Friday Two Cents: Celebrating The Past


 

‘I take a lot of pride in being myself. I’m comfortable with who I am.’ James McAvoy

 

This past week I was able to finish off a personal project of mine that has been on my mind for some time.

It truly started many years ago when I started looking into my family history and where I come from. I was born in Canada but my heritage is from a small island called Malta. This small archipelago’s history dates back eons to the dawn of civilization in the Mediterranean. Yet the period I was looking into was when my family came to Malta in the early 1400s. The Gauchi family was part of the feudal system in Malta until the Knights Hospitaller, later the Knights of St. John, took control of the island chain around the middle 1500s.
In 1565 the forces of the Ottoman Empire invaded the island to completely wipe out the knights and as a stepping-stone to conquering the rest of Europe. Some 40,000 Turks invaded and laid siege to Malta. Standing in their way were roughly 6,100 that included some 500 Knights Hospitaller, 2000 thousand foot-soldiers, 600 servants and slaves and 3000 conscripted native Maltese. With this small defence force, they successfully defended the island. The cost was quite high with a third of the defending force falling to the enemy but in return they inflicted such terrible losses on the Turks. They retreated from Malta with casualties around +15,000; some say it was more than half their forces. The victory may have been costly but it is celebrated as the greatest of the 16th century and initiated the stop of the Ottoman Empire expansion into Europe.
I read and drew many images until I came up with the image I finally painted that you can see below entitled “The Siege of Mdina”. It is of a Knights Hospitaller vanquishing a Turk invader. In the background you can see the Christian army ready to do battle with the knight, in the fields below the ancient city of Mdina, Malta. It a place I have visited on many occasions and the scene came to me after drawing my first knight.
I think this project so engulfed my thoughts because I have been hearing many people talk about their heritage but also people condemning many aspects of our own history because of the not so nice elements that are also associated with the people involved. For me, knowing my heritage has always been a cause of pride. Malta is not a well-known country, but the more I delved into my heritage the greater I began to appreciate it. Yes there are dark elements in it. This period of time probably saw many atrocities but hiding the truth or burying it is not the right thing to do. We should celebrate our past; the good, the bad and the ugly, for these events made us who we are.
I am reminded of a famous quote …

‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ George Santayana

 

Too much of human history is full of repeating the same mistakes. Perhaps learning, celebrating and understanding our past instead of burying, ignoring and erasing it, would help us not make the same mistakes.

“The Siege of Mdina” Painting by Paul Gauchi

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Friday Two Cents: My First Day Of School


 

‘There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.’ George Sand

 

In many parts of Canada and around the world this week marks the return of students and teachers back to school. As a supply teacher, my services are not usually needed until at least the second week of the school year. However, a school that I supply in a lot called and asked if I can come in for a last-minute job to cover some one going on an appointment.   Of course I was happy to go in.

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

I am familiar with the school, the staff and most of the students therefore it was a joy to go in. I arrived, signed in and talked to a few staff and then got ready for the day. The class I was in was a kindergarten class with a few students I knew from last year but more than half were new students. The day began and after I introduced George I think from that moment, I had won them over. If you do not know, George is my puppet and he comes in with me to the primary classes and is a big hit with the students. He sings songs with them, he brings in books for me to read and he is also a bit silly (just like the puppet master), so they enjoy whenever he comes out. Overall the class was great and it was an enjoyable experience.
However, the response I got from the older students in the school was something I did not expect. It was after lunch and I was walking back to the class as the students were coming in from lunch recess. They saw me and said hello and I returned the greeting, however after saying hi, I got swarmed by a sea of little people (the students). They hugged me and were saying things like, “You’re back!” and “Are you in our class?” Many others started telling me about what they did over the summer break. I was over joyed and a bit over whelmed to get such a response from them.
I have been working with children for many years; both as an early childhood educator and as a teacher and I have always found it amazing how the students greet me. They always seem to be happy when they see me. I thing that they know that I love working with them. Some people say it’s because I’m a big kid like them.   But whatever the reason, all I know is that the feeling, is mutual.

hugs-Educator

 

‘Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.’ Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Art Inspiration: Comic Book: Page 10


A few years ago I created a Comic Book Club for the students. They range in age from grade 3 – 5 with a large variety of skills. Prior to the club I taught them how to draw three-dimensional objects and characters but this year they wanted something different.

The premise of the club was to teach the students the basics of comic book drawing. Yet due to the amount of work involved in drawing a comic book, I tried to keep the characters a bit simpler than I am use to and I standardized the characters for them. They wanted a super hero comic therefore I drew a lot of different characters they could choose from. They liked that idea but they also had to choose up to 2 powers, a unique name and if they were either a hero or villain for their character.

Page two is where we see the Legion of Doom plan is revealed. It was a hook for the students and this page was their first glimpse at a few of the characters they would be drawing. I also helped them by providing pages with empty cells for them to draw in the story. I hope you enjoy page 2 of “The Rise of Lord Ominous” as much as the students did.

Page ten, the final page of the comic book. Finally the students and the readers get to meet the new leader of the Legion of Doom. The students asked, “Who does this character represent?” You see the students created their character to represent themselves. They wanted to be their character. I thought this was a great way for them to get into drawing these characters because it is something very personal to each of them. I told them that this character is mine. The leader of the “bad guys” is me. They loved that idea and interestingly every comic book and character drawing class after this one, I used this character to represent me in the group. You may have seen this character from another drawing club I did with a group of students, entitled Heroes vs. Villains.  

I hope you enjoy page 10 of The Rise of Lord Ominous” as much as the students did.

The Rise of Lord Ominous: Page 10

Friday Two Cents: The Joy In Helping Others


‘It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.’ Napoleon Hill

The week before the start of school is a very interesting time for a supply teacher such as myself. I do not have a classroom to prepare, class lists to look through and lesson plans to create. For all intensive prepossess I can simply continue with my summer vacation and that was exactly what I was planning to do.

However something inside me said I should be getting ready for the upcoming year with the students. Therefore I decided to enrol in a teacher event at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). They host many events for teachers to spread the word about the different activities and exhibits happening at the AGO. This particular event was the reopening of the J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art. They had many wonderful works of art created by indigenous and non-indigenous artists from Canada. Yet this was also an opportunity for the AGO to inform the teachers about the programs they offer, both for the students and the teachers as professional development.
The exhibit was wonderful but I found myself thinking about what programs/lessons that would be good for the students. I was collecting information on different things for other colleagues and in doing so it made me feel good.
Not only was I collecting information this week but also I went in to help a colleague set up their room. I knew she needed some help but more than this I wanted to be in a classroom helping someone. I went in a couple of days to help move furniture around, prepare activities and even some computer work. She thanked me and many other people said that it was nice of me to help. But I didn’t do it to be acknowledged or thanked. It simply felt good to help someone.
Reflecting back on this week I only spent a couple of days helping someone with their room but I also was able to pass on the information I got from the AGO to another colleague. I discovered that in the process of trying to help others I ended up helping myself. For even though I thought of others needs and what I can do for them, I ended up meeting my own needs; the need to help others, which in the end brought more joy to me than doing something for myself.

Helping Others

Art Inspiration: Comic Book: Page 9


A few years ago I created a Comic Book Club for the students. They range in age from grade 3 – 5 with a large variety of skills. Prior to the club I taught them how to draw three-dimensional objects and characters but this year they wanted something different.

The premise of the club was to teach the students the basics of comic book drawing. Yet due to the amount of work involved in drawing a comic book, I tried to keep the characters a bit simpler than I am use to and I standardized the characters for them. They wanted a super hero comic therefore I drew a lot of different characters they could choose from. They liked that idea but they also had to choose up to 2 powers, a unique name and if they were either a hero or villain for their character.

On page ninth The League of Justice have arrived to put an end to the Legion of Doom’s plan, except they find that they are too late. At last, the new leader of the Legion of Doom is born and makes an entrance.   Many of the students asked why don’t they see the new leader. I told them this build suspense for the audience and for all of you. Also what he has to say will set the tone for what kind of leader, and Arch enemy for The League of Justice, he will be. I hope you enjoy page 9 of “The Rise of Lord Ominous” as much as the students did.

The Rise of Lord Ominous: Page 09

Friday Two Cents: A Tradition In The Heart Of The City


This week I was able to break away from my routine and go enjoy something that I have been going to since I was a child, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). This year is the CNE’s 140th anniversary. Every year I enjoy going to see the art, craft and hobbies exhibits, the shows and of course sampling the different types of foods they have to offer. I even have a tradition of getting a corn dog once I enter the grounds. I know that it is not a healthy choice but once you enter the grounds healthy choices are thrown out the window. Besides, it is the only time during the year when I eat a corn dog.

This year I was able to see two amazing shows; the aerial acrobatic and ice-skating show Quatro and the Legends Of The Silk Road Come To Life. Quatro is a poetic display of dazzling ice-skating and aerial acrobatics performed by a former Cirque du Soleil artist. This wonderful show is not too far from the Legends Of The Silk Road Come To Life. A spectacular indoor lantern festival where 17 spectacular illuminated sculptures make up an incredible display of lights and colour. The theme is centred on the legends and myths associated with the ancient Silk Road. These astounding shows are only two of the numerous displays and activities you can do at the CNE.
The CNE is in the heart of Toronto and is amazing every year. Unfortunately it is only available in the city for a limited time and as of the 1st day of school approaches it will be gone for another year. That’s why I always have mixed feelings about the CNE. I love going but I know that once I leave the grounds it means summer is over and school will start soon. Oh well I guess I have to just wait and look forward to next year, but at least I have some great experiences and memories to keep me going until new years edition.

Art Inspiration: Comic Book: Page 8


A few years ago I created a Comic Book Club for the students. They range in age from grade 3 – 5 with a large variety of skills. Prior to the club I taught them how to draw three-dimensional objects and characters but this year they wanted something different.

The premise of the club was to teach the students the basics of comic book drawing. Yet due to the amount of work involved in drawing a comic book, I tried to keep the characters a bit simpler than I am use to and I standardized the characters for them. They wanted a super hero comic therefore I drew a lot of different characters they could choose from. They liked that idea but they also had to choose up to 2 powers, a unique name and if they were either a hero or villain for their character.

On page eight we see Dr. Mindbender ready to put his plan of fusing the DNA into one person. With the students we drew each cell and the biggest question was what are those tubes in the background. I told them that those are the DNA solutions from each of the heroes and villains. I reminded them that they could see the tubes in the background on pages 2 and 3. The challenge for the students was the action pose of the character Angel.  They were use to drawing the characters more in a standing power pose but once I showed them to draw the bones of the character they quickly drew the rest. I hope you enjoy page 8 of “The Rise of Lord Ominous” as much as the students did.

The Rise of Lord Ominous: Page 08

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