Hats Women Wear: Portraits my Heart Painted.

I am painting the fourth portrait now. I started at 2 in the morning.

I love these hats because I paint them for the creator who lives inside me. Each of these hats is special because they lack design. I haven’t attempted to channel or even hide the chaos. Each of these has evolved organically. Usually I start an artwork with a sketch  then paint over it. I do this more out of need, I’d say; when you illustrate for a publication, there’s a review process that entails an approval on the sketch. The hat-paintings are all done without a supporting sketch. I would start painting a face, expressions would emerge; I’d then read those expressions and paint a hat that told the story of the expression on the face.

Artists speak of inspiration, of a portrait that painted itself; illustrators don’t. But within every illustrator lives is an artist. I don’t meet mine very often, but when I do – I paint stuff that’s oddly out-of-place on this blog.

For those who haven’t seen the hats yet.

Hats women wear - hat number 3 - portrait art - shafali - emotional and physical abuse


Women Girl Portraits - Face and Hat - Depression - Digital Painting by Shafali


Portraits of Women - Face, profile, side face, hats that women wear - this is hat 2, the hat of ambition.


The hats happened quite suddenly. Then they stopped. For about three months, I didn’t paint any. Now, I’m painting them again.

I can’t explain my behavior. Perhaps you can. I just know when I must paint them – the why of the hats as well as the inspiration, evades me.



Creativity Carnival: Faces

Dear blogger friends,

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Creativity Carnival.

This has been a busy and tiring month for me, but I’ve loved creating the cue-arts for the carnival. I wait for Fridays. After spending the whole week reading your wonderful takes on the previous week’s cue-art and thinking of what I’d be creating next, I spend my second half of Thursday or the first half of Friday drawing that week’s cue-art for you. I draw for a story or a poem that I’d like to read; I draw for a picture that I’d like to see; I draw for an experience that I’d like to share. And it makes my drawing that much more meaningful for me.

I loved reading your interpretations of the gun-art. You wrote poetry that tugged on my heartstrings; crafted stories that catapulted me into a different time and world; and drew comics that made me laugh.  This week, among the wonderful responses on the Gun Carnival, I discovered a story and a poem – I marveled at how well the story “Hidden Murder” by Ruth Lakes  connected with the cue-art. The poem that touched my heart was  “Adieu…” by RS.

I’d also like to thank Stu for her post. If you want to visit the sites of the bloggers who have participated in the previous 4 carnivals, please click “Roll-up (Creativity Carnival Round-up Links.) on Stu’s blog

Creativity Carnival - Blogging event for WordPress bloggers.


My Cue-art for this week isn’t an object. It’s a concept. There’s a mystery in it, which you can unravel at your leisure. As always, this artwork belongs to you this whole week.

Women faces in profile on the pages of a book - pen and ink drawing for creativity carnival by shafali.


The Rules are Simple.

    1. Your cue is the artwork above.
    2. You have a week to get creative and make a post that connects with the cue.
    3. You are welcome to do anything creative with the cue. Here is a list of possibilities:
      • Write a Story (tiny/short/long…whichever works for you. A tip: Shorter Stories, more reads.)
      • Share an Anecdote
      • Write a Poem
      • Draw a doodle
      • Paint a picture
      • Some other creative craft that I can’t think of – but it must explore and even extend the portrayal in the artwork.
    4. Include the cue-art in your post.
    5. Link back to this Creativity Carnival Post so that a ping back is registered. It will help other bloggers (including this caricaturist) can visit your post, like it, love it, and comment upon it.IMPORTANT:

1. Links to the pages and the home-page of a blog don’t result in a ping back.
2. Links created through an image (linking an image to a post) don’t create a ping back. (Thanks, Meghan.) 

For more details (mostly superfluous) please visit the Creativity Carnival page here.

Do tag your posts “creativity carnival”. So if you start following the tag, you’ll find the newest carnivals in your Reader.

I will look forward to visiting your blogs 🙂

And now – what inspired me to create the gun-art and what that picture means to me.

About The Gun.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Nancy, bought a new gun. We were talking and she brought the gun out and we talked about it. For some inexplicable reason, an image of an engraved gun that I had seen somewhere, flashed in my mind. I asked her if she remembered such a gun and she said that it must have been a Colt. Now those guns were things of beauty. They weren’t just machines made for killing – they had a certain vanity associated with them. Right then when we were talking, I decided that I wanted to draw a gun.

But a lone gun has no story, except that of death, and a death without reason doesn’t inspire a story, nor a poem or a piece of art! A death with love at its heart; a death with revenge at its core; or even a death brought about by jealousy or greed – those deaths give us stories and poetry; art and drama.

This is the story of the birth of the cue-art “The Gun.”

I’ll look forward to your take on this drawing 🙂

The Highborn Lady and the Golden-haired Girl (A Short Story and an Ink Drawing.)

The Highborn Lady and the Golden-haired Girl

She looked down her powdered nose and peered at them. She hated them all. That she was forced to walk the same earth they did, was a fact that rankled all the time, oozing acid into her heart.
“Cretins,” she mumbled, then mused, “how could they have been created by the same God who created me?”
As she looked at them under the wavering light of the torches lit in the wall-sconces behind her, a thin smile crept over her lips.
She looked through the iron-bars into the dungeon from where the tear-stained faces of seven teenaged girls looked up at her silhouette, and wondered if she was an angel who’d free them from their misery.
Free them, she would. One by one. Her eyes moved from one scared face to another, evaluating them for a purpose of her own.
“The one with golden hair and green eyes,” she turned to the gaoler and said in her strong, stern, and clear voice.
A hushed silence fell in the dungeon. The cries stopped, and twelve jealous eyes turned to the girl with golden hair and green eyes. She was going to be freed tonight. Others will remain. Right now, they were all the same, and she was different. The similarity of their fates bound them together in their hatred for her.
The girl with golden hair and green eyes looked up, and through the bars that made up the dungeon’s ceiling, she tried to look into her savior’s eyes, but her face was in shadows.
The lady turned and left. She walked through the labyrinth that took her away from the darkness of the dungeon into her palace above.  In an hour, her bath would be drawn. In the shimmering glow of a hundred candles, the silky smooth mixture of milk, honey, and blood will enter her pores and rejuvenate them. God had given her the boon of eternal youth, and this was why the same God who had created her, had created them. For her.
She smiled again. The thin, controlled smiled of a high-born lady.
Caricature - a pen and ink drawing of a proud, rich, and evil woman.
About the Artwork:
This artwork is important, both due to its inspiration and its timing. I did it about 8 months ago. It was inspired by a high-born lady who I’ve known quite well. Not directly, but through someone I deeply care about. I did this caricature-art when I was hospitalized – a day after my surgery. (That’s why the line-work isn’t clear. There’s only so much you can accomplish when you are propped up on pillows and still under the influence of pain-killers and other medicines.) This artwork is about things that are seldom spoken, and never talked about in public. It’s about mothers who should never have been mothers, about ladies who aren’t ladies, about empathy or the lack of it, and about the pain that’s inflicted upon you, merely because you are you.
The story, however, is fiction; perhaps inspired by a historical account of a countess…I think. Let me google it out. Oh   yes…Elizabeth Bathory.

Behind the Boarded-up Window – Portrait Art: Hat No. 3

Hats that Women Wear – Hat # 3

(Chapter 1)
I looked out of my window. The house across the park that was directly opposite mine, gleamed in the afternoon summer sun. The house looked like the houses around it, but in my eyes, it was different. I knew that if I opened the gate and walked along the southern wall of the house, I’d come across a window that was boarded-shut. I doubt if anyone else had noticed it. The honeysuckles that grow around the house are dense, and that particular window has a sandpaper-vine twisting diagonally over it – ensuring that even the board would be seen only by those with a lot of imagination.
Those others…their imagination was jaded, sucked dry by their daily rut. But I was different. I had seen strange things happening in houses that looked perfectly normal, so when I saw that boarded-up window, I knew something wasn’t right. I looked around. The streets, the park, the verandahs of the houses, all bore a deserted look. The hot sting of the summer wind kept everyone inside in the afternoons.  I knew that a middle-aged man lived in that house. Every morning, five days a week, he’d open the gate, wheel out his motorcycle, shut the gate, and ride away. Every evening around 7, he returned. On weekends, he stayed home. At this hour, on a weekday, the house would be vacant.
All I had to do was go down, walk through the park, open that gate and walk in.
I locked the house, set my phone on Silent, and went down the steps of my house. Outside, I looked around. If anyone were looking they’d just see a housewife running an important errand. Satisfied, I walked through the park, crossed the street on the opposite side, slid the catch on the gate and got in. I was there. I could hear my heart thumping, beating against my rib. And then the enormity of my action dawned upon me. I was trespassing. I looked around again. Surreptitiously. The streets were still deserted. I looked up – to check the windows. A few were open, and I wondered whether those dark square holes contained a pair of watchful eyes.
I shrugged the thought aside. I could just be lady calling upon her neighbors. What was wrong with it? Nothing!
I turned around and walked into the house – right to that mysterious boarded-up window. I bowed a little to reach under the sandpaper vine and tried to find a hole from where I could peep in, but in vain. Someone had done a thorough job of sealing it up. Then I tip-toed around the house and stepped into the backyard. I was shocked to see how beautiful it looked. For a moment, I lost myself in admiring the beauty of the summer-flowers that grew there.
Then I heard a sound. The sound of a person moving, a few yards away, inside the house.
There was someone inside, and the door was cracked open. I turned around and climbed the two concrete steps that led to the door – battling the issue of propriety within, I opened the door some more and peeped inside. It looked pretty. This was their morning room, I thought. The the flower-vases, the floral curtains; they all suggested a woman’s touch.
“Anyone in there?” I called out, cold sweat breaking in my palms and my heart threatening to break my rib-cage; I was ready to run. The curtain moved, and I almost bolted, but the vision that materialized in front of my eyes stopped me dead.
 I stood rooted to my spot; speechless, and shocked.
This is what I saw.
Hats women wear - hat number 3 - portrait art - shafali - emotional and physical abuse
Why was the window boarded up?
Who kept the garden?
Why didn’t the woman leave?
Other Hats that Women Wear:
Hat#1 and Hat#2
Hat #1
Women Girl Portraits - Face and Hat - Depression - Digital Painting by Shafali
Portraits of Women - Face, profile, side face, hats that women wear - this is hat 2, the hat of ambition.
(Note: The story began with the Clean-Slate prompt, which I misunderstood, at least partially.)

Portrait Art – Hats that women wear: Hat No. 2

Women wear different hats for different occasions and at different ages. The hats also change form on the basis of what society expects from them at a particular forum.

The hats that I paint are the ones that women wear inside, those that are made of the thoughts that crowd a woman’s mind – some of these thoughts are fearsome, others delightful; some are crazy enough to border on the loony, others are balanced and rational; a few of these thoughts must arise to meet the challenges that life throws upon the thinker, and many that are woven with the threads of the wearer’s dreams.

Here’s the second hat.

Portraits of Women - Face, profile, side face, hats that women wear - this is hat 2, the hat of ambition.


I leave the interpretation to my visitors as our past experiences could help each one of us interpret this hat differently.

Does this hat belong to you? or to someone you think you know well? If it does…you are right, because women don different hats at different stages and phases of their lives, and many of us have worn this hat too – not very willingly though.

The hats are still torturing me. They make me paint them…they steal my hours and my days, the time that must go into more productive affairs – and yet there isn’t much that I can do, except do their bidding.

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?