Thursday, December 29, 2011

Art and Nature: The Elements and Principles of Art (applied)

My Scribble Art

Elements of Art
1.      Lines:  My scribble drawing has soft curves and waves that lead the eye around the drawing.  Within the drawing are some sharp lines.  These lines give the drawing a needed contrast to the rounded lines.

2.      Shapes: Many of the shapes are freeform surrounding the circle which dominates the drawing.  However, several triangles balance the roundness of the circle.

3.      Color:  The colors are the warm palette of yellow, orange, and red.  These analogous colors are bright in their intensity.  However the pink and yellow colors are mixed with white and the maroon color is mixed with black.  The yellow and pink become decreased in value, while the maroon becomes increased in value, thereby creating a subtle contrast.

Principles of Design

1.      Balance:  The placement of the same colors on either half balances the painting in a symmetrical sense.  The two halves are not exactly alike but have enough dominant red and orange colors to offset the purple and pink colors.  Meanwhile, the purple and pink shapes also balance each other as well.

2.      Variety:  Variety is achieved by the purple and pink shapes.  In the middle is the maroon shape which differs from both the red and orange shapes.  Meanwhile, the yellow shapes perk up the reds and oranges, and offers excitement to the viewer.  Adding to the round shapes are the variety of the pointed shapes among them.

3.      Harmony:  The rounded shapes and analogous colors blend together, and flow from one space to another.

4.      Emphasis:  The eye is attracted to the purple oval dot and later to the pink triangle.  Then the orange spike attracts the eye leading it to the yellow and purple areas.

5.      Rhythm and movement:  A soft rhythm comes through the alternating red and orange shapes, and the roundish and sharper shapes.  Movement comes from the yellow shapes on either side of the orange shapes on the circle’s circumference.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BRONTOTHERE (Titanothere) FAMILY: Be Mythic

Originally known as “Thunder Beasts”, the Brontothere Family first appeared during the Eocene Epoch (about 56 million years ago).  Once the size of dogs, these Odd-toed Grazers grew to an enormous sizes, and developed forked nasal horns.  Since Brontotheres traveled in herds and roamed about, their fossil bones were found in many places.  Because of this, paleontologists kept “discovering” Them over and over again.
            For example, the most well-known of the Brontotheres, Brontotherium was called four different names.  They were Brontotherium, Brontops, Megacerops, and Titanops.  His official name became Megacerops (“giant horned face”).  However many people still prefer to call Him, Brontotherium (“thunder beast”).
            Beside their great size, Brontotheres are also well-known for their nasal horns.  Their forked horns were bones covered by skin, much like the horns of modern Giraffes.  These horns were used in mating battles, since the Males had the larger ones.  (Brontotheres had heavy skulls and strong neck muscles to absorb the shocks.)
            Although Brontotheres resembled modern Rhinos, They were more closely related to Horses.  Unlike the horns of Rhinos, their horns did not have keratin, and were side by side instead of front to back.  When Brontotheres first appeared, They looked like early Horses (such as Hyracotherium).  In fact in their earlier stages of evolution, these two Families were often mistaken for each other.  As each Family evolved, Horses lost their three toes whilst Brontotheres retained theirs.
            Brontotheres roamed the forests of the Eocene searching for tender tree leaves to eat.  Their lips and tongues would grasp the leaves and tear them off.  Since the teeth of Brontotheres were primitive millstones, They could not eat the grasses that became dominate during the Oligocene Epoch, and went extinct about 34 million years ago.
            While Brontotheres roamed throughout North America, They encountered the volcanic Rocky Mountains.  Many were killed by volcanic ash, and later became fossils.  Millions of years later, their bones would emerge after heavy rains.
            When they encountered the fossil remains of Brontotheres, the Lakota Peoples thought that their bones were from a giant animal that fell from the sky.  When this animal crashed onto the earth, He sent thunder across the Great Plains.  In their language, the Lakota called Brontotheres “thunder beasts”.  Later their name was translated into Greek, and became the first scientific name for these Mammals.
            Starting out small, Brontotheres grew to titanic size.  Their size and distinctive horns drew many people’s attention to Them.  Brontotheres were not afraid to live large, and thus They became the stuff of legends in people’s minds as “Thunder Beasts”.  Live large and be mythic teach Brontotheres.  Do not be afraid of life command the Thunder Beasts.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Negative Energy: Guilt (2 of 2)

I was cured of “false” guilt by watching how various TV judges conducted their court shows.  In one type of case that kept reoccurring: the defendant would want the plaintiff to do something for them (usually loan them money).  During the testimony, the defendant would complain that the plaintiff forced them to take the money.  Meanwhile, the plaintiff would explain that if they said “no”, they felt ashamed.  The judge would tell the plaintiff that they were not a bank, and not to lend people money. To the defendant, the judge would tell them that they did not need to accept the money.

I learnt that I was well within my rights to refuse unreasonable requests.  I am not responsible for anyone else’s actions or feelings, only my own.  The guilt that is often placed on others is usually “false” guilt.  For example, some people use guilt to avoid the consequences of their actions.  It is easier for them to manipulate others than to maintain good relations with them.

I see two types of guilt – “true” and “false”.  Most of what we feel is “false” guilt.  Since many of us were trained to be sensitive to other people’s moods and feelings, we feel often guilt and unease when someone is upset with us.  To avoid feeling this shame, we become overly dependent on fulfilling the needs of others.  We dwell in fear of the potential rejection from our friends and others.  Manuel Smith explains, “when people try to manipulate you, they are sending the message that they – not you – are the arbitrators of your behavior.”

When we stand in our integrity and truth, we stop feeling “false” guilt.  Living in our truth, we face our fears and establish our boundaries.  When we are honest and true to ourselves, we can see what is unkind and cruel.  Since we know right from wrong, we do not need to punish ourselves but instead correct our actions.

When we have integrity, we have “pietas”.  We can feel “true” guilt, and understand when we need to repair our relations between ourselves and others.  With our new compass of kindness and firmness, we will know when our actions are either good or cruel.  As long as we do not rationalize our actions, we can correct our behavior.  Guilt in this instance can be a prompter to maintaining the “right relations” with others and ourselves. 

Works Used:
Hartman, Tori, “Color Wisdom Workbook”, PDF from author,,

Heath, Ian, “Discover Your Mind”, 2002,, .

---, “Martha Speaks”, PBS Parents,,

---, “The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus”, Merriam-Webster: Springfield (MA), 1989.

Riesman, David, “The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character”, Yale University Press: New Haven (CT), 1953.

Scheid, John, “An Introduction to Roman Religion”, translated by Janet Lloyd, Indiana University Press: Bloomington, 2003.

Smith, Manuel, “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty”, Doubleday: New York, 1975.

Turcan, Robert, “The Gods of Ancient Rome: Religion in Everyday Life from Archaic to Imperial Times”, translated by Antonia Neville, Edinburgh University Press: New York, 2001.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Negative Energy: Guilt (1 of 2)

Guilt and its sibling emotion of shame are emotions that I feel are generally useless.  Most of my experiences with this emotion can be summed up in the title of Manuel Smith’s book, “When I Say ‘No’, I Feel Guilty” (1975).  I usually view guilt as a form of manipulation: something people do to get you to do what they want you to do.

In studying what motivates people, Sociologist David Riesman divided individuals into three personality types.  One is the tradition-oriented person who does things the way they have always been done.  They feel guilt or shame if they break a traditional rule.  An example would be a “traditional” woman who has to work outside the home.  She would feel guilty for ignoring her children, husband, and house by working.

Two is the inner-directed person who is someone controlled by their conscience.  What they were taught as right and wrong, they internalize.  They have an ideal that they aspire to, and try to live up to it.  An example would be a man taking a long lunch whilst at work.  He would feel guilty for taking too much time away from a job, where he is trusted to work for certain hours.

The third is the other-directed person who is more fluid about what is wrong and right, since they depend on the people around them for social cues.  Riesman said “the other-directed person wants to be loved rather than esteemed.”  An other-directed person would not feel guilty going through a Stop Sign since “everyone does it.”  

However other-directed people are the people who “when they say ‘no’, feel guilty”, since, they are easily manipulated by others.  By being raised in a family who used disapproval to discipline, an other-directed person often feels guilt when they refuse to honor a request.  Simply by saying ‘no’ will trigger feelings of this emotion.

Having lived in Japan, I experienced how a non-Western culture decides what they consider to be wrong-doing.  In this culture, the group’s ethos determines the individual’s feelings of shame.  Meanwhile within Western culture, the Judeo-Christian ethos is instilled in the individual thereby making the group unimportant. In both societies, what is a guilty or shameful act differs.  A crying baby disturbing the neighbors brings feelings of shame within Japanese society.  However within Western society, excessive noise does not trigger any guilty feelings.

Investigating the emotion of guilt, I realized that it is a secondary emotion which combines self-pity and self-hate.  Guilt then becomes self-punishment since the person believes that they deserve whatever happens to them.  Their guilt is focused on “me as a failure”.  In this way, guilt then becomes a form of control.

In trying to further understand guilt, I looked up the synonyms.  They ranged from “accountability, blame, chagrin, crime, fault, mortification, and self-reproach.”  Where do these emotions come from?  Are they from within or are they decided upon by the group you find yourself in?

In trying to construct a useful definition of guilt, I rely upon the ancient Roman concept of “pietas”, which has two parts to it.  The first is the maintenance of good relations with others, institutions, ancestors, and Gods.  The second is the sense of duty to maintain good morals.  Together, “pietas” gives a sense of ethical behavior for the self and others.

The ancient Roman concept of “pietas” overcomes “false” guilt.  Right relations amongst people means stop at Stop Signs since not to do so would endanger the lives of others.  “True” guilt is then derived from being accountable to yourself and others.  Self-care and honesty are elements of “pietas” as much as integrity.

An episode of “Martha Speaks” (Design Studios, 2008 - ), a PBS children’s program, discusses guilt and shame.  In “Martha and the Canine Caper” (107a), Martha, the dog, accidently helps some stray dogs commit a crime.  The words featured in this episode are “blame, conceal, confess, distressed, and shame.”  When Martha discovered that these dogs robbed the butcher, she feels shame.  She realizes that this emotion comes from her actions, which had harmed her friend, the butcher.  To end her distress, Martha confesses to her owner, Helen, what she has done.  Her confession leads to the arrest of the dogs, and Martha begins to feel better.  This episode is an example of “true” guilt.  Martha realizes that even though she did not actually rob the butcher, she was still culpable.