Why Symbolism can go where Realism can’t.

Let us begin by understanding the two terms.

Realism:

Realism, especially modern realism, which flourished at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and since then has fallen into a predictable rhythm, is about depicting a scene as-is, with almost photographic precision. There has been another school of art also called realism, which flourished in the medieval times, and which presented an idealized and beautified version of a picture.

Let me explain through an example. If you were to paint the scene of a bench in a park with a garbage bin in the vicinity – as a modern realist, you’d show the banana peel under the bench, and if perchance the garbage disposal squad hadn’t arrived by then and the bin was overflowing, you’d diligently paint the garbage too.  However, if you were attempting to replicate medieval realism (closer to romanticism,) your painting will have replaced the banana peel with a dandelion and the garbage bin with a statue of a voluptuous woman. In both cases, you’d have painted the proportions, the colors, the lights and shadows…and everything else very, very realistically.

So that was about realism. Now, let us talk about symbolism.

Symbolism:

Simply speaking, symbolism is the use of symbols in your imagery. For instance, if you want to show pain and agony along with the feeling of being trapped, you might use objects that relate to these feelings (so an artist may decide that the imagery of a barbed wire fence with a bloodied rag could convey the feeling,) or you might use a totally different representation to “show” the mental condition of such a person. How an artist wishes to symbolize a feeling, an idea, a thought, is for the artist to decide.

Do you see the difference?

Realism vs. Symbolism – The Difference

Realism is a faithful replication while Symbolism is the presentation of the artist’s interpretation. For this reason, odd and unrelated imagery may be found in a symbolist’s art. The artist would always have an interpretation for the artwork that he or she created, but as a person viewing the artwork, the audience must carry away their own interpretation of it. Just the way a writer explains a character’s personality, thought-process, plans, ideas, fears, expectations etc. all through the use of similes and metaphors, the artist uses the visual counterpart of these tools to establish a story within an artwork.

This is why Symbolism can go where realism can’t. Realism can present you with the faithful representation of the visual that the artist sees, but it cannot take you into the hearts and minds of people, it cannot tell you the story of a person, it cannot transfer feeling and emotion into the artwork. No amount of realistic imagery can tell you anything about the thoughts that crowd the mind of a woman who becomes a dacoit after being gang-raped; Nothing in the domain of realism can show you the mental strength and capability of a man fighting his own schizophrenic demons. To paint such pictures, you must step out of the comfort zone of realism.

Photographers – The New Realists

The photographers today do a better job at realistic depiction of visuals. Some photographs have the ability to evoke emotions so powerful that they move nations into action. And yet, a single photograph cannot take you on a visual odyssey into the world of feelings, thoughts, emotions, or even stories – because stories don’t happen at a point in time, they happen over time – and this is where the artist steps in and  takes you beyond the surface of the paint, into a world that begins to make sense…little by little.

Most artists start as realists. They faithfully paint what they see. Then they begin to feel the constraints and start exploring. Dali discovered Surrealism, Andy Warhol found Pop Art, and Picasso got Cubed. I don’t think that artists deliberate too much upon the path their art would eventually take – I think their art finds its own direction and then they just follow.

I think I’ve just finished writing the Dummy’s Guide to Realism vs. Symbolism 🙂 I am sure you’ve got it all. Now I must find my digital easel and get back to work. 

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!

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!