Friday Two Cents: Ancient Greece Inspired


I recently went to see the newest super hero movie Wonder Woman. Apart from the fact that I loved the movie and character, I love the fact that the comic book character was inspired by the myths of ancient Greece. After watching the movie I felt inspired to research some aspects of the character and then draw the Amazonian Princess.

Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by a psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston. He was a great believer of the educational value of comics and wanted to create a superhero character that would use compassion over violence. The original artist was Harry George Peter. Together they created a character that has been a great inspiration to millions of girls and women.

I for one love the character and when you add the ancient Greek mythology to the mix, I am hooked. Many aspects of the character come from Greek mythology.   She is an Amazon Princess, mentioned in such tales as Homer’s Iliad. The comic book story lines mention the Greek gods and their background story of how they  created the Amazons. As well her own creation story involved the Greek gods, not to mention the fact that her primary advisory is Ares, the god of war.

You add all these together and it is no wonder I am drawn to Wonder Woman. I hope you enjoy my Ancient Greek inspired drawing of Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman

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Friday Two Cents: Imagine The Endless Possibilities


twoCentsOldNew

 

This past week I introduced the afterschool students (grades 3 – 5) to the world of mythology, more specifically Classic or Greek / Roman mythology. I know the Ontario curriculum for grade 4 Social Studies has an Ancient Civilization unit on the subject, therefore I know the majority of the students would be or had been exposed to this theme. Yet I wanted to explore or really expose them to the world of Classic mythology as I was at their age.

We did activities such as maze/labyrinths runs, word searches, word scrambles and crosswords on mythical creatures. Colouring sheets on some of the mythical creatures, Greek vase drawing and scratch art; (I will try to post some of their creations in the next couple of weeks). But the big thing that I wanted to do was tell them the stories or tails from mythology. Like the traditional story tellers of old use to.
Prometheus's unending punishment

Prometheus’s unending punishment

I started with the creation story with Chaos, Cronus, Rhea, Zeus and the other Olympian Gods. Yet I then focused on the creation of man by Prometheus, the story of the sacrifice to the theft of fire, Pandora and his endless punishment. I continued telling them the story of the Iliad with side stories of the birth and legend of Heracles, Achilles, Helen, Paris and other details from the Odyssey and the birth of Rome with Aeneas as the descendent of Romulus and Remus.  
The students were mesmerized by the story and they wanted more but I only told them segments of the story everyday. Everyday they would ask about what happens next in the story. Their curiosity was amazing.
I was also a bit surprised by the student’s attention because most of this generation has a very short attention span. Study after study has proven this fact as well as my colleagues’ experiences and mine have backed this up. Yet their interest was so genuine that I too became excited when telling them. I even could not help myself by telling the students how these stories have affected them in their own lives. The story of the Roman civilization was one example they enjoyed. I told them that the Romans were first a monarch, then a republic; they had a civil war and then finally becoming an Empire. This is similar to the government and story line from the Star Wars movies. This surprised them and I could see that many made the connection. I told the students that I had a great many other stories I could tell them, but that would have to wait until another time. Many wanted to know more and I promised I would tell them more stories in the up coming days.
This experience was fantastic and it really made me feel good to bring this experience to them. Yet I think the greatest feeling I had, was telling them the stories. I felt like I was continuing the tradition of story telling dating back to ancient times. When story telling was the principle way to communicate thoughts, values and traditions from one generation to the next. It felt good to continue that tradition in a time when people want or need visuals to help tell a story. I suppose Carl Sagan was right;

‘Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.’ Carl Sagan

The true gift of humanity is our ability to “imagine the endless possibilities.”

Art Inspiration: Staff Cartoons Steampunk Tea Time: Final Portrait


team logo04

 

‘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)


 team logo04

‘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: Opening My Mind To Different Possibilities


twoCentsOldNew

To those of you who are single, do you get this from your friends who are married or in a relationship, “Why are you single, you’re a great guy? You should ask so and so out. Or go onto a dating website.” I have never been married just occasionally in a relationship of one kind or another but I have been single for most of my life. Yet why is it that people in relationships keep telling me I should find someone?

He is attractive, happy and enjoying life. Let’s get him married so that can all stop!

Mind you I have to admit that I work with mostly women and they constantly look to push me into some kind of relationship. They tell me I’m attractive and for intensive purposes I am happy and I am enjoying life immensely.  So why are they trying to marry me off? I guess when women see these traits in a man they must think, “He is attractive, happy and enjoying life. Let’s get him married so that can all stop!” Ha Ha Ha. I am joking of course but is that truly the case on what people think when they see single people?  That singles are unhappy without someone?
Then I saw some research that shed some light on this subject matter. It was rather eye-opening and I thought I’d share it. According to new research in the journal Psychological Science, there’s a reason for this kind of thinking. It’s because most of us believe that our own life status is best for everyone. We tend to judge others who don’t share the same experiences we do! They did a study that provides a good example.
They mentioned one study, where over 100 students were asked to think about a typical night for an imaginary person. When the imaginary person was described by the researchers as single, the students who were also single were more likely to say that the person had a good night. Yet the other students who were in a relationship were more likely to say the imaginary person had a miserable night! 

In a relationship vs being single?

The study went on to say that this mentality continues to follow us everywhere, including at work. They continued by showing studies of hiring managers who are single would more likely hire applicants who were also single, and managers who were married would more likely to be drawn to applicants who were also married.
The question comes down to “Why is this all happening?” According to a psychologist from Stanford University, Kristin Laurin, it comes down to the fact that many of us idealize our own life status as a way of feeling content with our choices. Basically, we all want to believe we’re making the right choices. Interesting! So a single person idealizes their choice thinking those in a relationship are suckers and the reverse for those in a relationship.
Yet I have noticed that married and those in relationships seem to pity those who are single. I believe this study sheds light on why they think that but I think being single should not be pitied. Those who have chosen to be single are happy. I have to admit that I like being single yet I leave the door open to finding someone.
Therefore with this new knowledge I will not get upset with people who ask me why I am single. Instead I will simply say, “You know, if you want me to be in a relationship I am open to the possibility. If you know someone who would be a good match for me, I will go out with her. You make the arrangements and I will go out with her and I genuinely will put in the effort.”
I just have to keep in mind this simple quote that has been a call to action for me to be all that I can be:

 

‘We know what we are, but know not what we may be.’ William Shakespeare

 

I will take the risk and open my mind to different possibilities.

 

Friday Two Cents: A Happier Life


twoCentsOldNew

For the Past two months I have been listening to this great radio show on a local radio station called “The John Tesh Show: Intelligence for Life”. During that time I have listened to these helpful tips to improve and live a happy life. They have helpful tips on health, relationships and even financial matters.

I have been listening all this time and I think that it is a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to live a happier life. What I like about it is that they have positive information for anyone to use. I learned a few things about relating with children and improving relationships with people form some of their helpful tips.
One of the helpful tips I learned was if you want to be more creative try looking at something green. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology looked at how color affects our ability to think creatively. A psychologist Dr. Stephanie Lichtenfeld gave volunteers two minutes to think of all the possible uses for a tin can. Before they began, half looked at a green rectangle.  The other half looked at a white rectangle. Afterwards, each idea was rated for its creativity and cleverness. The result: The people who saw green produced more creative ideas than those who saw white.
The researchers then repeated the test replacing the white card for grey, red or blue; green still won every time. The researchers think the color green sparks creativity because it’s associated with growth. Especially since researchers picked a green that matched plants growing in a meadow. Yet they continued to say that if you want to really get your creative juices flowing, go outside and experience nature firsthand.
In a University of Michigan study, it found people who went for a walk in nature were better able to generate new ideas and come up with solutions to complex problems. That’s compared to people who took a walk inside their workplace, or at a gym.

Interesting. Think Green. 

To help inspire others, I saw this posting and I thought I would share it with you. It’s “10 tips for A Happier Life.” Many of these tips seem like common sense but even I was a little surprised at a few of them.

Here’s to a Happier Life

10Tips _forHappyLife

Friday Two Cents: Christmas Poem


twoCentsOldNew

Year after year I struggle to pass on the true meaning of Christmas to all I know.
But how do I do it? With words, stories, play or a Christmas show.
Yet I am not sure if people do hear.
The message that I pass on year after year.

 

The message that Christmas doesn’t come from a store,
That Christmas means a little bit more.
Christmas is about love for everyone big and small,
That you cannot find it in any shopping mall.

 

It comes from within you and you have a lot to share,
But people do not know this and it seems unfair.
For Christmas love comes from your heart,
You have always had it from the start.

 

So how can I help you see the joy the season brings?
Is in songs that famous people sings?
No, I saw a poem that speaks of this love.
It dropped in my lap like a sign from above.

 

It is touching and it inspired me write a few things I wanted to say,
For it speaks of how I feel about Christmas Day.
So please enjoy the poem and read it out loud for all to hear,
Happy Christmas to all and have a Wonderful New Year.

Santa_Secret_Wish

Santa’s Secret Wish

Author Unknown

 

On Christmas Eve, a young boy with light in his eyes

Looked deep into Santa’s, to Santa’s surprise

And said as he sat on Santa’s broad knee,

“I want your secret. Please tell it to me.”

 

He leaned up and whispered in Santa’s good ear

“How do you do it, year after year?

I want to know how, as you travel about,

Giving gifts here and there, you never run out.

 

“How is it, Dear Santa, that in your pack of toys

You have plenty for all of the world’s girls and boys?

Stays so full, never empties, as you make your way

‘Round the world, in each house just a moment to stay.

 

“From rooftop to rooftop, to homes large and small,

From nation to nation, reaching them all?”

And Santa smiled kindly and said to the boy,

“Don’t ask me hard questions. Don’t you want a toy?”

 

But the child shook his head, and Santa could see

That he needed the answer. “Now listen to me,”

He told that small boy with the light in his eyes,

“My secret will make you both sadder and wise.

 

The truth is that my sack is magic. Inside

It holds millions of toys for my Christmas Eve ride.

But although I do visit each girl and each boy

I don’t always leave them a gaily wrapped toy.

 

“Some homes are too hungry, some homes are too sad,

Some homes are so desperate, some homes are bad.

Some homes are broken, and there children grieve.

Those homes I do visit, but what should I leave?

 

“My gift bag is filled with the happiest stuff,

But for homes where despair lives toys aren’t enough.

So I tiptoe in, kissing each girl and each boy,

And I pray with them that they’ll be given the joy

 

“Of the spirit of Christmas, the spirit that lives

In the heart of the dear child who gets not, but gives.

If only God hears me and answers my prayer,

When I visit them next year, what I will find there

 

“Are homes filled with peace, and with giving, and love

And boys and girls gifted with light from above.

It’s a very hard task, my smart little brother,

To give toys to some, and to give prayers to others.

 

“But the prayers are the best gifts, the best gifts indeed,

For God has a way of meeting each need.

That’s part of the answer. The rest, my dear youth,

Is that my sack is magic. And that is the truth.

 

“In my sack I carry on Christmas Eve day

More love than a Santa could e`er give away.

The sack never empties of love, or of joys

`Cause inside it are prayers, faith and hope. Not just toys.

 

“The more that I give, the fuller it seems,

Because giving is my way of fulfilling dreams.

And do you know something? You’ve got a sack, too.

It’s as magic as mine, and it’s inside of you.

 

“It never gets empty, it’s full from the start.

It’s the center of lights, and of love. It’s your heart.

And if on this Christmas you want to help me,

Don’t be so concerned with the gifts `neath your tree.

 

“Open that sack called your heart, and then share

Your joy and your friendship, your wealth and your care.”

The little boy’s eyes was so bright with a glow.

“Thanks for your secret. Now I’ve got to go.”

 

“Wait, little boy,” Said Saint Nick, “please don’t go.

Will you share? Will you help? Will you use what you know?”

And just for a moment the small boy stood still,

Touched his heart with his hand and then whispered, “I will.”

 

 

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