Friday Two Cents: Inspiration From A Master


On my Ottawa trip I had the opportunity to experience a wonderful exhibit at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.   There they have amazing interactive activities that explain science and technology to children and adults alike.  Yet as wonderful as the museum was there was a special exhibition that was my ultimate goal.  I am referring to the special exhibit Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius. 

This was a wonderful opportunity to explore the genius that is Leonardo da Vinci, a personal inspiration of mine.  The exhibition-featured reproductions of his notebooks, ideas, inventions and of course his wondrous drawings and paintings.  For obvious reasons you cannot collect all of his works in one location.  Many are over 500 years old and many would deteriorateand be lost to humanity if not protected. 

Even though everything within the exhibit is a reproduction that did not diminish the wonder I felt.  To look upon his works and I can only be amazing and humbled.  His inventions were astounding for the time period he created them. His drawings and notes on human anatomy were nothing but wondrous.  Some so actuate that I remember using some of his drawings in my anatomy class in university. However for me, I was mostly drawn to his paintings and drawings.  

His drawing of the Vitruvian Man and the subsequent explanation of it were fascinating. His fresco of the Last Supper was spectacular and his paintings were full of wonder and meaning.  There, I had the opportunity of seeing his two versions of Virgin on the Rocksside by side.  The dark version and experts agree is an earlier version of the painting is located in the Louvre, Paris.   The other is a latter version in the National Gallery, London.  They are quite similar but for the obvious colouring and shading, yet there are other subtle differences and meanings in both. Instead of me telling you I will let you see the painting below for yourselves.  

The section on explaining and understanding the mysteries of the Mona Lisa was spectacular on its own.  They had the opportunity to photograph the Mona Lisa in great detail as well as its many different layers and in ultraviolet and infrared.  They take you through the process and show you the painting in such detail it is like you are looking at the real thing.  Their examination was so detailed that is showed different paintings of women underneath the one we see today.  They also adjusted for 500 years of fading and wear on the colours and reveal how the painting looked when Da Vinci originally painted it.  

This exhibition is a testament to a man who exceled in many different fields. A man who’s interests include invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history and cartography.  A “Jack-of-all-trades”.  In a world where people are increasingly looking to be a specialist in one field Leonardo da Vinci shows that we can excel in whatever we put our minds to. I have been called a “Jack-of-all-trades” with knowledge in technology, mathematics, the sciences as well as the arts. I am handy with tools and have constructed many things just as Da Vinci once did.  

To say I admire and am inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci would be stating the obvious.  He is someone I inspire to be. A “Jack-of-all trades”, a true Renaissance man

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Friday Two Cents: The Language Of Art


This past week I had completed my Additional Qualification course (AQ) on Visual Arts Part 2.  During this entire course I had the opportunity to learn new and exciting things to bring into the classroom for the students.  Some included techniques in areas that people would consider traditional art forms like painting, drawing, sculpting.  Other practices would be considered in new areas of art such as photography, Photoshop, digital art and word art. 

The one area I liked and was intrigued about was the language we would use to help the students express them selves in art.  In other words, it’s the language used in the art class.  Many classrooms have word walls for the students to help them understand, write and spell the words mostly used for literacy. Yet for other subjects, like math, there are other word walls that help the students understand the words or concepts within the subject.  To use math as an example …

Sum– the total amount resulting from the addition of two or more numbers.  

This helps the students use the language most used in the subject.  During this course I found some words that works with the Art curriculum.  I made a chart that can help students and other educators.  For just as Hippocrates once said …

‘The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.’ Hippocrates

Art Word Chart Page 1

Hopefully these words can help others understand and create wonderful and meaningful pieces of art.  

Friday Two Cents: Art Is Everywhere


‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.’ Pablo Picasso

For the past week I have been fortunate to be taking an Additional Qualification course (AQ) on Visual Arts.  I have already taken Part 1 and now I am continuing my art education with Part 2.  

In the course we are learning new techniques and art mediums to bring the world of art to the students.  I’m not talking about crafts like making Mother’s day gifts, but well thought out art that the students did.  Yes we are learning the traditional art techniques but we need to help the students think more on why they create the art.  I have had many discussions with people that we should be looking at the process of art with the students and not the final product.  This course centres on that governing principle. 

We had wonderful experiences with art this week and we have one more week to go but we were also fortunate to go on a field trip to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg.  They have wonderful art pieces that are all created my Canadian artists.  They also have a large collection of First Nations art on display as well.  We were able to have a wonderful tour that helped us explore works from the Group of Seven, First Nations art and other pieces including works from a Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis.  

After had a workshop were we would be able to create our own Art pieces in the same style of Maud Lewis.  We had about 30 minutes but I think my creation was pretty close.   Her work is considered by many as folk-art and to some it may seem simplistic.  Yet exposing her pieces to the students could encourage them to think; if she can paint these works them maybe I could too.  In the end isn’t that what art is supposed to do?  Encourage conversation and inspire others.  

I have always thought so.  

Comic Strips: School’s Out For Summer


In Canada the end of the school year is at the end of June.  Both students and teachers look forward to a two-month summer break to relax and recharge for the upcoming year.  Interestingly I read a study that shows that teachers energy level for the school year is around 100% but as the school year moves on those energy levels slowly go down steadily until June.  The study continues to state that the teacher’s energy levels return to optimal in September.  It takes two months for people to recover from the previous school year.  No wonder people look forward to the break.  

This month’s comic plays on the idea that not only do students look forward to the break but so do teachers.  Instead of telling you about the comic I’ll simply let you enjoy it on your own. 

I hope you enjoy June’s The Craziest Things: School’s Out For Summer.

Art Inspiration: The Scottish Crew


For the past few months I have been posting my adventures in Scotland. The biggest reason I had such a wonderful time was due to the amazing people I went with.  They help make the Scotland Adventure a time to remember. They encouraged me to test my limits and seek out new adventures and experiences.  They in short inspired me.  Therefore it is not surprising that I was inspired to draw and creature some art based around what I have affectionately called The Scottish Crew.  

I therefore took on the task to create Steampunk caricatures of the Scottish Crew.  I have already created two caricatures out of the group of four on previous occasions. One being myself, The Captain and the other as a Steampunk Scott’s woman. Below are all four in a final picture entitled “The Scottish Crew”.  Each caricature is similar and inspired by the same symbols I created for the Scotland Adventure logo.  

The person to the far left has been called Viking and he quite looks the part. Therefore I drew him as a Viking with the helmet I drew for the logo.  The next person I drew as a Steampunk Scott’s woman.  She rather fits the part and she loved the caricature. The third person is tall and of French background, so I drew her as a Femme Fatale. The dress and two pistols seemed to fit her personality.  And the final person is my caricature as a Steampunk Captain. I then placed everyone in front of a famous landmark in Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle.   

There you have it; The Scottish Crew. I hope you enjoy this inspiring piece as much as I enjoyed drawing it for the people who inspired me to create it.   

Comic Strips: The Fundamentals


If you ask any of the students I have taught, what is my favourite sport, their response would undoubtedly be baseball. Therefore it makes sense to put in an instalment or two centred one the students and the game.  

I played baseball as a child and as an adult so whenever I can I love to help out with school softball teams (boys and girls). As a supply teacher I cannot be an official coach but that’s fine with me.  I find I have a tremendous amount of enjoy helping the students develop their love for the game.  People asked me, “Don’t you want to be seen as a coach?  Get the recognition?”  I say no, I am not here to get recognition.  I simply want to help the students learn the game and more importantly have fun doing so.  

That’s where this comic came from.  I help wherever I can and when I do it is usually with the fundamentals.  Pitching, throwing or batting. This situation came out of helping some students and I thought of this scene as a “What if” scenario.  And the rest as they say is history.  

I hope you enjoy May’s The Craziest Things: The Fundamentals.

Comic Strips: Social Justice


Definition:  social justice        noun [mass noun] 

justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society: individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice.

In every class we teachers try and instil a sense of social justice in the students with their friends, peers and people outside the school.  It is not an easy task yet I find the effort is necessary to help encourage them to become a responsible member of society.  

I find that in the older grades many of the students take this sense of social justice to heart.  Yet there have been times when they present a situation where I have to either; take a step back and think really hard about what they said or just laugh out loud.  A situation did happen to me that was very similar to this comic.  Instead of spoiling the comic, I will simply let you read it.  

I hope you enjoy April’sThe Craziest Things: Social Justice.

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