Friday Two Cents: The Simplicity Of Play


 

This past week I return home after a wonderful time with friends up north in the Penetanguishene/Midland area. We did a lot of different activities in the area including swimming, sight-seeing and taking in some local festivities. One of the highlights of my time there was going to Discovery Harbour. It is a British naval base that traces it roots back to the War of 1812. The base was established around 1828 and was a presence to defend Canada until the 1850’s.

We were able to go twice to the site during this trip. Once for a Ghost Tour and the other for a Pirate Day. The Ghost Tour was very interesting and it did give me the shivers at times. I think I even saw a sign a ghost who did not want us in his cabin, spooky. The other time was a fun-filled day where pirates invaded the site. Pirate Day at Discovery Harbour was mostly geared towards the kids but I took the opportunity to have a little fun and live a little. I decided to bring up my pirate costume and walk around the site as Captain Jack Sparrow.
I dressed up and went to the site in full costume. To say I got a lot of looks is an understatement. When the kids saw me their eyes opened up and even their parents smiled. The staff was all dressed in pirate gear and they too smiled and encouraged me to play the pirate for the day. I walked around the site learning a few things about the history of Discovery Harbour, stopping once in a while to talk to people and some even asked if they could take a picture with me. I said sure and so I posed for pictures and I got to meet and talk to a lot of people. All in all it was fun to play pirate and learn some facts about the site. Yet I did notice something that made me pause for a moment or two.
While I was walking around as a pirate talking to people, I noticed some people giving me a few, what I would call; nasty looks. It was not as if I was being obnoxious or over selling the pirate theme, in contrast I was simply walking for one building to the next with my friends. Maybe, it was because I was an adult dressed as a pirate without kids. There were some other adults dressed up but they had kids with them. Perhaps they could not understand why a grown man would dress up and pretend or in essence play pirate.
I am not sure why but if that was the case all I can say is that I feel sorry for those people. I am very comfortable being myself and being very connected with my inner child. If those people cannot understand that we all need to play, then I all I can do is pity them and I’ll give them a couple of quotes / life lessons to help them. One from a famous philosopher, the other from a famous captain …

‘You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.’ Plato

‘The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.’ Captain Kirk

Two life lessons I always take to heart. Maybe we all should too.

 

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Art Inspiration: Staff Cartoons Steampunk Tea Time: Final Portrait


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‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.’ Aristotle

 

‘This world is but a canvas to our imagination.’ Henry David Thoreau

 

‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ Walt Disney

 

Inspiration and Imagination, something every artist needs and is elusive as an island of tranquility in a sea of chaos. Many people have told me that I inspire the children and people in general with what I do. Whether creating art, playing baseball or trying to improve my life, people say that I have inspired others to try new things and look inside themselves. I have always found this interesting because I get my inspiration from these very people. Whether it be a child asking me about Mythology or adults asking me about their children or even just talking to people about a number of different topics, they have inspired me to create and use my imagination to bring the impossible possible.

A prime example is when I draw the staff at my school as cartoon characters or caricatures. It started one year around Christmas when we have our Christmas concert and staff dinner. Always after the concert, we go out for dinner and we exchange gifts, such as a Chris Kringle. I wanted to liven things up and instead of giving Christmas cards, I decided to create my own with the staff members as a caricature.
This specific year the inspiration for the caricatures came from own person exploration of a style known as Steampunk. Steampunk is a subgenre of science-fiction and fantasy that came out of literary works such as Jules Vern and H.G. Wells to name a couple. But Steampunk can be best described by breaking up the word. “Steam” represents the era mostly the early industrial age around the Victorian Era. “Punk” represents rebellion or going against the norm.
The “Punk” or rebellion goes for going against what is expected on the technology level as well as societal norms. On the technology level you see cars that are steamed powered, flying dirigibles or airships the size and look of sailing vessels or steam-powered walking machines.   Yet when it comes to rebellion on the societal side it affects women the most. During this time women were relegated to subordinates to the men, covering up themselves, not taking up employment or independent behavior. That is why in Steampunk you will see many women showing cleavage or wearing short skirts and showing a lot of leg to show off their stockings.
It took quit a while to create the caricatures but once the staff received them they loved the cards and caricatures. In the next few weeks I will be posting a few of the characters from the cards because these people inspired me to create these characters. Hopefully they can spur imagination and inspire others.

Final Portrait

 

In the final image I gathered all the caricatures for a staff portrait. This is set in a  Steampunk style therefore I needed a Victorian Era background. I went through a few ideas, a garden scene, a drawing-room similar to something from Pride and Prejudice, a steamship (I do like ships) or a busy street in London. I went back and forth on what background I should have but finally I got an idea and that was perfect.
I say a background of a library from that era and I knew that would be the perfect backdrop. Yet what library should I use? I searched and the best one came from a favorite story of mine. I found an image of the library from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and new this was it. Beauty and the Beast has been my favorite story since I was a child and I fell in love with the Disney version the moment is saw it. That library background is magnificent and it would be perfect for what I wanted.
I added the caricatures in a line with myself in the middle. I seemed appropriate considering I am the only male working at the centre. The soft-feathered frame was added, quite simply, it framed the portrait. I them added my personal logo ‘Paul G” to the lower right but I was not sure what to call the portrait. Then the idea came to me. Whenever we had a PA day or I had some time I would make the staff a stop of tea. I would brew a pot of tea and then set up cups, sugar and milk for the staff like I would for any guests over for a cup of tea.   The staff enjoys the tea service and I thought it would be nice if I had these caricatures over for tea. Therefore the title came out to be “Steampunk Tea Time”.
After I gave the staff their individual cards with their caricatures, I presented this final portrait to them all. They were all signed and dated and to say that they liked it would be an understatement. They all loved the final portrait and I hope you too will enjoy the final portrait of “Steampunk Tea Time”.
Steampunk Tea Time - Final Portrait

Steampunk Tea Time – Final Portrait

Art Inspiration: Staff Cartoons Steampunk Tea Time: Steampunk Man (The Captain)


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‘The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.’ Aristotle

 

‘This world is but a canvas to our imagination.’ Henry David Thoreau

 

‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ Walt Disney

 

Inspiration and Imagination, something every artist needs and is elusive as an island of tranquility in a sea of chaos. Many people have told me that I inspire the children and people in general with what I do. Whether creating art, playing baseball or trying to improve my life, people say that I have inspired others to try new things and look inside themselves. I have always found this interesting because I get my inspiration from these very people. Whether it be a child asking me about Mythology or adults asking me about their children or even just talking to people about a number of different topics, they have inspired me to create and use my imagination to bring the impossible possible.

A prime example is when I draw the staff at my school as cartoon characters or caricatures. It started one year around Christmas when we have our Christmas concert and staff dinner. Always after the concert, we go out for dinner and we exchange gifts, such as a Chris Kringle. I wanted to liven things up and instead of giving Christmas cards, I decided to create my own with the staff members as a caricature.
This specific year the inspiration for the caricatures came from own person exploration of a style known as Steampunk. Steampunk is a subgenre of science-fiction and fantasy that came out of literary works such as Jules Vern and H.G. Wells to name a couple. But Steampunk can be best described by breaking up the word. “Steam” represents the era mostly the early industrial age around the Victorian Era. “Punk” represents rebellion or going against the norm.
The “Punk” or rebellion goes for going against what is expected on the technology level as well as societal norms. On the technology level you see cars that are steamed powered, flying dirigibles or airships the size and look of sailing vessels or steam-powered walking machines.   Yet when it comes to rebellion on the societal side it affects women the most. During this time women were relegated to subordinates to the men, covering up themselves, not taking up employment or independent behavior. That is why in Steampunk you will see many women showing cleavage or wearing short skirts and showing a lot of leg to show off their stockings.
It took quit a while to create the caricatures but once the staff received them they loved the cards and caricatures. In the next few weeks I will be posting a few of the characters from the cards because these people inspired me to create these characters. Hopefully they can spur imagination and inspire others.

Steampunk Man  (The Captain)

 

The last caricature of “Steampunk Tea Time” is, me. After creating all the staff caricatures I also had to create mine. Yet I had already created one and I could not improve on what I had already created. I had created it as a character in a story I had started about a year earlier, The Captain and the Baroness.
This is a story I created for someone special as a birthday present for them, but I decided to continue the story after a time. I was going through some difficult issues at the time and indulging in my creative side helped me through it. The story was loosely reflecting the issues in my own life and when I wrote chapter three I was going through a lot of change. Therefore I decided to change the look of the character ‘The Captain’ in the story. The character was my caricature of me dressed as a pirate, aka Jack Sparrow. So I changed my character and my new caricature was created.
I began by basing his outfit on that of a naval office during the Victorian Era. He is a captain after all so it made sense. I drew him with grey pants and a vest and a royal blue jacket overcoat with gold trim, then I added a white poufy shirt, a royal blue Ascot tie and black riding boots. This is in the steampunk style; therefore I added two holsters with side arms.   I added a small dagger to his right and a rapier on the left with a couple of belts. If you look closely, the rapier guard has an inverted engraved image on it. It is a falcon symbol. I am Maltese and adding a falcon creating the idea of the Maltese falcon went well together. The last touch of the outfit was a pocket watch hanging from his belt. It makes sense; a captain needs a watch to help navigate. The hair was very similar to my hair and the beard and mustache (Van Dyke) was very similar to the one I had grown at the time, and there you have it.
The staff did not see this caricature until the final group portrait and they all loved it. A few had a couple of things to say, yet I did tell them that I did create this caricature as a character in a story I wrote. If you want to see and read the chapters I posted you can click on the link below.

 The Captain and the Baroness

 I hope you too will enjoy the twelfth and final steampunk caricature from “Steampunk Tea Time.”  Next week i will post the final portrait with all the caricatures.  
Steampunk Man - a.k.a. The Captain

Steampunk Man – a.k.a. The Captain

Friday Two Cents: I Love Working With The Students


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Well today at school we had our Halloween parties and parade for the students. The students always want to know what I will be for Halloween but I keep that bit of information as close to my chest as possible. The only clue I gave them was that my beard was part of my costume. I know it’s not much but I like to keep them guessing.

Well I won’t keep you guessing, I was dressed up as Killian or Hook from Once Upon a Time, a television show. It was a great time dressing up with the students but a lot of fun dressing up with the staff too. Many of them had very interesting and inventive costumes. But the best part about this day actually started yesterday.

At the school they had a Halloween party for the students, run by the parents. In the school they had different games and activities for the students. The principal was present and we were talking before it began and she asked if I was staying. I said no I had stuff to do at home. She thought so because she reassured a little girl that I was not going tonight because she did not want me to see her costume until Friday. She said she wanted to make sure that “Mr. Paul does not see my costume until Friday” to surprise me; otherwise she had to wear a different costume.

I thought that was adorable. And today she showed me her costume. It was Elsa from Frozen by the way, but she was so cute and the look on her face was priceless. No matter how many Halloween’s I have had with the students they always seem to surprise me. Not with the costume but with their desire to feel great at what they are wearing and their yearning to see my reaction to it. And people wonder why I love working with students.  

The Captain and The Baroness: Whom We Trust


 

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“Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.” Solon

 

Growing up, it has always been difficult from me to trust people. I have been hurt many times by people I thought I could trust. Yet I believe that there are more good people than bad out there. When I wrote this chapter I did not know whom to trust. I had been hurt by someone whom I trusted and cared for. I was confused and thoughts that I was the only person who felt the sting of a love lost. But the one thing I discovered was I have cultivated a wonderful circle of friends and family. They supported me in my time of despair and they rallied around me to quench the embers of doubt I was feeling from my break up.

This chapter is the result of cultivating friendships and surrounding myself with people whom I trust and in return trust me. Familiar habits, routes and relationships with people became the foundation for me to rebuild my trust in people and my life.

In this chapter the Captain embarks on his plans to free Pilsdreana from a tyrant. His training over and new friendships built, he looks to familiar surroundings to help in the next task that awaits him. There are some small tests of loyalty. Whom does he stand loyal with? Does he trust the Baroness and the Royal Guards or his own people? Does he sacrifice his people’s interest, for the chance to rekindle the spark with and old love? Or does he stay true to himself.

If you would like to read the previous chapters, below is a link to the chapter list for The Captain and the Baroness. 

The Captain and the Baroness

 

I hope you enjoy the latest chapter of The Captain and The Baroness: Whom We Trust.

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The Captain and The Baroness: Training


 

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    For many of you out there, the story of The Captain and The Baroness is not familiar to you. To be honest, it has been a year since I posted a chapter from the story of The Captain and The Baroness. For obvious reasons it took a back seat as I focused on my studies at teachers college. So it has remained on the shelf since them. But once I finished I still had chapters written and a story to finish so I decided to return to it and continue the story.

For those of you who do not know, this story started as a gift to a special person on her birthday. When we first went out and I got to know her and she so inspired me that I came up with an image of a character she could portray in a story or comic.  I began sketching and soon came up with a character. The Baroness, a Victorian style Steampunk knight/teacher, with a Hammer of Justice.

She was my muse and I did not stop with the drawing.  I wrote a story around the Baroness meeting a Captain (I have always seen myself as a pirate at heart, with a conscience) and thus The Captain and The Baroness: True Peace came into being. She loved it and that was to be all of it. Unfortunately we broke up and I found that the best way to help me get over the breakup was to indulge my artistic talents. Therefore, I decided to continue writing the story using the original as the first chapter. I wrote and wrote that in the end I had so much material that I could not place it all into one document or post; therefore I divided it into chapters. You can see chapters 1 – 9 in the story section of my blog; The Captain and The Baroness.

Each chapter was a way of me reflecting on how I felt after the breakup or something in my life at the time. The characters became extensions of what I was feeling and what I was doing to cope with the situations in my life. In the end it became very therapeutic and I truly enjoyed writing and illustrating the story. Yet it takes time, from writing to reading then rewriting, not to mention the illustrations I created, so it has been a long process, but an enjoyable one.

The latest chapter has to deal with training. I often look to quotes from historical figures, such as Shakespeare, Aristotle, Sun Tzu or Churchill to help inspire my creative juices. The following quote did such that;

 

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”   Aristotle

 

This quote reminded me of a conversation I had with an artist one day when I was just beginning to flex my artistic muscles. I asked how did he get to the level of just drawing what he saw? He answered by asking if I was good at anything. I told him that I was the lead trumpet in a couple of bands. He asked how did I get to become lead. I said I practiced about 1 – 2 hours a day. He said that is exactly how he got to the level of drawing what he saw.   Practice, Practice, Practice, and he was right.

At the time I was and still am working hard to keep healthy and stay in shape. At the time of the breakup I found that working out helped me to focus my mind on things other than the breakup. It also had the extra bonus of lowering my blood pressure and I had lost a lot of weight. This chapter is all about me retraining my mind and body and in the process I discovered what kind of person I am.

In this chapter the Captain embarks on training with the Royal Marines for their part of the liberation of Pilsdreana from the tyrant Baron MacVine. In the process he is reacquainted with the Baroness and reveals something to her that makes her realize what kind of person the Captain truly is.

 

I hope you enjoy the latest chapter of The Captain and The Baroness: Training.

 

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The Captain and The Baroness: A Plan


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 The Captain and The Baroness: A Plan

“Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.”   Confucius

 

Wisdom comes from experience; courage from within the individual; yet compassion comes from the character of the person that wisdom and courage has shaped.

For me compassion for others has been ever-present, maybe because of my teaching background. But at a time I had temporarily stopped feeling compassion for others. It was after my break up that I had felt disillusioned with people/women and I did not have any compassion for anyone but myself. I made the mistake of being selfish and not caring for the needs of others. But the more I closed myself off from feeling compassion for others the more distant I felt. I was hurt and was more interested in my needs. I realized, after some soul-searching, that showing others kindness, caring and consideration they returned it in kind.

This chapter is a result of opening my heart to others and in my own way I began to understand why things happened, including in my relationship. I replaced mistrust and being cynical, with hope and understanding for others, women and as well as, for my ex.

This chapter is about replacing the mistrust with hope and understanding.   The Captain is finally talking to the Baroness and is being told the circumstances behind the Princess’ fate.   The Captain comes face to face with a monumental decision. A decision that will affect the lives of 10s of thousands and the very person responsible for his break up with the Baroness.

 

I hope you enjoy the latest chapter of The Captain and The Baroness: A Plan.

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