115 F, a blistered finger, and feeling blessed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling frazzled but blessed!

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

 

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Caricature-Cartoon Elizabeth Warren – The American Spectator July/August Issue.

Last month, I had the opportunity to illustrate the cover of two political magazines. I’ll post the other cover after the magazine hits the stands. Here’s the one I did for The American Spectator‘s July August 2014 Issue. If you hold Conservative views, pick a copy from the newsstand or subscribe to the magazine here. 

Elizabeth Warren Caricature on the Cover of The American Spectator Magazine - Cover Illustration Shafali

July August Issue of The American Spectator.

 

I must confess that this was a challenging assignment. On the face of it, it looked easy. A lady with a Red-Indian head-dress standing in front of a Teepee… it couldn’t be simpler, you’d say. Actually, you’d be wrong. Over the years, the lady has sported many different hair-styles, her preferred outfit is a loose jacket and a pair of trousers, and most reference images available on the Internet show her waist-up! Anyway, the point is that at the end of it all she looks rather cute standing akimbo in front of that teepee that she didn’t build. Of course, she didn’t build that teepee in the image. I did.

So…

Who is Elizabeth Warren?

Elizabeth Warren is the US Senator for Massachusetts. She is a Democrat and you can read her blog here. The controversy that the tag-line in the cover points to, is the fact that she had once identified herself as a Native American. It turns out that there isn’t enough documentary proof to support her claim. While most of the voters in her constituency say that this won’t affect their decision to re-elect her, the issue has attracted a lot of criticism.

While Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly denied that she’d be running in the US Presidential race of 2016, there are speculations that she might. She is considered to be a Democratic heavyweight and there’s a possibility that she might be in the race, along with Ms. Hillary Clinton. If you’ve not viewed my Caricature of Hillary Clinton, you can view it here.

I’ve been doing a lot of other stuff lately. This included Pet Portraits, a Couple of Wildlife drawings…and oh, yes. I’ve been experimenting with my color pencils. I had tried them out last year and drawn the Caricature of Samantha the Witch and this captive here – but these were both post-card size drawings. This is bigger.

Let me take a picture and show you what it is – await my next post 🙂

If you are interested in learning how to draw caricatures, check out my book “How to Draw Caricatures? Evolution of a Caricaturist” at Amazon 🙂

Learn How to Draw Caricatures in a Step by Step methodical way - A book by Shafali Anand.

Shafali Hitler shares Some More SEO Humor!

You may have read the SEO Humor Post that I made a while ago. While writing that post, I never thought that I’d be inspired to write another, so shortly after my first attempt at finding humor in the keywords that appear in this blog’s list.

But then what has to happen does. We can’t stop it, can we? Just like we can’t stop global warming, aging, corruption…or on the brighter side, just the way we can’t put a stop to gold-digging, cuckolding, pick-pocketing etc.; we can’t stop posts from rolling out of absurd ideas.

So here’s what I found in the treasure-chest this morning.

Search Term 1: world’s funniest drawings

My dear searcher, you reached the wrong place, didn’t you? I mean, my caricatures border on the funny – but they never go the whole way. They keep twiddling their thumbs as they stand nervously at the edge of the cliff, awash with fear – never gathering the courage to jump into the shrieking swirling waters of funny-ness. So for all the future searchers of world’s funniest drawings, I recommend that they click the “Cool Caricaturists” link on this blog, or resume their search elsewhere without wasting another minute.

Search Term 2: drawings of ugly women

What?!
Aren’t you searching for something that doesn’t exist? I mean, you could find God if you tried hard enough …but impossible to find a woman who’s ugly. If you don’t believe me, organize a random poll and ask women to rate themselves as ugly or beautiful – and check the results!

We caricaturists could make ugly caricatures of women, but women themselves are beautiful. It’s the men-folk who have a large sub-set called “ugly men”. So My Dear Sir (I don’t know why but I feel confident that this search term was born in a man’s mind,) please don’t go looking for ugly women. You are wasting your precious time on an impossible quest. Look for beautiful, pretty, lovely, wonderful, fantastic, fabulous, super, great, glamorous women instead…and you’ll be swamped!

Search Term 3: queen elizabeth’s mom princess elizabeth

I googled that information for you, dear searcher…and when I read the first line on this link, felt so optimistic that I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog.

Why?

Well, here’s why. Queen Elizabeth II’s mom, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was born in 1900 and she lived to a ripe old age (and I mean really truly completely ripe) of 102 years! Wow! But believe it or not Princess Alice is going to beat Queen Elizabeth Bowes Lyon’s record!

If you haven’t seen Queen Elizabeth II’s caricature on this blog, click here.

Search Term 4: Salvador Dali’s Eyebrows

Salvador Dali’s Eyebrows?!
Are you sure that you want to look at his eyebrows and not his mustaches?!
I think you should be looking at his mustaches – they are quite a pair. Here’s Salvador Dali’s Caricature – it’ll help you appreciate why this search made me wonder whether the searcher really knew was good for him.

Search Term 5: i hate my job+cartoon

Oh…oh. I am so sorry. You really hate your job? Do you? And I agree, you do become a cartoon when you begin to hate your job. In fact, you have to be Dilbert to love your work…right? In this horrible horrible world of today, who doesn’t want to be stuck inside a cartoon strip, free from the worries of loan-repayments and medical insurance premiums.

Search Term 6: half old woman half princess cartoon

You make a good point there. I think what you should be looking for is a cartoon of an old woman OR of a princess. In her mind, every old woman is a princess that she couldn’t be in real life (except of course, those anachronisms who even in this modern world stick to being Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses) and, every princess – from the day she’s born becomes an old woman – because she can’t do those little things that make life so much fun…because they have to corset not just their bodies but their emotions as well.

Search Term 7: unhygienic practices cartoons

Eeeyuck!
You mean – nose-picking, @$$-scratching, ever-spitting, not-flushing…etc. etc. etc. kind of cartoons??!!
But why…and where’s the humor?

Oh…I get it. Hee hee hee!

Search Terms 8a,b,c,d: indian necked men/handsome indian naked men/indian ugly man

I am curious. Who are you dear searcher…and what exactly are you looking for. It’s clear that you want to look at an Indian Man but an indian “necked” man? What’s an Indian neck? Are you looking for a Caucasian male who’s had a neck transplant so that his neck looked Indian…or an Indian who has retained his Indian neck or had got a new neck…in any of those great shades of Indian browns?

Oh…oh. it was a typo…right? I looked at the second term and it dawned upon me that you are looking for Indian men au-naturel – and handsome ones too. Now you really need to check out my first post on SEO-matters of importance here. You may not succeed in your search, my friend of either gender.

But what’s that third term? You needed to do a Google search for that? Really? I mean all you had to do was switch channels and watch some political news!

Search Term 9: art from ajit ninan

Thanks for the reminder. I shall make the promised post about the wonderful Ajit Ninan soon:)

Search Term 10: SHAFALI HITLER!!!

No. I am not. I will not take that insult, dear Sir or Ma’am or Bot! I am, and shall remain Shafali the Artist, Shafali the Caricaturist, Shafali the Egoist. Shafali Hitler is one title that I am not going to take lying down. Beware, or I’ll let Hitler the Satan loose!

Cool Caricaturist – Achille Superbi of Italy

It’s time to give the stage to another Cool Caricaturist:)

Achille Superbi is an Italian Graphic Designer and Caricaturist who was born on September 13, 1959. After receiving his diploma n 1977 he worked for advertising agencies until 1984, when he also began to draw for newspapers etc. (Source: Wikipedia here .)

I like his work for his fine brushwork and smooth presentation.

Visit Achille Superbi’s simple but interesting website here.

Click the following links to view some of his fascinating caricatures.

  1. Picasso
  2. Antonio Banderas
  3. George Clooney
  4. Salvador Dali
  5. Laurel and Hardy

See Achille Superbi’s caricature of the Beatles on a t-shirt here.

Until I put together my drawing of Picasso and Dali…I wonder how I missed them:)

My Childhood Love – A Naked Truth – A Caricature of Life!

Important Note:

This isn’t the usual fare that’s served at this blog. If you’ve arrived here through a search and if you are looking for caricatures click the Gallery link and if you are here for the Story-in-the-Caricature Blog Carnival, click here.

However, if you are looking for nothing in particular and if for some unfathomable reason you care about the beautiful unique relationship I share with Pratap Mullick, read on.

There’s a good chance that you know neither about Pratap Mullick nor about me, but if you are an artist who grew up in the far-flung regions of India, where if you wanted to buy a magazine, you’d have to travel about 40 miles – you probably have seen Pratap Mullick’s art.

WARNING:

I am NOT talking about Nagraj Comics. He did illustrate the first 50 of those…but I haven’t seen those illustrations. (Pratap Mullick illustrated for Nagraj Comics before 1995 – and Nagraj comics aren’t really what we’d call the “classics” so I can’t find the old issues anywhere. Honestly I don’t care about what I see of Nagraj Comics now! Searches of “Pratap Mullick” often throw up image results that show the work of other artists – and that work isn’t at the same scale of quality as Pratap Mullick’s…so I take no responsibility for misconceptions born out of indiscriminate searches.)

When I was a child, I was not just a child, I was a girl child; and despite being born in quite an emancipated family, nobody thought to ask me what I’d like to become when I grew up. Until I was ten, school was a mercurial affair – it was there, then it wasn’t, then again…it was there, and then it wasn’t. We often lived in places where ours was the only family for miles around. So I had a lot of time to read what I wanted to instead of reading what I had to.

Once a month, my father would take us to the nearest town, and I’d spend my monthly pocket-money (5 Rupees) on comics. I’d buy some combination of Indrajal comics (1 Rupee) and Amar Chitra Kathas (1.50 Rupees, if I remember right.) Indrajaal comics distributed the Phantom comics and the Mandrake comics in India – they later created their own hero, Bahadur too. In contrast, Amar Chitra Kathas (translates to: Immortal Stories with Pictures,) had stories from Indian Mythology and History. After a few months of buying both, I decided that I preferred Amar Chitra Kathas, so I requested my parents for an increment of one rupee in my pocket-money and began buying four Amar Chitra Kathas instead.

It was then that I realized that some of the Amar Chitra Kathas had drawings that were considerably better than those in others. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was a selectively curious child. For a long time, it didn’t occur to me that real artists made those drawings, and I never thought that I could one day illustrate for books and magazines. I drew because it was nice to draw.

Coming back to the point, I realized that certain drawings looked better – in fact, they looked beautiful. They inspired me to draw better. Without realizing that I was learning from those drawings, I began to learn. I learned about proportions, shades, backgrounds, perspectives…I looked at those drawings and then looked around – and then I’d try to draw what I saw, the way they were drawn in those drawings.

I still didn’t know that there was an artist behind those drawings, so next when I went to the town and shopped for Amar Chitra Kathas, I’d look inside, check out the drawings, and instinctively select the Amar Chitra Kathas with those beautiful drawings. My parents would wonder why I selected some and rejected some – but they never asked and I never told. It was my secret.

When kids grow up, they are often asked what they’d like to be when they grew up – in my time, a girl child was seldom asked this question – and so I never could connect art with illustration. If I were asked the question, I might’ve said something like – I would like to draw…and then one thing could’ve led to another, and I might’ve ended up becoming a “real” artist. But for this reason or some other, there was a mental gap somewhere – some synapses didn’t connect – somehow I never realized that art could be a profession as well.

Then during the Nineties there was a time when it was difficult to find Amar Chitra Kathas on the bookstalls, and once in while I’d think about those beautifully illustrated comics, and feel sad. But they probably experienced some sort of revival and I began seeing Amar Chitra Kathas again. One day, when I was in a bookstore, I picked one of them up. I picked it up gingerly – ready to be disappointed – ready to accept that as a child what I found beautiful was indeed crass and mediocre. But the comic that I had instinctively picked up had the same beautiful drawings that I had fallen in love with as a child. I had picked up “Urvashi.

But I was a different Shafali now. I knew that a real artist did those illustrations, and so with my heart beating hard against my ribs, I checked out the cover for the credits – expecting to find none. (Our publishers often fear that they’d lose their illustrators and so they don’t provide credit to the artists.) But there it was. It said: “Illustrated by: Pratap Mullick”! For the first time, I knew the name of the man who had held my hand and steadied it as I learned to draw – for the first time in my life, my thoughts went beyond those drawings and I visualized what his life must’ve been – for now I also know a lot about the struggle that life is for an Indian artist.

It was a moment that was both happy and sad. The fact that Pratap Mullick could survive in this world and that he made drawings that’d survive him – made me happy. The fact that a man of his caliber, wasn’t celebrated – wasn’t known – and wasn’t given the status he deserved, made me sad. I should’ve heard his name as one of the great artists of India – he changed lives, he helped people learn art, and he still remains the best book illustrator that India has ever seen – and believe me when I say that because I spend hours looking at illustrations…and just one illustration is what it takes to tell you what an artist is worth!

As someone who’s keen on art, I wonder why an Amar Chitra Katha that he illustrated should sell at the same price at which all other Amar Chitra Kathas would sell? The comics he illustrated are collectibles – the comics that others did…well they just earned their living! If you don’t know what I am talking about buy “Vasantasena” and “Vasavadatta” – and compare them (Don’t go by the cover illustrations…they are always done well.) ! I just hope that he was at least paid better.

The question is – Why do we normalize? Why do we pull real talent down to the level of mediocrity?

We all know the answer…don’t we? This ability of the human race, is one of the things that define our humanity. We’ve decided to trash the evolutionary theory of “Survival of the Fittest” and that’s precisely why we are headed where we are…

Downhill.