My Dragon Age Obsession

All DAI characters

Companion Cast from Dragon Age: Inquisition. From L to R: Sera, Cassandra, Solas, Varric, Dorian, Blackwall, Iron Bull, Vivienne, and Cole

For the past couple of months, I have been completely obsessed with the video game Dragon Age: Inquisition (DA:I), the third game in the series. I currently have about 200+ hours of game time on it so far and four characters (two mages, a rogue and a warrior). I’ve finished it twice and we have the Game of the Year edition, so I am attempting to play through the Trespasser DLC but have gotten stuck. I have started a Pinterest board to keep up with the obsession. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I recommend you check out the Dragon Age universe wiki. This will give you a detailed description about the storyline of the three games if you so wish. For a briefer description, check out the edited comic below (which is linked on the Pinterest board) from Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan.

Edited Explanation of Dragon Age

Bioware, the company that also creates the Mass Effect series (another fantastic series if you love great storylines), has created the Dragon Age games. I love the series because they have great narrative storylines, the player can get really invested in the characters (both the main, as you can minutely create your hero down to the last physical detail, and secondary ones), and yeah the fighting is cool too. Plus there are progressively better graphics (really the difference between the first and third games is staggering) and hilarious companion conversations before/during battles really crack me up.

My favorite characters in DA:I are Iron Bull, Dorian,Solas and Cullen. Iron Bull and Dorian because their witty random comments are very entertaining, Solas because the intellectual/nerdy side of me loves his character and wants to do him even though he is kind of a bastard, and Cullen because he’s so awkward and shy it’s freaking adorable. Needless to say, these are also the characters I have romanced in-game.

I discovered fanfiction and have been reading that for awhile now too. It’s cool to see what other people can create from a beloved video game or TV show. Some of the writing is horrible (not just badly written but also bad grammar – sorry but the grammar nazi in me is coming out here). Some, however, is really good and you can tell that people put a lot of effort into writing good stories/books (some with over 100,000 words – the same as a PhD dissertation, in the UK at least) and genuinely want to hear feedback/comments from the people who read their works. I also discovered that the game series has released five books and a series of graphic novels. So excited to read them!!

I just finished The Last Flight (Dragon Age #5) by Liane Merciel and thought I would share my review on here. The book is set half during the Fourth Blight and right before the Fifth. The Blight is basically when the darkspawn (a group of tainted creatures like ogres – think of orcs and goblins from The Lord of the Rings trilogy) who corrupt an Old God and turn it into a dragon called an Archdemon, which in turn causes all the darkspawn to come up from underground and raze the countryside of Thedas. The Grey Wardens are the fighting force sworn to protect everyone from the darkspawn and kill the Archdemon. The story starts out with Valya, an elven mage coming to the Grey Wardens to help research info from the Fourth Blight as the darkspawn are stirring for another uprising. The book switches between the main storyline happening right before the Fifth Blight (which occurs during the first Dragon Age game, Origins), and the end of the Fourth Blight (about four hundred years earlier). While researching, Valya discovers a hidden diary from Isseya, a Grey Warden mage and twin sister to the hero of the Fourth Blight, Garahel. The symbol of the Wardens has always been a griffon, but I had no idea that they actually rode them into battle and Isseya’s diary is full of the battles with the darkspawn as well as how her brother managed to kill the Archdemon. Will the diary be able to help the Wardens on the onset of the Fifth Blight? 3 stars.

ThedasPoliticalMap.jpg

Map of Thedas

I was so excited to get the book because it has Wardens flying and fighting on griffons, which is pretty badass. It was cool that they described a bunch of cities/countries like Antiva, Nevarra, Starkhaven, and the Anderfels, which get only a casual mention in the games. I’m actually hoping the next game will be located in these areas. I liked Isseya’s character, though I would’ve liked more information on the mage Calien and being a member of the Crows, as well as being a blood mage in general. My biggest gripe was that the story was a little bit long in its grinding descriptions of the Wardens killing the darkspawn, which took up a significant portion of the book and just glossed over most of the characters, including the hero of the Fourth Blight, Garahel.

This is how I feel about video games, in particular playing a really good one like DA: I. Add in staying up till 1-5am because I’m so involved in the story that I completely lose track of time and you’ve pretty much got me.

Video Games Then and Now

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp

To be Published: Feb 9, 2016

Based off actual letters between Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Steiglitz, Georgia tells about the life and artistic pursuits of painter Georgia O’Keeffe and her breakthrough into the boys-only club of the art world in the 1920s-50s. The book goes into great detail about Georgia and her first lover then husband, photographer and art gallery owner Alfred Steiglitz, who really helped launch her art career. Will she be able to forge her own path in a world where everyone is trying to control her and her art? 4 stars.

I have been a bit obsessed with Georgia O’Keeffe ever since I did some research on her for an art program I was doing at work. So this book seemed the next logical step in getting to know more about her before committing to reading an in-depth biography. Overall, I enjoyed the book and Georgia’s insights on art and love. It was interesting to know the background of why and how she came to paint the things she did paint, especially as painting the enlarged flowers (the thing that made her the most famous) was kind of a casual idea. I thought it was a bit weird, especially given what I have read about her relationships with men outside of her marriage, that the author tried to paint Steiglitz as the womanizer and didn’t say much of anything about her dalliances. My biggest complaint about the book was that the ending really dragged.

I liked how the author added excerpts from real letters between O’Keeffe and Steiglitz to add to the story. You really got an insight into how Georgia felt about being an artist and her relationship with Steiglitz. I’m not 100% sure (unless it specifically says so) which is from a letter and what is the author’s original work, but the book does have some great quotes. In the beginning of the book, Steiglitz sends her some photos he has taken of her during the affair before their marriage, and she sees herself through his eyes, she has “that quizzical, almost feral expression in her eyes–a restless ambition fused with desire.” Steiglitz says this about art the first time she meets him when she was an art student in New York and it really stuck with her: “Art is life. Not reiterative. Not imitative, ever. It’s always new. Otherwise, it is not Art.” Or later when Georgia is frustrated with Steiglitz for how the critics view her and her work, and she tells him:

“I’m an artist, Stieglitz. All this nonsense about the eternal feminine and essential woman and cleaving and unbosoming. This both they smear on my work. It rips away the value of what I’ve tried to do. You tell me not to let talk like this interfere with my work. Well, it does interfere. It will. How can it not? You have to set them straight.”

I think that’s how most professional women feel about their work. We don’t want to be viewed as the feminine version, but as our own version. It is fascinating to see how she viewed herself as an artist because she was so revolutionary. She was an artist at a time where there were hardly any other female artists, and became hugely famous, even after changing her style so much. I also liked how the author described Georgia’s decision to move to New Mexico, that it was “curious, how something as inarguable and simple as wide-open space can rearrange me back into myself.” That’s kind of how I feel about living in the Southwest. Although I miss seasons and trees, there is something that really draws you in about the barren openness and rugged beauty of the Southwest.

Favorite Books Read in 2015

I’ve done pretty good this year with reading, as I ended up trying to read 285 and have read 290 (that’s over 42,000 pages!). I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done a proper non-review post as life and work especially has been crazy. I’m getting ready for 4 library programs that I’m presenting in the New Year and so have been busy working on those and making sure everything is put together. I’m doing an Art History/Craft program called Art Explorers (which is basically what I was doing before with Kids Cafe but no longer have time for), Discoverytime (Storytime + STEM for 2-5 yrs olds), a Tween Book Club called Page Turners, and I’m assisting with another program called Crafty Science. And that’s not counting my duties with Kids Cafe as Site Supervisor (mostly organization and paperwork) and occasionally presenting an easy craft on a Wednesday session. Anyways, on to the books in no particular order. The links are to my reviews of the books, might have to scroll a bit as the monthly reviews can be long. Liam’s choices are books my four year old son particularly liked and I read to him multiple times.

Favorite Picture Books

Emilys Blue Period 

Emily’s Blue Period   – a cute book about self-expression and dealing with parent’s divorce

Hi Koo

Hi, Koo! – a great way to introduce kids to haikus, plus adorable illustrations as always. I love Jon J. Muth’s books!

How to Cheer Up Dad

How to Cheer Up Dad  – This book made me laugh out loud b/c it is exactly what it is like to have to deal with a toddler, and the author/illustrator should know as he was inspired by his own son. Great illustrations.

Snoozefest

Snoozefest – loved the idea of this book and the illustrations, plus cutest name ever in a picture book (Snuggleford Cuddlebuns)

If You Plant a Seed

If You Plant a Seed  – Kadir Nelson, what can I say? I love the man and his work keeps getting better and better every time he comes out with a book. I loved the moral message of this book and even my son got it.

The Big Princess

The Big Princess – I love Taro Miura’s storytelling and bold simple graphics in this book and The Tiny King!

Beautiful Birds

Beautiful Birds – Another gorgeously decorated illustrations for an ABC book

I Will Take a Nap

I Will Take a Nap – I love naps so a book advocating them is always a bonus in my book. Plus this one is extra silly, and I love Mo Willems books.

Liam’s Choices

What to do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot

What to Do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot – a funny book that my son adored and had me read over and over again, including to his Preschool classmates

Mustache Baby  Mustache Baby Meets His Match

The Mustache Baby series – Hilarious books with adorable illustrations, trust me, kids and parents will love these! Both me and my son loved these!

  Wolfie the Bunny.jpg

Wolfie the Bunny – I loved it for the fabulous illustrations and got the humor of the “Wolf in Rabbit’s clothing”; My son just loved the story of the misunderstood Wolfie

Bee Makes Tea

Bea Makes Tea – A Rhyming/Phonics book that my son just fell in love with and we both knew most of the lines by heart (in separate voices) after we finally returned it.

Rutabaga the Adventure Chef - Book 1

Rutabaga: The Adventure Chef – really cute graphic novel featuring your classic knights and dragons tale but with an “adventure chef” kid for a hero and his kid companions. Looking forward to more from this author/artist; My son also really enjoyed this one as well.

Favorite Children’s Books 

Alvin Ho
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters 
– I haven’t read an Alvin Ho book in a over a year and forgot how funny it is, esp because of his Shakespeare cursing father.

I am Albert Einstein

I am Albert Einstein – A great simple introductory biography to the world famous physicist

Widenss and Wonder

Wideness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe – after using O’Keeffe for one of my Kids Cafe Art Lectures, I was ready to learn more about her and this biography was very-well researched for a kids book and a great introduction to this fabulous artist

Telegmeir-Smile    Drama

Smile and Drama – Cannot express enough how much I love these two graphic novels!

The Hollow Boy

The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) – love this series (adore the author’s work in general) and this is the latest one which literally keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Can’t wait for the next book in the series, but hate when they end on a cliffhanger!

Favorite YA Books

Kamisama Kiss

The Kamisama Kiss series by Julietta Suzuki- both the anime and manga (I’ve read through #19, though review is for #1-5) are a lot of fun to read, even though they are a bit silly and over the top

Prudence

Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1) – a continuation of the Parasol Protectorate series by the same author but from the viewpoint of Alexia Tarabotti’s daughter Prudence many years later and all sorts of supernatural steampunk fun ensues

Manners and Mutiny

Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4) – Adored this series by Gail Carriger! Really her stuff just keeps getting better and better!

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes – Hard to believe this is her first book as her world-building is so awesome in this pseudo-Roman world! Probably one of the best books I read this year, definitely one of the best ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copies).

Wolf by Wolf

Wolf by Wolf – Another of the most original stories I’ve read this year, this alternative history (what if Nazis and Japan won WWII) with a shape-changing Holocaust survivor

Templar

Templar – Fantastic illustrations and a great story (very well-researched), very Indiana Jones meets Ocean’s Eleven in terms of an impossible task being pulled off

Library Wars 12

Library Wars #12 & 13 – Futuristic militant librarians battle censorship with a bit of romance thrown in, what’s not to love?  I have had #14 on hold forever waiting for it to come out

Favorite Adult Books

Outlander

Outlander series – introduced to this series by watching Season 1 Vol 1 of the new Starz show; have now read through book 5 and loved all except 2nd book (which was okay but not as good as first one); Jaime is seriously one of my favorite book characters ever

Lord John and the Private Matter

Lord John Grey series – Usually spin-off series aren’t this good, but she puts just as much work and research into this series as she does with Outlander and I really like Lord John’s character (have read/listened to 10 out of 13 stories)

Major Pettigrews Last Stand

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – This book club selection was a fabulous first book by the author, despite being about 60 yrs old romance and racism; looking forward to her new book coming out in March 2016 called The Summer Before the War.

Transatlantic

Transatlantic – another book club selection, I really enjoyed this book even though I was a bit lost for awhile as to what the connection between the stories was

Fool  The Serpent of Venice

Fool and its sequel The Serpent of Venice – hilarious comedies based off the tragedies King Lear (Fool) and The Merchant of Venice/Othello/Cask of the Amontillado (The Serpent of Venice). Two of my favorite Christopher Moore books.

Did She Kill Him

Did She Kill Him? – a fascinating look at Victorian True Crime and sexuality/gender

The Improbability of Love

The Improbability of Love

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rotshchild

To be published: Nov 3, 2015

This book starts out at the end, then goes back six months to tell the entire story. It starts out at the auction of The Improbability of Love, a lost painting by Antoine Watteau, which may have launched the Rococo movement. It is predicted to break all kinds of art auction records with its sale. Everybody from rappers to Russian billionaires, a desperate art dealer and an American wealthy art collector are awaiting the sale. The actual story starts with Annie McDee, a brilliant but desperately unhappy chef who has come to London to forget about her failed relationship. She becomes the chef for two unscrupulous art dealers named Rebecca and Memling Winkleman, but wants more from her job. She buys the painting at a junk shop on a whim for a guy she’s been dating, but after he doesn’t show up for their date, she ends up stuck with it. Annie has to bail her drunkard mother out of jail, and ends up living with her for a while, but their relationship is less than friendly given past circumstances. While visiting the Wallace Collection with her mother, she brings the painting and it is looked at by Jesse, a tour guide, who thinks it might be more than it appears. The more she and others learn about it, the more people try to take it from her. Will Annie be able to find out the truth about the painting? Will she be able to pursue her dream of opening a historical catering company? Will the painting finally get the recognition it deserves? To find out, check out this intriguing glimpse into the London art world. 3 stars.

I originally picked this book up because I love a good book about art (being an art history major), and this one was different as it spoke through the voice of the painting itself. Just think about what a painting could tell you about its former owners, especially this fictional one as it included Madame de Pompadour, Louis XIV, Catherine the Great and the painter himself. It would make art history so much more fascinating and interactive. After the painting itself, I think my favorite character was Jesse, the painter/tour guide who really pushed Annie to do something about cleaning up the painting and getting it recognized. Annie’s character really annoyed me. She is obviously a talented chef, but completely clueless when it comes to love (i.e. the whole situation with Jesse). The double-dealing nature of the London art world, especially in relation to the Winklemans, was riveting, although I was glad they got their comeuppances in the end. I do have a bit of experience, at least from the curator point of view, as to how the art world can work as I did my first postgraduate degree in Museum and Gallery Studies. The beginning of this book was super slow and it took awhile for me to care about the main character Annie or what happened to her. The middle was much better, but I hated the tidiness of the ending.

Kids Cafe Art Lecture: Piet Mondrian

I’ve been getting ready for my next Tween Book Club. The first one was last Thursday and we only had one kid and one parent show up, though it was still a pretty good discussion of the book. We will have to work on Ice Breakers for next time.  Apparently part of this is due to the fact that no one could figure out where it was, though it was marked on the info sheet, and also because the homeschool writer’s group I distributed a bunch of flyers to apparently already is involved with two other book clubs. Ah well. I am trying my best this time to get as many of age kids a flyer as possible. I have managed to get a couple of kids to check out a book so far. I’ve also been working on finishing off the DiscoveryTimes (Preschool Storytime plus STEM) till the end of the month, when I will hopefully get a bit of a break. Kids Cafe, mostly just admin stuff, has been stressing me out, but I’m feeling better about it now as I’ve finally got things sorted.

This lecture on Dutch artist Piet Mondrian was another example of a modern artist who I have, of course, heard about but never really studied at any length. While I didn’t love the stuff he was most famous for (i.e. the grid-patterned paintings), I did gain a new appreciation for him and especially liked the concept behind one of his most famous paintings, Broadway Boogie Woogie. I had originally picked Mondrian because of the easy accompanying activity.Yes, you can do a super simple activity with duct tape, but the kids and I ended up doing an example using crayons/colored pencils and large pre-cut squares. Mine used primary colors only, but the kids got more creative with color use.

Piet Mondrian

Mondrian - View from the Dunes and Piers, Domburg 1908

View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers, 1909 [this was my favorite piece that I found for this lecture]

  • Biography of the Artist
    • Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan was born in the Netherlands in 1872
      • He changed his name to Piet Mondrian between 1905-1909
    • Mondrian was exposed to art at a very young age because his father was an art instructor and his uncle was an artist.
    • He started out as an elementary school teacher and painted in his spare time.
    • He started out as a landscape painter and painted the fields, farms and canals around Amsterdam.
  • Influences: Impressionism
    • Van Gogh’s Almond Tree, 1890
    • Van Gogh - Almond Tree, 1890
    • Mondrian – Avond (Evening): The Red Tree, 1908
    • Mondrian - Avond- Red Tree, 1908
  • Influences: Pointillism
    • Georges Seurat The Circus Parade, 1889
    • Seurat - La Parade du Cirque, 1889
    • Mondrian’s Sun, Church in Zeeland, 1910 [my second favorite piece of his]
    • Piet Mondrian - Sun, Church in Zeeland, Zoutelande Church Facade, 1910 at Tate Modern Art Gallery London England

      Piet Mondrian – Sun, Church in Zeeland, Zoutelande Church Facade, 1910 at Tate Modern Art Gallery London England

  • Paris – 1911
    • Mondrian moved to Paris in 1911. There he was influenced by the Cubist style of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, and his work started including more geometric shapes and were less biomorphic (drawn from nature and more curvy)
      • Picasso’s Ma Jolie (My Pretty Girl), 1911-12
      • Picasso - Ma Jolie (My Pretty Girl), 1911-12
  • Abstraction Starts – 1912
    •  Mondrian – Grey Tree, 1912
    • Mondrian - Grey Tree, 1912
    • Mondrian – Still Life with Ginger Pot, 1912
    • Mondrian - Still Life with Ginger Pot, 1912
  • The Netherlands – 1914-18
    • Mondrian moved back to the Netherlands from 1914-18, during WWI, and after meeting another Dutch artist who used only primary colors, he began to develop his own painting style.
      • In 1915, he created a new art movement called “De Stijl” or “The Style”, aka “Neo-Plasticism”
        • Colors were applied in patches and the horizontal and vertical lines were absolutely straight (there were no diagonal lines). These paintings were not readily accepted by the public.
  • Composition with Color Planes, 1917
  • Mondrian - Composition with Color Planes, 1917
    • Here, Mondrian has moved away from the dark Cubist colors of yellows, grays, and browns, opting instead for muted reds, yellows and blues – a clear precursor to his later palette that focused on primary colors.
  • Paris – 1919-38
    • After the war, he moved back to Paris and began to produce the grid-based abstract paintings with primary colors for which he is best known.
      • Composition with Large Blue Plane, Red, Black, Yellow, and Gray 1921
      • Mondrian - Composition with Large Blue Plane, Red, Black, Yellow and Gray, 1921,
  • New York City – 1938-44
  • New York City I, 1942
  • Mondrian -New York City I, 1942
    • He used strips of colored paper and moved them about on the canvas to get the effect he wanted before he painted it
    • This is the start of a new phase of Mondrian’s work, i.e. the black lines and rectangles of primary colors have disappeared, replaced by primary colored lines interweaved with each other.
  • Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43
  • Mondrian - Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43
    • He loved NYC’s architecture and was fascinated by a kind of jazz, called boogie-woogie
    • It was one of his most famous paintings. Mondrian replaced the black grid that had long governed his canvases with predominantly yellow lines that intersect at points marked by squares of blue and red. These bands of color, interrupted by light gray, create paths across the canvas suggesting the city’s grid, the movement of traffic, and blinking electric lights, as well as the rhythms of jazz.
  • Final Remarks on Mondrian
    • Created about 250 paintings in his lifetime, and was famous during his lifetime
    • Died in 1944 of pneumonia
  • Activity: Easy Hand-Drawn Mondrian Squares
    • Supplies: White paper, 7” x 7” square cardboard template (could also use posterboard), pencils, crayons (black, red, yellow, and blue)
    • http://www.teachkidsart.net/easy-mondrian/
    • My example (I used markers and a sharpie)
    • Mondrian1
    • Another example (not sure if this was done by kid or one of our interns)
    • Mondrian2

Kids Cafe Art Lectures: Leonardo Da Vinci

Only two weeks till my Tween Book Club (Page Turners) meets for the first time! I have finished my re-read of Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins and enjoyed the quick read, though it really makes me want to re-read the whole series as the first book was so short. I’ve done my best to promote it, giving out the flyers to an entire school of 4th-8th graders, a homeschool writers group, posting the flyer in the Children’s area, and telling any kid I think is around that age about it. We shall see soon.

I’ve not been doing a whole lot of these kind (i.e. art lecture) of Kids Cafe because of the new system they want us to use (kids have to kill out membership forms once, but with our kid population being a bit odd -we don’t have a steady population since we’re the big downtown branch, we can have up to 15 new kids a time). It is useful I guess for statistical purposes, but is annoying because it takes so long to fill out the forms that by the time they hand them in and get their food, half the time has gone. Anyways, on to this week’s topic, Leonardo Da Vinci. I have been fascinated by Da Vinci ever since I took a class on Renaissance art while I was doing a study abroad there and got the opportunity to see the Da Vinci museum in Vinci (outside of Florence) and see some of his inventions, along with his beautiful original works in Florence and Rome. He was a genius in art, science, architecture and many other fields, so it was fun to share his genius with others. This is one of the best presentations in my opinion. It was rather hard to squish Leonardo’s life into eighteen slides, but I think the kids/adults got a good understanding of the man. I found out about his inventing robots after I did a DiscoveryTime (storytime + science for 3-5 yr olds) on the subject. I had a lot of fun with the activity, though it wasn’t my original choice.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci

  • Biography
    • Born April 15, 1452
    • Leonardo was part of the Italian Renaissance, which lasted from about 1330-1550. Leonardo is referred to as a “Renaissance Man,” not because he lived through the period, but because he was good at everything.
    • Da Vinci refers to the place of his birth, the town of Vinci outside of Florence, Italy
    • Italy Region Map
  • Early Art Career
    • At age 14, Leonardo is apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio (an important Renaissance artist in Florence, whose patrons were the ruling family, the Medici’s) , which is how he improved his drawing and learned how to paint and sculpt
      • Verocchio – The Baptism of Christ, 1472-75
    • Verrocchio - The Baptism of Christ, 1472-75
      • Verocchio – David, c. 1475
      • Verrocchio - David, c. 1475
      • First work attributed to Leonardo – The Annunciation, 1472-75
      • Leonardo - The Annunciation, 1472-75
  • Famous Paintings
    • His most famous paintings are the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Only 15 of his paintings remain. He was very famous and known for his paintings while he was still alive.
    • The Mona Lisa is perhaps the most well-known painting in the world. It is believed that Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa around 1503. It is also known as “La Gioconda”, the last name of the woman who is believed to be the subject of the painting.
      • It has been on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris for over 200 years. Because of numerous thefts and attempts at defacing the painting, it has been put under bulletproof glass.
      • Researchers at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Illinois used face-recognition software to determine that the Mona Lisa is “83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful, and 2% angry.”
      • Mona Lisa, 1504-19
      • Mona Lisa - large
  • Mona Lisa Parodies
      • A parody is an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration
      • Squidward Mona Lisa Miss Piggy as Mona Lisa Minecraft Mona Lisa
  • Leonardo’s Time in Milan (1482-99)
    • The Last Supper is a frescoed painting located in the dining room of a church/convent in Milan, Italy called Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace) and is huge (15 x 29 ft)
    • Painted while Leonardo was under the patronage of Duke Ludivico Sforza of Milan
    • His version of this painting was the first to depict real people acting like real people and was the best example of one-point perspective – everything radiates from the head of Jesus.
    • Instead of using tempera paint on wet plaster (the preferred method of fresco painting), Leonardo thought he’d use dry plaster. His experiment resulted in a more varied palette, but this method wasn’t at all durable. The painted plaster began to flake off the wall almost immediately, and people have been attempting to restore it ever since. Last restoration was in 1999.
    • Leonardo’s The Last Supper, 1495-98
    • The Last Supper, c. 1495-98
    • Giampetrino’s The Last Supper, copy of the original from 1520
    • Giampietrino - The Last Supper, c 1520
  • Leonardo’s Notebooks (1482-1519)
    • Leonardo was also an architect, writer, natural/biological scientist, cartographer, and mathematician. He is famous for his notebooks where he kept over 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which were both art and science-related. In fact, he was the first one to explain in the year 1500 why the sky was blue.
    • The notebooks are written in mirror-image cursive with his left hand (i.e. backwards and right to left). And he was ambidextrous – could write with both hands
    • His conceptual drawings included plans for musical instruments, war machines, calculators, submarine, an automobile driven by springs, multi-barreled missiles (machine guns) and many more ideas. Many of these plans were limited by the level of technology at the time.
    • He was interested in civil engineering projects and designed a single span bridge, a way to divert the Arno River, and moveable barricades which would help protect a city in the case of attack.
    • Leonardo’s Inventions: Robots, Tank, and Single-Span Bridge
      • Robots
      • Tank
      • Single Span Bridge
    • Inventions: The Orinthopter
      • He was particularly interested in flight and studied birds to understand how they flew. The Orinthopter was a human-powered flying machine but he also created a design for a helicopter.

      • Orinthopter outline
      • Orinthopter, c 1490
      • Orinthopter
    • Understanding Human Anatomy
      • He became an expert in the anatomy of the human body, studying it in detail and creating hundreds of drawings to help explain his thoughts. Leonardo didn’t just study the human anatomy either. He also had a strong interest in horses as well as cows, frogs, monkeys, and other animals.
      • Anatomical study of the arm, c. 1510
      • The Lungs
    • Animal Studies
      • cats
      • Studies of Crabs
  • Sforza Horse Sculpture
    • In 1482, Duke Ludivico Sforza (Leonardo’s patron in Milan) challenged him to build the world’s largest equestrian bronze statue in honor of Ludivico’s father Francesco
    • Leonardo did a multitude of sketches for the sculpture, and he created a clay model of the horse in 1493, but it was never cast
    • It wasn’t until after Leonardo’s notebooks were re-discovered, and a wealthy American took on the project in 1977, that the sculpture was finally created in 1999.
    • It was installed in Milan (with a copy in Michigan) – it weighed 15 tons (33,069 lbs) and is 25 ft tall [you can see the scale to a human in the bottom picture]
    •  Sketches for Cavallo dello Sforza
    • Studies for an equestrian monument
    • American Horse, 2006
  • Codex Leicester (1506-13)
  • Activity: Invisible Ink using Lemon Juice
    • Let’s Be a Spy and Leave a Secret Message
    • Here’s a simple explanation of this
      • Send a secret message to a friend using invisible ink

        Small glass of lemon juice or milk
        Q-tip
        Piece of white paper
        Blow-dryer or light bulb

        Dip the end of the Q-tip into the lemon juice or milk, and use it to write a secret message on the piece of paper.

        Let dry completely. Your message should be invisible.

        To decode your message, heat the piece of paper by carefully blow-drying it (or holding it near a warm light bulb).

        As the paper heats up, your message will appear yellow or brown. That’s because milk and lemon juice are acidic and weaken the paper, Anderson says in her book. “When the heat source is put near the paper, the weaker part begins to brown before the rest of the paper does.”

Kids Cafe Art Lectures: Mosaics

It was nice to have a little downtime after the busyness of summer, but now we’re starting up Fall programs. I am presenting my first Tween Book Club on Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins on the 24th and I still need to re-read it. But now I have co-worker to help me out, so that should make it a lot easier. I just hope I get some kids to show up for the program. It’s been posted in the Children’s Area for about a week, and I dropped off a bunch of flyers yesterday at an elementary/middle school, and I’m hoping to catch the homeschool group this week to give them some flyers (we have a writing group that meets in our Makerspace once a week). I’m still assigned to DiscoveryTimes (basically Preschool storytime + Science or STEM), so those should be getting a bit easier. I say this because I hadn’t done these storytimes since November 2014 before I started again 3 weeks ago, and it is slightly different than ToddlerTime in that there is more planning and you usually do an activity/experiment during the storytime or I like to make up a Take-Home sheet so they can continue the lesson at home.

Anyways, on to Kids Cafe. I rather enjoyed doing this lecture as it taught me some stuff I didn’t know,  like the differences between Greek and Roman mosaics. Plus the Roman mosaics are so detailed that it really does look like a painting. The thing I loved most about this lecture was the art project, which I had a lot of fun with, though it was a lot harder to do than I thought it would be. I originally wanted to do bean mosaics, but we didn’t have any at work and I didn’t want to use dried pasta as we only had mini penne and farfalle. So I came up with using pony beads, the largish beads that are easier for little kids to grab, and white posterboard circles that I had leftover from last summer’s summer reading theme (space). The only problem with this was that you had to completely make sure the glue had dried or the beads would fall off.

KC Mosaics – April 24

Paper Sea Mosaic

Paper Sea Mosaic

  • What is a mosaic?
    • A mosaic is a picture or pattern produced by arranging together small colored pieces of hard material, such as stone, tile, or glass.
    • Mosaic Rock
    • Garden Mushrooms Mosaics
  • Early Beginnings of Mosaics
    • Artists have been creating mosaics since around 700 BCE (for over 2700 years). In the beginning, they used different colored stones to create patterns,
    • It was the Greeks, in 300 BCE, who raised the pebble technique to an art form, with precise geometric patterns and detailed scenes of people and animals.
    • Ex. Lion Hunt Greek Pebble Mosaic – 300 BCE
    • Lion Hunt Greek Pebble Mosaic, 300 BCE
  • Roman Mosaics (200 BCE – 450 CE)
    • By 200 BCE, specially manufactured pieces (“tesserae”) were being used to give extra detail and range of color to the work. Using small tesserae, this meant that mosaics could imitate paintings. Many of the mosaics preserved at Pompeii were the work of Greek artists.
    • Ex. Alexander mosaic from Pompeii – Alexander and Darius at Battle of Issus, Pompeii – 100 BCE
    • Alexander and Darius at Battle of Issus, Pompeii - 100 BCE
    • Ex. Close-up of Alexander Mosaic
    • Battle of Alexander mosaic from Pompeii
  • Roman Britain (43-409 CE)
    • The expansion of the Roman Empire took mosaics further afield, although the level of skill and artistry was diluted. If you compare mosaics from Roman Britain with Italian ones you will notice that the British examples are simpler in design and less accomplished in technique.
    • Ex. Roman Townhouse Mosaic in Dorset, England. c. 300
    • Roman Britain townhousefloor
    • Ex. Detail of Stones Used
    • tesserae detail of townhouse floor
  • Byzantine Empire (400-1453 CE)
    • With the rise of the Byzantine Empire from the 5th century onwards, centered on Byzantium (now Istanbul, Turkey), the art form took on new characteristics. These included Eastern influences in and gold or silver leaf on top.
    • Ex. Virgin and Child with Justinian I and Constantine I at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey – c. 900s
    • Mosaïques de l'entrée sud-ouest de Sainte-Sophie (Istanbul, Turquie)
    • Christ Enthroned at Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy – c. 500s
    • Basilica of San Vitale - Christ Enthroned, 547 CE
  • Islamic Influences in Spain (711-1492 CE)
    • In the west of Europe, the Moors brought Islamic mosaic and tile art into the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century. It was not pictorial, but was very geometric.
    • Ex. Tile mosaics from Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain – 1400
    • Islamic Tile Mosaic at Alhambra Palace - Granada, Spain - 1400s CE      Islamic Tile mosaic at Alhambra Palace - Granada, Spain
  • Decline in Europe but revival in Mesoamerica
    • Mosaics went into decline in the Middle Ages in Europe
    • Mesoamerican (Mexico and some of Central America) art used mosaics, especially the Aztecs (c. 1195-1522 CE)
    • Ex. Double Headed Serpent (Quetzalcoatl) chest decoration, Aztec – 1400s
    • Aztec Double headed mosaic Serpent chestpiece - 15-16th centuries AD
  • 19th Century Revival
    • Mosaics had a major revival in 19th Century, esp in public spaces and cathedrals like Westminster Abbey in London and Sacre Coeur, Paris.
    • Pulpit in Westminster Cathedral, London – 1800s
    • Pulpit in Westminster Cathedral - 19th Century
    • Close-up of Pulpit Column
    • Closeup of pulpit
  • Art Noveau (1884-1910)
    • The Art Nouveau movement also embraced mosaic art. From 1900-1914, in Barcelona, Spain, Antoni Gaudi helped produce the stunning ceramic mosaics of Guell Park
    • Guell Park Benches, 1900-14
    • Antonio Gaudi - Guell Park benches,
    • Material taken from: http://www.thejoyofshards.co.uk/history/
  • Modern Mosaics
  • Activity: Bead Mosaics
    • This was harder than I thought it would be mostly because the beads were round and it’s hard to make geometric-style patterns, aka copies of the ones from Alhambra Palace, because they are meant for point-edged tesserae
    • Islamic Tile Mosaic at Alhambra Palace - Granada, Spain - 1400s CE   –> I used this one as the basic design of my mosaic, but again, hard to completely duplicate due to round nature of beads
    • Bead Mosaic example