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Cab Vag was back after taking off for the summer, when actors tend to roam the country in what’s cringingly called summer stock.  We heard about one such adventure in Maine.  Good to be back!  Good to be back on the 6th floor of the D.A.N.K.  house in Lincoln Square, a very venerable venue but  sufficiently  seedy for a cabaret.  I am privileged to be the caricaturist of choice in this “atmosphere of experimentation and provocative entertainment,”  as they say on their web site.

“Failure is encouraged. Experimentation is required.”  I stole that from Cab Vag and wrote it on the board at my drawing class. My students gave me worried glances. That’s how it is.  When you’re an artist, people worry about you—in a peripheral sort of way.

Read all about Cabaret Vagabond at http://www.cabaretvagabond.com/about_who.html   and see my post here for June 15.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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Mount Prospect. A big family get-together where the deck and the white tent were full of tables and food and drinks and the Greek gandmas  kissed the little ones and the guy in charge of the music was really going for the Beatles.  I felt privileged to work in such a warm atmosphere.  We were celebrating four birthdays.  It’s a tradition, I found out:  you have four kids and you throw one humongous party for all of them on one day.  When the cake came out—actually two, one white and one chocolate, and both predictably humongous—everybody sang “Happy Birthday” four times, one for each kid.  Maybe they also have individual birthday parties, but I didn’t find out about that, just that this family throws a lot of party, so yes, they probably do have individual birthday parties for each child.  Any excuse for a party is fine with me.  Happy Birthday Thano, Gia, Anastasia and Bobby!  Thank you, Julie.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Sometimes a commission comes in with just one bit of information.  In this case, their 10th anniversary is coming up and they’re still very much in love.  Make that two bits of info:  he doesn’t like to dress up (we’ve seen that before, right here in this blog, in fact) and she’s totally into Dancing with the Stars and Oscar Night.  Happy Anniversary, Brian and Cindy!

What I came up with was very much appreciated by Cindy’s sister, who was the gift giver.  Thank you, Kelly!

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://artamaze.wordpress.com

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The wedding was just two weeks ago, at the end of May,  but Rick started planning this gift to his groomsmen and ushers back in March.  A great idea and a great project for me! There were a lot of photos to keep track of (all on email), but each of the faces has such character, that it was a pleasant task.  They’re all sports fans, so it was appropriate to put them in stripes, which also had the comical effect of making them look like a gang of sorts.  The groom liked it very much.  Thanks, Rick, and congratulations! Much happiness to you both!

Rick’s email after he got the drawing in the mail: Hey Katherine,
Got it and looks amazing.  Thanks again you’ve been a pleasure to work with.  I’ll make sure to pass out your info to my groomsmen.  Keep in touch!
Thanks,
Rick

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://artamaze.wordpress.com

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What makes my caricature drawings distinctive is the fact that my faces and figures actually look three dimensional and that I achieve this effect without using a smudging technique.  I use markers.  Markers are a clean, dust free, permanent medium that does not smudge and requires no spraying.    Kids standing around to watch me draw often say,  “ohmygod, it looks so real.”

The key to three-dimensionality is shadow.  You can see in the drawing of the girl with the full head of red hair, that the bangs hanging over her eyes cast a grayish shadow.  Without that shadow, the drawing would look flat.  Those all-important bangs would lack character.  Can’t have that.  In fact, I draw the shadow right after the line drawing is done, before I add any other color.  This freaks some younger kids out, because I also put a shadow under the upper lip and under the upper eye lid.  When there’s no other color in the drawing, this lavender-gray streak can look weird.  But then when they see the other colors coming in, it’s “ohmygod, it looks so real!”

In the examples below, notice the shadow cast by the upper eye lid and the eye lashes,  and also the shadow over the teeth cast by the upper lip.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://artamaze.wordpress.com

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The sun came out a little, but not enough for me to shed any of the four layers I counted on to keep me from shivering.  Can’t draw when you’re shivering.   By the end of the month I’ll be wearing gloves to draw.  Artist for all seasons, here!

Ridgeville is a park in south-east Evanston.  It’s small and the field house is an old residence.  Folksy.  And most of the folk seemed to know one another.  There was no frenzy, fall or otherwise.  It was just very cozy, despite the chill, with the musicians on the plat form played Beatles songs and such.  They were all kids and all accomplished musicians and singers.  Nothing tentative here, they gave it their all.

And hey, Jude, it was good.

http://www.schoolofrock.com/evanston/concerts_school.php

www.khilden.com

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It’s all about learning.  Sure, it’s fun ; sure it’s great to go home with a picture of yourself to frame and hang in your room and wonder if you will look like that in five years (the drawing tends to make you look more glamorous, more self-assured and more powerful than you feel–at least are allowed to feel  since you’re a kid going to school and playing baseball and soccer).   But, the real treat is watching over the artist’s shoulder.  It goes so fast!  And look how she does the hair…look how she puts blue in the hair to make it look more black.  They ask me about that all the time.  Look how she leaves a white spot on the tip of the nose and on the cheeks.  That’s the high light, I explain.  She always makes the head big and the body small.  Why?  That’s part of how caricatures are done, I explain.  They themselves all draw.  Drawing is part of the way children make sense of the world.  Drawing is a natural extension of the SEEING process.  Drawing is a natural way of saying, “these things around us that we look at every day are pretty amazing, let’s take time to actually look at them.”  Faces are a special feature of the work we live in and are extra fascinating.  (See PROSOPAGNOSIA in my blog post for 9.  Xxxx, in http://artamaze.wordpress.com)

There are parties where four or five kids will spend the entire duration of the party, in this case two hours, standing next to me and studiously watching the process. I’ve seen it many times and this was such an occasion.  It’s really gratifying for me.  One of the questions that always comes up is, how did you learn to do this?  The answer is that you have to draw a lot, you have to practice.  Then I encourage them to keep drawing.  After the age of twelve, children tend to get more interested in socializing and conforming and, as a result, they spend less and less time at their drawing boards.  Maybe some of “my students” from these parties will continue.  I like to think so.

For the past dozen or so years I’ve been spending the afternoons of grandparents day in nursing homes, where the families come to visit. This past Sunday it was at Holy Family on Dempster in Des Plaines.  This was an exceptionally polite crowd, enthusiastic in a gentile way.  What a pleasure!  Thank you, Mila, Mercy, and Adrianna.  See you next year!

www.khilden.com

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Last night I spent three hours at the Hard Rock Café, under a photo of Elvis.  Across the room was a framed jacket from Ray Charles’s elegant wardrobe.  The food looked smart, but I only had time to sneak some chocolate fudge squares from the desert table before the drawing started and then there was no stopping.  This was a party for party planners.  It was networking for networking professionals.  It was fun for people who organize fun.  And here comes the plug:  the caricaturist they chose for themselves was…me.   Ta-tah!  Thank you, thank you!  I drew them funny and they in turn will have me at their next party.    There’s a funny sort of logic in that. Works for me.   Seriously, it was a blast.  The photos don’t do justice to the energy in that room.  (“Energy” is definitely a party planners’ word.)

Lovely people.  They’re concerned with  ambiance, feeling, style,  the memorable moment; but at the same time tradition, decorum, appropriateness;  and on top of all that… details, details, details.  Pretty complicated job.  The whole ball o’ wax, without any dripping, please.

BTW,   has anyone made a camera that can read a big white rectangle surrounded by a spot of beaming flesh and lots of nightlife darkness?  Oh, tell me, somebody, what would that be?

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LAUGHTER THERAPY

Laughter Therapy made the front page of the New York Times yesterday. People are getting together to laugh, about something or nothing, just to laugh. There’s a laugh therapist to get them started. They laugh for an hour.  Then they feel better, their physical pains are gone and they feel no anxiety, go home and sleep soundly for the first time in days.  This is news?  Don’t make me laugh.  I’ve been working as a professional laughter therapist since 1989 when I hung out my shingle, which says:  Caricatures by Katherine Hilden. It’s well known that laughter dilates the arteries; lowers blood pressure; reduces anxiety;  reduces stress hormones; increases muscle flexion; trims the abdomen; boosts the immune function;  triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and produces a general sense of well-being.  I didn’t know any of this when I started drawing caricatures professionally.  I thought I did it because I was good at it, I enjoyed it and people were throwing money at me for making their guests laugh. Over the years I’ve been reading about the health benefits of laughter and lo and behold I’m actually doing a good deed when I draw people funny. Not that I’m one of Oprah’s angels, but I must tell you that for me the fist-full of money I get for drawing people at a party is not enough.  I get a tremendous satisfaction from seeing them crack up and laugh uncontrollably.  It’s hard for me to get a shot of this reaction because it’s so fast,  but some of the videos I have on YouTube show it.  Here are some links that may crack you up.  Hey, it’s good for you!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLX2G9ea8C4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCwbKp-g3uI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk5x8PQIhfE

www.khilden.com

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More Mini Cooper Lovers

The event at Soldier Field on Sunday was called Mini Takes the States. The team was driving from Chicago to Denver, with several cities in between. After Chicago it was on to Indianapolis, where Mini Cooper lovers got to drive on the Speedway. Wow.  Anyway, back in Chicago on Sunday,  I had pre-printed 150 sheets of paper with the car and logo–this is possible because I draw at the rate of 3-4  minutes per person–but I only drew about fifty people, because of the weather conditions.  Of the people I draw at an event, only very few get a photo op, because of others standing in line.  Due to the wind on Sunday, the photo efforts turned into a slight of hand with wafting drawing paper.  Here, then, are a few more Mini Cooper lovers who congregated in Chicago on Sunday to celebrate their love of the Mini.  Ahhh.  Ohhh.  Oooo…  Btw, John Cooper (1923-2000), the designer,  had a passion for race cars, was a race car driver himself, and took his car through the Indy Speedway in 1960 at 144.8 mi/hr.  I’m beginning to understand why there were so many guys here in Chicago  on Sunday,  eager to speed through those turns in the parking lot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cooper_%28car_maker%29


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