Posts Tagged ‘art’


The Peter Blaskovic Experience

May 20, 2010

Thank you, Peter Blaskovic. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. But my children and I have discovered your amazing website, and the heartsparking ideas you have, and it led to a moment I will always remember: my three children sitting around a table, each at a computer, each creating art with your concepts.

For those of you who have never explored this stuff, start here, with Flame. It’s what I used to draw that thing up at the top there, which took about a minute. Play with it. Change the noise of your brush, or the colour. Mess around. Have fun. Create.

When you’re ready, click here to learn that Blaskovic has been at this for a while, and he knows what he’s doing, and he puts it out there for us to enjoy. He asks nothing in return. He simply shares. Now that’s art.

I used to be an artist. Somehow, along the way, it slipped from me. I can still draw a pretty mean cartoon, and I love to paint, but the passion vanished. My oldest son, now 11, has a tremendous artistic gift, something we indulged for years until, over the last few months, he has decided art isn’t cool. Until he found Flame … now he’s cutting loose, and I see the artlight inside him glowing again.

Whoever you are, Peter Blaskovic, you got my kids interested in art again, and you have us all creating. Nicely done.

  • Update: I forgot to mention that I drew Mr. Demon up there with the mouse, but we’ve been using the Wacom tablet and pen Cogswell sent me, and getting some very nifty results.

A Guide to Human Types

May 9, 2009

There’s this website link making the rounds today that purports to be a guide to human types for artists. At first, I thought it would be the usual exomorph/mesomorph diagrams, so I was dismissive. It turned out to be very different: a breakdown of human physical characteristics based on area of origin.

Let’s be clear: this isn’t about race. Too many people think of race as Arab vs. Jew, or French vs. English. But those aren’t races. This intensive set of diagrams explores how we differ based on where our ancestors originated, not their racial group.

Again, I was dismissive. How can there be any one diagram for, say, Greeks? Or Scandinavians? But the more I looked over the chart, the more I realized there was something to it … to a limited extent.

Take me, for instance. My ancestors came from Ireland, Scotland, Africa and North America, but according to this chart, I bear the physical characteristics of the Levantines. Height, head shape, colouring … it all fits, as does the line “inclined to corpulence when occupation is sedentary,” which is intello-speak for “couch potato potential.”

The match doesn’t surprise me. Among my ancestors were Melungeons, many of whom claim to be descended from Levantine slaves abandoned in North America centuries ago. Other forebears were black slaves owned by the Creek Nation, intermingling like mad, with the odd white face joining the mix.

When you think about it, people of the Levant, which straddles three continents, would carry characteristics of European, African and Asiatic people … just like I do.

The Sami Finn entry was illuminating, too. On their mother’s side, my children are descended from Sami Finns, Russians and Polish Jews. That sketch of a Sami face looks just like a lot of their relatives. It’s quite remarkable.

My kids, though, don’t look like anything on this chart. Not entirely. But with their United Nations genetic mix, I suppose anything is possible. Once in a while, you hear some scientist (or pseudoscientist, or pundit) claim that as world populations shift, humanity is shifting toward a blended one-world look. Maybe that’ll happen. Maybe it won’t.

But we’re off to a good start at the Weather Station.


Faces From The Past

March 10, 2009

I read today that Ulysses S. Grant VI, the man with the coolest name in America, has uncovered in his family archive what may be the last photo taken of Abraham Lincoln. Grant, 38, says the small photo shows a distant Lincoln in front of the White House. He suspects it was taken by his great-grandfather, Jesse Grant, youngest son of two-time U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. That would be Ulysses S. Grant the First.

The photo is hard to make out. It’s a long shot, with the White House in the distance. It could be Lincoln, but then again, it might not. Someone wrote “Lincoln in front of the White House” on the back, but such inscriptions can be tricky.

Meanwhile, a British expert is claiming a painting in the possession of an Irish family is the only likeness of William Shakespeare painted during his lifetime. The painting, which is actually quite masterful regardless of its subject, shows an aristocratic man with a wise look in his eye — a man who looks nothing like the famous bald-headed bard image we all know.

Then again, experts have always concluded that that image, used to illustrate the famous First Folio of Shakespeare’s work, was likely not an accurate image.

There was a case here in Canada a few years back where a fellow claimed an old triptych that had been in his family for hundreds of years was a Shakespeare painting, a contemporary likeness. Known as the Sanders portrait, it was the focus of Shakespeare’s Face, a very well-researched book by Toronto reporter Stephanie Nolen a few years back. I enjoyed that book, but in the end, I couldn’t find enough evidence to support the family’s claim that this was a portrait of Shakespeare.

No, this latest discovery, the Cobbe portrait, is being heralded by all sorts of experts as being Shakespeare. And it may be. The thing is, we’ll never know for sure.

And then there’s Christopher Columbus. I’ve always been fascinated by this mysterious character. We think we know a lot about him — Americans especially — but the historical record is pretty sketchy.

Now a researcher claims Christopher Columbus was actually named Peter Scott, or Pedro Scotto, and he was the son of Scottish residents of Genoa. XX claims Pedro took a new name when he became a pirate and kept it when he turned to exploration. Interesting. This same researcher claims Columbus was known for his fair hair, blue eyes and freckles, so this proves his case. I don’t know about that. But it’s interesting all the same.

What’s the interest in these historical figures and what they looked like? Why do we need to see Shakespeare’s face, or a new image of Lincoln? I remember the buzz a few years back when an alleged film clip of bluesman Robert Johnson surfaced; I was as excited as the next fan, and I felt a real disappointment when it was debunked soon after. It shouldn’t matter. I still have his music, and seeing his face shouldn’t be that big a deal.

But it is. Our faces are the business cards of our lives. They’re how we market and sell ourselves. As I’ve been going through the job search process, I have to remind myself constantly that people have always remarked on how angry or sullen I look, even though I’m feeling fine. It’s because I have a tendency to lower my head and look out at the world from under my eyebrows, and I have a kind of scowly face.

  • Reporter: “Are you always so sad?”
  • Ringo Starr: “No, it’s just me face.”

So now I’m holding my head high, smiling more and feeling a little goofy about it. Let’s see how that works out.

We need to look into the eyes of the people we admire, and the people we want to know. We seek out their photos, their paintings. And when those people have been dead for centuries, the need to see them becomes more acute. It’s a desire to put together the whole story, and faces are key to that. This is why we put posters of our favourite characters on our walls as kids, and as adults we decorate our homes with pictures of loved ones. Or, in my case, velvet Elvis.

When it comes to long-forgotten, long-lost faces, though, and mysteries of old art, photographer and genealogy, we’ll never know for sure. And I guess I enjoy the mystery in that, too.