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The Shocking Truth: Whistler Had A Tiger Mother

April 27, 2011

A few months ago, I read an excerpt from Amy Chua‘s controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, in which she describes her strict, no-nonsense approach to raising her two daughters, which included making them master the piano and violin. It made me think of a famous painting, and I decided to do a parody called “Whistler’s Tiger Mother.” Here’s the final:Whistler's Tiger Mother forcing young James Whistler to practice the violin and he's playing it with a paintbrush and splattering paint everywhere

I thought it might be funny to create a caricature of James Whistler as a boy, using
a photo of Whistler as an adult. I found a photo which was already in color mode RGB, and imported it into Photoshop. I extracted the head using the Pen and Magic Wand, then flipped it horizontally. The flat side of the head looked completely unnatural from that angle, so I used the Liquify tool to restyle his hair.photo of famous American painter James Whistler being manipulated in Photoshop with Liquify tool

I needed to condense the features without distorting the head, so I copied the features, deleted them, then pasted them onto a new layer. I used the Liquify tool to condense the features, then moved them into the lower portion of the face and merged
the two layers.photo of famous American painter James Whistler as an adult being manipulated in Photoshop so that it becomes a caricature of James Whistler as a boy

I used the Pen tool to select and isolate certain portions of the face, then used a soft watercolor brush at low opacity to paint over the seams and blend the skin tones. Using the Pen tool also allowed me to stroke the resulting paths and add greater definition to the cheek and chin lines.  photo of famous American painter James Whistler as an adult being manipulated in Photoshop using Pen tool and watercolor brushes

I used a soft brush with blending mode = Overlay to add some color to the face and brown highlights to the hair.photo of famous American painter James Whistler as an adult being manipulated in Photoshop using hue and saturation adjustments to tint face and hair

When I imported the finished head into the larger drawing, I realized two things: the
skin was too pale, and of course Young Whistler would have a frown on his face since he was being forced to practice the violin. I used a Hue/Saturation color adjustment
to deepen the skin tones, and the Liquify tool to create the frown. I also used the Pen tool to more sharply define the eyebrows.

What did the real young Jimmy Whistler look like? Well, there he is on the right at about age thirteen.

caricature of American painter James Whistler as a boy created in Photoshop, compared to actual photo of Whistler at about 13 years of age

Here’s the final again:Whistler's Tiger Mother forcing young James Whistler to practice the violin and he's playing it with a paintbrush and splattering paint everywhere

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2011 1:20 AM

    Awesome. Okay. Now I have a question for you.

    My daughter and I were recently having a serious discussion about this topic of the Tiger Mother. I asked her:

    “If The Tiger Mother and Charlie Sheen got in a fight, who would win? Because she’s ‘The Tiger Mother’ and he drinks “tiger blood,” so which one is the tougher one?”

    I personally think the tiger mom could take Charlie without breaking a sweat or a nail.

    Like

    • April 29, 2011 8:21 AM

      Ha!!! Your wonderful tiger scenario really made me laugh– brilliant.

      No argument here: my money’s on the Tiger Mom. Old Charlie wouldn’t know what hit him. He might even learn to play the violin and finally make himself useful! : )

      Always delighted to have you stop by– cheers!

      Like

  2. May 11, 2011 10:40 PM

    oh… i just love the way you have explained the entire procedure step-by-step and the reasons for taking each step.
    You are a fantastic guide.
    I wish i cud take tuitions from u.
    🙂

    Like

    • May 12, 2011 8:41 AM

      What a lovely compliment– I’m blushing and smiling at the same time… : ) I always like to know how things were done, and I’m glad you enjoyed seeing the steps involved in this illustration. I’m delighted you stopped by– thanks again!

      Like

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