Discovering the Artist within me (Part II) – Classification.

Artists are classified. Period.

Ironically, periods are what classify artists, as do schools and styles. And if you apply paint on canvas, you’ll automatically be classified as a kind of artist, or your art shall be called a mix of styles.

In past several days, I  have had the opportunity of interacting with an amazing young woman. I draw and paint what I want, and having never set foot in an art school until recently, I’ve been both positively and negatively blessed. Positively because I still think the way I want to and I continue to question what I don’t understand, and negatively because the techniques of art are difficult to come by.

This young person is a vibrant combination of intellect and creativity, and her thoughts on art are mature beyond her years. My learning from her has led me reflect upon what My illustrations done for the purpose of exemplifying articles and news, and my caricature renditions of people for the purpose of satire and/or humor notwithstanding, I draw and paint:

  • My thoughts that often take the form of expressions, faces, mountains, animals of all ilk.
  • My memories that fluctuate between the light and dark but often get personified/morphed into my physical experiences.
  • Motion, speed, acceleration for everything around us is perpetually in motion.
  • Colors – washes, splashes, blobs…but all to bring out my thoughts in a visual format.

My young friend tells me that the artist within me may have surrealistic leanings. I do love Dali’s surrealist renderings, but I’m not sure if I would eventually paint like that. Dreams are different from thoughts – thoughts are anchored in logic; dreams break those anchors, allowing the thoughts to fly aimlessly, meeting other thoughts that they were never supposed to meet, and populating a landscape to give birth to surrealism. The elements of surprise, the realistic treatment of people, animals, and objects – they were the hallmarks of Dali’s paintings.

Oh, now that I’m reminded of Salvador Dali, I must show you the caricature that I did of him a few years ago. A simple pencil rendering, nothing much – but one day, I shall paint him the way he would’ve painted himself, surrealistically.

-artist-salvador-dali-mustaches-moustaches-surrealism-surrealist-caricature-of-dali.jpg

My take on Dali’s work has always been of wondrous respect.

Right now, I stand on a spiritual event horizon. If I cross over, I may not return; if I don’t, I won’t know what lies on the other side. But from the windows of time that rush past me at lightening speed, I’ve been able to catch a few glimpses and those glimpses must be translated into sketches…those sketches might get me my visa to the other side. I just hope that it’s a tourist visa and that it comes with a free return ticket.

 

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Emotions & Expressions – Part I – And the Lefty-Lefty Bond.

Emotions lead to expressions and without expressions, caricatures are merely dead drawings, only marginally better than portraits. To breathe life into caricatures we must attempt to reflect their emotions on their faces, even postures.

According to Robert Plutchick there are 8 basic emotions:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Joy
  • Disgust
  • Surprise
  • Trust
  • Anticipation

If the list was limited to these 8 emotions, and corresponding 8 expressions, the caricaturists would have been a happy lot. The problem lies in the following two facts:

  • humans experience these emotions in different degrees – thus, the intensity of fear could cause either a slight tingling of the spine or a need to…scat. Thus, one might be “apprehensive” or “scared to death.”
  • humans often experience a mix of different emotions and not a single, isolated emotion. We experience a combination of anger, fear, and sadness when we experience jealousy; a concoction of sadness and disgust when we are dumped in love; and a heady mix of anticipation and joy while falling in love.

The following drawing (a very rough sketch. Allow me to quickly blame it on bad lighting and a crick in my neck painstakingly acquired through my bad posture,) too presents a mix of emotions. Which ones can you identify?

Anxious, worried, troubled, afraid, angry? Emotions and Expressions - Caricatures and Cartoons

A sketch from my sketchbook – Photographed in horrible light.

And now…a story 🙂

I was at the bank waiting in a long queue.

I ask you. What does an artist do when she must kill time?

Correct Answer: She draws.

So standing between a rather large gentleman in front and a rather skinny lady behind, I drew out my sketchbook and began sketching.

I ask you again. What happens to an artist when she starts drawing?

Correct Answer: She loses touch with her surroundings.

So as I furiously sketched some furious looking faces from my imagination, I lost touch with reality. People who stood around me realized that they could kill time too…by watching me draw.

I ask you, one final time. What happens when a small crowd begins to watch an artist?

Correct Answer: One of the interested onlookers decides to destroy the artist’s peace.

So while I was floating on a different and rather enlightened plane, hanging safely from the parachute of peace, I heard a chirpy voice, which sliced through the fabric of my metaphysical parachute and sent me hurling back to the harsh terrain of reality.

“Ooooooooh…,” cooed the young fashionista who had materialized in the bank while I was on my plane of enlightenment. “So you are left-handed? So am I.”

I stared at her blankly. Oh wow! I thought. I must be so fortunate to meet another one of the 750 Million lefties of the worldWho would’ve thought of it! Somewhere at the back of my mind, I knew that I should throw away my sketchbook, open my arms, and hug the lefty woman like I would hug my only sister who I may have lost in the Thar desert (and who my parents never told me about.) But I didn’t. Instead, I chose to lose that opportunity by nodding at her and saying, “um…oh,” whatever that meant.

The young woman gave me an odd look (expression?) that I read as, “is she dumb or what?” Actually, I was dumb…founded. I guess the lefty-lefty bond is something to cherish and celebrate, but I can’t imagine what good can come out of it.

  • Could it be that if two lefties walked into a bar, they’d get two drinks for the price of one?
  • Or could it be that if two lefties got together, they could change the world?
  • I mean, what difference does it make to anyone, if two lefties fell in love and had lefty babies?

The only thing that happened that day was that I couldn’t complete my drawing, and she went back with a long-face. So when one lefty accosts another lefty with an “oooooooh…” neither gets anywhere!

Now, back to the drawing board to right the wrong…the sinister…the gauche…the…

Oh, what the heck!

 

My Tutankhamun Affair resulted in this Caricature!

First, the caricature.

Caricature of a Grumpy Old Man (Inspired from the description of Theodore Davis in The Tutankhamun Affair by Christian Jacques)

My friends know that I love Egypt. Not the bundle of confusion that it is today, but the Egypt that existed in its glorious past – the Ancient Egypt. Blinded by this love, a few years ago, I purchased a book called “The Tutankhamun Affair.” It is written by Christian Jacq, an author noted for the fiction and non-fiction works on Egypt. My friends also know that I have a marked preference for fiction. When I picked up the book around a decade ago, I had no idea that the guy wrote non-fiction too…and that I was buying a somewhat boring biographical account of Howard Carter’s quest for Tutankhamun’s tomb.

I brought the book home and settled down for a thrilling ride that I hoped would take me through both ancient and modern Egypt. As I started turning its pages, I realized that there were easier ways to die than reading The Tutankhamun Affair, and as dying wasn’t on my to-do list, I pushed the book the farthest I could inside my boring-books book-rack.

A month ago, one of my archaeological expeditions yielded The Tutankhamun Affair – a book I hadn’t read. So I gave it another shot.

Oddly, I didn’t find it as boring this time as I did earlier. Either my own boredom-resistance quotient has gone up, or I’ve learned a few things in the last 10 years – things that now enable me to relate to the tribulations of poor Mr. Carter.

I know that the yarn is growing longer – before you get tangled up and are thrown off-balance and off my blog, I’ll let the story of this imaginary caricature of Mr. Theodore Davis out of the bag.

Mr. Davis appears on page 124 of the soft-cover edition.

“Of average height, Theodore Davis gave an impression of weakness.He did not move without a stick, hid his throat with a white scarf and covered his head with a wide-brimmed hat. His Jodhpurs and puttees made him look like a rider without his horse. A thick moustache spread like the wings of a bird covering the lower part of his face. His gaze was aggressive behind the round lenses of his tiny spectacles.” – Chapter 28, The Tutankhamun Affair by Christian Jacq

I removed his Jodhpurs and puttees and gave him a sensible pair of trousers. (Jodhpurs and puttees are both Indian terms – puttees: bandages.)

That description painted a picture for me and I laughed. So I drew that picture for you, hoping that it would make you laugh too 🙂 I hope it does.

Sketching Tutorial – How to Sketch the Facial Profile of a Beautiful Girl.

I haven’t posted any tutorial in a while and I wanted a break from work, so here’s a short sketching tutorial for everyone who loves to sketch.

This is the end-result of our sketching exercise:

Sketching Tutorials by Shafali - how to sketch the profile of a beautiful woman - step-wise.

 

Most of us, women artists included, like to sketch beautiful faces. (I think it’s a cultural thing.) So I decided on using the profile of a beautiful woman as the topic for this tutorial. In this tutorial we won’t be drawing a portrait, just a beautiful female face – so don’t kill yourself trying to establish likeness. Just find a pencil and get going.

Step 1:

Sketching Tutorials by Shafali - how to sketch the profile of a beautiful woman - step-wise.

The first step, as shown above, is to get your tools together. In the above image you can see what happens when an artist gets lazy. Instead of pulling out her camera and shooting a couple of pictures, she just roughs in a couple of pencils, an eraser, and the reference pictures. Once you’ve got your stuff together, start sketching.

Step 2:

Sketching Tutorials by Shafali - how to sketch the profile of a beautiful woman - step-by-step -roughing it in.

Start with a rough outline of the face you want to draw. Remember that we aren’t going to do a portrait here, so don’t worry about getting the likeness right. Instead focus on making the face pretty. So if the lady in your reference picture’s got a really long nose, chop it down to size (with your pencil – if your thoughts turned to gory means, you aren’t meant to be an artist, really!) At this stage, keep your lines loose – you may want to tweak them later.

Step 3:

Sketching Tutorials by Shafali - how to sketch the profile of a beautiful woman - step-by-step -roughing it in.

If you’ve read my book “Evolution of a Caricaturist – How to Draw Caricatures,” you know that I am always drawn to drawing the eyes first. I recommend you do the same, but of course, if you choose to start differently, be my guest. There’s a reason behind my recommendation though. Eyes breathe life into any picture. When you’ve done the eyes, the lady in the drawing will come alive, and you, the artist, will begin to feel responsible for the drawing. Think about it.

Step 4:

Sketching Tutorials by Shafali - Drawing a beautiful face - how to sketch faces.

Darken the profile and the lips to complete the profile. At this stage, it’s a good idea to check whether the features are of the right size and placed in the right position.

Step 5:

Sketching Tutorials by Shafali - Drawing a beautiful face - how to sketch faces.

Rough in the hair by drawing the locks. When you draw hair, it’s a good idea to draw the locks first because they determine the hair-style. Notice that I wanted to space the locks out so I darkened the space between the locks that lie on the top.

Step 6:

Sketching tutorial - how to sketch a beautiful face.

 

Work a little more on the hair so that the direction in which the locks flow can be seen more clearly. At this point, I also remembered the existence of the ear, and shaded it a bit. Artists have a tendency to ignore the ear because it’s…well, a complicated organ to draw. However,  the good news is because people seldom look at each other’s ears, and they don’t really impact likeness – so if you work hard and understand the structure of ear once – you’ve got it bagged (eeks!)

Step 7:

Sketching tutorials by shafali - How to draw a pretty girl's head.

Next add some shades to the face. Notice the cheek that now looks more rounded. Also note that I’ve used two darkness levels while shading the cheek – this allows for a slight gradient, bringing roundness to the face.

Step 8:

Sketching tutorials - shafali - drawing the locks of hair on a woman's head.

Return to the hair. If you are wondering why I am making you hop, skip, and jump all over the drawing – it is because that’s how almost all artists (excluding the hyper-realists work.) We go on adding lines and textures intuitively. At this point, I felt an intuitive need to make the hair bulkier, so I filled it in some more. Notice that the individual strands are now more defined than before.

Step 9:

Sketching tutorials - shafali - Drawing hair and sketching a beautiful girl.

Some more work on the hair. Notice that I suddenly realized that when the hair is pulled up in a pony-tail – between the bangs and the pony-tail, the hair must appear to be darker because of the shadows – so more sketching…

Step 10:

Sketching tutorial - how to sketch a beautiful face.

Add more definition to the hair. Nothing special going on here, except that the front locks now look like they are made of individual hair-strands. Also note the addition of tiny wisps of hair that have escaped the confines of the lock. They make the hair look more natural.

Step 11:

Sketching tutorial - how to sketch a beautiful face.

When a persona stands against a background, the background usually contrasts with the face – this provides form to the face and makes it look more three-dimensional. This is why I darkened the area right behind the front profile. I left the white-space behind the pony-tail as-is, because the dark-hair automatically contrasts with the white-space.

Step 12:

Sketching tutorials - How to sketch the face of a beautiful girl.

 

The human neck is more or less cylindrical. So far, the neck has remained un-shaded and flat. Shade the neck by using lines that are parallel to the jawline in this case. The idea is to create a cylindrical shape through the shades.

Step 13:

Sketching tutorials - How to sketch the face of a beautiful girl.

 

Now return to the eye and the lips to darken them. Notice the slight shade near the nostrils – it makes the cheeks look more rounded and puts accent on the smile. For accentuating the smile, I’ve also upturned the corner of the lips a little. Add some shadow under the locks. The shadow makes the lock look more realistic.

Step 14:

Sketching Tutorials by Shafali - Sketching the facial profile of a beautiful woman.

 

Finally, if you like color – add a little color to the cheeks, the lips, the neck, and the hair. If you have Photoshop scan your drawing into your computer, set the layer to “multiply” and give a color-wash in the layer underneath. If you prefer to stay traditional, bring out your box of water-color pencils and add some color to it. This step is, of course, optional 🙂 If you were aiming at a black and white sketch, your job was done at Step 13!

Sign your work and pin it up on your soft board. Better still, photograph/scan/export it and share it with your friends 🙂