard. I was shocked to see how beautiful it looked. For a moment, I lost myself in admiring the beauty of the summer-flowers that grew there.
Then I heard a sound. The sound of a person moving, a few yards away, inside the house.
There was someone inside, and the door was cracked open. I turned around and climbed the two concrete steps that led to the door – battling the issue of propriety within, I opened the door some more and peeped inside. It looked pretty. This was their morning room, I thought. The the flower-vases, the floral curtains; they all suggested a woman’s touch.
“Anyone in there?” I called out, cold sweat breaking in my palms and my heart threatening to break my rib-cage; I was ready to run. The curtain moved, and I almost bolted, but the vision that materialized in front of my eyes stopped me dead.
 I stood rooted to my spot; speechless, and shocked.
This is what I saw.
Hats women wear - hat number 3 - portrait art - shafali - emotional and physical abuse
Why was the window boarded up?
Who kept the garden?
Why didn’t the woman leave?
Other Hats that Women Wear:
Hat#1 and Hat#2
Hat #1
Women Girl Portraits - Face and Hat - Depression - Digital Painting by Shafali
Hat#2
Portraits of Women - Face, profile, side face, hats that women wear - this is hat 2, the hat of ambition.
(Note: The story began with the Clean-Slate prompt, which I misunderstood, at least partially.)

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.

Portrait Art – Hats that women wear: Hat No. 2

Women wear different hats for different occasions and at different ages. The hats also change form on the basis of what society expects from them at a particular forum.

The hats that I paint are the ones that women wear inside, those that are made of the thoughts that crowd a woman’s mind – some of these thoughts are fearsome, others delightful; some are crazy enough to border on the loony, others are balanced and rational; a few of these thoughts must arise to meet the challenges that life throws upon the thinker, and many that are woven with the threads of the wearer’s dreams.

Here’s the second hat.

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

 

I leave the interpretation to my visitors as our past experiences could help each one of us interpret this hat differently.

Does this hat belong to you? or to someone you think you know well? If it does…you are right, because women don different hats at different stages and phases of their lives, and many of us have worn this hat too – not very willingly though.

The hats are still torturing me. They make me paint them…they steal my hours and my days, the time that must go into more productive affairs – and yet there isn’t much that I can do, except do their bidding.

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?

Caricature Illustration: Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson for the TBP Magazine.

Last month I did a full-page inner illustration with a caricature of the Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson for the May/June issue of Talk Business and Politics Magazine. It accompanies the feature article “82 Days At The State Capitol” by Steve Brawner.

Here’s the illustration.

Caricature Portrait of Asa Hutchinson, the Governor of Arkansas, riding an elephant and pulling the state capitol building in a lasso - Inner Illustration for Talk Business and Politics Magazine.

The Drawing/Painting Experience:

Right from the beginning, the concept pulled me in. I like to draw animals and I love to experiment with angles (a three-fourth view of the human face is far more interesting than its side-profile,) and perspectives (the illusion of depth). This artwork promised to enthrall me on all counts. To make matters more interesting, this artwork had to be loaded with tons of information. It was supposed to encapsulate everything that Asa and his team focused upon, since they got down to work some three months ago. My job was to figure everything in, without compromising the integrity and the aesthetics of the artwork.

The objects that are being flung around the state capitol building, present the story: the spying drones, the ten commandments, the urine samples from the homeless (trafficking of clean-urine? What is the world coming to?), gay-marriages, cursive-writing/computer-coding in schools (cursive writing has been made part of the curriculum in Arkansas schools – thank god for small mercies!)…and so on.

All this and the Caduceus, the dollar-plant, the task-force carpet…and of course, the trundling Capitol Hill building…they all add to the dynamics of the scene.

Now I must don my writer-hat and return to my writing desk. The Caricaturist has evolved, the Cartoonist is next in line 🙂

The Cartoon Avatar of the Caricaturist changes into a Caricature Avatar!

How my Smart Avatar saved its Job.

If you’ve been here before, you probably remember the cartoon-sketch that was employed as my online avatar.
Whenever I’d look at it, it looked worse than before. I wondered why. Perhaps after five years of hard work it was beginning to crack under the pressure of its job.  I concluded that a heart-to-heart chat between my avatar and me was in order.

I invited my avatar over for a cup of cardamom-ginger tea and gently broached the topic.

“You’ve worked hard all these years,” I said, pausing a little to watch its reaction. It sat there listening intently, quirking its brow a little when I paused, so I hastily continued.

“And you never took a day off…,” I noticed my avatar stiffen. I could also see tiny beads of perspiration on its forehead. It knew what was coming. Shit! I crossed my fingers and prayed that it won’t cry. I couldn’t handle tears!

Then my avatar squared up its shoulders and looked me in the eye. “Are you firing me?”

The question hit me like a missile. That’s what I was doing, wasn’t I? Firing my ambassador, my avatar – someone who had stood by me through the thick and thin of these five years! I was a heartless harridan trying to browbeat my avatar into retiring. 

“What?” my avatar was still looking at me with searching eyes, expecting a…a confirmation of its fears, I suppose.

“Firing you? C’mon, get real! The thought never crossed my mind.” I knew that my voice rang hollow.

My avatar could hear the lack of conviction in my voice. “Is it because I don’t look nice? I am rather plain, am I not?” it asked.

“Umm…you could use a little color, I suppose, but…” I answered. It was a catch-22, I’d get caught, whichever way I went.

“Then don’t fire me – just paint me to look more like you. An implant in the chin, a change of hair-style, and some color – that’s all I need to  look more like you and fit in better with your work.”

I looked into the eyes of my avatar.

shafali-avatar-120-sharp

It was plain indeed. Just a few squiggles here and there – more of a cartoon than a caricature, but it was right. My avatar was smarter than me, and it had a solution – and it could be implemented in a few hours! My avatar had on-the-job experience of 5 years; it was recognized by visitors, readers, clients, and even my Facebook friends; and it was smart too. I would be an idiot to let it go!

And so my friends, here’s my new, improved avatar 🙂 

Caricature, Portrait, Cartoon Avatar - Shafali the Caricaturist.