Comic Strips: Hpy Valentine’s Day?


February the month when many search their heart to express how they feel about that someone special.  Yet in this digital world are we getting away with expressing ourselves only through a LED screen?  Do we truly know how to express ourselves without our phones?  With this in mind, it gave me plenty of material to think about for this month’s The Craziest Things.  

In many cases, people cannot live without their phones.  They call, text, surf and play endless games with it.  But has our obsession with our phones come to the point when it replaces our face-to-face interaction with others. How far with this go?  Only time will tell.  

I hope you enjoy February’s The Craziest Things: Hpy Valentine’s Day?

February The Craziest Things
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Art Inspiration: Art That Comes Alive As A Tattoo


 I have been asked to create different pieces of art for people on a number of subjects and themes.  Some for professional reasons like a magazine layout or a background for a school play.  For others because they wanted me to show them how something looks like in a drawing like a cartoon character or a student request like drawing a pig.  But nothing is as personal until someone asked me to draw him or her a tattoo.   To be honest I am honoured to be asked to create a tattoo for them.  I created a few other tattoos, mostly for family or family friends yet this person is a colleague and some one whom I respect and consider a friend.   

Kelpies
I have drawn another tattoo for her of her Chinese zodiac animal however this second tattoo was inspired by my resent trip to Scotland with her and others. The land, people and stories so inspired me that I painted and drew many images of this experience.  One such legend or story were about the Kelpies in Scottish lore.  I had the fortune to visit the Kelpies near Falkirk and they were impressive.  They truly are a sight to behold in person. These 30-metre high horse heads rising out of the ground, illuminated in different colours were simply spectacular to behold.  They inspired me to create my version of the legendary creatures.  
This past summer I drew and painted the Kelpies and another Scottish mythical creature, the Unicorn over and over again.  My friend saw the images and asked if I could draw her a tattoo with these legendary creatures.   So I set off drawing and showing her my progress.  We went through several changes and suggestions but they were all worth it.  
The final image has a unicorn rearing on its hind legs with a kelpie in front of it.  The kelpie is modeled after a Thoroughbred horse.  I wanted to show and use a bred of horse that is known for its swiftness. I drew it looking down with a malevolent look, as if looking for it next victim.  The tail is similar to a mermaid but I wanted the look of the tail to have an almost wing like look with ribs along the inside for extra power. 
James IV Coats of Arms
With the unicorn I wanted to show its power and strength.  In Scottish lore it is seen as a powerful creature something a king, nobility or warrior would want.  James IV so wanted to show his strength that he incorporated the unicorn into his coat of arms.  With this in mind I thought of a Scottish warhorse and what better then the famous Clydesdale horses.  They are known for their strength and I love the feathering hair on their legs, which I think is a great touch for a unicorn.   They are also used in British and Scottish Calvary units up into the present. I have him rearing up to show its strength with a tough military look on his face.  I created mains for both creatures to represent flames.  I wanted the creatures to have a swift fiery look about them.  I continued the look into the unicorn’s horn as well.  

Unicorn and Kelpie Tattoo
This was a labour of love for me and when my friend wanted to use is as a tattoo, I cannot tell you how honoured I felt. They remind me of a culture I truly enjoyed and had the good fortune to experience.  Going to Scotland, touching the ground, the plants, the water, breathing in the air inspired me to create. These creatures, this drawing is the culmination of hours of imagining and drawing, trying to bring these noble creatures to life. Having my friend wear them as a tattoo only enhances my love for them even more.  To my friend I say, Thank you.  Thank you, for helping to inspire this and for bringing it to life.   
Inspiration comes to life

Comic Strips: No Brain Work


January is the beginning of many things.  A New Year, resolutions and of course the return to the routine for many people including students.  With this in mind, it gave me plenty of material to think about for this month’s The Craziest Things.  

On many occasions I have returned to the classroom on the first day after winter break feeling like it was not long enough.  The time went by too quickly and you feel like you never had a chance to truly rest.  Well if I felt that way and I know a few other colleagues felt the same, it would stand to reason that the students would too.  In truth I have seen many students act just like the student in the comics strip. 

I won’t ruin the comic for you, I will simply let you enjoy January’s The Craziest Things: No Brain Work.

Comic Strips: A Compassionate Benefactor


 

  With the Christmas season in full gear I thought I would throw in a bit of a Christmas twist to the latest comic strip, The Craziest Things.  Many ideas for the comic come from situations that I observe from the students and this month’s is no different.

  There is a wonderful student in the older grade five class who is full of opinions and has no compunction in offering her point of view, especially when it come to politics.  I told her on many occasions that I may disagree with some of her points of view but I love that she has a passion for these issues.  I told her to question everything and do her research so she can be well-informed when stating her opinions, but never stop questioning everything.

  The situation in the comic is a direct result from her conversions and passion for the subject matter.  I hope you enjoy December’s The Craziest Things: A Compassionate Benefactor.

CrazyComicsDec2018

Friday Two Cents: Scotland Inspired Christmas Creation


With the Christmas season upon us I indulged on a yearly tradition of setting up my Christmas town at school. A couple of students asked how long I have been setting up the town at the school. I told them it is the 9th year I have set it up, yet I started building the town about 10 years prior to that starting with only 5 buildings that I hand painted and with a simple train. Today it has grown to over 50 builds, all hand painted and some that I built myself.

This year I added a new building or to be specific buildings and hill.  I had built a hill with a tunnel for my castle, but this year I wanted to add something new, something that I was inspired to create when I went on my trip to Scotland.  My trip to Scotland was filled with endless wonders, from the beauty of the Highlands to the wonderful interaction with the people.  With all those experiences, the one thing that suck out for me was the rich history created or forged by the Scottish people. I am talking about the endless castles and medieval ruins everywhere you go.  From Edinburgh Castle to Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland is replete with castles dotting the landscape.  My exploration of these historical sites inspired me to create a new castle and hill for my Christmas Town. 

New Castle/Citadel

Stage 1) I began by creating the basic shape of the hill and buildings using plastic cardboard.  I wanted a hill with a tunnel and a multi-layer hill design similar to the castles I saw in Scotland.  I also created the basic shape of the main buildings for the castle.  I wanted one large structure and a couple of smaller buildings again similar to castles I saw.   

 

Stage 2) I then got plaster of Paris and coated the entire hill and buildings. It did not look pretty but I knew that I would be adding more and moulding the plaster to what I had in mind. This stage was the most time-consuming and labour intensive.  I could not simply scrap or chisel away.  I had to be careful not to press too hard or the plaster would crack.   Instead I used coarse sand paper to help smooth and shape the hill and buildings.   The buildings required two layers of plaster to get the right look but the hill took several. 

 

Stage 3) With the building shape relatively done the hill required more attention.  I did not simply want to use plaster to create a wall around the compound, therefore I created one with grey pebbles.  I used the plaster as mortar and created a multilevel wall with battlements. I also moulded and carved the sides of the hill to resemble a cliff face making the entire structure look like a citadel.

 

Stage 4) I then painted the buildings and the citadel with a base white. Once dry I began painting the buildings and citadel the way I envisioned.  If you look closely you can see that I incorporated three stones from Scotland (near Eilean Donan Castle) into the citadel final design. 

 

Once done, I brought in the new citadel into the school as part of my Christmas town set.   Everyone loved the new citadel and castle.  Thank you Scotland for the inspiration.  

 

Friday Two Cents: Don’t Stress: Laugh And Have Fun


 

‘A day without laughter is a day wasted.’Charlie Chaplin

 

  Well this week I was able to put up the Christmas tree, string the outdoor lights and put out my nativity scene for the upcoming Christmas season. Yet one thing that always makes the season more enjoyable is the music of this wonderful holiday.  We in Toronto are quit fortunate to have a radio station (CHFI 98.1 FM) that plays Christmas music all day long.  They started last weekend at the beginning of the Santa Claus parade and will continue until December 26, Boxing Day. 

  Christmas music has always been a big part of Christmas for me.  I think because I use to play in several bands and we were always playing the songs for about a month and half before Christmas to help us prepare for our concerts.  However, about 10 years ago I discovered some alternate Christmas songs that I have to listen to that makes my Christmas complete.

Stressed Out Christmas

  They are a collection of songs preformed by Bob Rivers and once I heard them, Christmas hasn’t been the same. For some reason these songs connected with me. Perhaps it’s because I find that with everyone is running around trying to get things done, buy stuff and it places a lot of stress on people when there shouldn’t be.  I think people need to not take things too seriously. Everywhere people are worried about getting the perfect gift, have the perfect dinner and the perfect tree. These songs help me to see that there is some fun and laughter in this season.  We do not need to take things too seriously; relax, enjoy life, laugh and have fun.   Those are some of the important parts of Christmas.
  Therefore in the spirit of bringing some laughter and fun back into Christmas, I have attached a YouTube video/song of my favourite alternate Christmas song by Bob Rivers.  The tone is from the song “Winter Wonderland” but the lyrics have been changed into a new song entitled, “Walkin’ ‘Round In Women’s Underwear”. 
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and remember to have a little laugh every once in a while. 

Friday Two Cents: Delayed Gratification A.K.A Learning Patience


 

  In the past two weeks many parents have been receiving progress report on their children and many have talked to me about some issues. Many parents have described their behaviour as lazy and not wanting to do the work. Why are so many students having problems focusing and doing the work? Where does the problem stem from?

  I have worked in many grades and I have seen the same issue in all ages. Wherever I go the students are given a task, be it math, literacy or art and they want an instant result. In other words; they want instant gratification.
  After telling this to the parents they look at me with surprise and I say look at our society. Today everything is instant gratification. If they want something all they need to do is to ask for it and they get it. Video games give an instant reward after, you want something you go online and order it. You want a picture of a cartoon, go online and search until you get it. Why draw it?
  I noticed this especially when I do art with the students. On numerous occasions students ask me to show them how to draw something and when I do, they are not happy because their drawing is not the same as mine. I constantly remind them that it took me many years to get to my level of artistic skill and they need to practice constantly to get better. Many do not accept this and destroy their creation or give up.

I want it now!! Instant gratification.

  The same can be said for other subjects and their seems to be a disconnect happening. The best way I can describe it is this way. They are at the foot of a hill. Their goal or task is on the top of the hill. They want the goal but don’t see the hill between them. It does not matter how you get to the top of the hill fast or slow but you still have to put the effort into getting to the top.  Many don’t want to because it would take a long time, in other words they want instant results or gratification.
  What we need to do is teach the students that delayed gratification has more rewards. Study after study have shown the benefits to children who have learned delayed gratification. One famous experiment by Stanford professor named Walter Mischel sheds light on this subject matter. In the experiment a child is placed in a room, sitting on a chair and a marshmallow is placed on the table in front of them. The researcher offered a deal to the child. He told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child decided to eat the first one before the researcher came back, then they would not get a second marshmallow. The choice was simple: get one treat right now or two treats later. He left the room for 15 minutes.
  The footage of the children waiting alone in the room was very entertaining to say the least. Some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and bounced and scooted in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And finally, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time. The study was done in 1972 but the interesting thing is what comes later.
  The researchers followed the children and what they found was surprising. The children who were willing to delay gratification and wait to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life lessons. They continued to follow each child for more than 40 years and time and time again, the group who waited patiently for the second marshmallow succeed in whatever task they were engaged in.
  So what should people take from this information. The one thing many students and people in our society need to learn and develop is patience. If you put in the work, the rewards are much better after time. We as educators and parents need to help the students solve the problem without telling them the answer. They need to put in the effort. If they fail once in a while that’s ok. Many learn more from failures than constant success. This way they can develop patience and enjoy the success more.

What did Edison say when they said he failed 10,000 times to make a light bulb?

‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ Thomas A. Edison

 

Something we all need to keep in mind.

Ailish Sinclair

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