5 Childhood Symptoms of an Artist – for the Parents of an Artist-in-Diapers!

What triggered this post?

If you know me, I try not to tell people how to do something unless it’s about drawing. However, I’ve had about enough of every parent making a future artist out of every little child who may or may not be born to stay creative all his life. (Note that only 2% of the human population retains a highly active right-brain, right into their adulthood.) I’d like all those who love to draw and paint to become artists, and not the vice-versa (either way. Go figure… there’s a 98% chance that you’ve got an active left-brain, so you are the genius,) and this is why I decided to make this post. I expect to be lambasted by some…but I really don’t care – because if you indeed have a little artist in your family, he or she deserves a happier and more productive childhood than your constant meddling would result in.

A quick point to note here is that you’d never hear parents saying that their son or daughter is a born doctor, engineer, lawyer, politician etc. Yet, the moment a child puts the first stroke of color on a piece of paper, they begin seeing a Norman Rockwell, a Salvador Dali, or at least an Andy Warhol in their child. The Indian parents possibly see a Raja Ravi Verma, an Anjoli Ela Menon, or at least an MF Hussein in their baby.

Before I tell you the symptoms and give you the tips, I’d like to make an assertion, “almost all kids draw.”

Almost All Kids Draw.

Given a piece of paper and pencil, every child would draw. My dear parents, a child doesn’t need your constant observation followed by your continual chiding to become an artist. If anything, it’s going to put him or her off art for life. Just because a child draws doesn’t mean there isn’t an Einstein, a Michael Jackson, a Whitney Houston, or even an Abraham Lincoln hidden in him or her. When a child is expected to excel at something that was just a manifestation of curiosity – the expectation and the following demands from the parents could lead to a severe inferiority complex in the child. So,  leave the child alone to discover. Kids want to be something different each year, and they generally haven’t made up their minds until they are in their mid-teens.

Yet a few of the millions of kids growing up at any given time are born to be an artist, a scientist, a singer, an actor…and because their internal need to become what they are meant to be is in their blood (figuratively speaking,) they end up becoming what they were meant to be – with or without any help from their parents. What the parents can do is, not to block the way of their child’s natural mental evolution.

I have an excellent recollection of the things that I hated as a child. These things did make me step away from art many a times. If you are wondering whether I must be pathologically emotional to remember small things such as these, I must make you aware of another fact. If your child is of the artistic-kind, he or she may be over-emotional, over-empathizing, over-sensitive etc. We are all like that. My maternal great-grandfather died when he joined the medical college, because he couldn’t handle the dissection of a corpse that he had to do because his father wanted him to become a doctor and was unable to accept that his son was meant to be a poet.  Remember, that if your child is made for becoming an artist, you’ve got a kid who scores higher on emotions and less on practical decision-making.

However, if you have a child that’s meant to be a normal, productive, practical citizen of the world, and you’ve branded him or her an artist, you are still doing a disservice to your progeny. You’d build expectations around your child that the poor kid won’t be able to fulfill. This will lead to confusion and overall drop in the development of your child’s personality.

While my best tip on this is – let the child discover and choose, don’t brand him or her too early in life,  I know that as a parent, you’ll never be able to do that, so..

In my opinion, these are the 5 Childhood Symptoms that could stamp “Artist” on the forehead of your child.

5 Childhood Symptoms of an Artist

Symptom 1. Notebooks are for Drawing. Period. (Age: 5-6)

Your child’s notebooks and books are filled with drawings that surprisingly make sense to even your jaded senses. Even at this tender age, the artist-child’s drawings will demonstrate an innate understanding of proportions. Note that I am not talking about a hut, three triangular hills for the background, and four stick figures in the foreground. That’s regular stuff. You need not worry that your child will go to the dark side (namely art) if this is all he or she draws. I am talking about newer stuff. Attempts to draw a bird, an elephant, not just a flower, but a rose…that kind of thing.

Symptom 2. Comics are for Looking at Pictures – and definitely not for Reading (Age 7-8)

Your child prefers lonely corners to read comics and other illustrated books. Closer observation reveals that the illustrated pages don’t turn for a rather long-long time. The child’s notebooks are now filled with more interesting and more detailed drawings. The proportions in the figures are funnily always right. You begin to fear that your child is beginning to trace pictures and passing them off as his or her own. If you get that feeling, don’t share it with your child. You’ll break a tiny trusting heart. Others (in your family and your friend circle) begin to notice that there’s something special about your child…and they begin to make unflattering remarks such as, “isn’t your child a bit shy?”, “why doesn’t she go out and play?”, “don’t you think you must meet a counsellor?” – Ignore, if your child is really producing eye-catching drawings during this time. Artists aren’t very outgoing people. Even grown artists prefer the solitude of their studios. Talking to people, laughing inanely at stuff because it’s socially appropriate to do so, is an anathema to most artists.

 

Symptom 3. First Experiments on Creating Likeness Begin (Age 9-10)

Your child tries to impress you by creating a drawing with an unfailing likeness of you, your spouse, or your dog…of the family. While you shouldn’t be the one telling the child that he or she is an artist, when the child looks for approval, you should be the first one to give it. Yes, you need to provide the child with approval not with a set of dos and don’ts.

Remember that even when you force a child to use a medium of “your” choice to draw, you are forcing the child. Let the kid choose. (For your benefit, if you can draw/color with one medium, you can do it with any other medium. It’s the expression of the picture that forms in the mind that makes an artist, not the medium of expression.)

A Piece of Advice for the well-meaning parents:
Don’t Prattle. This is also the time when the child will experience negativity and jealousy in the environment. Other parents will begin to question the authenticity of your child’s work, because you as a proud parent will be brandishing the artwork done by your child under everyone else’s noses – and while they’ll go “wow”, “fantastic”, and “prodigy” in front of you, they’ll call your child aside and ask where he traced it all from or whether you were the one who drew it instead. This will imprint on to the child’s mind and will remain there forever. Trust me on this.

Symptom 4. Don’t Show me Off! I am not a Performer! (Age 10-12)

Around this age, your child’s progress as an artist will accelerate. Recall that mediums don’t ever matter to an artist – nor will they to your little budding artist. Let the child be, and unless the child wants to show you stuff, don’t meddle. Also don’t go around telling everyone in the family how good an artist your child is. It may help the budding singer, the budding dancer…or any other budding performance artist; it doesn’t help the budding artist. The output of the artistic process requires many iterations before it becomes perfect, and believe me, it’s a time-consuming process.

Asking a child to draw something from scratch in front of a group of uncles, aunts, cousins, is like setting up a time-bomb in the child’s heart. The kid wants to please you, and so tries to draw under pressure, and fails to create something that is really pleasing. This remains in the child’s mind forever. In future, your child will either hide the drawings from you, or draw less. If your child is an artist and you know it, let it be a secret between both of you. Remember that a painter is not a performing artist – a painter is an introvert by nature, a performing artist an extrovert. A painter lives in a world of imagination, a performing artist thrives on interactions. Also remember that the right brain is not just associated with creativity, it’s also associated with feelings, imagination, intuition, and mental imagery. So this child will be a lot more sensitive to everything – to the good and to the bad.

Symptom 5. Almost there. Freebies and Desperation! (Age 12-15)

This is the time when you reap the fruits of your labor, either way.

If you kid was meant to be an artist, either your constant ministrations, your attempts to show-off, and your unrealistic expectations have already veered the child completely off art; or if your kid was meant to be next Einstein, you’ve woven a complex web of confusion around the child. This is also the time, when in 9 out of 10 cases, you wake up to realize that your kid drew only because all kids draw, and that now he or she must become an engineer, doctor, lawyer, or if nothing else, at least a politician.

However, if your son or daughter indeed were to become an artist, you’ll see symptoms such as an increased propensity towards loneliness, increased consumption of art material, increased disregard for neatness…and so on and so forth. If you see this – talk to your child, send him or her to an art-school instead of forcing the kid to find an alternative to Napier’s Constant or dissect a poor squirrel. Most painters are drunk on their imagination – so if you begin to see that dreamy look in your teenager’s eyes, don’t assume the worst. Now you know that a dozen years or so ago, you really had given birth to an art-prodigy.

I’d still recommend that you let the artist child be and not indulge your natural desire to bask in the glory of your child’s abilities. It is going to increase the work-load on your child. Didn’t get it, did you? Let me illustrate. I can’t even recall the exact number of free drawings I’ve made in my life – until one day I was so broken that I decided to decline every damn request of free drawing that came my way. I presume I hurt people on my way – if hurting freeloaders counts, but I just couldn’t bring myself to draw for nothing again. The thought had begun to repel me. Twenty years of drawing for nothing is something, isn’t it? Remember that art too takes time, energy, and it often leaves you with lower and upper back problems. The more you tell your relatives, friends and associates about your child’s artistic abilities, chances are that she will be spending all her waking moments, making free stuff that will hang in someone’s bathroom – all because you didn’t want your child to say no to Mrs. X or Mr. Y.

A Final Note:
In my opinion, a real artist is someone whose work is appreciated by the common man on the street – he or she is the one who was born to be an artist, because this person doesn’t need someone with a studied, conscious, acquired appreciation of art, to appreciate or criticize his or her artwork. We all are born with the innate visual sensibility that helps us differentiate between the artistic wheat and the feigned chaff. This is why, a real artist is appreciated by everyone (exceptions being those who have a personal axe to grind with the artist,) and such artists can exist as nothing but artists. Dear Moms and Dads, remember that facilitation is different from force-feeding. Making an 8-year old child take a course in art, just because you think she or he is good at it – is forcing them to change a happy vocation into a duty.

The best help that you can possibly offer is to be there for them when they need you. These kids are different – they are both a little better and a little worse than their peers.

A Parting Note:
Artist-kids (for want of a better term,) have visual memories. They’ll always remember everything visually…and some of them will possibly remember visuals from the time when they were two or three years old. Those visuals won’t make sense to them until much later, but as they mature, they’ll begin to give meanings to each of those visuals. I don’t know how you’d like to use this information, but I hope it helps.

And the Inevitable Disclaimer (with gratitude to the genius who first thought of disclaimers.)
This post is based on an artist’s experiences and recollections. It’s not based on any sort of controlled research done on child-artist guinea-pigs. Use the tips given with caution. Apply your parental instincts to decide what’s right for you and your family.

And yes,
if you know any young parents, share this post, as a toast to all those artists who are still in their diapers 🙂

Oh…before I leave…
I am not sure if it isn’t a good idea to eliminate the possibility of your child falling into the clutches of the Art-demon. Here’s my take on it…of course, satirically 🙂 Download the free eBook at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/89321

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

Click to download in a format of your choice.

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Book Cover Art for BG Hope’s Body-switch Novellas.

I’ve been somewhat busy and rather unwell (yes, I’ve been watching “Mind Your Language” – almost 4 decades after it was first telecast and, I confess that despite my inability to forget that I come from a family that fought for India’s independence,  I just love Mr. Jeremy Brown, played by Barry Evans.)

Here’s the stuff that kept me busy the past two weeks:

I created a couple of book-covers or more specifically, novel-covers for a fantastic fantasy writer, B.G. Hope. Next, I worked on a Magazine Illustration, and now I’m neck-deep into a detailed color caricature (name of the subject withheld in the interest of curiosity.)

Of these, I can present only the novel-covers here, because the september issue of the magazine that would carry the illustration has not yet gone to press, let alone hit the stands; and the caricature is not yet done. The novel covers however, now adorn the books of Ms. B. G. Hope, and so I’m ethically free to present them here.

Book Cover: Ciaran & Harith –  A Body-switch Novella by B.G. Hope

Painted in Photoshop CS6. I first made a sketch as per the concept, sent it to the author for her approval, and then painted the cover in Photoshop.

Book cover art for the novel Ciaran and Harith -fantasy book - by BG Hope

The Concept:

Samantha the sweet witch switches the bodies of two unsuspecting men, thoroughly unhappy with their own lives. The men however are as different as apples and oranges or…to beat the cliche’…as a kindle eBooks and traditional paper books! The cover depicts Samantha putting a spell on the protagonists. Wondering what happens after the switch? You get tickled in your stomach at every turn of the page, but don’t take my word for it.
Kindlers – please find the book here.
Apple-munchers – please find it here.
All others, please find it here.

About the book:

Two men who have nothing in common including their sexual orientation, find themselves in each-other’s bodies. Follow them on their quest to get their bodies back, as their new routines lead them into challenging situations with comic outcomes.

And a few words from the caricaturist: 
“The bewitching body-switch saga”– The Caricaturist

Book Cover: Johnny & Marian –  A Body-switch Novella by B.G. Hope

Again, painted in Photoshop. The goal was to make it look different and yet look part of the body-switch series by the author. I changed the color-scheme and instead of showing the face of the witch, brought her eyes into focus.

Illustration for Novel Cover (Cover Art) - for Johnny and Marian by B. G. Hope.

The Concept:

Once again Samantha the witch, switches the bodies of two strangers – a man and a woman, and in this book, their sexual orientation is  similar –  they both like men. The woman (Marian) isn’t the kind of woman that the Johnny ever dreamed of becoming (yes, he’d love to be a woman,) and the Johnny is a lot different from the kind of men Marian has known. Does the switch work? Check out the book at:

Kindlers – please find the book here.
Apple-munchers – please find it here.
All others, please find it here.

About the book:

Two strangers bored with their routines, rediscover themselves when a crafty witch’s spell switches their bodies. Struggling to live each other’s lives, they land themselves in one comic situation after another.

“A fantastical comedy of errors!” – The Caricaturist

B. G. Hope’s Webpage and Blog.

Caricature/Cartoon – The Witch, the Oracle, the Fortune-teller – they color our world.

This is…well, a sort of fan-toon art. Though I wasn’t consciously aiming to draw anyone when I drew her, I had just finished reading “Johnny & Marian” by B. G. Hope, and I think on a sub-conscious level, I was influenced by the characters in the book. You see, in this book there’s this witch, Samantha. She isn’t outright evil, but she enjoys casting her magical spells on unsuspecting men and women, making them exchange their bodies. While B.G. Hope’s novellas “Johnny & Marian” and “Ciaran and Harith” tell the story of Samantha’s victims and not of Samantha (a story that I wish would one day be told,) it’s Samantha who caught my imagination and made me draw this caricature. I won’t be surprised if I was under a spell the whole time I was drawing.

Ladies and Gentleman,
I present the caricature of the Witch, the Oracle, the Fortune-teller – inspired by Samantha the Witch, who actually is a lot more modern than this lady here – so in the spirit of “Mind your Language”…”a thousand apologies.”

The Caricature Cartoon Portrait Sketch Drawing of a Witch , Oracle, Fortune-teller, card-reader in color pencils.

They’ll get what they want…and deserve!
(Actual Size: 7″x9″)

If you are interested in unconventional urban fantasy please visit the following two links and find the novellas on Smashwords.

The author B. G. Hope doesn’t blog, but she sometimes writes on her friend BarbWire’s blog here.

 

Turning over a new leaf…Spring brings color to this blog :)

My dear valued visitor,

If you have been here before, you might be wondering whether you’ve arrived at the right address. I assure you that  you have. While I’ve made a few changes to its look, but underneath it’s still the same. Nothing has changed, except that I’ve tried to make it easier for you to find my caricatures (new ones are coming…) and that I’ve taken off a few other pages from the menu.

 

A Snapshot of the Changes…

“Cool Caricaturists” will return on the sidebar, “The Evolution of the Caricaturist” can be accessed from the sidebar even now, and a couple of other pages have been renamed. My eBooks (sadly only two so far) are primarily satire and so they find a place under “Satire“. “The Time Machine” page is no longer there on the top menu but it’s available through the side-bar (yep! the avuncular looking gentleman with those soda-cap glasses.) The Gallery remains open 24×7 – accessible from the top- and the side-bars.

I’ve also updated the “About” page. This page used to be about a paragraph long earlier, and it led some of my visitors to share the observation that I am pretty stingy about sharing who I am. That isn’t true anymore for almost every important bit about this crazy caricaturist can now be found on the page. If your curiosity is piqued enough, check it out !

I’ve made some really cool caricatures (Hey, don’t give me that look. Every artist thinks that every squiggly that he’s ever drawn is cool.) I’ll soon share them here. (Now you know why I’ve renovated the site – it’s to welcome those brand-new caricatures!)

Bye then…I’ll see you again and soon 🙂

Those forgotten caricatures…

Dear Friends of this crazy caricaturist,

My guilty conscience is arm-twisting me into making this post, but then just as what you say when a gun is being held to your temple is always the truth, so is this statement of apology, and the contents therein.

I’ve got those caricatures (Keira Knightley etc.) sketched and ready to be launched remorselessly on my poor unsuspecting visitor, but I haven’t posted them yet. Why? Because this caricaturist isn’t happy being a caricaturist, she wants her caricatures to tell stories. So when she draws this caricature of Robert De Niro or this caricature of Stalin, she isn’t happy. She wants to create something like this caricature of Morgan Freeman or this caricature of Hitler!

Shhhh…listen up. Someone’s whispering bad-somethings about the caricaturist.

Alter-Kreacher: Nasty, nasty caricaturist… with tons of gender-bias! She isn’t bothered about her male visitors at all or she’d also mention this caricature of Pamela Anderson – the only one she’s made that can make a feeble attempt of tickling her male visitor’s fantasies.

Shafali the Caricaturist: Disappear, you snake! Go sink your poisonous fangs somewhere else, or the caricaturist will use an 8B to blacken them out! This caricaturist is completely aware of the viewing needs of her male visitors! She has drawn another caricature that’s bound to make the male visitors do a double-take, though she’d advise caution. Remember the caricature of Sarah Palin?! Now go kill yourself.

Alter-Kreacher: <shuffles away mumbling.>

(I’d like to thank Ms. JK Rowling for creating Kreacher and Warner Brothers for making the movie “Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix“, which I watched yesterday, and which inspired Alter-Kreacher.)

Now that Alter-Kreacher has gotten his much-deserved kick-in-the-butt, let me assure you that Ms. Keira Knightley’s caricature will be here soon, and so will be some others. It’s just that I am usually working on about 10 projects at a time, of which 2 are the food-on-the-table variety, and I end up giving priority to those projects. I know…foolish, foolish me. Did I learn nothing from Van Gogh? His methods couldn’t make him famous and rich when he was alive, but at least they made many others rich and Van Gogh famous, after he died. Wondering what I am talking about? Read, “The 4 Types of Artists – Starving, Dying, Dead, and Rich!

I’ll return soon…

 

 

 

 

 

The Caricaturist belly-lands…Crash, boink, boink, boink, scrreeeeeech…ooof!

Dear Readers of Every-kind,

I am back from the past. Here’s what’s been happening since my return.

The Caricaturist’s Hit List Leaked – Causes Bad-blood!

Tom Cruise, and Leonardo DiCaprio weren’t there at the Time-Portal to welcome me home. In fact, I also didn’t see Demi Moore, Penelope Cruz, and Madonna among those who had gathered to welcome me to this timeline. I don’t blame them. I know that your love for me might make you angry at all these actors, I’d request you to exercise restraint. They have a valid reason to feel unhappy about my return – they have found out that they are on the Caricaturist’s Hit-list.

Before you ask my why I didn’t contract Pricewaterhouse-Coopers to keep the list secure, I must remind you that this Caricaturist is the first of The 4 Types of Artists, and that PwC’s price-tag was a tad higher than I was willing to shell out. Nevertheless, I am not concerned. Other than these four, everyone else who’s anyone was there with bouquets of roses (thorns included), boxes of candies, and of course with requests that I shouldn’t caricature them, if possible.

Anonymous Reader and Commentator Makes my Day with a Minus 5 Rating!

… with an Ultra-Caustic review of my Free eBook at Barnes and Noble’s Nook.
Phew! Never thought that I’d get a 2 Star on a book that 4 NON-anonymous readers gave me 5 Stars for! But then I understand that just the way some people who like to donate anonymously, some like to comment anonymously. I appreciate the witticism in the comment, which goes as follows:

“Forgot 5th type of artist…Really bad self-published ones. Don’t waste your time. -5* – By Anonymous”

Hey! Does it say “-5*”?!! *Minus 5 Star”??!!! Oh Boy! I hope that the book didn’t cause any sort of fatal injury to the reader. I mean how terrible the experience must have been! I wish my Zeta reader tons of luck for recuperation. Now, if you are strong enough to stomach the contents of my awful, awful, awful book, check it out here.

If you disagree with my sweet anonymous commentator, will you please make another comment with your persona identified?

I must also mention that this anonymous commentator had the distinction of being the first of his (or her) kind, and so I mention the comment here. All other anonymous comments shall be royally ignored as I tap into the last drops of royal blood in my veins.

On smashwords however this book along with its sister book “The 5Ps of Creativity”, appears on the first page of the highest rated Free books in the Entertainment category. Don’t believe it? Well, here’s the link:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/category/87/highlyrated/0/free/any

Thank you, dear readers, for putting it there.

In the meantime, I invite my blog-readers to share their experiences with anonymous comments. They say that happiness grows when shared…or was it that sorrow reduces…

And finally, I bring you…

The Toony Pretzels – Cartoons with a funny aftertaste!

Well…well! The cat’s out of the bag, the mouse is out of the trap, and the mystery of those missing blogging hours is solved!

I’ve re-discovered my lost love for cartooning, thanks to the Great Ajit Ninan. There’s a lot I need to learn…but then quite like any other artist, I can’t wait to post my cartoons…so don’t go away…I’ll be back after a short break 🙂

NEWS! The Caricaturist publishes 2 Short and Funny eBooks on Smashwords!

This post has been long overdue but there were (and still are) worries that have been feasting on my time and energy. I have a lot of caricatures from the past that have been pestering me for their share of space on this blog, and I really need to get going.

So let me get you up-to-date by telling you that I’ve finally managed to publish two eBooks on Smashwords. I should tell you that Smashwords is easy, clean, and cool – and just the right tool for anyone who’s not very comfortable with the electronic technology.

Here the two of my recent efforts. If you’ve got an eBook Reader, you should download these free ebooks into your reader and read them there. These books have a strong visual dimension in the form of cartoons and they look really cool in the eReaders – at least they do in my iPad.

If you click the cover image icons of the books below, they will take you to the Smashwords pages of these two books. As you scroll down the Smashwords Book Page, you’d notice a table that lists the different formats that you can download the book in, so select the format that suits you best (I recommend PDF for reading on your desktop/laptop – otherwise select the format that goes with your eReader. iPad uses ePub.)

The 4 Types of Artists - A Verbal Caricature eBook by Shafali the Caricaturist
The 5Ps of Creativity a Verbal Caricature eBook by Shafali the Caricaturist.
The 4 Types of Artists – Starving, Dying, Dead, and Rich! The 5 P’s of Creativity

Thanks for downloading and reading. If you like them, do return for reading more 🙂 I also request you to recommend the books to your friends.