It’s Immoral to Understate the Importance of John A. Macdonald

Olesya Kondrateva

Mr. Morris

English 10

May 8th 2019


It’s Immoral to Understate the Importance of John A. Macdonald


Historical rankings of Canada’s top prime ministers have consistently placed John A. Macdonald as the 2nd and 3rd most important Canadian politician. He brought together the provinces of Canada to form what we are today, yet he took many risks along that difficult road. His controversial actions in light of modern opinions implore us to debate how much attention should be shed on him and the values he represents. On one hand, he was an essential negotiator in 1867’s confederation process (“Canada History”). Contrarily, he was known to be “way more racist than his contemporaries”, which further segregated the country into ethnic groups with poignant beliefs, and impeded on basic human rights (Decoste). Nonetheless, Macdonald should be kept as a symbol of Canada’s history because he has developed its economic stability and defined its sense of nationality.


It is not the title of ‘confederation’ or moral obligation to cooperate that tied together the provinces, rather it’s the economy.  Implemented by Macdonald, “The National Policy effectively closed Canada’s border to American imports by imposing high tariffs on American goods, and prevented Canadian producers from competing in foreign markets” (“Collections Canada”). In joining the provinces in economic solidarity, communities built off of one another and made the country more independent and self-sustaining. Work opportunities were reserved for local employees, such that in the making and running of the Canadian Pacific Railway. This method of transportation connected the east and the west of the county, allowing for trade to be simpler than ever before. Moreover, by implementing tariffs (or ‘taxes’), we were able to minimize the other countries’ ability to disturb our fragile economy. International companies became more reluctant to import their products to us due to the higher price that it took to get them across the border. This was especially important at that time, because we needed to build our own businesses instead of supporting American ones, who were in the pinnacle of their economy. Because Macdonald enforced radical ideas –such as the long railroad and higher tariffs- to the large demographic of people in developing Canada, he should be respected and represented as someone who made this country possible.


On the contrary, the most prevalent argument in favour of Macdonald’s removal is based off of his underlying discriminatory opinions that played a role in the confederation process. Macdonald is held accountable for implementing “the Indian Act, Indian Residential Schools and an over-bureaucratized Department of Indian Affairs” (Hopper). While it is completely unjust that people had to experience these things, Macdonald demonstrated immense effort in confederating so many provinces, for fear of being absorbed by America. He and many supporters believed that a native-ruled Canada would “forever have remained barren and unproductive, but which under civilised rule would afford homes and happiness to teeming millions”. In his defense, people already knew how terribly aboriginal people were treated by the states (especially during the revolution), so being under confederation would be the ‘better’ option anyways. While there is evidence to back up the skewed values of the time, “others charge that we cannot judge a historical person’s actions based on contemporary standards” (Innes). Because we do not know what sort of values were deemed as ‘good’ and ‘moral’ at the time, it is possible that people believed to be being their best selves by doing what was socially acceptable. In this spirit, racism wasn’t the same as it is today, and it would take a lot less moral corruption for Macdonald to hurt the aboriginal people in 1867 than now. Moreover, “while Macdonald did make mistakes, so did Canadians, collectively” (Gwyn). While we would want to blame the prime minister for all the wrongdoings of that time, “Macdonald admitted that he was supporting the policies largely because he was running a country full of racists (Hopper). For his ability to bring Canada together, even considering the price that it cost millions of people, he should be remembered for his perseverance and relative intentions.

Many today have no tolerance for Macdonald’s wrongdoings, and for good reason. At the same time, it is hard to think of an alternative way to make such a prosperous country while avoiding all the consequences of racist values worldwide. In the public sphere of Canada, we should represent Macdonald for his good contributions, such as stabilizing the economy and negotiating confederation, but also to model the inherent flaws that come with powerful leadership. Because of the circumstances he was put under, he was definitely not the perfect idol. Nonetheless, “’nobody is perfect’ is sooner to be adopted as a national mantra than rejecting [Sir John A. Macdonald] as a villain” (Daschuk).


Works cited:


Hopper, Tristan. “Sure, Jonh A. Macdonald was a racists, colonizer and mysoginist – but so were most Canadians back then”. National Post, 10th January 2015,


Hopper, Tristan. “This is what John A. Macdonald did to indigenous people”. National Post, 28th August 2018,


Lucsic, Nicola. “The ‘trial’ of Sir John A. Macdonald: Would he be guilty of war crimes today?” CBC Radio,  21st December 2018,


Innes, Robert. “John A. Macdonald should not be forgotten, nor celebrated”. The Conversation, 13th August 2018,


“Sir John A. Macdonald – A patriot statesman”. Collections Canada, 24th June 2008,

In Depth Final

Throughout this project, I have grown to learn that everyone values different aspects of artwork. For example, my mentor tends to see the shading around the neck, chin, and nose. I, on the other hand, care more about the overall placement of the anatomy. For this reason, I have been turning my paintings upside down so that I focus on the shades instead. It is important to consider the opinions of others, and to try to accommodate most of them to a certain extent.

There are many alternative techniques that can be used when painting. I have tried many different orders of putting down the colour, such as working from one area with one layer or adding several thin ones and waiting several days for the paint to dry. I’ve have been recommended to coordinate the technique according to the colour of the background (darker, thicker paint; lighter, work from the middle). Additionally, the primer that is used to keep the oil from seeping into the canvas can be substituted with acrylic paint.

por2 por1

(The hair is currently just the base layer, which is why there is no other colour to it and the hair part is monstrous.)

During in-depth, I am going to keep my learning center very simplistic. My station is near the front of the stage, and I anticipate that the lighting might not be too great. I will open up the curtain beside me to let some light in, but paintings look better when dimmed down anyways. I will use a tri fold or a giant piece of cardboard to secure the papers and thin canvases onto. If I finish a larger painting, then in will also bring an easel. On the table, different types of supplies will be set up along with some paper to demonstrate on. Some people come around with questions, so it will be easier to answer them when I am able to show them the process. The most interesting part of this is allowing them to use the pallet knife to mix the paint, so I will challenge them to mix the correct tone according to a picture that I will print out. They can attempt to construct their own paintings, which will be an interesting experience.

Frederick Banting

I have read the biography called Frederick Banting by Stephen Eaton Hume for this novel study. Banting’s discovery of insulin and prolonged scientific studies interest me particularly because there are only so many notable Canadian scientists.

“He took a dog-earned anatomy book from the shelf. It was the same book he had in Europe when he was a medical officer in the Great War. He used to read it in the trenches while German shells whistled and exploded around him. Major L.C. Palmer, his superior officer, used to kid him about the way he studied. The other men had never seen anything like it. That Banting was something. He had guts. Not even the German guns could shake him.” (Hume, 20)

I find this quote particularly interesting because I have an immense admiration for hardworking people. Growing up on a farm, Banting observed how hard his family needed to work to earn a comfortable living for him and his siblings. He emulated that, by habit, on the battlefield in order to provide the best care for his peers. There is so much information and specifics in the study of human anatomy, so it is definitely that knowledge that pays off when it’s necessary to save lives. At the same time, Frederick Banting may have chosen to read during these stressful situations as a way of distraction from where he was. Perhaps, this was a reminder that he is still a doctor who had life waiting for him back home. We do not know him on a personal level, but at least he was being productive, useful, and very tough.

This states the same things about Canadians, especially of the pre-modernized time. Jobs took more effort to compete, and people weren’t used to luxury like they are today. Neglect to acknowledge every uncomfortable feeling (rooted especially in masculine stereotypes) bred people to be tougher, even if often apathetic. Although not as long ago, my parents grew up in the Soviet Union. Feelings and societal views were not blown out of proportion by the internet, and life was simpler for them. Oftentimes, the households would not care about healthy family standards, so the kids grew up insensitive and dull. This is not the case today, because we place safety and stability at a higher standard than being mentally toughened and weathered.

“He didn’t go to church anymore. Life in Canada had changed. There were more cars. Food was expensive. Women wanted to vote and have the same rights that men had.” (Hume, 21)

I find this growing lack of religious commitment to be interesting because it reminds me of the same exact situation today. I wouldn’t have thought that 100 years ago, the same would be true. This reminds me of how adults today constantly complain about the children getting more entitled, selfish, and overall worse. Apparently, back in the day, Aristotle wrote the exact same thing about his younger subordinates. These trends are the same no matter what century, which is one of the few things that we may have in common with the historic people.

All groups of people evolve, yet Canadians evolve especially quickly due to an open mind. While there are some religious beliefs that are holding us back, our growing multiculturalism allows them to be taken more lightly than in culturally homogenous countries. Radical ideas are accepted more today than they were back then, because most people were of one religion. Because this book was written just a few years ago, the author basically does the analyzing part for us by use of his tone. It’s easy to imagine this quote being said sarcastically in such a way that makes fun of these ideas being demanding or unexpected 100 years ago.

“Banting and Best had to do everything. They even had to help the attendant clean out the dog cages.” (Hume, 33)

“They sang songs from the Great War to help themselves stay awake. They cooked their food over a Bunsen burner and sometimes, when they had to nap, curled up in the lab next to the barking animals.” (Hume, 34)

Living in such a stable situation, I am always amazed to learn of other people whose life has gone terribly wrong and they’ve started from scratch. Banting escaped a sad marriage and nonexistence career to do unpaid research on a widely tackled and complex topic, along with a man he barely knows. All this effort and time was put into something so trivial, yet they are able to continue with high spirits and not live in a recurring state of existential crises.

Not many Canadians are very wealthy, so it is necessary for them to develop good work ethic. Moreover, all eminent people have had to go above and beyond what was expected of them in order to excel. In recent work environments, there is a clear segregation between the researchers and janitors. It’s expected that experimental venues reach a standard of care, otherwise the research will be discredited. I feel that it would be a lot harder to FDA approve insulin or even acknowledge the making of isletin.

“The doctor phoned a wealthy friend who had a very sick diabetic child. After a few minutes Banding had the money for equipment to produce potent insulin, and the Doctor had insulin for his friend’s child.” (Hume, 77)

“I’d like you to meet Elizabeth Huges.” (Hume, 84)

Banting is a very poor man, so having connections was essential to making his project a success. Even though it is unethical to heal the sick child of the aristocrat first, we wouldn’t otherwise have insulin. I am also broke and very resourceful, so there have been many moments in my life when I thrived off of other people’s contributions.

We know that Banting cured people for the joy of life and not for wealth because he turned down many prosperous opportunities. He was offered to own his own clinic and serve rich families, which he instantly declined. When his patient Elizabeth got better after isletin injections, he and his board were astonished and overjoyed by the results. As described in the book, he genuinely cared a lot for the future life of the child. Being part of a functional society means to be propelled by more than capitalism, which is what Canadians have been demonstrating often.

“He began calling himself a communist and referring to his friends as ‘comrade’’’ (Hume, 123)

When Banting traveled to the Soviet Union as part of his later career, he was fascinated with there being no unemployment in the 1930s while his city of Toronto was suffering greatly. Banting viewed capitalism and bureaucracy as being the cause of all evil in our country, so he decided to look elsewhere for the best system. I find this quote interesting because my logical brain never understood unfounded communist-based humour. Even with hearing my parents’ childhood stories, I find little joy in making fun of a system that had its best intentions. Every attack to it is based on the fact that people are selfish and terrible, so is that a fact that we should be proud of realizing?

Banting is an especially decent Canadian especially because he has the country’s best intentions in mind. He demonstrates this throughout his entire career: researching bio-weaponry for the war, being concerned with federal tax usage, and speaking out for against Hudson Bay’s use of eskimo. Of course, he later sees that communism isn’t quite working out for the Russian municipalities, so he stops aspiring to this system. Like him, I’m sure that most Canadians would choose to consider communism if there is no communal disrespect to it and they didn’t know that it wasn’t functioning well enough.


Oftentimes, hope is the result of hard work, and not the other way around.

Banting was a middle aged man who was not flourishing in life when the idea of Iselin first came to him. His self-employed medical practice wasn’t getting publicity, and his wife was disappointed in him for not earning money. “Like most women who worked, she planned to give up her job one she got married. She wanted to raise a family. No decent man in the 20’s would allow himself to be supported by his bride.” (Hume, 16). He became inspired to research when he was preparing to present a medical lecture about the pancreas, and read a few papers on diabetes and sugar metabolization. If he had not been planning to teach that lecture, then he would not get any hope to discover something new. His family situation certainly had not provided the necessary motivation. A certain degree of perseverance is always required in life, and motivation doesn’t factor into that quality.

In Depth Post 5

Over the break, I finally started trying to paint with oil. Getting back into the swing of painting was hard as I have not done it in a while. My art teacher died back in grade 5, and I frankly wasn’t too invested in painting flowers and buildings to join another studio.

I honestly didn’t know what I was doing when I made the first one. I sketched the picture, and then started painting the eyes, then the skin, and then the hair and background. This is how Ms. Kim explained the large misfortune that this painting is:

“Can I see the picture that you used? Yes, that picture has a very cold hue to it. Usually images will either be too blue, or red, or green, and will look unnatural.”

  • White hat: knowledge of different types of hues

Me: “He does look a quite sick…”

  • Black hat: he was not meant to look sick, therefore there is a fault in this
  • Red hat: I feel uneasy that I made him look sick; he didn’t deserve this

“But you did a good job deciphering the different tones [on the nose] and [chin]. The blending is really rough, though. I do like how you improvised with the background.”

  • Yellow hat: some aspects of this turned out, therefore we can appreciate that and focus on what to improve
  • Blue hat: this is what I think about your painting, so we will know what we need to talk about more later

Me: “I watched different painting videos, and in each one what the artist did was they took a small area of the face worked their way out around in really small strokes. Then the paint would blend nicely because it would still be very oily.”

  • White hat: this is a common painting strategy; very useful information

Me: On the first one I tried to layer the tones and shades first and blend them with thinner, which didn’t work. The thinner makes the paint a lot lighter, and it becomes very translucent and patchy too.”

  • Black hat: point out the fault in the strategy

“Certainly. The second one is a little smoother and the tones are better.”

  • Yellow hat: finding value in improvement in the second painting

Me: “I still need to wait for the paint to dry and then re try the skin. I realized that the paint got progressively darker as time went on, so the chin is so dark that it looks like a beard.”

  • Black hat: points out the fault
  • Red hat: My mom doesn’t have a beard… I don’t enjoy this transmogrification

“Make sure to wait a couple days, so your first layer doesn’t come up. Did you apply gesso to this?”

  • White hat: facts about how paint dries
  • Blue hat: asking for information in order or organize understanding of situation

Me: “I don’t have any, so I did acrylic.”

  • Green hat: uses creativity to work around a situation and encourages mentor to add information onto this for brainstorm

“Gesso similar to a primer that you would use for makeup. It makes sure that the canvas does not absorb the oil, which is one of the reasons why your paint became so chalky. Acrylic should work alright, too.”

  • White hat: information about supplies

Me: “Okay… How do you do hair though?”

  • Green hat: asking for more information, designs, and possibilities

“So see for this [first] one, the hair is in small chunks that are very unrealistic. Normally you would have a larger triangular section and there would be shade under it. You need to apply a base, and only after it dries you should come back with a really fine brush to do the details. You should draw each small hair individually, adding darker lines and highlights. Don’t make them perfect; they usually aren’t.”

  • White hat: strategies
  • Black hat: helps dodge anticipated problems


At any rate, I have higher hopes for the second painting. I also need to pick up the pace if I want to have a sufficient amount of work displayed at in-depth.

We Live in Postnationalism

Canada is a postnational place because we have no need for unique values in order to maintain a functional society. When Canada was first forming, it had smaller nations of people united under similar beliefs. These beliefs were fueled by historical hardships, which brought about heritage and culture. As the hardships vanished from prospering society and immigration increased, nations got exposure to different people and lost the emphasis on their own heritage. Furthermore, the headstrong, “back in the day” generations died over time, leaving us, the underexposed offspring to make the decisions. We do not know of the need to segregate people for our own survival. When hearing Justin Trudeau say “There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada” (Foran, 2017), we need to understand that he comes from an age and family of privilege, and does not see the absolute necessity to be connected by a central motivation in order to prosper. Sure, some may argue that ‘multiculturalism’ is the central value of Canada, and while that may be the case, we are not united as a nation by the fact that we’re all different. Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, “introduced multiculturalism as official national policy. The challenge then, might have seemed to define a national identity to match” (Foran, 2017). But, because we still haven’t found a national identity, Justin Trudeau is okay with not implementing one at all, because it wasn’t there to begin with. Frankly, doing alright without the complexity of inspiring and harmonizing 36 million people with something other than capitalistic ideals.

A Canadian philosopher, Marshall McLuhan, said that “Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity” (McLuhan, 1963). “According to poet and scholar BW Powe, McLuhan saw in Canada the raw materials for a dynamic new conception of nationhood, one unshackled from the state’s ‘demarcated borderlines and walls, its connection to blood and soil,’ its obsession with ‘cohesion based on a melting pot, on nativist fervor, the idea of the promised land” (Foran, 2017). In other words, McLuhan started believing that Canada does not need standard nationhood, or the beliefs of segregating people by ethnicity, history, or values. Instead, we can build our own idea of a stable community based on more generalized ideas. Almost 60 years later after McLuhan’s statement, “Trudeau claims Canada has no ‘core identity.’ On the other hand he says the Canadian identity is quite coherent — we all share the values of “openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice” (Todd, 2017). Although this lack of core identity may seem like failure to older people, it can also be interpreted as being stronger for being held together by these simple values in accordance with normal laws. These integral values also protect us from adopting less pure ones. A journalist wrote “[Trudeau is] saying this is a place where respect for minorities trumps any one groups way of doing things” (Todd, 2017). While that may be true, how logical is it to be ‘traditional’ and the other way around? How much does it make sense to enforce judgement on others because that’s such a major part of our history? Our focus on multiculturalism encourages a good trajectory for laws, and keeps the nationalism very neutral. Canada is a postnational place because we do not need nationalism to keep this country together, and we are a better place for eliminating the inclusivity problems associated with strong beliefs.


In-Depth 4


As a very hopeful person, I like to aim for the best possible situation. At the beginning of in-depth, I thought that I would have a greater inclination to draw and create, despite being stretched very thin every day. I am not holding up to the 1 per week schedule, but I am trying to improve everyday. When I last met with Ms. Kim, the meeting was also a little shorter because I was meeting for Juan de Fuca in CL afterwards. I worked particularly hard on this portrait, because it is of someone who we should all know. It looks a little worse digitally than it does in person. The computer is not able to capture the effort poured into the texture of it.


(I apologize for it being sideways; WordPress isn’t allowing me to flip it.)

In my last meeting, I asked the following questions and got the following responses:

  1. How often should charcoal be used?
    1. I showed Ms. Kim two pictures: this one and one where I got the very baseline tones down with a standard HB pencil. The main difference between these was the softness of the blending, alongside the darkness of the tone. It is harder to get the coarse texture of the charcoal into the groves of the paper, which makes out lives a lot more difficult when adding contrast. Ms. Kim explained the importance of using different hardnesses of pencil (instead of charcoal) to add contrast to the soft areas of the face. As someone who got went through art 9 using a value pack of the same Staedtler pencils, I still haven’t used a variation in supplies. Perhaps I will want to do more pencil later on in the busy month of May.
  2. How do you draw hair?
    1. Because of the nature of Noah’s hair, it is very hard to group the strands into triangle-like segments so that the light bounces off of them similarly. I was advised to, perhaps, choose a photo of someone with smoother and more organized hair. In terms of contrast, it is always important to start off with a base layer and then proceed to add the shading and highlights. She explained, that “if the base layer is skipped, then the contrast will be unnatural with the tones of the skin, and not overall dark enough”. Lastly, it is important that effort is put into each stroke to ensure that they resemble hair. If the pencil is dragged back and forth like when colouring in a picture, then there is no way it will look decent.
  3. Where do I start with oil?
    1. I have been very excited to start with oil! I have gathered all the necessary supplies, but simply must make time very soon to dedicate a day to my first portrait. When Ms. Kim practiced painting people back in art school, her class spent some time getting the fundamentals down first. In any YouTube art video, they first start off by mixing the standard oil paints together on something called a pallet. On a pane of glass or pallet paper, this is done with a triangular pallet knife (which I recently purchased). The technique needs to be worked up to an efficient process first. Then, it is important to learn to see the tones for what they are. Ms. Kim used to flip her sketches upside down, so as not to get distracted by seeing the face as a face. This way, all her concentration went into matching the colour of the picture. There are may hassles that come with oil as a medium, yet most artist prefer it. I asked Ms. Kim whether she would paint portraits with something like acrylic or watercolour instead, and she explained that the control that we have over oil outweighs the chaos of the other mediums. To elaborate, we talked about the runniness of watercolour, and how every little change in a face really throws off our perception of it. Acrylic is not friendly in the sense of time, as it starts drying literally as the pallet is being prepared. Drawing people really is a tedious job.

One thing that fascinated me with any experienced artist is that they are able to replicate almost any picture that they are asked to. Just how something looks natural in a photograph, they are able to make it look good in paint or pencil too. I have been struggling a little bit to get good headshots of people that I know, because every little deficit or thing that outside my skill area makes me go to a new one. When Ms. Kim is explaining how to replicate all these things like curly hair, or chins, or highlights, I can really see how she values the balance in realism versus changing something to make it look a little better. I still have a little bit of difficulty knowing what looks better on a person, but will hopefully develop that skill further over the next two months.

Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Critical Response

I strongly believe that Romeo and Juliet can be described as “infatuated children engaging in puppy love” because of their limited knowledge and experience of each other’s company. When Friar Laurence finds out about their ambitious marriage plans and explosive love, he explains to Romeo that “Young men’s love then lies / Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.” (2.3.67-68). He believes that men often lust over women’s physical traits first, and that this behavior is not legitimate love. Knowing Romeo’s previous romantic interest, Friar adds that in Romeo’s eyes, Rosaline is there “For doting, not for loving” (2.3.83). Friar understands that Romeo’s attraction to her is based off of superficial desires that are quickly mollified once Romeo realizes that Juliet can satisfy the same criteria. If Romeo’s love resembles the types of love possessed by spouses of many years, then he would not be able to leave his partner so easily. He likely does not love Juliet any differently than how he agonizes over Rosaline. Nonetheless, basic sexual attraction is useful if it catalyzes the possible spouse-like relationship. Juliet recognizes this potential, so she tells Romeo that “This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath, / may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.” (2.2.121-122). She acknowledges that her love for him is not yet the long-lasting type. Likewise, she infers that he feels the same in return. Yet, because she sees potential, she wants to keep him close in the meantime. Juliet inquires “Dost thou love me? I know thou ilt say “Ay”, / And I will take thy word; / yet, if thou swear’st, Thou mayst prove false.” (2.2.90-91). By resorting to requesting a promise, a weak verbal contract, she shows that their current affection is not reliable enough to keep them together. In the end, their puppy-like love is built purely on infatuation because they don’t know each other’s personalities well enough to appreciate them as they are.


It is not obvious to know whether Romeo and Juliet should be viewed as children or adults because they exemplify mental and physical characteristics of both. In a time when people lived shorter lives, it is reasonable that the expectation for mental and emotional maturity were accelerated. Because “Well-established customs existed for bringing up children […] Most children began to do serious work once they reached puberty, at around 12-14. “ (Orme). Even though that is not the case anymore, this past experience shows that adolescents are capable of adopting more mature attributes and capabilities when the environment calls for them. Moreover, the same behavioral adaptation is observed in the modern world. A common current saying is that “girls mature faster than boys” which can be explained by there being “more girls than boys” expected “ to cook, take care of siblings, etc.,” resulting in them having to take on a burden bigger than their age constitutes”… “this emotional work, which girls aren’t doing by choice, is viewed as proof of girls’ superior maturity level continuing the misconception of different maturity level based on gender” (Chettri). To reiterate, the demand and expectation for females to be nurturing puts them in a position of having to gain more skills in that area at a faster rate. Because the expectations of children in the renaissance were higher as well, it is safe to assume this young affair to be age appropriate for the time. Yet, an important aspect of maturity to consider is physical growth. Although environmental demands may influence the rate of physical growth, the changes in the adolescent brain would have followed the same pattern as in any other child. Because the average age to get married is higher nowadays than in the Renaissance, the average cognitive development would also be better. Teenagers are known to do rash things when their limbic system is on overdrive, which is certainly a recipe-for-disaster when two angsty kids decide to bind themselves in an eternal contract. Considering the elevated expectations of the time alongside the young and erratic age of the characters, I think that they qualify to be viewed as adults. Strange plans and decisions can be made by adults of all ages, so Romeo and Juliet’s behavior doesn’t instantly make them children.


Orms, Nicolas. ”Childhood in Medieval England, c.500-1500”. Representing Childhood, University of Pittsburgh, 2005,


Chettri Kanti. ”Girls Don’t Mature Faster Than Boys, We Just Live in a Misogynistic World”. Affinity Magazine. November 2018,

In-Depth Post 3

This last two weeks of portraiture have been quite a struggle. While I am improving on sketching the facial proportions, blending and smudging decently is a lot harder to do. I only have one acceptable mediocre sketch to show for this, as the other 3 turned out quite frightening.


The trouble with blending is the specific technique that it requires. First, it is important to keep a sharp pencil and light hand when first laying down the graphite. Some parts of the face will need to be darker, but it’s also necessary to estimate how much darker the shade will become once blended. The smudging tools that I use are rolled up pieces of paper (for precise and tiny details) and cotton swabs (for the soft texture of the skin). Using the correct material at the appropriate time will refine the texture to what we are trying to achieve. It also helps get an even blend over the entire surface, hopefully without overdoing some areas before others. One of my worst mistakes is that I don’t pay enough attention to the edges of the surface so the middle of the picture looks blurry but the rest is rough. To conclude, it takes a specific type of effort to make blending look good. I’m still not a big fan of how it looks in the end, especially because having stroke likes in portraiture isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In my last meeting with Ms. Kim, I was able to apply some of Edward De Bono’s principles into our short conversation about this singular, low quality work. I exercised the “how to respond” chapter more than “how to be interesting”, mainly because it provided me with more opportunity for direct corrections. I generated interest by connecting matters together when I addressed the hardships that I faced when drawing hair. Ms. Kim searched up some examples of curly hair that could refer to, because it is nothing like the hair I drew the week prior. I still need to get a grasp on this issue as soon as possible, because I don’t want it to ruin the quality of who I’m drawing at the moment. Ms. Kim also pointed out that the shading on the face is relatively patchy, and that I need to paint a full wash onto it before I proceed with the highlights and shadows. I agreed with this because the slenderness of the original face made the tone differences quite angular, so this advice is particularly helpful to me.

Corrections for this week:

  • remember the eye highlights
  • add more detail (sharp stroke) into the hair and correspond the shades to the shape of the head; make the hair fluffy by blending too
  • smoothen and unify the skin by blending initial tone and then shades with another material

In-depth Post 2

Over the last two weeks, I have been able to review and refresh the portraiture skills that I learned in art 9. This hasn’t been a difficult process, but rather interesting because of the complexities of starting to view people in the same way. The tones, textures, and dimensions of the face take practice to comprehend and replicate. I have created two (or three) different portraits recently, which didn’t turn out too bad considering they are the first this year.



I took the second one with me to my CL meeting with Ms. Kim. While it is of rough quality, I really appreciate how she was able to overlook that and provide me with very constructive feedback. I highly agree with everything she commented on, especially the ongoing contrast and shading issue that made the drawing look flat. If the reflections on skin were lights, and hair highlights and neck were darkened, then it would bring a more youthful look to the woman. Skin lines, such as the nasolabial folds, should also be blended nicely with the neighbouring skin. I took these notes down as Ms. Kim talked, in order to remember them as well as to encourage her to point anything else that would help me.

One thing that I didn’t disagree with but did differ on is the shading technique that I like to use. In previous experience, I have found that any bad quality shading can be detrimental to a drawing. Lacking the necessary precision, I gave up on the cotton or paper towel shading methods a long time ago. Ms. Kim suggested that spending time going over every crevice and surface (on a new drawing, perhaps) can turn out a lot nicer than an incomplete version of cross-hatching. I was not aware that proper blending includes the irises, lips, and other small details. Additionally, when shading these tiny areas, it is important to use a very tiny tool. I realized that my mentor and I have different opinions of the future, so it is important to consider that this technique is likely something that she was successful with. After coming back home and practicing, I realized that even though the tiny, blended areas aren’t extremely smooth, they are a similar texture to the rest of the drawing. Earlier, my issue was that I didn’t achieve that similar texture in some areas as much as others, which is why the face looked so inconsistent. I am glad that I used her recommendation even if I was a little hesitant with it. Nonetheless, cross-hatching still is my most favoured shading technique. In the end, I can only hope that these faces get less funny over the course of the next 5 months.

A summary of this week’s corrections:

  • Lighten reflections (especially eyes) + add contrast (use charcoal)
  • Blend lines into surrounding area
  • Make hair more natural by softening tones, darkening highlights, and taking away rigid structure
  • Age can be reduced by darkening neck, softening under eyes, and blending away the pencil strokes that can double as creases
  • Blend or crosshatch; exaggerate whatever technique is used



During your reading break it is important to reflect both on the research you have conducted for your ZIP project, as well as prepare for our presentations, which will occur on January 28th and 29th. In order to do so, please complete a final

This year for ZIP, I asked the question: “what are the benefits and detriments of stenography as a note-taking medium?”. Shorthand is a convenient and versatile skill that used to be widespread, but isn’t anymore. I was keen to find out why it died out, and whether it is something that can help me now. Over the course of my research and practice, one particular question arose that would take another ZIP to answer. At the same time, my initial question did not change. Many issues complementary to shorthand helped me answer my initial question, but also activated my constructive criticism and need to improve these issues.

The major skill that I am still hoping to master is the ability to rapidly transcribe verbal information into stenographic words. In addition to that, I practiced refining notes by putting them into my own words and cutting out unnecessary information. By changing the language to make it my own, it is easier to read the stenography because it is not someone else’s work. I anticipate that writing in stenography will help me take notes in the future, especially in university lectures, interviews, and even when judging synchronized swimming. I will find myself in many situations where rapidly retaining information is required, but filming and recording aren’t appropriate. I want to have a time advantage over everyone else, so I can put more effort into making my notes detailed.

In progressing through the units of the manual, I enjoyed learning about the diversity of English pronunciation. Because Gregg is a phonetic system, there are different symbols for every way that you can pronounce a vowel. This is not the way that I learned English, because I used to think of each word only by how it’s written. The different pronunciations of vowels were something intrinsic that I never thought about. Phoenetic stenography required me to dissect each word into its separate parts. Looking at the language in this new way is interesting. In addition, the manual was written in both a British and American accent, which taught me more about how to use different vowels for a variety of purposes. On the contrary, vowels are taken out in common words in order to write them faster. The purpose of vowels is very interesting, because they contribute to the functionality of a word, but are not always the most necessary part. This information is useful to me because it gives me a better understanding of how language is made. It will also help me learn new languages on a structural level, instead of unconsciously learning the grammar through simple experience.

Lastly, I am constantly striving to improve the lifelong skills of time management and memorization. The ability to manage time is tied to many philosophical ideas and wise realizations that arise throughout life, and is not the product of singular responsibility. Hopefully, if I become very proficient in shorthand, I will take more notes because better and faster notes are worth the time. I may also go back to that information more frequently because it will be more detailed than my average notes. At the same time, good stenographic ability requires me to know many shortcuts for common words. By memorizing the most useful brief forms, I will gain speed while writing and improve my ability to memorize other things at ease.

Simplistically put, I learned a new writing system for the English language throughout this inquiry. I investigated whether this system (Gregg Shorthand) is worth learning despite the effort required to master it and keep it up. Throughout learning this system, I’ve encountered many problems that influence my opinion of it. For example, on the image below, one can notice that the right-motion strokes for the sounds S and TH are very similar, even though the sounds are not. When the strokes for X, O, and U are introduced, any little flaws are detrimental to the outcome of the word. As you can imagine, flaws are a common occurrence when arbitrary lines are scribbled at high speeds.alphabetto

For a writing style that requires some effort to be legible, the addition of many abbreviations only makes it more tedious to work with. Oftentimes, most words will be shortened, which makes it impossible to comprehend the context if there are endless combinations of possible words for the presented symbols. For example, a line like ‘ds n rpli t y rqst o mr 5, svrl o r is actually read as ‘Dear Sir: In reply to your request of March 5, several of our’. The Gregg manual that I used was very good at explaining all of the abbreviations, but I simply couldn’t memorize the vast amount of words presented to me. In order to complete the practice exercises later on in the book, the abbreviations must be adopted and committed to memory. My major problem with this requirement is that the words got more specialized as the chapters went on, eventually making them quite rare in our modern language and/or topic that is being written about. I felt that pointless memorization is unnecessary, so I compiled a small, alphabetized book of the abbreviations. I did not study any units above unit 20, as I learned the basic, most important skills at the beginning of the manual.

In the end, I believe that shorthand is a really cool skill that is very much worth learning if the learner is willing to put in the effort and look past its inconveniences. It is also a skill that should be regularly kept up and employed, as it is easy to forget and then lose the meaning of all previously created notes. The benefits of shorthand are speed, detail, and confidentiality. The detriments of shorthand include the style of the Gregg system, overwhelming abbreviations, and some difficulties with the ancient manual. Personally, I would like to keep on learning this skill because I feel it will come in handy.

For my final product, I will be taking notes on the Monday presentations. These notes will be the majority of my presentation on Tuesday, along with my practice notebook, and Gregg manual pdf. The Monday notes relate directly back to my inquiry question because they demonstrate the benefits and detriments that I experienced while scribing. I may try to read the notes to my listener, which will show how difficult and inaccurate shorthand can be. Because my main artifact is not made, I cannot include any textual evidence of its connection to the curricular competencies.

Recognize and appreciate how different formsformatsstructures, and features of texts enhance and shape meaning and impact e.g. the use of vowels in shorthand can make us assume the nationality of the person writing
Assess and refine texts to improve clarity and impact e.g. filter out unnecessary language from verbal information when transferring it onto a page

emphasize long words as being ‘keywords’ to the shortened text; keeping some words unabbreviated for clarity

Apply appropriate strategies to comprehend written, oral, visual, and multimodal texts e.g. reading stenography requires special strategies such as knowing the alphabet and understanding words that are lacking vowels


While my original question didn’t change much, I am now curious as to how I can correct and adjust the Gregg method to be more precise. Non-phonetic systems such as Issac and Pitman are more angular than Gregg. I do not want to learn another type of stenography, so I will stick with Gregg and use it as I am comfortable with: leave out a bunch of abbreviations and exaggerate letters. I am excited to continue practicing this skill and presenting myself as especially odd to everyone around me. Mastery of it is simply a matter of practice and grit.


This is the Gregg Anniversary manual, which is the only Gregg version that I could find a manual for. Nonetheless, this is the stage in the development of the stenography where it is relatively simple and well thought out. Earlier than this it is likely underdeveloped and later it is overcomplicated. This book has very clear lessons, lists, and exercises.

This is the answer key: the only other necessary resource besides the manual. All of the answers are nicely organized by chapter. I enjoyed how easy it was to use both of these resources together.

This is a very comprehensive list of all the brief forms for common words. It is significantly more comprehensive than the one I have, but the words I chose are, on average, more common. 

When tackling the problems of Gregg, I turned to this resource to compare Gregg to other systems of shorthand. There aren’t many resources left or entire manuals scanned for the other manuals, so this is one of the best lists that I could find.