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: 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

Friday Two Cents: Worlds Created In My Imagination


 

‘Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul.’ Vincent Van Gogh

‘The painter has the universe in his mind and hands.’ Leonardo Da Vinci

 

Last week I took a mini vacation about 1½ hours car ride north of Toronto, to a small city called Midland. I went to clear my head, cleanse my soul and hopefully to get inspired. I love going to that area since I was a child. Many people have cottages in the area and it is far enough from any major city to make you appreciate nature and what this country has.

Many of my friends and family always say, “Why are you going up there alone? Won’t you get bored?” I tell them that I need to get away and be alone with my own thoughts. I tell them I love the area and I always bring up my art supplies so I can have nature inspire me. This trip was no exception.

Once I begin my day I usually get into a routine. Even on vacation I have a routine and I find that it helps to get my creative juices flowing. I go for a walk every morning along the waterfront. Even in Toronto I go for a 5 km walk along the lakefront while I listen to some music. I find that centres me and I can let the creativity flow after. In Midland there was no exception. They have a quaint waterfront with many small boats and beautiful green paths.

Yet as beautiful as these scenes are I find myself losing myself in thought. The world around me drops away and is replaced with worlds created in my imagination. I find it a great way to focus the mind. And from these imaginations I was able to create art from glimpses into those worlds.

For me this trip away from the noisy city was exactly what I needed to clear my mind and soul. To look within and what came out where creations from my imagination. Below you can see a few images I created from those imaginings. For when I looked into my soul I found a universe of endless possibilities.  

Friday Two Cents: Do What You Love


 

‘If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ Marc Anthony

This week I was finishing off my course and during that the final assignment I did something that made me begin my summer vacation.

Many of you know that I love to draw, paint or anything to do with art. For my final assignment I had to create a “sketchnote” for the assignment. If you don’t know, a “sketchnote” are rich visual notes that combine hand drawn notes, drawings, and typography. During my drawing of the notes I felt relaxed and content that I was doing what I am meant to do. It has been a very long time since I was able to just draw and create so I kept drawing and it was wonderful.

So all I want to pass on is “Do what you Love.” Because when you do, it is like you’re in heaven.

 

 

‘If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.’ Christian Louboutin

 

Friday Two Cents: Art Is Taking Risks


 

‘We have to take risks with art. If we don’t, it all becomes a bit boring.’

Julie Walters

This past week I had an interesting interaction with someone who made me stop and think. I was indulging in some drawing this week because I saw an individual that inspired me to draw them. She is rather attractive and I drew her from her head down to her chest but wearing clothes. Everyone who saw me drawing the images thought it was good yet one individual, who thought it was good too, said that I should be careful when I am drawing in public because someone may be offended by what I draw.

I thought about this comment they made and I had a few feelings come out of it. I felt some concern about what people thought about my drawings but mostly resentment and anger that I was in essence scolded for drawing something I like and I felt inspired to do. Yet as the resentment and anger subsided I began to feel that this person was either jealous but more over that this person was placing their negative points of views/emotions on me. I for one do not want to live my life based on negativity so I pushed them aside and thought of the positive side of the encounter.
I want my drawings/art to bring out different emotions in people. If some people are not comfortable with it that is the risk one takes showing it to others. My professor once told me that it takes courage to do art. Not to create it but to show it to others. It takes courage to have others see what you have created and artists take risks every time they show their work. I guess that I am following in the footsteps of some great masters when they took the risk of showing their works to others. Probably a lot of people did not like some of da Vinci’s, Michelangelo’s or Picasso’s work but they did not let those negative comments stop them from creating and neither will I.

 

 

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Art Inspiration: Take A Risk Or Not To Take A Risk


ArtInspirationPaulGLogo

 

‘We have to take risks with art. If we don’t, it all becomes a bit boring.’ Julie Walters

 

I am currently teaching a drawing club at the school for the afterschool students who are interested. I began with the basics of drawing and I even taught them how to write with cursive and calligraphy letters. However, they are interested in drawing superheroes and cartoon characters so I began teaching them how. Yet interestingly I found that when I was showing them how to draw some superheroes, I noticed that my drawings were more on the conservative side.

A colleague pointed it out to me when I drew Wonder Woman for a lesson. I drew her skinny, with small breasts and hips. I already know that but I did not realize that I sub-consciously did it. I redrew the character the way I would for myself and there was a bit of a difference. I made her curvier, with larger breasts and hips. Mind you the first attempt took me 20 – 30 minutes to create where the second took me about 60 minutes. You can see the difference in the images below.

Yet the interesting thing was that I would normally draw Wonder Woman version 2 for myself, but I think because I was drawing it for the students I did version 1. Perhaps it’s because in the past whenever I would draw the female form, many people (female colleagues) thought that what I drew was too provocative. However I would not draw them the same way  they would in comic books but more like version 2, therefore I felt that I was being judged too harshly.
I could have taught the students how to draw version 2, yet I guess I just did not want to hear the “whining” from those people, so I just drew the female character of Wonder Woman like version 1. In the end the students were the ones that suffered because I played it safe.
Art is not about playing it safe, it’s about taking risks. I love taking risks with art, it makes me feel alive and one with my true self. However this has made me do some deep thinking; we usually take risks when we feel safe. Answering a question in class knowing we won’t be made fun of if we get it wrong. Trying out for a team knowing we won’t be laughed at if we don’t make the play.  Safe from ridicule and judgment.  I wonder what does it mean when I draw version 1 instead of version 2. I guess actions do speak louder than words.

Here’s to taking risks.

Art Inspiration: Remembrance 2015


ArtInspirationPaulGLogo 

This year I had the good fortune to travel to Ottawa where I received many moments of inspiration. The most profound flashes of inspiration came when I visited the Canadian War Museum and the National War Memorial. There I was inspired to draw and create what I saw.

I did a lot of drawing and I did not stop there. I found other images from the Great War, World War Two and modern images of Canadian soldiers. I drew each one in turn until I had over a dozen on my drawing table.   I then got an idea to place these drawings and images in a short video clip as a tribute to all Canadians who fought for our freedom.

When creating these drawings, I did not use my typical mediums. I drew them on acid free paper as I always have but instead of pencils, pens or paints I used charcoal. I wanted to create something using similar mediums that Michelangelo, Da Vinci, or many other artists used over a hundred years ago. I found the experience refreshing and developed a new appreciation for those masters of old.

I scanned all the images into the computer and set off on creating a video tribute. The music I used was, Honor (Honor (2010), (Main Title Theme from “The Pacific”) by Geoff Zanelli, Hans Zimmer & Blake Neely.) It is a hauntingly beauty piece of music that I never get tired of hearing.

The end result is a video I hope reflects my passion and respect for all those whom I owe so much.

 

I have imbedded the YouTube video for you to watch. It was created because I was inspired.  My hope is that it inspires others. Please enjoy Remembrance 2015.

 

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