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?

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Kentucky Derby, The American Pharaoh, and Jimmy Fallon’s Puppy Predictors!

Saturday was a big day!

  1. Floyd Mayweather beat Manny Pacquiao in what is being called the “Fight of the Century.”
  2. Kate Middleton and Prince William had another child, a royal baby girl, which is now fourth in the line for the British crown.
  3. The American Pharaoh won the Kentucky Derby, an event that was accurately predicted by Jimmy Fallon and his super cute pups on the Tonight show!

Without contest, the third news-byte is the best! A dog predicts the outcome of the Kentucky Derby a week in advance? Now that’s something, isn’t it? How many astrologers got it right? I have no idea, nor am I interested in finding out. All I am going to do before the next Derby is watch Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and hope that he and his pups repeat their performance.

Come to think of it – I always liked Jimmy Fallon. In fact, since after his recent astrological feat, I have begun to like him better than Jay Leno.

Caricature Portrait Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show

The American Pharaoh look alike? A pen and ink portrait of a beautiful horse.

The Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh…or not.

If you haven’t seen the video of the predicting pups, you’ve missed something; and if you had watched the Tonight Show with the predicting pups and failed to act on their advice, you’ve missed a lot! I don’t really want to rub it in, but just think about it…if you had taken the pups seriously…you could’ve struck it rich. Perhaps not as rich as Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, who despite losing the fight, goes home $200 Million richer; nor as rich as Kate Middleton and Prince William who takes home another royal baby – but rich enough.

Readers, we’ve got to take pup-predictors very seriously. This evening, I am going to use my month’s savings to buy my dog a silk cushion and a crystal ball. What are you going to do?

PS:

Speaking of the royal couple, I am reminded of the caricature that I did for the royal couple (seen here on this royal wedding invitation card.) Oh…I suddenly realized that it’s been just four years since their wedding…and they’ve already produced two additional heirs to the throne. A couple of hardworking royals…aren’t they?

Image, photograph of the golden royal wedding invitation card for Prince William's wedding with Kate Middleton.

Invitation for the Royal Wedding – 2011

I’ll see you again…with another work that I did recently…until then…get serious, watch some pup-predictors, and make money!

 

 

Stealing is stealing! Period. Don’t disguise Plagiarism as Appreciation.

This post is about creative effort. It’s about the ownership of content. It’s about calling a spade a spade and a thief a thief.

This post has been triggered by my friend Barb’s post here.

Artists, writers, music-composers – all those who earn their living through creative effort have felt the pain of their work being stolen. There was a time when I used to wonder why otherwise “honest” people are quick to steal the creative work of their fellow-beings; why people who’d never, not even in their dreams, steal a watch, a cellphone, a diamond ring, or money – would quite readily pounce upon creative content and present it as their own. But that was another time, another era. Since then, through many such misfortunes of my own, I’ve discovered why.

 

Why People Steal Creative Work?

I’ve realized that there are three main reasons why people steal creative work (an act that’s euphemistically called Plagiarism.)

1. The Quality of Creative Work is Subjective.

 I may say that James Bama or James Christensen are better artists than M.F. Hussein or Andy Warhol, but there are hundreds of thousands out there who’d verbally slash me into ribbons for saying so – and they’d have a more objective reason to counter me – the quantum of commercial success.

When quality of the output is subjective, everyone wants to be there and do that. And people who steal aren’t really the connoisseurs – they are those who just assume that all art is equal and available in abundance, and that if they steal an artwork, they are in fact, putting their stamp of approval on the artist. In fact, they presume that artists must be grateful for the attention.

2. Artists don’t/can’t fight back.

They don’t because the environment has trained them to be at the receiving end, just the way others are trained to think of artists as good-for-nothing bums who are just waiting for someone to notice their work and drop a penny in their bowl. They can’t because most artists whose work gets stolen are not famous and rich yet – and so they don’t have the means to drag the thieves to the court and make them pay. Have you ever heard a famous singer’s work being plagiarized in his or her own country? It doesn’t happen. But across borders, the thieves find their nerve, because law is often biased to favor the citizens of that country. And so the cross-border art-thieves are safe.

3. Copying isn’t Stealing!

In some cultures, copying isn’t stealing. Parents help the children trace, they help the children by drawing/writing for them, they even help the children change a few lines here and there so that the artwork appears to have been drawn by the child. The child grows up with the belief that copying isn’t stealing. Unfortunately, in art, in music, and in literature; IT IS! Rote learning is, in a way, learning to copy and learning to accept that copying is moral and legal. When a fourteen-year old learns an explanation of a passage by rote and regurgitates it on his examination answer sheet, only to get a perfect score, he also learns that creativity is crap.

Three Examples of Creative Work being Stolen

Stuff has been stolen from me all my life. Some of the things were material and I don’t recall most of them, but some were created with my sweat and pain, and I remember all those quite well.

Among many  such robberies that shredded my faith in the integrity of my fellow human-beings, here are three such incidents – going backwards in time.

1. Cross-border Stealing

Some months ago, I got an email from a German gentleman who preferred to stay anonymous. He told me that a studio in Germany was stripping my credentials from my caricatures and presenting them as their samples to generate business. They even had a Facebook Page for it. I tried to harness the power of social media to stop the studio from doing so. Of my 50 or so Artist friends, none responded. They didn’t want to fight back. (Point 2 in the first list.)

One of my artist friends once remarked that we shouldn’t waste our energy on trying to stop the scum from stealing, instead, we should focus on creating. I’d like to ask the artists who believe that there’s no need to fight back – if someone stole their car, would they be as willing to step back and let the thief have it, as they would if someone stole their art?

Stripping a creative work of the credit and using it – is stealing. Period.

2. Within-borders Stealing

A little more than a year ago, one of the most prominent newspapers here (this publication also happens to be one of the largest circulated English daily newspapers of the world) , carried a caricature that I had done three years ago. My credit, my signature, all neatly cropped off. It was presented in a manner that it cast the impression of having been created by one of the caricaturists that caricatured the guests at a restaurant featured in the newspaper. It didn’t just hurt me, it also hurt all those who went to the restaurant hoping to get a caricature in the style and quality that was mine. But that shouldn’t hurt me, right? After all, who am I to say that the caricaturists hired by the restaurant at possibly a measly $10 an hour weren’t better than me? Remember point 1 in the first list? The quality of creative work is subjective.

I wrote to the editor…she sweet-talked, then she tried to pin the responsibility on a junior editor, next on an external party – never once apologizing. I was willing to let the matter go, she only had to accept and apologize. So I gave up and wrote to the Managing Director of the Publishing House. I never got an apology, but those I know in there, told me that she did get pulled up for it.

Not apologizing doesn’t mean that it wasn’t stealing. It was, and it will remain. Period.

3. Stealing from a Child

When I was in eight-grade, I used to draw pictures (generally, figures with decorative borders) and sometimes leave them between the pages of my books. A teacher, let’s call her SB (those are her actual initials,) borrowed my book so that she could ask us to read the passages from the book. From my place on the first bench, I saw her open the book and surreptitiously drop that sketch in her desk drawer; my friend saw it too. I felt sad, because it was a rather nice sketch and I wanted to go home and show it to my father. Nobody said anything, but the whole class knew that our teacher was a thief and she stole from the kids.

People who tried rationalizing this for me, told me that she did this because she liked my work, and that I should take it as a compliment.

So, if you like someone’s wife, steal her, because you are just paying a compliment to the man.
If you like someone’s pen, pilfer it, because you are merely expressing your appreciation for the pen.

You won’t.
Because your morality tells you that it’s not right. Because you know, that you cannot clad the act in the cloak of appreciation.

In truth, when my teacher took my drawing without asking me, she stole. Period.
In truth, when you take a creative work and make it look like you did it, you steal. Period.

I know you won’t.
Because you know that it’s immoral. It’s like saying that you fathered another man’s child. You wouldn’t do it. Would you?

So my dear otherwise honest friends, if you want an image for a non-commercial purpose, request permission from the artist. If you want to use it commercially, pay for it. It’s that simple, really 🙂  

 

Caricature/Pen Drawing of a Killer.

A bit of drawing…

Caricature Cartoon Sketch Pen and ink drawing of a murderer, assassin, killer - a generally evil man

I drew this in a restaurant. We had gone to the restaurant for a cup of tea and while we waited for our order to arrive, I saw this man sitting a few tables away from us. He was there with his wife and his son who just refused to sit down. The mother was trying to stop the child from running around but the father wasn’t content with his wife’s efforts to curb the child’s enthusiasm. He sat there, glaring at his wife, and this was the look on his face. He didn’t wear a turban, he didn’t have that bunch of keys hanging on the side of his face, he didn’t have a skull-earring dangling from one of his ears, he also didn’t have a dagger in his hand, but that look in his eyes – I haven’t exaggerated it one bit.

This morning I read about parents who kill their children, and I was reminded of that face. According to the data, every year 3000 cases of parents killing their offsprings are reported in the US alone. Fathers are more prone to killing their sons, and mothers their daughters. Fortunately, this number is relatively small – most parents love their children and would give their lives to save their kids.  Yet it makes me think, how many parents are there who lie on the continuum that stretches between life-givers and life-takers? A black and bleak thought to ponder upon.

These dark musings aside, this man definitely isn’t one of the good eggs.

Note: I sketched this right then and there – I had a ballpoint pen with blue ink…so the actual drawing is blue and it was done on a page of my diary. In blue, he looks particularly menacing.

A bit of writing…still under wraps. I am writing stories and I am enjoying it immensely. I think Mr. Farland’s Daily Kicks have made me burn my cloak of fear – I always loved telling stories, now I am going to write them down for the whole world to read. More on that later 🙂

And…

A bit of experimenting. A friend made an FB post on Oppia (Google’s new content authoring tool,) so I checked out Oppia.org and authored a sample exploration. Understanding their interface was a struggle at first, but after five or six tries, I got the hang of it. The tedium waylaid me and I forgot to do a self-review (I often don’t – I am in too much of a hurry to move on to the next cool thing.) So after having forgotten all about it, a rap on the knuckles made me aware of my complacency. But thanks to the lady who took out time to write, I corrected the error.

So if you want to learn nothing much about the Color Wheel but something about how Oppia works, check it out here.

Additionally, I’ve been working on some magazine illustrations. Yesterday I finished working on a cover, which I’ll share with you after the magazine is on the stands.

The Happy Hobo – Happiness is a State of Mind :: A Caricature for the Heart.

Happy Hobo - Caricature, Cartoon, Artwork, Drawing, Poster on Happiness and Spirituality.

Happiness is a State of Mind – The Happy Hobo – 7.5 inches by 11 inches. (All Rights Reserved.) Available for Licensing.

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.

Caricature/Cartoon Tom Cruise – The Caricaturist undertakes Mission Impossible to play the Matchmaker!

With Katie Holmes leaving Tom Cruise, we’ll once again have a 50-year old eligible bachelor looking for a wife who’d stick to him no matter what.

The caricaturist has found the right bride for Tom Cruise – one who’d never leave him especially because he wants to follow his religion. She won’t be mad because he’d want their kids to follow Scientology.

Caricature, Cartoon, color drawing of Tom Cruise and his fourth wife, as Katie Holmes files for divorce due to Tom's insistence of Suri joining the Scientology Church

Tom Cruise, the Hollywood actor who has successfully completed four Impossible Missions has recently been handed the divorce papers by his most recent wife’s attorney. Tom’s been trying very hard to stay married. His first marriage to Mimi Rogers who was 7 years his senior, lasted about two years. He then married the nose of Hollywood, Nicole Kidman, stayed married for 10 long years, then they got separated in 2001. In 2006 he married Katie Holmes, who’s now asking for a divorce.

The reason that Katie’s lawyer wants to cite as grounds for divorce, drove me to draw this caricature. Believe it or not, Katie wants a divorce because Tom Cruise is a very religious man, and he wants to instil the same neat values in their daughter Suri. He wants Katie to join the Church of Scientology so that she may grow up to become a hardcore scientologist. Shame on you, Katie! In this crazy world of today, you are a lucky woman to have found a religious thetan-fearing husband. Well, Holmes doesn’t want her daughter to grow up with the right scientological values.On the other hand, Tom Cruise, a strict follower of his religion, is unable to come to terms with the fact that most people in this world don’t even consider his religion a proper religion. He’s constantly trying to communicate with his thetans!

Tom Cruise’s Problem – A Serious Analysis

Ron Hubbard, the pulp fiction writer who started the Scientology religion, says that millions of years ago, a guy called Xenu (who perhaps was the President of a Galactic federation made of many planets) faced the same problem that humans are facing today – the problem of overpopulation. He decided that the best way to get rid of the extra people was to blow them up and send their spirits to earth. These alien spirits are called Thetans and they are responsible for all human miseries, including the ones that Tom is currently experiencing. I am sure that Tom has done everything in his capacity to ensure that his Thetans don’t bother him, yet…he’s not tried the one thing that could bring happiness and peace to everyone.

Tom must marry an alien from the same Galactic Federation. His Thetans will then develop the right sort of connection with the bride’s Thetan, and all Thetans will then live happily ever after!

BTW, it was Mimi Rogers, his least permanent wife, who had introduced Tom to Scientology. She however decided that Scientology wasn’t her cup of tea and stopped following it. Smart girl.

A Toony Pretzels Cartoon – Defining Loneliness

Loneliness once was a real feeling resulting from lack of real friends and real family. Now…they say that the feeling of loneliness still is quite real, but its drivers have changed. I grew up in a time when there was no Internet and in places where there was no television, no telephone, and at times no electricity. There were times when my family stayed in places where there were no other families around. Was I lonely? I don’t think I was. I had so much to do. I’d bind my own books, make my own dresses (and my doll’s dresses too,) study, draw, grow vegetables in my mom’s kitchen garden, and even cook. I don’t remember feeling lonely ever.

But now, I hear of loneliness ever so often. I hear of kids not knowing what to do if they didn’t have their smartphones with them, I hear of young girls and boys jumping off the high-rises because they were depressed, and I read about women in apparently happy relationships suffering from anxiety and depression. I am sure that the feeling is extremely real for them, but I can’t really get a handle on the causes…

I just wonder whether we were a stronger lot before Internet shrunk our world into a ragged ball of tangled connections.

Presenting…

Loneliness!

A Toony Pretzels Cartoon - A take on Facebook Depression - Defining Loneliness - emails, facebook, twitter, blog - Depressed Woman.

Loneliness is the state of feeling sad or deserted due to isolation.

If you are troubled by this cartoon, you should click the following links:

PS: If your virtual life appears empty and meaningless, walk out of the door into the street. The real world too has a lot to offer. Give it a chance 🙂

Eurozone Debt Crisis – Part 1 of 3 – Explaining the Crisis and Paving way for the new Tsars of Europe – Sarkozy and Merkel!

Read the other two parts of this story at the following links:

Do you know what the Eurozone crisis is?
Of course it’s got to do with debt – but what’s the real story?

I know that a lot of people have tried to explain the Eurozone Crisis and have attempted to simplify it – but frankly, it’s just too convoluted to explain – unless of course, you use an analogy…or tell a story to explain the whole thing. I believe storytelling is the coolest way to explain anything to lay people like us. So here I go.

For Richer and For Poorer
(A Short Story – a Fictional Parallel of the Eurozone Crisis)

In the City of Plenty, there once lived a family. There was a man and he had many wives, and his wives had borne him many children. Some of them were daughters who were married off and were happy with their husbands, but others were sons. In the City of Plenty, there was never a problem of resources, and so all these sons were able to fend for themselves and their families; they lived in the city, they met one-another often, and they were happy.

Now three of these brothers worked hard, saved some money, invested wisely, and ensured that their families too did the same. So these brothers prospered more than the other brothers, who weren’t all that organized and whose families didn’t really follow many rules – in fact, some of the other brothers even gambled were always in debt. This went on for a while, but then the lenders became wary of them – so while the credit-rating of the three prosperous brothers was good, and whenever they needed some extra cash, people would happily loan it to them without even asking them for any interest, some of the other brothers would find it really difficult to borrow.

The father and his wives fretted about those other brothers…and so they came up with an idea and played upon the emotions of the prosperous brothers.

“Why don’t you all stay together, in the same house?” asked the father.
“But why?” asked one of the prosperous sons of this father.
“Don’t you know? If all of you live together, you’d be stronger and more powerful, and nobody would ever dare to mess with you,” answered the shrewd father.
“Okay, but why would they want to stay with us, won’t their families disapprove?” asked another of the prosperous sons.
“No. They’ve got something in it for them too,” answered the mother of one not-prosperous son.
“And what is that?” asked the most cynical of the three rich brothers.
“Well. People aren’t keen to loan them any money. If they stayed with you, people will assume that you are a family, and so they’d get the credit – and then they’d use that credit to do some business, and then they’ll become as rich and affluent as you are,” said the dad.
“Will they?” asked the wife of the most prosperous son.
“Of course, they would. They are as smart as you are – if they were given a chance, they’d prove it.”

Now one of the three rich brothers wasn’t convinced about the idea, so he said he’d wait and watch. The other two rich brothers agreed to it, and they all started staying together – in one big house, and they presented a united front to the whole city. The other brothers suddenly found themselves flush with funds. People would give these brothers money asking for little or no interest. People believed in the strength of the three rich brothers.

Unfortunately, those other brothers didn’t know what to do with the money. They hadn’t had such easy money before. So, one of the brothers took his family on a cruise, another bought a lot of apartment complexes hoping to sell them for a profit, and so on and so forth. They enjoyed the money until it was there, and then one day it was gone…and then one of the brothers defaulted on the loan that he had taken.

This wasteful brother went to the richest of all brothers and asked him for help. The rich brother helped, hoping that the brother would mend his ways. He didn’t. And then…in a few months…some of those other brothers defaulted on their payments too.

All hell broke loose when one of the rich brothers wanted some loan for a project, but he was shown the door by a lender who earlier believed in him. He was told that the city had lost faith in the family. The family now faced a collective crisis, with no simple solution in sight. Breaking up the family would result in loss of face and credibility for everyone, and financing the debt-ridden brothers would drain the resources of the rich brothers. After all, they had their own families to take care of, their own obligations to fulfill!

The richest brother who ran a tight ship, be it family or business; knew that his family will have to pay for the families of the other brothers, and he wasn’t happy about it. He was of the opinion that if the family got together and raised more debt, there had to be some sort of security that the other brothers would change their ways, work hard, be frugal, and start earning…but the other brothers felt that if they were made to do all this, they’d never have enough energy to start earning any way! Thus there was a deadlock…but then the other rich brother who had stayed in the family managed to broker a deal – whether the deal would work or not, is yet to be seen.

Now, here’s a quick quiz for you. If this story was about the Eurozone crisis, then:

  1. What’s the name of the family?
  2. Who are three rich brothers in the story?
  3. Who’s the brother who took him family on a cruise?
  4. Who’s the brother who bought the apartment complexes?
  5. What would be the name of the brother who bailed out the wastrel who took his family on a cruise?
  6. Which rich brother stayed out of the whole deal?

Here are the answers all jumbled up.
Ireland, Greece, Germany, France, Britain, the Eurozone

Important Note:

This is a fictitious story written to bring out the highlights of the Euro-crisis. I must state that the Eurozone crisis also has other roots. For instance, during 2002-8 credit was wonderfully easy to obtain, during the same period the world experienced the real-estate bubble burst (and it affected Ireland in the worst possible way), and recession hit us all – All this exacerbated the issue…and I have not drawn analogies for them in my story.

Read the other two parts of this story at the following links:

The 5 P’s of the Creative Process or The 5 Golden Steps to Creative Nirvana

(Download this article as a PDF here, and if you want to read it in your eReader, download it from Smashwords here.)

The 5 P's of the Creative Process or the 5 Step Model for Creativity and Creative Thinking

Creativity – the stronghold of the right-brained has always invited the envy of the left-brained. Oh, how they’d love to dissect and then logically analyze our brains to understand how they work and what processes they follow.

I am writing this post to tell the world that the mystery is solved and after a great deal of research and observation, it has been concluded that the creative process has been distilled into 5 distinct steps and miraculously, their names all begin with a P! I think I must be the second person after Philip Kotler to have arrived at such a P-articularly P-eculiar P-rocess.

Instead of killing you with anticipation, I’d rather kill you with my mint-fresh P-rocess.

Let me tell you about the 5 P’s of Creativity.

Warning: I stand absolved of all responsibility for lost assignments, irate clients, angry audience, whittled remuneration, and any other unhappy fallout of your using this process. However, if this process works for you, I’d appreciate if you pass this document to your friends, colleagues, spouses, children, neighbors, or even your TV-repairman  (who might be a struggling artist, for all you know.) Thank you. Now muddle on.

Step 1: Procrastinate

The 5Ps of Creative Thinking - A Path-breaking Model that establishes an easily replicable method for Creative Artists and Writers - cartoon-for-step-1-procrastinate..Folks, if you want to be creative, you need to first learn to procrastinate. I find this step extremely useful when I don’t experience one of those proverbial flashes of inspiration – and believe me, there seldom are any flashes of inspiration. I am prepared to go back on this statement-o-mine, the day I become famous – because creative flashes (gentlemen, note that these are different from hot flashes!) add an aura to an artist’s personality…but then that day mightn’t ever dawn. (Sigh!)

Research indicates that the duration of procrastination depends on the urgency of the assignment and is directly proportional to it.

How to Procrastinate Correctly?

In order to procrastinate effectively, you need to:

  • Avoid all mention of other people’s ideas on the subject in question, especially if they are in the same creative domain (writing for writers, art for artists, cartooning for cartoonists, and so on and so forth.) Such ideas would make you feel lousy and inadequate, which isn’t a healthy state of mind to be in.
  • Avoid contact with the left-brained, logic-driven, process-hogs – as they’d push you for what they term as “output” and mercilessly murder your creativity.
  • Devour news and information on the subject in question, whenever you are hit with a guilty conscience bred by your tardiness. It will make you feel less worthless.

Step 2: Panic

The 5Ps of Creative Thinking - A Path-breaking Model that establishes an easily replicable method for Creative Artists and Writers - cartoon-for-step-2-panic..After you’ve procrastinated enough, and when the deadline looms large enough to cover your entire horizon, you have to panic. This is what I do. After I’ve procrastinated enough, something begins to nag me to look at the calendar, and when I look at the date I panic.

Now don’t panic at the mere mention of this step. Look at it like this. When you panic your body gets into the state of high alert and you begin to look at all possible options to get out of the situation, which means you are now ready to generate ideas. Do you see how Procrastination leads you to Panic and Panic results in ideas? You see it – don’t you? Good.

Now the question is…

How to Panic Properly?

If you are to make best use of your panic you need to panic properly. Here are a few tips.

  • Email, message, or phone your family members, friends, and, acquaintances, and tell them that you’ve got to deliver the drawing the next day and that you are experiencing a creative blackout (something similar to what the writers bandy about as the writer’s block). Ask them to help you out. I’d call this method: Creativity Mining. Note: this sort of thing has to be done very delicately…I am sure you know what I mean.
  • If you stay with your family, darken the room and go on a limited period hunger strike! Though your family won’t realize it, you’d be able to emotionally blackmail them into generating ideas for you.
  • If and only if the above measures fail – sit down with your notebook in your hand and begin doodling – sometimes great things happen while you are doodling, just the way some great people are born because someone was out…well…doodling (also known as “sowing his wild oats.”)

Step 3: Precipitate

The 5Ps of Creative Thinking - A Path-breaking Model that establishes an easily replicable method for Creative Artists and Writers - cartoon-for-step-3-precipitateThis is the step where you make sense of your doodles. You begin connecting the dots with the topic in question. With the deadline glaring down upon you, ideas begin to flow. Everything begins to come together, and it coalesces into a beautiful workable idea.

This is also the time to have an encyclopedia, your references, and an Internet-enabled computer close by. Why? Because your imagination may end up ruining your life! Recently I did a caricature-cartoon for a magazine, in which in addition to the main character, I had to draw myriad other things, including an evil-looking shark. I got the main character right, I got the TV and the people in the TV right, but I didn’t draw the characteristic dorsal fin of the shark! And you know why I didn’t? Because I was too damn sure that I didn’t need a reference.

So…

How to Precipitate your Ideas Correctly?

  • Make a rough sketch – especially if you are creating a composition. You need to get the proportions right (or deliberately wrong – if you are a caricaturist.)
  • If you aren’t sure about how something looks, find some good references for it. I mean I couldn’t have drawn Caesar, or Napoleon, or even the Queen – if I didn’t use some reference pictures.

Step 4: Produce

The 5Ps of Creative Thinking - A Path-breaking Model that establishes an easily replicable method for Creative Artists and Writers - cartoon-for-step-4-produceWell. Now get your final worksheet/workbook/paper/canvas…or whichever work-surface you prefer, ready – and draw it – then color it if you must.

This step is easier to handle if you haven’t cut corners while “Precipitating” your idea. My personal experience suggests this step is usually the shortest (“Procrastinate” often takes the longest.) It’s also important to remember that if you’ve “Procrastinated” and “Panicked” enough, you should be really short of time by now.

As any artist would tell you, there isn’t much to this step.

Yet a How-to is warranted, so…

How to Produce your Creative Heap?

  • Sit down, concentrate, focus, and then…. let it all out. (I know…I know – it sounds just like that – and in fact…the relief is commensurate too.) If you are a budding caricaturist, you might find something useful in “The Evolution of a Caricaturist – A Book on How to Draw Caricatures,” other kinds of creative artists would do well to find their own fountains of tips and tricks to help them along this step.
  • Scan or Print your artwork. Check it out from all angles, gloat over it for as long as possible – and tell everyone around you that creative work drains you and saps you of your energy. If those around you can’t draw, they’d deify you – who knows, they might even want to get you stuffed for their living rooms – but take that chance, and enjoy the limelight.

Step 5: Pray

The 5Ps of Creative Thinking - A Path-breaking Model that establishes an easily replicable method for Creative Artists and Writers - cartoon-for-step-5-prayBefore you deliver your painstakingly created artwork to your client – Pray. Believe me, this step is almost if not more important that “Procrastinate” – because it adds that something extra to your work – this is step where you pray and you resolve that if your client likes this piece of work, then you’d never ever use the 5 P’s Process of Creativity again. This is the time when you tell yourself that when you receive your next assignment, you’ll have it ready before time…etc. etc.

I guess most artists do it already, but if you don’t you’d probably want a quick how-to on this too.
Here you go.

How to Pray and Repent for the Characteristic Artistic Tardiness?

  • Kneel, fold your hands, close your eyes, and pray that the client and the audience like your work. In the field of creative arts, prayer is the most creative art of all, so pray in a creative manner – so that your prayer catches the attention of the God or Goddess who’s in-charge of the Creative Department in heaven.
  • Write “I shall not use the 5 P’s method literally and will banish tardiness from my life,” on the drawing-sheets that you had used for rough work, at least a 100 times.
  • Tear the sheets on which you did the lines into tiny pieces, and flush them into toilet.

Repeat the 5 P’s when your next assignment comes your way.

And if you are busy with any of the five steps right now – you might want to download the PDF file for this path-breaking model for creative thinking by clicking the following icon. You can probably infer from the icon below that this PDF file comes complete with a flow-chart that you can print and tack to your soft-board as a ready reminder!

Icon for the 5P's of Creative Thinking Model pdf, which includes a printable flow-chart.

Click this picture to download the PDF of this article along with a printable flowchart!

Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint!

Long ago I wrote a post in which I attempted to define art, purely from a theoretical and also idealistic viewpoint. You can read “Definition of art – A Theoretical Standpoint” here. In that post I had promised that one-day I would write its sequel, which would present the practical viewpoint. This is that post.

Warning:

  • If you are a budding artist, full of hope and brimming with confidence that you’d follow in Hussain’s or Raza’s footsteps, step back now. Don’t read this post. You can come back to read it after you’ve spent at least a decade trying to figure out whatever the heck didn’t work for you. It isn’t for you.
  • If painting is your only skill, and if you’ve got some surety that you’ll have someone to support your artistic pursuits all your life, without of course, expecting success in return (you know about Van Gogh, I presume) still this post isn’t for you. You might yet become what you aspire to be.
  • And finally, if you are indeed someone who comes from a well-connected family, even if you don’t draw, I’d recommend that you paint a few canvasses. The exhibitions, the fame, and even the sale of your paintings; they’ll all happen without your ever discovering why.

However, if you aren’t among the three types listed above, instead you are the more common type (the stereotypical struggling, starving artist who has crossed into his thirties and has a wife and a child to fend for,) you might want to print this post and tack it to your soft-board…or in the more realistic scenario of your not being able to afford a soft-board, you must fold the printout and put it in the only pocket of your trousers that still doesn’t have holes.

Here’s the practical definition of Art.

Art – A Practical Definition:

Art is what sells at the famous art galleries for sky-high prices.

Practically speaking art is nothing more than this.

How you get to sell your art in those famed galleries could be a matter of:

  1. Luck
  2. Slog
  3. Both
  4. The X-factor

Let me explain the above four points in greater detail.

Art Element 1: Luck

You’ve got this fabulous collection of innovative work, and you are wondering how to exhibit it. You get a call from someone who’s seen your work, admired it; and who knows someone who is somebody in the artistic circles. This person comes to your studio, checks out your work, swoons, and decides to exhibit your work in a prominent gallery. Voila! Lady Luck has short-listed you. Now your chances are bright that you’d indeed get lucky.

I’d put your chances that you’d turn lucky at about 1 in 10,000

Art Element 2: Slog (Euphemistically known as Hard Work.)

You’ve got this fabulous collection of artwork, and you lug it around to every gallery, famous, not famous, and infamous; show your work to every body from the doorkeeper to the owner, and you get the boot.  Then one gallery decides to give you a group-show. You don’t sell anything. Then the next year you lug your work around to every gallery – finally, you get a group show, and you sell one painting. Every year the number grows. After 10 years, you get your first solo, and you sell one painting. You go on doing solos. The number of paintings sold grows. Then when you turn 75, you’ve got a 50% sellout! Wow! You are an artist!

You can now tell your family that finally it’s your turn to take care of the expenses. You can now also tell your elder brother that he needn’t send you that Dole-the-Family-Artist check every month.

Art Element 3: The Combination of Slog and Luck

Now if you work hard and you get your solo in a year and a sellout in 10 years; you are a lucky slogger. Chances that you become a “real” artist who earns his bread, butter, mayonnaise…and then later his house and car, in this way – Better than pure luck, worse than only slog. Somewhere in the middle, if you ask me.

But if you’ve got that magical x-factor, then…before I kill the surprise, let me tell you about the x-factor.

Art Element 4: The X-Factor!

The x-factor is a publicly unknown factor, which is seldom made known to the general public by the artist, but which can be discovered if only the public had a keen eye.
The x-factor may include one or more of the following:

  1. High-society connections
  2. Money, money, money
  3. Empowered (and empowering) relatives
  4. The unmentionables (couches?)

I really don’t think that one post is sufficient to cover all these components. I might tell you some stories with the names changed to help you understand why these factors are so effective. I mean you really have work hard not to succeed, if at all you had the x-factor!

Chances of your becoming a famous artist if you have the x-factor: 9,997 out of 10,000!  (I keeping the 3 out of 10, 000 chance as my Get-out-of-Jail-Free card.)

Before I end this post, I’d like to publicly apologize to all the successful artists including the dot-dabber, the horse-rider, the box-maker, the shit-sprayer, the bone-master, and the can-caner!

But…you want to say something. Say it.
Okay. I’ll say it for you. You wanted to say that there are so many of those artists that don’t really appear to have the x-factor…

Observe and Identify…the x-factor.

Really?

  • Figure out whether the lady in question is the wife or the daughter of a diplomat,
  • find out whether her mom is a famous writer and how she was born in a mansion that’s right there in the heart of the city,
  • figure out how an Indian woman born a 100 years ago could get her nude pictures shot by her brother and not get shot in turn, only because she was born a princess;
  • decide why though you can draw and paint almost as well or better than a South Indian king, but you end up in a two-room apartment with a broken, discolored center-table in your drawing room (just in case you are wondering whether I am talking about the table in my drawing room I should tell you that I am talking about another, perhaps a lot more talented gentleman who is about 15 years my senior.)

Begin joining the dots my friend, and turn wise BEFORE you turn old. If you are young, I’d recommend that you try your best to attract a useful spouse who comes in either with connections or with money. If you fail at that, then the best thing that you can do is – join an advertising agency and build the right contacts.

Don’t bet your life on that one random event, which has a 1 in 10,000 chance of coming true (the chance could be even lower for all I know – I just picked a reasonable sounding figure…) If you can draw, first find a job with an ad-agency, an animation company, or a publishing house – and then try to win that lottery.
Or…
Check out one of those reincarnation schemes that assure your rebirth in a family of your choice. What? There aren’t any reincarnation schemes in the market?!! That’s too bad – isn’t it?

A Special Note for the Cynical Reader:

I am not biased against the fine art of selling the fine art. I have also written a moderate, optimistic, theoretical definition of art, which you can read at: “Definition of art – A Theoretical Standpoint”. I hope it will establish me a rational, left-brained, right-handed, useful, non-sinister member of the world community.

Mumbai Blasts 2011: Osama vs. Gandhi – Can we fight Mindless Terrorism with Non-Violence?

Not many of my international readers would be aware of the three blasts that shook Mumbai yesterday, and left 21 dead and more than a hundred injured. I wonder whether we need to assert ourselves more – whether we need to go after those who are responsible for such dastardly acts that take human lives and tell us that the perpetrators are spineless terrorists who don’t have the courage to fight the way the brave and the righteous do – but who stealthily plant bombs and slink away, while innocent, unarmed people die!

Is this a war they are waging on us?

Or is this some sort of parasitic invasion?

Who are these terrorists? Who are these people who order such cowardly acts? Who are the ones who bring down the twin towers in New York, who repeatedly kill innocents in Mumbai, and who then hide either under the ground or in houses that they don’t even call their own.

The Osamas of the World - Mumbai Blasts 2011They are the Osamas of the world. When Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US, a symbol of hatred and discord was destroyed. But actually evil goes deeper and spreads unseen by the eyes of the innocents and the saviors – because neither innocence nor heroism dwells in the dirty dark sewers of insanity. So the existence of that evil is discovered in different forms, in different places, at different times; perpetrated by different groups of people who are infected by the same evilness.

India, with its Gandhian Ideology and its secular policies has always been at a cross-roads. How much can we do without stepping out of the Gandhian guidelines of peace, harmony, and non-violence? How much can be achieved without destroying the secular fabric of this nation?Gandhi, Gandhian Ideology, Charkha - Can it deal with terrorism?

These terrorists, they don’t have love for anyone. They are the ones who’d kill their own spawn if the act could help them in their way ahead. Mahatma Gandhi‘s ideology worked well in ousting the British rulers from India, because they were educated, practical, and could talk rationally. How do you sit down for a talk with an ideology that only seeks to destroy?

With the recent blasts in Mumbai, I find myself withdrawing into a shell. I don’t want to watch the news, I don’t want to look at 4 or 6 or 8 panelists throwing inane paper-planes of ideas on one another, and I really don’t want to read a newspaper that moronically tells me that this evil act was to celebrate Ajmal Kasab’s 24th Birthday or which touts numerology as the reason behind so many people losing their lives.

I am done with all this. I know that I am not too secure either. One of these days, when I am out shopping for a new set of pencils, I might become a victim too. I won’t feel secure, until our Government takes some concrete steps to weed these sickos out of our system and isolate India from the threat of terrorism. Follow the lead of the US – do something. When and why did it become a crime to keep your own people safe?

The question that I ask is – if Gandhi were alive today, and if he had to handle terrorism, would he not modify his own philosophy?   I think that a man of his intellect would know that every ailment has to be treated differently.

Update: July 16, 2011

Read the Common Man’s Perspective here.

 

Honey, who shrunk the Caricaturist?

When I woke up this morning, I found myself in a room sans ceiling and walls. I looked around trying to figure out where I was, but I couldn’t. The place looked liked the inside of an igloo (not that I’ve ever seen one actually,) but the walls looked like they were made of glass.

I began to wonder. Was I abducted again? You know how I am slipping into a habit of getting abducted by different sorts of people all the time. So I steered my reasoning in that direction, trying to figure out what this hemispherical glass cavity could be. The glass wasn’t transparent – it was more like I was caught under an inverted Opalware bowl!

I looked around, trying to find an anchor for my reasoning. What was I lying upon? Uh…oh. It did look like a coarse napkin folded into a triangle. And what was that huge insect-like animal that stood near the edge of the room? An ant? An ANT?! Yes! It was an ant, and it looked formidable. I could ride it – the way they rode that ant in “Honey I shrunk the Kids.” But they were four and I was alone – and I really wasn’t that sure of my inter-species communication skills – especially with no translator in sight!

So I decided to stay put.

I am still lying in my table-napkin bed, being as quiet and still as I can, waiting for that gigantic ant to leave, so that I may get up and explore the place to find a way out. If this is the same bowl that I had set on the kitchen table to dry, I think I should be able to find my way out. I don’t think it’ll take me long. And until then, I might not be able to post. But my dear visitor, I’ll have you know that the thoughts of this blog shall give me the courage that I require in the hour of need.

I hope that this message reaches you, because I really don’t trust the Internet connection under this bowl. It’s too weak – it appears that along with me the GBs too have shrunk into KBs.

I intend to be out of this place and regain my normal form soon. My sketchbook too has shrunk to 2 pixel by 1 pixel and there’s no way I can squeeze in a whole caricature in that size.

Microscopically yours,
The Caricaturist
From under the Opalware Bowl
Placed upon the Kitchen Table

The Caricaturist writes from the Center of the Earth

…and should return by the weekend.

You must’ve surmised that the Caricaturist must be on an errand of great importance – only then would she disappear so completely. Imagine. A whole week without a new post. You know that your dear caricaturist would never ever let you down, unless she was called away for a greater purpose – OR unless an unexpected, uncontrollable event took place.

I have to report that it was the latter.

It happened on the 8th of May, 2011. After publishing Gaddafi’s Caricature, I felt extremely tired – It was quite a job scavenging all that information on him, and I didn’t have the US Intelligence working for me. So I decided to make myself a hot cup of tea. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had run out of tea-leaves – an organized, methodical person like me, who uses innumerable diaries, post-its, and other data-capture devices to keep a tab on everything that has a tendency to vanish. I remembered making a note of the task, “Buy Tea-leaves/Tea-bags”, and adding a red circle with VERY IMP. scribbled in red across it – but I missed it completely. I guess it was because I didn’t open that particular diary for a week, and I didn’t open it because I didn’t remember which diary it was!

Any way, before I confuse you completely, let me finish the story.

When I discovered that I had exhausted the supply of tea-leaves/tea-bags, I rushed out to the unfriendly neighborhood grocer to buy some. In my hurry, I didn’t see the open manhole, and before I realized it, I was tumbling through a dark vertical shaft. I tried to look around, but I was falling at a great speed, and the shaft was pitch-dark, so I couldn’t really make out the texture of walls. Worse, I expected to hit the bottom anytime…in other words, I knew that death was imminent.

I closed my eyes and thought about my sweetheart, my parents, my brother, my dog, and my new-found American friend (and her dogs and her favorite dog’s dad…), my other friends, my office, my co-workers, my landlord, my landlord’s sons and daughter-in-laws, my neighbor’s black cat, the squirrels on the terrace, the birds…the list went on…the prime-minister, the US president, the president’s wife, the Queen, Lady Gaga…and the list continued to grow…the Chinese Premier, Hitler, Muammar Gaddafi, Osama bin Laden, my MOTHER-in-LAW!!!!!

That shocked me! I must’ve reached the end of my list, but there was no end to my free-fall. In fact, it was at that point that I fainted.

When I opened my eyes, I was lying on a straw-mat in a cave. Two cavemen, three cave-women, and about a dozen cave-kids were gathered around me. I tried asking them where I was. The good news was that those cave-kids were smart, so one of them picked up what appeared be a fruit of some sort. He used a stone-knife to cut it into two halves, and pointed to the center. So that was it. I had reached the Center of the Earth!

After a lot of cajoling, the kids gave me a laptop that they had recovered from the stuff that kept coming through the man-hole, and I have managed to contact my family. They’ve contacted the Indian Government, and the Indian Government has contacted the Chilean Government – requesting them to send the rescue team that worked on rescuing the Chilean miners, to…well, pull me back to the terra firma.

I should return soon…until then, pray for the Caricaturist’s well-being.

(Credits: Message posted using the Laptop that the cavekids so kindly shared with me. This post wouldn’t have reached you, if it hadn’t been for those cave-kids and their dream of starting a WordPress Blog.)

Definition of Art…The Theoretical Standpoint!

Note: This is the first post in a two-post series. Read “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint” here.

What is Art?

This is a question that will result in a different answer each time someone tried to answer it – and this itself is one the core characteristics of art.

The Definition of Art

My Definition of Art would be:

Art is an expression of the creator’s imagination, presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people by opening itself to multiple interpretations.

Definition of Art Explained

Let me explain this definition.

Art is an expression: Art has to be expressed in some form. An idea in the head of the artist isn’t art – to be considered as art it needs to be expressed in a form that allows it to reach people. The form could be visual, written, or even performed.

…of the creator’s imagination: The expression should involve imagination. (View Salvador Dali’s Gallery here.) The imagination component would manifest itself in the selection of colors, the composition of an artwork, the sequencing and presentation of content, or even the moves of a dancer.

…presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people: Art has to be presented through a form that generates value for people, or it isn’t art. An expression of imagination that revolts people can’t be called art – unless the revulsion is interpreted as value by someone…then for that person, it could be art. (Read about “Artist’s Shit” by Piero Manzoni here.)  Something that generates absolutely no emotional or cognitive response too can’t be called art.

…by opening itself to multiple interpretations: Art leads to multiple interpretations. Something that is interpreted in exactly the same way by everyone isn’t art. It may have a lot of functional utility though, for instance, the letters of the alphabet or the numbers 0 to 9 have their unique interpretations, and they don’t qualify as art.

However, if someone takes one of these numbers (or all these numbers) and expresses it in a manner that the expression generates an emotive or cognitive response from people and results in a personal interpretation for everyone…then the expression would qualify as art. (Refer to Robert Indiana’s Works.)

Note that I don’t speak of good art, bad art, or even popular art here. I am merely trying to define art by stringing all its components logically.

An Example of Art Analyzed!

Let me now review Mona Lisa, the most famous “artwork” in history, against this definition.

Mona Lisa is an expression of  Leonardo da Vinci’s imagination (note that though it’s a portrait – yet it goes beyond just a photographic depiction), presented through a form that generates an emotional or cognitive value for people (through the form and content of the painting,) for people by opening itself to multiple interpretations. (The curiosity that Monalisa arouses through her mysterious expression, her almost androgynous face, her clothes, her lack of jewelery, and even her background – leads a viewer to his/her own interpretation of the painting, which in fact is the emotional/cognitive value.)

More Definitions of Art:

Find more definitions of art at the following links:

Well…

that was an academic-looking post, wasn’t it?

Await the next installment, “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint!” for a more humorous take 🙂 – Published:) Read “Definition of Art…The Practical Standpoint” here.

Breaking News – The Caricaturist Turns a Writer! Read the Story, “An Archaeologist’s Nightmare!”

Breaking News! —  Breaking News! — Breaking News! — Breaking News!

The Caricaturist is now a Writer! You don’t believe it – do you? Well…here’s the proof. I wrote the following story for Vivienne Tuffnell‘s Short Story Contest. Read the story and leave your comments – I am desperately looking for alternatives – so let me know if I could  consider writing as a possible option! (Well…everyone I know is a writer these days, so I might want to be one just to fit in:))

Note: What you see in green (in teal, to be precise) is the stub – using this stub, you need to write a story. Give it a shot – it’s fun:)

Breaking News! —  Breaking News! — Breaking News! — Breaking News!

Well…

The Story begins…

An Archaeologist’s Nightmare!

Many years ago while Alex was a student, he spent some weeks one summer helping on an archaeological dig. The weather was fine and while the work was quite boring, the other people were pleasant and he found he was making friends.

One afternoon, he was kneeling in a ditch with the sun beating down on his back. He was slowly uncovering something buried in the earth but when the piece of pottery came free, so did something else. Looking down with utter horror, Alex saw poking out of the mud a piece of bone. He wasn’t expecting to unearth bones around here – especially in this part of the dig. But then, nothing was impossible.

Finding a bone was as irregular as it could get at the dig, and all the junior archaeologists, even the summer interns knew that if any irregularity popped up, they were supposed to call others. At the dig, every new day was exactly like the previous one – and so an irregularity was a break in the monotony – everyone wanted to be a part of the excitement.

Alex’s call brought everyone at the excavation site including Laura, his supervisor to his corner of the ditch. When Alex had started his summer training with them, little had he realized that he’d have to use all his ingenuity to ward off her advances! Unfortunately the task of avoiding her wasn’t easy as Laura was very attractive, and also very persistent. Alex’s billionaire father had warned his only son again and again, about just this kind of women!

Within a few minutes a new hierarchy was established for excavating Alex’s find. The task was quickly taken over by his more experienced colleagues but as the finder, he was given the opportunity to help. Randal, a Junior Archaeologist took over the task of brushing the dirt from the bone, and carving it out without causing any damage to it. It clearly was a piece of a human clavicle – but there was something other than the centuries old dirt that was pulling it back…something that looked like a chain.

After a lot of coordinated effort, the clavicle, the neck sans the head, and the chain, all came free. At the other end of the chain was a pendant, which looked like it was made of gold and which had an inscription on it. Randall carefully separated it from the bone to let the pendant fall into Alex’s outstretched palm…and it was then that it all began…

The moment that pendant touched Alex’s palm he felt that he was pinned down to his place and couldn’t move. The people who either sat or stood around him began to turn hazy and then disappeared completely, while the hot afternoon transformed into a cool night. The dig around him disappeared and Alex found himself standing in a lovely, well-kept garden. He looked around. In the north, where they hadn’t begun to dig yet, stood a magnificent palace. The broken walls of the fort seemed have mended themselves and they stood erect and proud, with sentries at the posts.

“Isn’t the night beautiful?” he heard a woman’s voice. He didn’t like the voice. It reminded him of something, or someone…but he couldn’t recall what or whom.

Ah well…whatever it is – I have to play the game, he thought.

“Yes, it is,” Alex said and turned to face the owner of the voice. The woman’s face was beautiful but cold – a little like her voice. She was slim, and she wore a gown that went out of fashion about 500 years ago. Suddenly Alex had the urge to look at himself; he looked down at his hands – what the heck? He was wearing rings. Alex hated rings! On his chest, over the brocaded tabard lay a gold pendant with an inscription, which read “Sera and Zareb”! He could read the inscription and understand it! This was a different world.

“I am glad that you are safe. I was worried. Your brother came back three days ago, and he thought that you might not come back at all, until he received that message from you.”

For some reason, Alex felt a stab of pain in his heart. He couldn’t place the reason – but he had enough sense to know that it was a dream – and he knew that all he could do was play the part. As he didn’t know what he was doing there or who he was, it was best that he kept quiet. So he smiled.

“I can see that you are happy to be back, and so am I, but nobody knows that you arrived tonight – isn’t it?”

“Zareb knows, just him – nobody else.” Alex said and shocked himself. How the hell did he know that his brother was called Zareb? He felt drawn towards this cold but beautiful woman, and he didn’t know why. He knew some answers but he didn’t know how he knew them!

“My dear husband, give me a hug. I’ve been alone for so many months… and I’ve missed you so much!” she said with her arms outstretched.

Alex felt a warm rush of affection towards the woman – he loved her! He stepped forward and took her into his arms. It was nice to be home.

Before he could kiss her, he felt something odd – his head snapped back…away from her face! Before he could understand it, he felt a red-hot pain at the base of his neck…and before he closed his eyes, he saw his own body fall sideways with blood spurting out of his neck, and then as he sank gratefully into the painless unconsciousness, he heard the cold cruel laughter of the two people who mattered the most to him!

Alex regained consciousness in his tent. He looked around. There was nobody there, except Laura who was sitting on a stool at his bedside – not a hair out of place, not a crease on her blouse – it was a wonder how she looked so beautiful and so…

“I am glad that you are safe. I was worried,” she said, in a voice that Alex had just heard, in another world, in another time… and her face was so beautiful and yet so cold!

Caricature/Cartoon – Ozzy Osbourne of the Black Sabbath – A Visual/Verbal Caricature.

Let us SCREAM >>> OZZY!

A Caricature, cartoon, drawing, portrait of Ozzy Osbourne, the heavy metal singer of Black Sabbath, who has been touring the world to promote his new album scream; tries to scare a mouse away - but the mouse fights back.

The Rodent Warrior Fights Back!

Ozzy Osbourne’s Shortest Biography on the Web:

On December 3rd, 1948; a baby was born who’d father Heavy Metal, and whose music would be “intentionally” dark!

This sweet little baby grew up with dyslexia, a learning disability that has plagued many famous personalities. Obviously his teachers thought nothing of him because teachers prefer average performers, and so he was drawn towards more interesting matters such as stage performances.

Before Ozzy Osbourne began his “black” career, he worked as a laborer, plumber, tool-maker and even a sort of butcher. It’s easy to see how all this work-experience may have been instrumental in the making of the “black” sabbath, and the “heavy metal.” Black Sabbath was born in 1969, and as anything black is usually high in demand and short in supply, it met with a phenomenal success. For obvious reasons, the band was more popular among men.

Moving from gray to dark gray to black to ebony…

Black Sabbath released the following albums featuring Ozzy Osbourne:

  • Black Sabbath
  • Paranoid
  • Master of Reality
  • Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  • Sabotage
  • Technical Ecstasy

And then Ozzy oozed off the Black Sabbath for a solo project he called Blizzard of Ozz (How creative!) Things didn’t work out until 1980, when Ozzy’s wife (ahem! Well yes. Brand new grapevine starting here has it that whenever a woman spent a night with Ozzy in the morning she’d leave looking like Ozzy’s double. Looking at Ozzy’s face in the darkness of the night had that effect on them. (see picture above) – but Sharon survived it all. The next morning she was as pretty as she was the night before – and so Ozzy slipped one of his many rings on her ring finger and they became an item (read: got married.) BTW, Another survivor was his first wife Thelma Rieley. Amazing women – both!

To make a long story short – Ozzy went on singing… there were many other albums…here’s a list (as always thanks to Wikipedia.)

  • Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
  • Diary of a Madman (1981)
  • Bark at the Moon (1983)
  • The Ultimate Sin (1986)
  • No Rest for the Wicked (1988)
  • No More Tears (1991)
  • Ozzmosis (1995)
  • Down to Earth (2001)
  • Black Rain (2007)
  • Scream (2010)

Other Interesting Ozzisms or Psycho-acts by Mr. Osbourne:

  • Ozzy’s been accused of being a negative influence on the youth and a proponent of SatanismAnti-Christ/Anti-Christian.
  • In 1981, when he signed his first solo-deal (when he’d left Black Sabbath,) he had been fasting for a while (praying for the deal) and he was so hungry that he bit off the head of a dove (quite foolishly I’d say…the head of a bird has the least meat on it.)
  • Shortly afterward, during one of his performances, he bit-off the head of a poor bat – that bravely fought back and bit Ozzy in the mouth before it died – and Ozzy had to take shots to prevent himself from getting Rabies. (What most people do not know is that the bat was the reincarnation (yes, the avatar) of the dove, who had come back seeking revenge!)
  • Next, he had a fight with his brave wife Sharon, then to make people think that his wife was going around urinating on cenotaphs, he wore his wife’s dress and urinated on a cenotaph, which was erected in the honor of those who died in the battle of Alamo.

And yes…

those who are interested in Ozzy’s tattoos, should click here.


Finally, in defence of Ozzy Osborne and his brave wife Sharon Osborne, they are one of the richest couples in UK. Doesn’t matter if Ozzy looks a little mad. I mean – all the rich of the world are a little mad…he just doesn’t hide his madness…he lets it Ooze out of him ozzily!

Shafali’s Caricatures on YouTube – Thank you Nancy!

I’d never have made it to YouTube.

I wouldn’t even have made a Slide Show – because I just don’t know how to…

And now, I don’t know how to thank Nancy (Dewey Dewster‘s Gram:-)) for creating this beautiful Slide-Show with my caricatures.

Nancy, it was the sweetest surprise I’ve got in a long-long time:) It is beautiful!

THANK YOU!

Karela Split? Now what’s that?!

Indian Life & Humor:

If you are curious about India…the real India, as experienced by Indians, and if you want to know why it’s as bitter as it is sweet and spicy, I think I’ve got the right site for you:)

Karela Split - The Bitter-Sweet Flavor of Life in India

Meet Gorakh Nath, Proudly Dead:

The moderator of this site, “Gorakh Nath” is a good friend of mine, and over the years I’ve learned not to be surprised by anything he does.

Gorakh NathHe’s a nutcase, but one who can keep you glued to his content (despite his apparently “dead” status at Karela Split.)

The Show is On – R.S.V.P

Whether you are an Indian or a person who’s curious about this extremely complex but equally interesting mix of multiple cultures, habits, traditions, taboos, contradictions, and a little bit of everything else, you are in for a treat.

As the site says, “The Show is On!

Get your free ticket now…this is a party like no other!

I would also like to wish “Gorakh Nath”, “a long life”  for his site. (Now…unravel that!)

Caricature Cartoon – Oracle Octopus Paul – I want out! – A Verbal Caricature

You know about Oracle Octopus Paul. He’s the one who’s got 8/8 in predicting the fate of the world cup teams. Here’s what he’s got to say about the whole deal.

Oracle Octopus Paul says:

  • I need an anti-depressant.
  • I also need a pillow, a glass of wine, and a masseur; because I am tired, and because my tentacles ache from overwork.

You know something?

  • It isn’t easy being an octopus. Those tentacles get entangled all the time, and that huge body of mine doesn’t make those cumbersome moves any easier for me (yes…if you think that’s my head, you need to get your eyes checked.)
  • What’s worse is – I live in a glass-box. It’s quite like living in a glasshouse. You are always on display, and you can’t lash out, because if you do, you’d destroy your own home.

But do you know what’s the worst?

  • It’s being a celebrity Oracle that really brings me down.

To understand this, let us look at the entire human species as one. (I know, it isn’t easy – they come in different shapes, sizes, and attitudes…and at their rotten core, they hate one another.)

  • I became Oracle Paul because of some dumb trick played on me by some dumb human who wanted his 2 minutes of fame!
  • Next, I became  Celebrity Oracle Paul because some other dumb human bearing the journo tag, decided to photograph me and put my name into the newspapers, which made money for some humans; and the other dumb humans decided to believe what they had to say!
  • Now, I’ve become Hunted Celebrity Oracle Paul, because more dumb humans of the kind, who had made a Celebrity out of me, have decided to make minced meat out of me. And you know why? Because I decided to eat out of one of the two boxes and my country failed to make it to the finals. Remember that it was some other dumb human who had lowered the two boxes into my glass box!

Do you see what’s happening?
Please wake up!
I am not deciding the fate of those teams; the humans are deciding mine!

If I end up a Dead Celebrity Oracle Paul on a German dinner table, it will be because a human chef diced, grilled, or filled me; and a human waiter served me to human guests, in a restaurant that makes money for its human owners! I am an unwilling pawn in the prediction racket…in a game of chance!

I want to know – why me?
And now, when I have already reached the end of my short life, I’d really like to break free of this Oracle mould.

For once…
I want to be just Paul the Octopus!
Just…PAUL the OCTOPUS!

…the Retired Octopus Paul!!

Do you hear me…Humans?

I want Out!

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Paul the Octopus left this world on October 26, 2010. He died in his glass tank, at the age of 2.5 years.  A memorial will be erected at the Aquarium in his memory.

(Source: BBC News)

Good bye, dear Paul!

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