How to Draw Expressions – Part I – Raised Eyebrows and Artistic Salvation!

Interactive Art Tutorials - Cartoons and Caricatures - By Shafali

A Famous Artist is made of Raised Eyebrows!

If you’ve got your eyes set on becoming an artist of international renown,  and you’ve never ever done anything that raised eyebrows, you are in trouble, my friend. Real artists, artists who make it big, are the ones who raise eyebrows. They are endowed with the ability to raise eyebrows…of others.

Here are some examples:

  • Leonardo da Vinci: Raised eyebrows by digging up and stealing corpses.
  • Vincent Van Gogh:  Raised eyebrows by chopping off his ear.
  • Pablo Picasso: Raised eyebrows through the cubist rendition of his innumerable mistresses.
  • Salvador Dali: Raised eyebrows by transforming himself into a piece of work.
  • Hussain: Raised eyebrows by painting stuff that he wasn’t supposed to be painting at all.

So, have you raised any eyebrows yet?

The least we cartoonists can do is, raise the eyebrows of the characters that we draw. And why stop at raising them? Why not bend, rotate, twist, dip, curve, curl, or spike the eyebrows to change expressions?

Here’s an Interactive Art Tutorial to help you discover the extraordinary role that eyebrows play in helping your characters express their feelings.

Click the image below to download the first tutorial in the “How to Draw Expressions” series. Find more Interactive Art Tutorials here.

(Click the Image to Download the zip file of the tutorial.)

An Icon for How to draw expressions - Part I, an Interactive Art Tutorial by Shafali
So bring out your sketchbook and roll up your sleeves. Let us express ourselves!

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.

Coming up…Caricatures of – SJP of SATC and ARR!

I’d like to begin by thanking Ian for splashing his creativity on my blog and calling Leonardo Da Vinci, Leony Darling!

Thanks Ian. I am sure that if Da Vinci were born in our times, his mother and his numerous girlfriends and boyfriends would queue up behind me  to thank you:)

So…

I dreamed of Leony Darling (looking young and dapper.) He was standing in Verrocchio’s workshop correcting the nose of the young angel in the painting that will later be called “Baptism of Christ.” When he heard me come in, he looked up and asked me to mix some paint for him, which I did only because I knew that he was going to be one of the Greats in future. He took the paint that I had mixed on a wooden palette, our fingers touched, and he froze; a glazed look came into his eyes and his voice changed. I understood that he was struck with a vision of the future. He said something to me in a rather quaint version of Italian, which Barb of Creative Barbwire translated for me.

He said, “I see you drawing the caricatures of this woman called Sarah Jessica Parker, who has a thin, emaciated, and elongated face and a man called A.R. Rahman, who is a short, rotund, and funny looking man. You would be publishing at least one of the two caricatures on your blog in the last week of January 2011!”

Believe it or not – half of the prophecy that Leony Darling made has already come true…and I am afraid that the other half shall come true too. I wish he had said something about whose caricature would be published first, but he didn’t. So it’s now up to you and me to decide. Who’d you like to see first?

Caricature/Cartoon of Monalisa and the truth behind her smile!

Presenting Monalisa who mocks you from a portrait drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. It’s possible that you haven’t heard of Da Vinci, but it’s almost impossible that you don’t know about Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile.
Here’s The Caricaturist’s rendition of the “Greatest work of Art” in the world.

Caricature, Cartoon, Sketch, Drawing of Monalisa or Mona Lisa a Portrait by Leonardo da Vinci

What's behind that smile?

Countless historians have spent countless number of hours, days, and years, trying to answer two questions:
1. Who is Mona Lisa?
2.  What does her smile mean?

What everyone knows is that Monalisa is a portrait done by Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest artists of all times, who was really awful at completing his paintings. We’d never know how he motivated himself to complete this one but he managed it somehow. Monalisa won’t have become this famous if about 400 years of its being painted, a patriotic Italian won’t have tried to take it back to Italy, where he thought it belonged (forgetting completely that one of the many King Louis’ had bought it from Salai, the guy who had inherited the portrait from Leonardo da Vinci!) Anyway, Mona Lisa has lived in the Louvre Museum of Paris for most of its life and right now it’s better guarded and protected than the President of the US.

To cut a long post short, let’s quickly look at the possible answers to the two questions that many good people called art historians have spent the best parts of their lives, trying to answer!

Mona Lisa – Who’s she?

Honestly speaking, nobody knows. Here are some possibilities though.
Mona Lisa is:

  • Leonardo da Vinci’s self-portrait.
  • Salai, his buffoon-of-a-pupil and possible lover’s portrait.
  • A pregnant Italian Noblewoman’s portrait (La Gioconda?)
  • A poor unfortunate woman’s portrait.

Why is the woman (?) in the Mona Lisa portrait smiling? What’s behind that smile?

I guess this is a question that people have been asking ever since 1911 – the year in which Mona Lisa became famous because she was stolen.

Of course, interpretations abound; but here’s my viewpoint.
The “person” in the painting is smiling because:

  • Leonardo da Vinci winked at him/her.
  • Leonardo told a lawyer’s joke while he was painting.
  • Salai, his pupil of a “special nature” told Leonardo a vegetarian joke (because Leonardo was a vegetarian) and he/she overheard it.
  • Melzi, his other pupil of another “special nature” told Leonardo that Salai had finally made a recognizable portrait.
  • Leonardo da Vinci didn’t realize that he had paint on his nose.
  • The “person” was a man dreaming of a portrait of him riding a horse.
  • The “person” was a woman dreaming of a portrait with jewels around her neck.
  • The “person” was an alien wondering why Leonardo da Vinci couldn’t decide whether he wanted to be an engineer, an anatomist, a sculptor, a metal worker, or an artist…for artssakes!

And if these aren’t enough reasons for you to choose from, click here to discover what the experts have to say about Monalisa and her smile.

Amy asked me to leave the caricature untitled – so untitled it is. What in your opinion is the reason behind her smile?

Coming up Next…A Caricature of a Portrait!

Last night I dreamed that I couldn’t get out of my house because my caricatures were protesting outside. My caricatures had organized a rally and they had congregated from all over the world to protest against my casual attitude towards them. They were holding placards that read “The Caricaturist has let us down”, “We want her out!”, “It’s our blog!”, “She’s turned against us!”…and so on!

Guess I’ve been keeping busy with drawing portraits and dreaming about meeting Leonardo da Vinci in person.  But that Caricature Rally jolted me back to my senses, and I drew a caricature.

Coming up Next – IS the CARICATURE of a PORTRAIT – The Mona Lisa (also called Monalisa) by the arto-scientific genius Leonardo da Vinci 🙂

For all of you who’ve boarded the Caricature Express recently, here’s the caricature of the Master,  drawn from his self-portrait.

 

A caricature, cartoon, sketch, portrait of the great artist leonardo da vinci who was also a sculptor, an inventor, and a writer.

Monalisa's Creator - Leonardo da Vinci!

I’ll meet you at the next station with Monalisa’s caricature and the true explanation of her smile!

 

Art Philosophy – The 4 Types of Artists – Classification and Explanation

Once again, a personal post for friends old and new. Others who’ve reached this blog through searches/recommendations might be more interested in the Caricatures Gallery, the Story-in-the-Caricature Blog Carnival, or the book “How to Draw Caricatures – The Evolution of a Caricaturist.”  You are welcome to click the respective links and explore the site. You are also welcome to read this post, if  you have the patience:)

On December 11 2010, this blog completed its first year, and the funny part of the whole deal was that I forgot, and I didn’t make a post. Now if this isn’t a sure sign of dementia setting in – what is? But seriously, I am bad with remembering dates. I don’t know when but somewhere in my journey of art, I learned to present my forgetfulness as a trait common in artists. I realized that people suddenly became more forgiving when they realized that I could draw and paint too. Guess they thought to themselves – we’ve got to carry those artist types around – because who knows one of them might turn out to be a Da Vinci, a Van Gogh, or a Picasso!

Personally, I’d want to be Da Vinci or die unknown. (If I sound like I am suffering from megalomania, please put it down to my being an artist.)

But…am I really an artist?
I mean what makes you an artist?
And…if you are an artist what kind of artist are you?!

Well. There are the following types of artists (and I speak of artists not artistes!)

  1. The Starving Struggling Artist
  2. The Made-in-his-Lifetime Artist
  3. The Posthumously Great Artist
  4. The Richie Rich Artist

The Starving Struggling Artist or the SS Artist!

This is the most commonly found species of artists in the world. The Starving Struggling Artist is characterized by his impractical dream of making it big without paying attention to the theory of probability (which obviously he can’t as he’s shied away from Mathematics and Logic all his life.)  I ask the left-brained readers, if about 100 artists have made it big from a pool of 500 million (approximately) what is the chance of a random artist making it big? What would your answer be? Come on. Be honest. Tell us.

In my opinion, this kind of artist is worse-off than the unfortunates who walked the streets of London during the time of Jack the Ripper!

The Made-in-his-Lifetime Artist or the ML Artist

This artist is that 1-in-5 Million artist who we talked about earlier. The Made in his Lifetime artist is either smart enough to know what’d really catch the fancy of the buyers or who is lucky enough to display the right thing at the right place at the right time to the right audience. Note that you seldom come across this kind of artist. They are conspicuous by their near-absence.

The Posthumously Great Artist or the PG Artist

You know this kind – don’t you? The best example of course is Van Gogh. Remember that he was once a Starving Struggling Artist who went crazy and chopped off his own ear. Van Gogh created work that Da Vinci wouldn’t have allowed in his studio – yet after his death, he managed to become famous! Now to be a Posthumously Great Artist you need to be able to pull some strings up there. It’s my belief that most of the Starving Struggling Variety of artists have a pure heart and so they end up in heaven – but I also think that up there, they continue being their non-diplomatic selves lost in their own dreams of making it big in their next life – and so they don’t pull the right strings. Hence they don’t become posthumously famous. The point to note it – if the artist has a family and a couple of good-for-nothings, then such posthumous fame can come in handy…otherwise, it’s all wasted effort!

The Richie Rich Artist or the RR Artist

When you are born with either a silver spoon in your mouth or a strong social network through your parents’/spouses’ connections, then you are a Richie Rich artist. Then you don’t really need talent to become famous. Such people become artists because they’ve got to do something with their time – and there’s really nothing that they “need” to do. You can teach your dog to pick up the brush and color the canvas – and you’d have a masterpiece selling for a million dollars! Then of course, you can take the limelight away from your dog and bask in it, as you pose in front of the canvas. This of course is a very common way of achieving some degree of fame, which isn’t all that bad – right?

So am I an artist?
I don’t fit into any of the above – and so I am not an artist. But the good news is, there’s no law against people calling themselves artists, and there’s no law against blowing your own trumpet (whatever that means) – and so…even though I may not be a starving struggler, an unbelievably lucky person, a dead artist with god on her side, or even a well-connected rich kid – I still have the right to say that I am an artist.

And being what I am, one day I might wake up and exercise that right – just like that…and again put my quirkiness down to my being artist!

The Megalomaniac speaks again…
If you can determine where I contradicted myself, you’ve won yourself an opportunity to write a guest post on my blog:-)

The Caricaturist Wonders…and Leonardo da Vinci’s Caricature!

I wonder…

  • What is it that prompts us to distort faces?
  • Why is it that we find exaggerations humorous?
  • Who was the first person to see humor in exaggerations?
  • Who was the first person to create caricatures?

I don’t have answers to these questions, but I do know that there’s something about a caricature that makes you think – “That’s another way of looking at him (or her)!”

The next caricature to appear on this blog is of someone who inspires awe in us across five centuries. He, it is said, was the first person who drew caricatures. He, it is said, was the most talented man the world has ever seen.

He was:

  • an ambidextrous person who could write in reverse.
  • a great artist who was an engineer.
  • a sculptor who wrote poetry.
  • an anatomist who drew caricatures.
  • an innovator who procrastinated endlessly.

You know whose caricature will appear on this blog tomorrow, don’t you:)

LEONARDO DA VINCI

I wonder what he would say if he saw his caricature here?!

A Break from Hollywood – The Caricaturist travels into the Past!

I believe it’s time for me to take a break…from Hollywood!

The next few caricatures shall be drawn from history:-)

Could you, my dear visitors, help me by listing the top 5 historical figures that come to your mind? Please add your list to the comments section of this post.

Here’s the list that I came up with:
1. Alexander the Great
2. Napoleon Bonaparte
3. Abraham Lincoln
4. Cleopatra
5. Leonardo da Vinci

I’ll be grateful for your inputs on this, so even if you are chance visitor who landed on this page through a search, please stop and add your top five. Next, click the “Subscribe and Get Caricatures in your email” link at the top right of the sidebar:-) I could be drawing caricatures from your list, and it would be really nice if I could share it with you.

All the best – I am glad you visited, and I hope you will return.

Warm Regards,
Shafali

Update: March 19, 2010 – First Lot of Historical Caricatures – Selected from those Suggested by You.

By Viv: (Zen & The Art of Tightrope Walking)

  • Shakespeare
  • Julius Caesar

By Don Mills: (The Problem with Young People Today is…)

  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Shakespeare

Add your list of the top five historical figures to see their caricatures on this blog.