Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Didn’t Do It – Art Collection

Over the years, I have always loved when I am surprised by a gift of art from a budding human being. This is the gift that I received yesterday…

The other day, I walked across the street to my neighbours. They were soon to leave on a trip for a few days and I was to (and now am) looking after their dog. Marnie’s daughter Taylor, and I spoke about her attending one of my future art classes and then she began to show me her drawing skills by drawing a picture of a dog, Garfield, and Curious George. They were all very good! I invited Taylor to visit my blog, so that she could see the artwork created by my students. I told her to pay attention to the fact that each drawing must have two things: a subject matter, and an environment and that the drawing should fill the drawing space.

I came home, from my task of letting their dog out and feeding him, with this drawing. Not only did Taylor fill the entire space, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that the right side of the page isn’t straight… and Taylor followed this line as well! I was certainly impressed with this attention to detail.

I was even more grateful for receiving this drawing because it gave me such a wonderful and heartfelt story to end this year of 2008.

Wishing everyone the opportunity to recognize our ability to be artful in all we do…


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Tree of Learning and Growth

2006 was a very busy year for me. I had started a new job – I was a foreman of a crew of seven others working for a London courier company, I spent months preparing for and going to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut and I had a year long art tour – for 2007 – to get ready for. In January of 2007 the art tour had started with much success and then I found myself wondering what my next plans would be. For years I had been teaching my ‘Art For Earth’ environmental art workshops on the occasional weekends – when time and money allowed – and now I thought it was time for me to take these ambitions to the next level. I began to make a few phone calls.

One of these phone calls led me to speak with the vice head of Matthews Hall Independent School. Janet greeted me with a smile and we had a wonderful conversation in her office. Simply, I spoke of my desire to create inspirational paintings with the students of the school. I had brought with me an envelope filled with photos of my art adventures from my travels throughout Canada. Janet complemented me on my successes. She thought that my ideas would fit nicely with the ideals that are taught to the students of Matthews Hall. A month and a half later, ‘And The Band Plays On’ was born ( Janet thought the painting was lovely and I was invited back to create another one with a different class. I must have done something right, cuz a week later, Janet had called me to invite me to create another unique art creation with another group of students.

Janet explained to me that every year the school has a number of students who are a part of a special foreign exchange program. Most of these students were from Korea, with a few others coming from China. Each grade had a few students from these countries in attendance. Instead of working with all the students from a particular grade, Janet wanted me to work with all the exchange students from all the grades. There were close to thirty-five students in all. Of course, I agreed.

I had a few ideas that were starting to form, in the back of my mind, but nothing was really jumping out at me saying ‘Paint me! Paint me!’. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Then I had a vision…

Joanne came home from work one Friday evening and she was very tired. I had worked a bit later than normal, that same evening and I was also a bit weary. We decided to go out for dinner to a new Chinese restaurant that a few friends had told us about. Our meal was truly yummy! While we were seated in a booth I kept staring at a large painting that was hanging on the wall just above Joanne’s head. It was a simple painting of a tree with a very curvy trunk and many flowers on the end of each branch. I really enjoyed the flow and movement of this tree and I shared my thoughts with Jo’. During our dinner I spoke about my concerns for creating this third painting with the students and then I was inspired. I told Jo’ about the idea that was forming in my mind. “Now, if I change the colours, and move this branch to that location and I add a different kind of flower and I add this to the foreground… I’ll have a great painting!” I’m always amazed where inspiration is hiding for me to discover. This dinner was a greater experience than just the wonderful food we ate: my head was now full, as well.

The very next day, I went and bought the canvas and primed it. The next day, I spent the afternoon enjoying the spring sunshine on my back porch with a pencil in hand, sketching my ideas.

A few days later, I was ready to teach the students how to paint…

As we all know, our school experiences were filled with many, many events. As time moves forward and we grow up, many childhood experiences are forgotten. For this reason, it is very important for me to give each student that I paint with, something to remember this experience, so that when they grow up they will have something to connect their memory to the time we shared. I always give my students some of my peace Stik-ers and a print of my artwork.

For three days, I worked with these students to complete this large canvas.

Before the project began, Janet had told me that she would like me to incorporate the student’s names into the picture, some how. To accomplish this, I simply added a thick border around the image we were painting. I divided the border into equal lengths, based on the number of students that were participating and when each student finished their session I had them print their name in these spaces. To make this idea even more creative, I decided to have the students use their names as they are written in the language of their origin. Janet thought that this was a truly clever idea.

Before this painting began I had made a phone call to a reporter from a local newspaper. He was very interested in the work that I was doing and he agreed to come to the school to take a few photos and interview some of the students. This is the news story that appeared in the following week’s newspaper…

Inspiration, moves us brightly…


Socrates Café

A short while ago, I was getting off of the escalator, on my way out of the downtown library, when I crossed paths with Bill Paul – London’s town crier, radio personality, all ‘round great guy and host for ‘Socrates Café’.

Once a month, for two hours, a gathering of very interesting people share insights and ponder questions about various subjects. Bill reminded me about this month’s social. I hadn’t been in a few months and I’m glad – like always – that I attended.

The reason that I like to attend is to be reminded of one simple understanding… ‘We are all uniquely individual in our beliefs and practices’. And that applies to people of the same faiths.

Around the circle we will go, each person sharing thoughts with reference to the topic on hand. Then an open forum begins. With a blink of an eye it’s time to offer every person one final moment to express thoughts on the topic… and then it’s over.

It takes quite a while to listen to all thirty people in attendance. It’s always so interesting. I’ve noticed that the one thing that everyone speaks of, somewhere in their minute and a half, is love… as a state of being, or a will from the cosmos, or a word from a book – and that’s always made me feel really good. Some of the ideologies surrounding that word sometimes seem a little (and sometimes a lot) unusual to me, but to have one simple feeling in common is more significant than anything else!!! One common thread that unites differences and offers patience to practice surrounds us all the time. We need to be able to recognize these connections to build our ability to communicate complicated ideas to one another.

I always get a bit nervous when it’s getting close to my turn to speak. I try to keep in mind what has already been said so that I can offer a different thought on the subject. Last evening, it happenstanced that I was to be the very last speaker of the evening. I listened as attentively as I could but from time to time, thoughts kept popping into my mind: “Think of something witty”, “Think of something profound”, “Tell them about your art show at Grooves Records” or “Recite a poem”. In the end it went something like this…

“Each one of us here has come from a different and individually unique background. Around the world, we see many different cultures, religions, skin colours, as well as many divers groups of politicians, militants, and institutional leaders.” By this time I had brought a really serious tone to the floor and I continued, “And the one thing”, I paused and lifted my finger, “The one thing… that unites each and every one of us,” I hurried after a fresh breath, “Is our belief that we are all above average drivers.” And I folded my arms to indicate that I was finished.

No one was expecting such an abrupt ending and a second and a half of silence fell over the floor… then the bursts of laughter…!!!! My joke was a success. I kinda stole it from some local flyer of some sort. Artists are the worst thieves…


Monday, December 29, 2008

The Face of Love

Way back, in 1996, I had discovered that I had a natural gift for creative art expression. I had finished my ‘walk’ to raise awareness about the destruction of the Temagami forestland ( ) and now I was spending all my time developing my skills as an artist. My girlfriend – now wife – Joanne was very supportive, working very hard at her job so that I could continue to create my art. It was getting close to her birthday and I thought that I would surprise her with a portrait of herself. She was very surprised and she loved the ink drawing that I had created for her.

Since that time, I have surprised Joanne with several portraits. I try to create something for her every few years. ‘The Face of Love’ was the painting that I created for her in 2005.

This painting is constructed using words and sentences to tell Jo’ how I feel about her. If you look really closely you will see that this painting has a unique texture using three shades of blue, green and purple to construct these words. More than once, it is written in the painting “I love Joanne”. Circling around these significant words are other sentences: ‘Your smile is brighter than the morning sun’, ‘Your eyes reflect all the love that exists in the universe’, ‘I am Joanne’s number one fan’ and others. Throughout this painting I have also included many heart shapes and between these and the words I filled the space with a kazillion (LOL) wiggly lines.

Joanne is such a huge light in my life and I love her more and more every day. I’ve always felt that it is important to find new and exciting ways to say ‘thank you’ to those who fill your life with love.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dancing Light

In 2003-04 Joanne and I were living in Kentville, Nova Scotia as I was pursuing the completion of an art project entitled “Canada: Glorious To Be” ( During our stay in this beautiful part of Canada, I had organized several art workshops for the youth of this area. This is a link to a previous blog entry about one of those workshops:

The one thing that I really enjoyed about these workshops is the fact that a canvas painting was started and finished within a five-hour period. Most of the paintings that I create take several weeks to complete, so you can imagine my thrill to have a completed artwork in such a short period of time. The completed paintings have such a ‘raw’ look to them; an innocence for a natural chaos of brushstroke detailing.

I was inspired by these artworks to challenge myself to become more ‘raw’ and less refined in my detailing. ‘Dancing Lights’ was the result of this personal challenge. I told Joanne that I was going to start and finish a painting in just five hours… and she laughed. I did finish this painting in one session, however, this session ended up being close to fourteen hours long.

+ + + +

Within the first month of our arrival in Nova Scotia, I had made connections with a few art organizations. One of these organizations was responsible for displaying artworks at the Annapolis Valley District Hospital. Every few months a large gathering of local artists occurred to change the displays throughout the hallways of this hospital. I had met with the person in charge of registering the artists for these displays and I was informed that there was a yearly membership fee. After I had explained that I had been travelling across Canada for several years and that my debts were very high because of this, I was offered a membership for free. I was very grateful for this favour.

During the Spring of 2004, Jo’ and I were preparing to move back to Ontario. Because we really needed to save space in our small rented moving trailer, and because I wanted to show my gratitude, I donated ‘Dancing Lights’ to the hospital. I have been told that it found a home in the sick children’s ward of the hospital.

I often wonder if it is still there…


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thank You

Over the last half year, I have met many people from around the world through the wonderous technology of the internet. I’ve taken many opportunities to share my artwork, poetry and stories and in return I’ve had many people share their stories and pictures with me. It’s been a really great way to realize that the spirit of ‘Peace’, that is found in every one of us, is growing stronger as we begin to forge a new path for future generations: a path that embodies the ideals of sustainability, prosperity and community.

I spent a bit of time, this morning, rummaging through some of my artwork trying to find something that I could send (via cyberspace) to these friends to thank them for all the joyous thoughts that we’ve shared. At the back of one of my file folders I spotted a pen and ink drawing that dates back to my first year of being an artist. I smiled because I really did find a ‘Thank You’ to share. While I was scanning this image I wrote a little poem to go along with it…

Here is a drawing of two seeds that I planted
a little while ago.
The ‘good karma’, ‘peaceful thoughts’ and ‘smiles’
that you’ve sent to me
has really helped them grow.
These tangled vines have intertwined
to show you how I feel.
From me to you a simple ‘Thank You’
for sharing with me
something so real.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dogs – Five Different Ones

A few weeks ago I was on my facebook pages and I noticed that I had a few letters in my inbox. One of them was from a friend who works with my wife, Joanne. Kristen told me that she had been thinking about having a painting created for her mom for a christmas present for this year. Her mom is a huge lover of dogs. Kristen wanted me to create a painting of her mom’s three dogs, plus a fourth dog (who recently passed away) as well as one of her own dogs. Yes – that’s five dogs!

Of course, I agreed to do this for her. I did forewarn her that the painting might not be completed in time, but by the new year it would be done. I was really busy finishing my art workshops, so the painting didn’t get started for a while.

Kristen gave me lots of photographs of these five dogs. I spent about an hour, one evening, scanning the photos and trying to figure out how I was going to lay out the painting. I became very frustrated. I’m not the most knowledgeable computer user and I found my skills very limiting. I couldn’t figure out how to do what I wanted to do. I’m very grateful that Joanne offered to help me. Soon, I had something that I could work with.

Whenever I am creating a painting that is very challenging – as I knew this one was to be – I take my time getting ready. Day 1: I figured out what I wanted to paint on and I went and bought the board and had it cut to size. Day 2: I went to Kinko’s photocopy centre and I spent a bit of time working with an employee until my image was ready to print. Day 3: I spent the entire day applying base coats of Gesso to the board. Day 4: I spent three hours transferring the image. Day 5: I sat and thought and thought and thought. Day 6: I was ready to paint.

Day 6 was just last Sunday and I was surprised that I had accomplished as much as I did. Still, at the end of the day, Joanne didn’t think that I would get it done in just three more days. This was the first time – like ever! – that she was wrong. I usually don’t try to push myself too hard – that’s when mistakes happen – but I really wanted to get this painting done in time.

Since last Sunday, no one (except my neighbours) saw me. For three days I locked myself in my art studio. I didn’t go to the gym for a swim and sauna. I didn’t go to the library to check my emails and facebook. I didn’t even turn my computer on to write a new blog. My days started at around 7:00 am. I would stop for breakfast after my first five hours of painting. My day ended when Jo’ came home from work. By that time I was getting a little dizzy. Even this morning, I was painting by 6:45am and just a few short hours later the painting was done.

This painting is very special for me for different reasons. I was very happy to be asked to create this painting for Kristen. With a little help, I was able to overcome my fear of failure – like I mentioned earlier, five dogs was quite a challenge. And I was able to experiment with new colour blending techniques. I have never painted a yellow sky before, the dogs are painted using purple, green, red and gold colours, but they don’t look like purple and red dogs. I learned a lot and that’s probably the most important thing for me.

Kristen was very happy when she called this morning and Joanne was able to tell her to come over to pick up the completed painting – by this time I was outside shoveling the foot and a half of wet, heavy snow.

Kristen and her boyfriend, Mike, showed up a little while later. They were both very pleased with my work and I managed to get them to pose for this picture before they took my painting away and left me crying on my front porch. Now that the painting is gone, I feel very lonely. I had the wonderful company of five dogs offering my mind entertainment for so long – it’s a little bit of shock to see them go.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday Night – Open Mic

It has been almost two months since I’ve performed any of my songs in front of an audience, so last night I thought it was time to change this statistic. Joanne came home from work at around 6:30pm, we had a nice simple meal, then it was off to the London Music Club ( for the evening. It was great fun driving through all the streets that had yet to be plowed after the snowstorm.

I am always impressed by the LMC – when we arrived we could hear music coming from one of the lounges (a local business was having a christmas party), the downstairs music hall was filled with people attending a small concert by a few travelling musicians, and the first singer of the night was on the ‘open mic’ stage in the third music hall. One building – three music stages!!! I love this place more and more, each time I go there.

Joanne and I found a table to sit at as we listened to the first performance. I found out later that her name is Carly Thomas and that she was visiting London for the holidays. She had flown here from Vancouver – and I bet her arms were tired LOL!!! Carly is an absolutely amazing performer. Her melodies are full of emotions, her lyrics were engaging and full of thought and her voice… was like a sweet drop of heaven! I became very nervous about my upcoming performance, while I was listening to Carly. I knew that I was no where near her talent level and I felt hesitation within me. Then I had a glass of beer and decided that the audience would still enjoy my rough-edged guitar playing. It was my turn…

Peter, the owner of the LMC, helped to get me comfortable on stage. I sat on a tall stool so I could relax a bit, I think my knees were knocking together. Then I began to strum. I decided that I wanted to play one of my newer songs. I have been building this song and practicing it a lot over the last three months and on this night I felt it was time to share it with the world.

Slipping Through Time

Last night I had a dream
I was slipping through time
I was filling the spaces
Of lives that were mine

I was building great big wheels
Using steel for horse
I was damming all the rivers
Changing water course
I was digging in the ground
When I thought I found the sun
And now a new age
Has just begun

Last night I had a dream
I was slipping through time
I was being the races
Of lives that were mine

Boulders make a mountain
Under whips and ring
Cats stray to life
For the golden king
I was digging in the ground
When I thought I found the sun
And now a new age
Has just begun

These dreams of mine
They are stitched in time
These dreams of mine
Ohhhh, ohhhh, ohhhhh hoh
Space and time
Is borderless when defined
Space and time
Ohhhh, ohhhh, ohhhhh hoh

Last night I had a dream
I was slipping through time
I was wearing the faces
Of lives that were mine

I was chanting with the spirits
Thrusting stick and stone
I walked in little circles
In the places I called home
I was digging in the ground
When I thought I found the sun
And now a new age
Has just begun

These dreams of mine
Ohhhh, ohhhh, ohhhhh hoh
These dreams of mine
These dreams of mine
These dreams of mine

Jim Kogelheide – summer 2008

I played two other songs and then Joanne and I sat back and enjoyed the rest of the evening’s entertainment.

Peter has a deep love for music. You can tell by the ease with which he performs. He performed a couple of songs and then he asked a few other musicians to join him on stage.

The stage was filled with three musicians, spanning many decades of experience. The drummer was the youngest musician, probably in his twenties, Peter is in his early forties and the singer has been enjoying retirement for a year or two, I’m sure. It’s great to see generations coming together to create magic.

There were many other musicians performing and I think that everyone had a fantastic time. I know I did!

It was especially enjoyable for me when the young drummer came to my table and sat down to chat with Joanne and me. He told me that he had really enjoyed my songs and that he thought I played the guitar very well. This made me feel GREAT! Soon, we started talking about art and painting, and poetry and he was very impressed with the work I do with the elementary school students. I’m glad that I remembered to bring some of my peace Stik-ers and I gave him a few to share with his friends.

Just before Jo’ and I decided that we should be heading home I stole a minute to chat with Carly. I told her that I would like to hear more of her music but that I didn’t have any money to buy her CD. She gave me her website address and I’d like to share it with you: . I plan on checking this out very soon. She mentioned that she was planning on releasing a new CD this coming spring, so I plan on asking her if she would be interested in having me paint a picture for her to use as the CD cover. Wish me luck!!!!!


Friday, December 19, 2008


Remember in the old days when we would say that it was going to snow today. Now, everything is exaggerated... in the news they are referring to this snow storm as Snowmaggedon.

Well, I had plans to tell a story about another art peace, but I ended up having to spend quite a bit of time shovelling my driveway. So, for today, I'm simply going to share a poem that I wrote a few years ago. I had almost forgotten about it, but I stumbled upon it today, while doing some other art related work.


Although we have poisoned our skies
And tainted our soils
Cut down all our timber
And reaped (from war) its spoils
A vision still captivates my mind
Of a future to behold
Filled with all the spirits
Not bending under a heavy load

We will know no hate
We will reflex with gentle hand
We will shine with the peace
That has finally swept over all lands

Of course, there will be the rising tides
That will spread disease near and far
But, with a blink of history
This suffering will pass
Leaving only a subtle scar

We will adapt and evolve as we always have
And (this time) we will learn from our mistakes
But first we must survive this freefall
Having been tossed from our car
Cuz we were too afraid to use the brakes

Until again,


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dreaming Of A Better World

Yesterday, was the launch of a four-day art auction to raise funding for London’s Habitat For Humanity. Until this coming Saturday at 5:00pm the community is invited to the Arts Project (SW corner of Dundas and Clarence) to view and bid on one or all of the four paintings that were created by the students of the Montessori House of Children.

London’s Rogers Television made it to this event and I believe the interview will be aired tonight after 5:00pm.

It will be a few days until I receive photos from this event to share with you, so I thought I’d share a story about one of my earliest art creations.

In this pen and ink rendering you will see an organic looking dude flowing with life and muscle surrounded by the landscape of his alien world. This world excites the eye with creatures living in harmony with their environment. The sun is drawn with thoughts inspired by vegetation growth because all of life begins as a ray of sunlight. It seems curious that this alien, living within a representation of peace, balance and harmony, would be dreaming of a better world… but it’s true!

He’s dreaming of our Earth, which is drawn in the upper right of this image. The clouds are drawn in the shape of a baby, nearing birth. This symbolizes the Earth’s present state of being. It shows that we are nearing our birth as a unified global civilization, about to embark on a truly unique journey. Once we have evolved and grown into this state of being (after leaving our oppressive Industrial ways), we will be a better world when compared to a vision of the perfect ideal.

+ + + +

Not too long ago, I shared a story about how I’ve found a fun way to share my artwork with my facebook friends from around the world. Right now, I’m preparing three packages that I hope to get into the mail before the end of next week. These packages are going to Denmark, Malaysia and Texas and they will be filled with my peace Stik-ers, a promotional DVD and a print of ‘Dreaming Of A Better World’.

I love it when my artwork goes on permanent vacations to exotic locations!


Monday, December 15, 2008

My Home – Announcement for the Unveiling

Last Thursday was the last day of my workshops with the students of the Montessori House of Children. It was a relaxing day of painting for the students while I provided some final suggestions before the paint started to fly…

Just two short hours later, the final painting in this series of four was completed. The students did a great job and they were all very pleased with their efforts.

Since then, my phone has been ringing and my email inbox has been receiving many letters, in preparation for this Wednesday’s event.

A few weeks ago, a story was printed in the Londoner ( ) about the efforts of these students and how these paintings were meant to help a local organization – Habitat For Humanity. A downtown art gallery – The Arts Project – read the story and they wanted to contribute to our effort. They offered us a venue to have a public unveiling so that the community could attend and see this group of four canvas paintings. Everyone was very happy with this contribution.

While we were preparing for this event, someone suggested that we should auction these paintings to raise funds for Habitat. So, we are. Here’s the deal…

This Wednesday, between 4-4:30pm the unveiling of these paintings is going to take place. This event will be at the Arts Project – on the south side of Dundas Street – just west of Clarence. I’ll be there, as well as a few people from HFH, a few teachers and a handful of students from Montessori. There will be a few short speeches and of course, the unveiling of the artworks.

From this time until about 5pm Saturday afternoon, the auction will be taking place. So, even if you can’t make it to the opening the paintings will continue to be on display for three more days. After all of this, the highest bidders will be informed that they have bought their paintings and then this group of four will be separated to find new happy homes to live in!!!

I hope to see you there.


Cheap Entertainment

It’s always important for people to realize that it is our own personal responsibility to decrease our consumption of the Earth’s resources. That’s why I never waste any money on buying toys for our pets. Koly’s ball collection has amassed through the years simply by finding tennis balls in the fields that we walk through. Both of our cats just love to play with paper and cardboard and there are always scraps to be found in my art supplies. I just can’t justify spending money on bits of material and plastics that have been created by children in a factory in some other part of the world.

During the workweek Joanne usually wakes up a bit before I do. She enjoys drinking a warm cup of tea while playing with the cats as the sun is rising. I didn’t realize – until just last week – that she has been using this time to train our youngest cat, Elly.

Last weekend, Jo’ and I were watching a movie on TV and I looked down to see Elly staring at me. There was a ball of paper sitting just in front of her. “Throw it for her,” Joanne told me. I did. Like a bolt of lightning, Elly was off. She caught the ball in mid-air and then she spent a minute or so playing with it on the carpet. Then she disappeared under the couch.

A minute or so had passed when suddenly Elly appeared at the top of the back of the couch… with the ball of paper in her mouth. She walked over to Jo’ and placed the ball very carefully onto her shoulder. Then she took a step back and stared at Joanne… waiting! I couldn’t believe it. Our cat plays fetch!!!!

Joanne laughed at the dumbfounded look that was on my face. She told me that she had been teaching Elly how to play fetch for about a week. When Jo’ picked the ball of paper off of her shoulder, Elly scurried along the back of the couch, jumped onto the arm of another chair and then waited for the throw.

This went on for almost half an hour, with about sixty throws of the ball. Finally, Elly was tired and she decided she needed to curl up on my lap for a well deserved rest.

While Joanne was playing fetch with Elly, I knew that I had to get a couple of photos to capture this event. I must have taken about twenty five photos trying to capture the ‘toss and chase’ but not a single one turned out. Elly was just too fast for the camera! I’m glad that I was using a digital camera and not a film camera or I would have been upset with the wasting of that film.

Have a great week and remember

Be peaceful
Be kind
We can’t rewind

Our actions of today
Build the histories of tomorrow
So let’s try to build a world
With a little less sorrow.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Even Teachers Like To Paint

The students of Kensal Park were going on a field trip, Wednesday afternoon, so I arrived right at the start of the school day to make sure that we completed our painting. I had just finished setting up the paint station when I noticed several folded pieces of paper, with my name on it, resting by my jacket. Someone had left a present for me. I smiled and opened the pages.

The first page was a letter. It said: “Dear Mr. Jim. It was so nice to have you in our classroom for those three days. I learned so much about art. And I LOVE ART! It was fun painting with you. I LOVED THE PAINTING A LOT!!!”

The second page had this wonderful drawing…

The third page had a picture of me relaxing on a sandy beach…

Through the years, many students have created presents for me. They always make me feel very special. Thank you, Maaiingan, for putting a huge smile on my face!!!

We had a very busy day finishing the painting…

Even the teacher of the class wanted a chance to add to the painting and the students thought that this was great.

And then… it was done!

The painting needed a few minutes to dry, before we took a group photo, so we had the judging of the colouring contest. Here are the winning artworks…

Did you notice the detail in the top left corner of this drawing

And here is the poem that the class all helped to create…

P lants help provide food for bugs
L ove the Earth we live on
A person should
N ever eat unhealthy food
E nergy comes from our sun
T oads are animals on the Earth

E arth is our home
A nimals are our friends
R ecycle to help our planet
T eeth make nice smiles
H elping is important

Thank you, grade four students, for sharing your inspiration with me. I had a great time and I know that you did, too!!!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Temagami Revisited

I’ve spent the last two days painting with the grade four students of Kensal Park… and what a blast we’ve been having!!!

I was supposed to have a guest speaker introduce this painting topic, but she had a medical emergency that kept her away. I decided that since my strongest topic for discussion is the Temagami Forestland that I would simply teach this subject again, but with a small change – compared to last time. The subject would be the same but the painting design would be totally new and fresh.

The teacher introduced me to the class and I began my own introduction for the workshop. I picked up my guitar and began to play a fun instrumental that I created when suddenly I was teleported into a concert stadium with thousands of cheering fans. That’s what it felt like. About ten seconds into this song all the students jumped to their feet and began clapping their hands above their heads, making lots of noise. I had a hard time controlling my laughter and delight.

After lunch, the painting began…

Today, we had just as much fun, although it was a soggy, rainy day outside…

Because of the rain, the students had their recess breaks indoors. During lunch time I had to make it through the crowded hallways to get to the teachers lounge. I passed by the classroom that I taught in about two weeks ago and the students poured out into the hall to say “Hi!” to me. I stopped and chatted with them for a few minutes. I continued on and passed by a group of students from my first class (which I taught over a month ago) and suddenly I had three children wrapping their arms around me giving me a big group hug. A teacher passed by this scene and she smiled while she held the lounge door for me. “They must really like you,” she commented. “I must be doing something right, then!” was my response.

While I was enjoying my lunch I noticed a small poster on the wall. It read “In years to come, the students that you teach may not remember what you taught them, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Inspirational words to live by.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

More Art For Facebook Friends

A little over a month ago, I decided to have a bit of fun on my Facebook page. I invited anyone to share a story about what they did to make this world a better place. The best response won an art print from my collection. I was amazed by the number of responses. Just a few days ago I decided to do this again.

This time, I asked Facebook friends to share a story about what they’ve done to clean up our world. I wrote the first story and I told how I had made 40 cents after I had picked up 4 empty beer bottles that were tossed along the edge of a pathway near a park that I take my dog to. Here are the other stories…

Luciana from Argentina wrote, “To help clean the world of inequality, a couple of weeks ago I met for a working group to try to bring solar energy equipment to a small town of Salta, Argentina .... We are still in the attempt!”

Markus from Monaco wrote, “I live in an apartment complex that has certain, marked containers for Recycling-Trash. When it gets 'fed' wrong, they won't empty it and put big sticker on it 'Filled wrong'. People keep putting their trash all around it until someone finally picks out the 'wrong' stuff and ends the mess! This week that someone was ME! :)”

My personal friend Karl from London, Ontario wrote, “I supported Barrack Obama because he represents Peace, Environmentalism, Cooperation and a Peoples Government!”

Pat from Hartford, CT wrote, “We keep on night lights only at night. I have always recyled my garbage - bringing cans once a month to a recyler. I pick up litter, help animals in need (a duck,opposum,a bat,homeless cats and other birds). I have bought the environmentaly friendly light bulbs.

Tracey from Halifax, NS wrote, “I use cloth grocery bags all the time. I try not to flush the toilet unnecessarily,or run water excessively. I save my magazines and read them over many times.Get bills through email.Reuse,reuse,reuse and garden and compost,which is too much pleasure to count,haha!! :)”

My funny Facebook friend Jenn from Malaysia wrote, “1) I have send more correspondences and invitations through email and sms rather than local conventional mail postings. 2) I collected recycle old books/newspapers and donated out to the charity and needy funds.

Traci from Texas wrote, “I use cloth bags for shopping, have switched every light in the house including the outside lights to the energy saving 20 year bulbs, have LED lights for christmas to save energy, donate any items I no longer need or want, have all of my bills come electronically to reduce paper being used, giving christmas gifts of plants, flowers, and gardening ... Read Moreitems, shred any papers I do recieve to use as packing materiel instead of buying the plastic peanuts or bubble wrap, and reuse the boxes and bags from christmas, birthdays, or any other holiday that I receive. It is probably not enough but it is at least a start :)”

Mollie from Toronto
wrote, “At work, I picked several paper coffee cups out of the garbage and put them in the recycle bin. (I do this ALL the time and still can't figure out why people don't realize that paper cups are... uh... well, paper!)”

Mollie made me feel really great by telling me that this ‘contest’ is a good idea to share inspiration around the world. She’s right!!!

It’s important for everyone to realize that we are not alone in our attempt to clean our home – planet Earth. I’m sure that on many occassions we feel that we may be the only one working towards this goal and if we are the only one then we can be easily discouraged. By finding ways to share inspirational stories from across this globe, I hope to keep the ‘light’ of Earthly consciousness alive!


PS – Ha! Ha! I forgot to annouce the winner of my ‘contest’. Because it so close to Christmas I thought that maybe I should give away more than just one of my art prints, so I’m giving away three. Surprise! I was most impressed with the responses from Traci (Texas), Markus (Monaco) and since Jenn (Malaysia) is a source of constant inspiration for me, I’m sending her a print too!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Home – Painting #4 of 4

One aspect of this art workshop that I am really enjoying is the fact that the students have to design their own image for the canvas. In most of my other classes I design the image for the painting, mix all the paints and layout the brush stroke techniques that will be used. The students of The Montessori House of Children are older than most of my other students and therefore I wanted to include them in the designing process. This approach is working very well.

The first part of Thursday’s class was dedicated to working with the students until their designs were approved. The students would show me the design that they had created and I would offer minor suggestions meant to improve on their work. For example, one group was designing an image of a school, with a bus in the foreground. My simple suggestion to them was to eliminate the windows in the schoolbus. “We need to create very simple elements in our designs. The interest of our design will be captured by how we apply our brushstrokes to each of these elements.”

Soon, the students began to sketch their designs onto the canvas…

When all four designs had been sketched out, the painting instructions were taught to the students. Each of the paintings that have been created in this workshop have been created using different brush stroke techniques. The first painting focussed on applying the paint as quickly as possible – we only had one afternoon to complete this painting so the paint had to applied with much haste. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to focus on techniques for this class.

The second workshop I had made some major adjustments to my teaching techniques to find the time needed to explore these ideas. The second painting focussed on creating a design based on a grid system.

The third painting focussed on what I call ‘contour’ painting. The students had to outline a shape on the canvas with a dark paint colour and then – using a lighter colour – continue to outline this shape – working towards the middle of the shape – until it was filled in.

This fourth painting is teaching the students about pointillism. I am teaching the students to choose a colour for whatever object they are painting and then to apply this colour using short unjoined brush strokes – filling up about half of the space of the object. Then the students must use a darker tone of the same colour to fill in about 30% of the remaining white space of the object. Once this is done and the paints have dried the students use the same colour that they started with and add more ‘dotted’ brush strokes until the object is complete.

This painting will be completed next Thursday… I think it’s going to be great!