Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fully Recovered

About a month ago, I shared a story about the newest member to my family, Elly.

I mentioned how her front paw had been damaged in a small accident and Joanne and I were a bit worried that her paw might have to be amputated. As you can see from the photos below – Elly is fully recovered and she’s now almost twice as big as she was one month ago!

Clearly, you can see that I had a bit of homework to finish, last night – mixing the last few colours for the painting that the students of Kensal Park School are working on. I’m glad that Elly was there to help me.

+ + + +

I began the class today, with a homework check. Yesterday, I had handed out two fun homework assignments. One was an environmental word-search. The other sheet had a list of things the children could do – every day – to make this world a better place. Here are a few of the ideas that were on this sheet:

1) Wake up every single day with a smile on your face.
2) Eat healthy food that tastes yummy.
3) Listen to all the different birds that you can hear in your backyard.
4) Pick up a piece of litter and put it in a garbage can.
5) Listen to a song that makes you feel good about yourself.

…and so on. At the bottom of the page the students are asked to think of five more ideas of there own. These are some of their answers:

6) Do not pollute.
7) Ride your bike.
8) Be nice to all people.
9) Do something nice for somebody
10) Plant a tree
11) Spend time thinking about the Earth.
12) Be thankful for what you have.
13) Have fun.
14) Enjoy the fun shapes of the clouds.

Today’s homework assignments are to create a poem about ‘Planet Earth’ and to draw their own picture of the Earth, moon and sun. When I show up for class tomorrow, all the full-colour, pencil crayon drawings will be taped to the blackboard and I will decide which are my favourite five. The winners of this colouring contest will win an Art For Earth T-shirt! The students were very happy to hear this news.

I only spoke to the class – as a group – for about fifteen minutes. The ‘big’ presentation was yesterday. Today I wanted to get a lot of the painting finished and that is what we did.

By the end of the school day over half of the painting was completed. I’m really excited to see how it will look tomorrow!


Monday, September 29, 2008

I Think Peace Is For You!

I was quite busy, this last weekend, preparing for my ‘Art For Earth’ classes that began today. First, the canvas had to be coated with several layers of gesso. Gesso is used as a base coating to protect and seal the canvas. After the canvas had dried, it was time to lay out the design. For this art project I decided to use a grid with 2” square shapes.

The longest portion of my preparation time was spent mixing the colours. The painting has the colour purple in it, but to make it more interesting I created five different shades of the same purple hue. I always test my paints to make sure that the colours look nice and the small bits that I paint give me an example to point to when I’m explaining how the class will be working on the canvas. You will notice, in the photo below, that I painted the border of the canvas, as well.

When I first began to teach these art workshops, I would have the students paint the border. I quickly learned that the students found this a little boring and it took quite a bit of time. Since then, I have learned to do this part of the project myself, leaving the fun part for the students.

+ + + +

I arrived about half an hour before my workshop was to begin so I could get unpacked and organized. The students were getting ready for their recess break and when I entered the room many of them came up to me with lots of questions. One of the questions was, “Will you be my friend?” I answered, “Yes, of course, and I hope that you will be my friend too!” Suddenly, I had a set of arms surrounding my waist as I was being hugged. Then another set of arms went around me, and another. Within seconds, there were close to ten grade four children hugging me. Wow! This is going to be a fun class!

I began the class with a poetic introduction. Then I picked up my guitar and played a short peace of music. “That sounds very happy!” was one of the remarks from a young girl. I explained that I like to create music that shares how I am feeling and today I was feeling very happy because I was going to create a wonderful peace of artwork with these students. It is important for me to explain that art is not just something that is drawn, painted or even sculpted, “Being creative in all areas of your life is a form of artful expression.”

I explained how – with any art form – the artist must have knowledge about the subject matter. Since we were going to paint a picture of the Earth and sun, we had to fill our brains with thoughts on this subject. I asked them to tell me what they knew about the Earth. Here is what they said:

There’s lots of water.
I like flowers.
Mountains are big.
People eat food.
After it rains there are rainbows.

All of these thoughts, and more, showed me that the students enjoyed talking about all the things that made them happy.

Using the examples that they had given me I asked them several questions: “Does everyone have clean water to drink?”, “Does everyone eat healthy food?”, “Does everyone have enough food to eat, every day?”, “Is the rain, that creates the rainbows, always clean?” Of course, all the answers were “NO!” Then I asked them if there were any other problems in the world that concerned them. As one voice the class rang out, “Global Warming.” I was very surprised. Obviously this was a subject that has been taught to these students many times and they knew quite a bit about it. We talked about famines, population growth, acid rain, war and poverty just to mention a few other items.

Then we talked about our responsibility to be able to find solutions to these problems. All the students agreed that something should be done about these problems and they all agreed that they would try to learn more so that they can be a part of the solution.

At this point in the class, I brought out my guitar, again. I explained that together we were going to create a peace of artwork, but it was not going to be a painting – it was going to be a song. I used the same music that I created for my turtle song and after fifteen minutes the students had helped me create a brand new song:

The Song of Peace

I think peace is for me.
I think peace is for you.
Together there is nothing we cannot do!

We can feed all the world.
We can clean our water, too.
Together there is nothing we cannot do!

I think peace is for me.
I think peace is for you.
Together there is nothing we cannot do!

We can stop all the hate,
The day the whole world celebrates.
Together there is nothing we cannot do!

After this introduction it was time to paint. For the rest of this day and for the next two days, the students will work with me, in groups of two, until the painting is complete. Most of today’s class was spent sharing ideas, looking at pictures and singing songs so only a small bit of the painting was completed. The next two days will be spent focussing on the painting.

As I was taking the above photo, one of the students asked why I was doing that. I told them that I wanted to share the photo with other people so that they could see what wonderful artists there are at Kensal Park School. Several students became very excited and they asked me to take more photos of their artwork… so I did.

Earlier today, the class teacher explained to me that the students had created this series of portraits in a certain style – I can’t remember the name of the artist that was mentioned – but he was known for painting very long portraits, with the eyes placed near the top of the head, with long necks and nose features. I gave them all many complements on their artwork. I thought they were all very well done and the students were happy when I told them that I would share their artwork with my friends – and that’s you – the readers of my blog.

+ + + +

My painting station was at the back of the classroom and while I was working with my students I was also listening in on what the rest of the class was learning. I couldn’t believe it – the students were working together with their teacher to write a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada. The topic of the letter was global warming. As the students were constructing their letter I would hear sentences like “We need to have clean air to breathe”, “Please stop all the pollution” and many more.

When I first began to organize my children’s environmental art workshops, many teachers had expressed that there is not enough focus on environmental issues in the classroom. That was ten years ago. Today I am a witness to the fact that environmental issues are being discussed in almost every area of our children’s education – and I am ever so happy to be involved, in my own small way, to this greater ideal that is being established in the minds of the world’s future citizens.


Friday, September 26, 2008

My Home - continues

I taught the second of three classes, yesterday afternoon, at the Montessori House of Children… and what a great experience that was!

One thing that I always stress with my students is, understanding the importance of the art that we are creating. This art project is entitled ‘My Home’ and so the students are taught different ways to put thoughts about ‘home’ into their brain to think about as they work on their art. If an artist does not know anything about the subject that they are creating, how can the finished product have any value?

Last week the topic of ‘home’ was introduced in a discussion format. I would ask a question about a topic and the students would share their thoughts on the subject. Afterwards I explained to the students that, “I have not taught you anything about this subject that you didn’t already know. This discussion was simply a tool to collect and gather the information that you do already know, into focus… a gathering of thoughts focussed on one theme.”

This week, I began the class with similar ideas but a different approach. Simply, I sang them a song that I wrote earlier this spring, ‘The Bricks Of Love’.

I performed this song for them for two reasons: 1) Simply to get their minds focussed on the theme of ‘home’ and 2) To show that ‘art’ can be created in many different ways. Art can be a visual rendering, a literal expression (like writing a poem) or the creation of a feeling using music as a tool to paint images in the listeners mind.

After this introduction to today’s class, the students spent the rest of the afternoon finalizing their sketches and drawing their images onto the canvas.

Next week we will see the completed canvas. It’s going to be amazing… so far the students have really shown that they have a great imagination and I have full confidence in their ability!

+ + + +

If I am teaching a class that is longer than one day, I often create homework assignments to keep the students thinking about their art project, outside of the classroom. Last week I handed out a few different kinds of homework assignments and I will share one of them with you now:

My Home
Where I Live, Laugh and Learn

Homework Assignment #1B

Have you ever noticed how fortunate we are, living in Canada? Most people have a place to live and food to eat. There are some people that are not so fortunate. There is a village in a country across the ocean that is used to dump garbage sent on boats from North America. The people that live there dig through this garbage to look for food and clothes. They live in wooden or metal huts and they are very poor and very sick.

Discover a place where people are not as fortunate as you and me. Share what you have learned. Express how you feel about this discovery. Do you think that it is possible to create an environment where people can live healthier lives – how?

This is the answer that one of the students gave me:

One of the many places where people are less fortunate than we are is Africa. Africa is the world's poorest and second most populated continent. Daily, people die and suffer from diseases, starvation and poverty. It makes me sad that people are dying in other parts of the world because they don’t have basic necessities of life like we have here and take for granted.

One of the main problems in Africa is that they don’t have clean and safe drinking water like we do here. The continent is sadly lacking drinkable water.

Another really big issue in Africa is AIDS. Approximately 3,000 people a day die from this disease and 11,000 are infected. This number is so high because the vaccine for AIDS is too expensive for African’s to afford. Malaria is also a common illness that spreads through different parts of Africa. Malaria is usually in some way associated with poverty. The malaria parasites are transmitted by female mosquitoes.

Yes, I think that it is possible for us to create an environment for less fortunate people. It would be really great if we could create an environment where people could feel safe and happy. In a way we are already helping people by donating our artwork to the “Habitat For Humanity”. I think that every little thing we do to try to help others in need is a really good thing to do.

Wow! How very insightful and thoughtful.

If these are the thoughts of the world’s next leaders then I have full confidence that they will be able to tackle the many issues facing our global society.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Last Weekend of the Summer

Wow!!! What an amazing weekend we had here in London, Ontario. Temperatures reached as high as 30 degrees.

Joanne and I spent most of Saturday downtown in Victoria Park listening to a few of the musical performances that were going on that day.

Since we didn’t take Koly with us on Saturday, we figured we should do something special for him the next day… so we went for a really long walk. We were out ‘n about for almost four hours.

Although London has decided that it is best for the short-term profit of a few select contractors to continue to develop the surrounding farmland into suburban sprawl, much of the older part of town still enjoys being a part of a community. You don’t need a car to live in the downtown area. You can walk to work, walk to the grocery store, bank, theatre, library and on…. People’s homes are surrounded with parks and businesses, bike trails and buses.

If you can believe it, both of these photos were taken just eight blocks from the downtown core. Both photos were taken at the same location: one looking one way, then the other. It’s nice when you are living in a city to be able to easily find wide-open spaces. By simply turning your back, you can block out the city and feel like you’ve just stepped into a country setting. Just beyond these green spaces is a series of walking trails that leads to (and along) the Thames river. There are many acres of wild flowers that grow in this area and it is soooo quiet. Except when a train is passing by, the terrain of this area stops the sounds of all the local traffic.

I brought along my digital camera to have some fun!

Can you imagine what went into creating the above photo? I was holding the camera and I had to position Jo’ into the photo and try to get Koly to stand still. We had a few laughs at the photos that didn’t turn out!

+ + + +

From a comment I made above, it is clear to see that I am not a great fan of the style of urban planning that has taken over this area. I am also not a fan of some of the changes that are occurring in London’s downtown.

This picture shows one example that leads me to believe that our city councilors were sleeping on the day when an important issue was being decided on.

Let’s take a closer look….

These metal barriers were installed about two years ago. When I first saw them, my mind blew a gasket! What a horrible idea. What a dangerous idea. Am I the only one that sees that these metal barriers could seriously hurt someone, if someone fell or tripped?

I called city hall to find out what the reasoning was behind these barriers and if I could raise my voice to bring objection to this dangerous issue. Four hours later, and over ten conversations later I was speaking with someone who had ‘championed’ this decision. I was told that the barriers were put in place to stop vagrants from sitting on the edges of the tree planters. I mentioned that now it was also impossible for me to sit on the edges of the planters to enjoy a slice of pizza, as well as any visitor to the city. Were we trying to create an inviting environment in our downtown, or a dangerous one? I was told that these barriers will stop people from littering their coffee cups in the tree planters. I mentioned that the metal barriers were only three inches high and I doubted that anyone would have a problem tossing garbage into the planter boxes. Over the last two years I have not noticed a decrease in refuse found in the planters.

That was it – those were the only reasons given to me. It just doesn’t make any sense. I suggested that they remove these barriers before someone gets injured. The barriers are shaped like triangles, with a pointy side up. They also have an open metal end that is great for catching a loose scarf or jacket.

I asked this lady if she would do me one favour: Buy a lunch from a downtown street vendor and simply find a place to sit and enjoy it. There are only three benches in the downtown core to sit on. Before the barriers were in place, many people would sit on the planter’s edge to enjoy a coffee, a book, people watch, meet friends. This cannot happen anymore.

I suggested that a positive and safe solution for the people of London and all the many visitors would be to replace these barriers with actual benches and that behind the benches they could create safe barriers to stop littering – heck, you could design barriers that also acted as support for vine type flowering plants and that would really be inviting to everyone!

She thought I was foolish!

I would like to invite all you readers of my blog to send an email to the mayor of London (Her Worship Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, City of London, 300 Dufferin Avenue, P.O. Box 5035, London, ON N6A 4L9) to ask her to please remove these metal barriers as they are a threat to the public safety of all Londoner’s and visitors.

Thank you for your support


Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Bricks Of Love – a song

I haven’t written a story since last weekend. I’ve been very busy. I taught my first art class of the season on Thursday afternoon at the Montessori House of Children. I have nothing but extremely joyous memories from that afternoon. I am hoping to be able to share some of those photographs in the near future. The students were amazing and so darn smart – sometimes they would think that their silly answer would just receive giggles and laughs and they were all surprised when I would express how I thought that they were very smart to have thought of such a creative answer. Indeed, this is how I truly felt – I was impressed!

I’ll talk a bit more ‘bout that at a later entry. I’m very excited and want to get to the meat of this entry – like now!

I have been e-communicating with Jan from the London Music Club…
… for a week or so – discussing opportunities to hang my art works at the club. I had been in, once before, and it’s a really nice venue – very cozy and intimate – super chill and joyous!!! The walls are filled with – musically minded – art and I wanted to be a part of it. Jan was happy to offer me space to hang one painting and then I had a cool idea…

I have permission to display the artworks that are created in my classes – until April – and I thought that an ever-changing art hanging (changing the paintings every month) would be a good thing. Jan agreed – she loved the idea of highlighting a new set of art, created by the youth of the community, that recognized environmental concerns. We made plans to meet last evening and I was to bring in a painting. I took ‘Earth Angel’…


… and my guitar – it was open mic night!

Jan warned me that things might be running a little late because of the Barney Bentall concert. Cool!!! I took a dozen stik-ers to give to him for his guitar cases and a small print of my artwork – actually, this is my only print of an artwork that I did not paint – my students painted it. Barney held it up while Joanne took our picture. I think that he thought it was pretty cool for someone to give him a little present – for the one hour autograph session he had with everyone!


We were allowed into the hall where he had performed – after the show. We couldn’t hear the show – we were in another space with other musicians so I can’t comment on that at all. I will comment on what I saw while I waited to meet him – he seems like a really nice guy – very open to all sorts of different people, friendly and patient – definitely relaxed.

As mentioned, while Barney’s concert was in progress, Jo’ and I were in a different area and there were a few people enjoying taking turns playing the guitar. I accepted each time it was offered – I played a couple of one and half minute long ditties. I was more interested in listening to their songs. Everyone that played was really, really amazing and it was a lot of fun to listen and participate – a little…

Later, it was time to start the open mic. I was third up. I had no fear cuz I knew that I was going to make a few mistakes, the previous players had made a few mistakes - I was in good company! No one seemed to care is you missed a word or slipped a chord – it made everything a bit more enjoyable – the performers gave a silly grin, the audience laughed and then on with the show. I really enjoyed myself.

Now – I’m not the greatest guitar player in the world…(silent pause)… and suddenly I had an even more difficult situation to deal with. I was playing someone else’s guitar. It was a bit uncomfortable around my shoulders – the strap that is, it felt different in my hands and holy man was it loud. I’m used to pounding on my guitar to make it loud and now I was constantly readjusting my self – once or twice, tho’, I hit that bass string pretty hard and it really let out a deep moan!

We all played three songs. I began with a 2 ½ minute instrumental entitled ‘World On A Chain’. I like to dream of one day making an album and this instrumental will be the first song on Side B and also the title of the album. The cover artwork it already sketched out… My second song was ‘The Bricks Of Love’ and I ended – with audience support – with a shortened version of ‘The Turtle Song’.

The Bricks Of Love

We’ll always reap the seeds we sow
When we’re layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks
Our love will shine when it’s peace we grow
Yea! We’re layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks

Hope is………

The road we rode quickly turned asunder
And now we’re frightened
By the rain and by the thunder!

We’ll build a house for the world to share
When we’re layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks
With no more crying or despair
Yea! We’re layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks

Hope is………

The road we rode cracked, split and fell away
And now we’re building
Towards a better way!

We’ll clean our windows so that we can see
All the love and joy that’s still to be
We’ll open all our doors and let the good spirits in
Then we’ll dance and sing – Yea! Rise above the din

Hope is………

Layin’ down the bricks
Layin’ down the bricks

Jim Kogelheide
May 2008

So… I finished my set and sat back in the audience. Joanne told me that I sounded pretty good and that I was quite entertaining. I had a great time!

The next act was really serious about open mic night. They set up a drum kit, and a keyboard, with a third singer. They were quite entertaining as well.

Joanne had to work this morning so we left soon after this performance. All in all a very productive and enjoyable day. Who says ‘You can’t mix business with pleasure’? I’m always grateful that my business is my true pleasure!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rubber Trees

Last weekend, Joanne and I had a bit of a soggy camping experience at the Pinery Campgrounds. To keep the chill of the damp rain away we had ourselves a nice warm fire. It was my job to get all the wood ready and this was very difficult because I had forgotten to bring my axe. Joanne suggested that I simply knock the trees down using my thick head… so I tried.

I soon discovered that the trees of this region of Southern Ontario must be made of rubber!!!


My Home

I’ve been sharing many stories about my upcoming ‘Art For Earth’ workshops over the last while, but today I want to introduce yet another art workshop that I’ll be working on over the next three month with another London school.

Last spring, I was meeting with many school principals to promote my ‘Art For Earth’ workshops and those efforts led me to the Montessori School. Kristen (the vice-head of the school) told me that although my workshops had great value as a teaching tool, she wouldn’t be able to accommodate my program into their curriculum. However, she quickly continued, she wanted me to think about setting up a different art program that would fit into their curriculum. How could I say no!

I was very pleased with her enthusiasm and I thought that this outcome was even better than what I was hoping for. Now, instead of teaching at just three London schools, I’ll be teaching at four.

We began to talk about ideas for these art workshops.

I wanted to create a series of paintings that would teach the students the value of contributing their efforts to organizations in the community; organizations that help to create a positive community environment. Who should we choose to donate these paintings to: the London hospital, the local food bank, women’s abuse shelters…??? There are so many organizations that benefit our community in so many ways.

I decided to contact Habitat For Humanity.

Habitat For Humanity has just begun the construction of four new homes, here in London. They build these homes for people who have many challenges to face in their lives who are unable to afford the cost of buying a home (after this project is done I’m going to ask them to build a house for me!!! LOL!) By the time these four homes are finished, my students will have also completed four original canvases to be donated to these homes for the new owners.

Kristen and I and Julie (from HFH) are very pleased with this idea.

Because of the work the HFH does I thought that the focus for discussion during these classes and the theme for the paintings should be ‘My Home’.

During the first class we will be understanding the importance of ‘home’ in many different ways. First we’ll simply talk about the homes that we all live in: houses, apartments, condos, etc. Then we’ll talk about how our environment plays a crucial role in determining what kind of homes we build. We’ll talk about how the Inuit used to build their homes using tundra moss and whale bones. Then we’ll journey to the Amazon where people live in straw houses perched on poles.

The discussions will then navigate to realizing how fortunate we are, in London to have good quality housing, by comparing ourselves to others who are less fortunate: refugees without homes (struggling daily to find food and shelter as they flee war zones or environmental disasters) and people living in poverty with families of ten living in a one room box made of scrap metal, infested with fleas and rats.

These lessons will allow the students to realize how fortunate we all are and how it is our duty (and hopefully privilege) to strive towards making this world a better place for everyone. They will learn about positive action and expression. Their expression and thoughts will become the paintings and their action will be donating these works to our own community. With the support of the local media the students will learn that by sharing experiences with others, more people may become inspired to share similar thoughts leading to positive action.

All of this is just the introduction to the workshop. Now, we need to focus on what we will be creating…

I came up with an interesting idea. I’ve prepared two assignment work sheets with eight small boxes on them. The assignment is called ‘Where You Are’. I ask the students to answer this question and in the first box they are to draw a simple ‘thumbnail’ sketch to illustrate their answer. The answer is: I am in a classroom. In the second box I will ask them to draw a thumbnail sketch of where their classroom is: My classroom is in a school. And to continue… My school is in London, Ontario. London is in Southern Ontario. Southern Ontario is in Canada. Canada is a part of the Earth. The Earth is a planet in our solar system. Our solar system is surrounded by many other solar systems. Thousands of solar systems create the Milky Way Galaxy. The students will create eight different sketches to illustrate these points.

This exercise is designed to give the students a deeper understanding of what our home really is. They will appreciate that our home is not simply the dwelling we live in but the planet we live on and the universe that we exist in.

Now for the canvas…

Each of these workshops will have eight students participating. I had to come up with an idea that would allow eight students to paint on one canvas at the same time. This will be very challenging. I decided to divide the canvas into four equal sections and then divide the eight students into four groups of two with each group working on one area of the canvas. From the eight thumbnail sketches the students will choose their favourite four and these four images will then be painted on the canvas.

Wheeew!!! I’m a little exhausted after just describing the class.

Because this concept is to be repeated in each of the four classes that have been set up I needed to think of a way to make each canvas unique. I did not want to end up with four canvases that looked the same. I decided that I would also teach the students about the uses of colour focussing on the grey scale and monochromatic rendering. Simply, one of the canvases will be painted in many shades of blue while the others will be shades of green, orange and purple. Plus, each class may choose a different group of four images to paint, from the eight thumbnail sketches.

I’ll be teaching these classes every Thursday afternoon starting next week, until the middle of December. I just finished prepping the first canvas last night at around 3am.

I can’t wait!!!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Earthday 2006

Near the end of March 2006, I received a phone call from my friend Denise. Denise and I first met when I was planning my 2004-05 Art For Earth workshops. She works at a local Conservation Authority preparing outreach environmental programs for local elementary schools and she was delighted to be one of my guest speakers. It had been about six months since we had last spoken when my phone rang.

Denise wanted to know what my plans were for that year’s Earthday. She was surprised when I told her that this was the first Earthday in about seven years when I had made no plans. I was working full time and the remainder of my time was spent preparing for my upcoming trip to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. She asked if I’d like to put together a one-day art class to be taught at the Lower Thames Conservation Authority. The LTCA had organized an Earthday event with many different activities and I would be one of these activities. Of course, I said yes!

Earthday arrived and so did I, with a blank canvas and a lot of paints and brushes. When people arrived at my event station I put them to work. We were creating a painting of the Earth, moon and sun using a pointillism technique.

At the end of the day the painting was completed. Now, I had a small problem… what was I going to do with this painting? I have a history of donating my artworks to community organizations and the next day I was talking with someone from the London Sick Children’s Hospital. Later that afternoon, I arrived to donate this painting to the hospital. It was agreed that this painting would be hung somewhere in the children’s ward to add a bit of bright colour for the children that were receiving medical treatment. I found out that a year later it was used in a fundraising event and that the money went towards some needed care equipment.

I shared this story with Denise and we were both very happy that our small effort was able to contribute towards a significant purpose.

+ + + +

When each person finished their turn at working on this painting I gave them some of my peace stik-ers and one on my art prints. On the back of the prints I tape photocopies of news articles talking about my adventures in art or a poem I have written.

About three weeks after this event I found a letter in my mailbox. It was from a mother who had brought her daughter to the painting session. This letter put a very big smile on my face.

The mother and daughter had come to the event to learn more about ways they could help protect our environment. They had a great time helping me with my painting. The mother thanked me for the gift of art that I had given to them. She told me that later that evening her daughter had noticed the poem on the back of the print. She shared with me that my poem had brought a tear to her eye. She told me that my poem had given her a deeper understanding of what it means to “be a part of this great mystery” and that her heart was newly awakened to realize that humans have a greater destiny than “slaving ourselves to the corporate giants that are destroying our world”.

This is the poem that was taped to the back of the art print that I had given her:

(Thoughts For The New Millennium)

This world has changed in so many ways
Restructuring continental shifts
Each movement can be measured in days
Rising mountains create musical rifts

The tides of time ebb and flow
Harmonizing universal rapture
Filling the spaces between the flowers that grow
If only my imagination could capture
The heartbeat
The pulse
The vibrations that liberate
Tearing body from mind from mesmerizing state
Then – maybe – I’d know that it is not yet too late
To build a guild
And have the whole world celebrate
A peace-fire

This world is changing
Though we’re feeling quite blasé
For history walks a slow line forward
Never forgetting a single grave
The old, the young
The guilty and the framed
The trees, the rivers and the poison
The fish, the bugs and those who don’t feel the need to explain
About our home
Our Earth
Being a garden mausoleum

Though cycles revolve and species evolve
And life is always as it would
Does this dissolve
Us from trying really hard
To create a peace-fire
Uniting all humanhood
With no more hatred, no more greed
Let’s share with each other and make amends
For when it is time to plant tomorrow’s love seed
We’ll need all to lend their helping hands.

Jim Kogelheide

I use my artwork to share these similar thoughts with the world and it brings a tear to my eye when I realize that someone understands me.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Art For Earth – 2003

During the Autumn of 2003 Joanne and I were living in Nova Scotia so that I could continue working on my national art project entitled: Canada Glorious To Be.

I had read in a local Wolfville newspaper that there was going to be an art auction fundraising event for the local theatre. I thought that it would be fun to get a few student artists together to create an artwork for this event. A nearby art studio helped me find these young artists and another friend helped out, as well. Her name is Mary and we worked together at a local nightclub. I was the bartender and sometimes DJ and Mary was the cook. On Sundays, Mary and I would sing a few songs together during our karaoke nights. Link to photo:

It was a great way to spend the day. We got together before noon and just five hours later our painting was finished.

The local paper heard about this effort and a small story appeared in the next week’s edition.

The night of the art auction finally arrived and the young artists were super happy about the whole thing. They had come with their parents to show off their work and we all enjoyed all the other art that was there to help a community organization. The parents had expressed the joy that this whole experience had brought to their children.

My favourite part of the whole night was the chocolate fountain. The event had been catered with lots of other yummy hors d’oeuvres, but you could not drag me away from the chocolate fountain. It was the first time that I had ever seen one so I made the most of it with: strawberries, bananas, specialty cookies and lots of other items that tasted great with warm melted chocolate dripped of them.

Oh my! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!


Friday, September 5, 2008

September Exhibition

This exhibition is hanging in the Masonville Library until the end of this month. All the art works have been created over the last thirteen years, including pen & ink drawings, paper collage works as well as canvas paintings.

Until next August, this collection will be travelling to different locations throughout London. What I’m excited about is showing some brand new paintings – each month – as this tour progresses. Now – I’m not going to be showing any of my new paintings, but the paintings that are to soon be created by the students that I will soon be teaching. Soon, there will be paintings of turtles, butterflies, trees and many other subjects. Have you noticed how I keep emphasizing the word ‘soon’ – my classes start in two weeks and I’m super anxious to start!

The arrangement that I have with the schools that I’ll be teaching at is quite simple: at the end of the school year the schools can either keep the paintings for permanent display at the school or they will be used at school fundraising events. After the spring of 2009 I may never see these paintings again… so it will be my great pleasure to share this art with Londoners during my tour!

Here is one of the paintings that you will find if you drop by the library this month.


During the winter of 2004, my wife and I were living in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The coming summer was being prepared to celebrate the history of the first settlers of this province. “Acadie 300” was the name of the celebration to recognize the Acadians and their 300 year history. A neighbouring village was completing the construction of a brand new museum for this reason. They organized a National art contest to award the winner the opportunity to paint a large mural within the museum. When I heard about this event I became very excited and immediately I began to sketch ideas for my submission. Soon enough, I learned that I would not be a finalist in this competition. Months later, my wife and I were preparing to return home to London. After we were settled I had time to listen to the nagging that I heard in the back of my mind, telling me to bring my ideas for this celebration to life. This painting was created to honour the memory of the early settlers and the memory of our two and a half year stay in Nova Scotia.

In 1755 a war broke out on the seas and land of Nova Scotia. Both the British and French wanted this beautiful land of farmfields, forests and lakes for their own. Armies were sent throughout this land to gather all the Acadian settlers onto boats to be deported to the Americas. Families were torn apart and many people died of disease during the harsh winters. Many years later, some survivors returned only to find that their lives had been changed into stories in the history books. This painting tells their story.

A beautiful morning sunrise graces the Atlantic shoreline. Dark clouds of oppression are moving into this region to blot out the sun. In the foreground you will notice a pair of military boots that have been extremely exaggerated in size to symbolize the might of the armies. In the far distance a black ‘snake’ appears to slither throughout the landscape. As this black image reaches the foreground we realize that the ‘snake’ is a line of people as they are gathered and herded towards the shoreline. These are the Acadians. They are painted in black to symbolize oppression and darkness. You will also notice that the ‘snake’ is traced with orange and yellow flames. These flames represent the spirit of the Acadians. Throughout this war the Acadians were able to survive as best as they could because they never gave up hope for a better future as their spirit flames burned brightly. Although their lives were never able to return to what once was the spirit of these people has endured and inspired life for others throughout the new Nova Scotia and into the United States reaching as far as New Orleans.

By reading this story you have proved that with the telling of any great tale the “Spirit Never Dies”.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Old Dog – New Tricks

Joanne and I know how to have a great time without spending the lots of cash that we don’t have! Monday was such a beautiful day – and hot – so since it was a holiday weekend we decided to go to the beach. We packed a little cooler with fruits, crackers and cheese and made an afternoon of it.

In Southern Ontario, when someone says they are going ‘to the beach’ it could mean one of many. We have Lake Erie to our south, Lake Huron to our west and Georgian Bay to our north. Grand Bend is a very popular place but Jo’ and I have found a few smaller, lesser known beaches that are not swarming with people and condominiums.

The beach, to Koly, means just one thing – rocks! I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, about my dogs desire to clear all rocks out of any water and today was no different. Joanne and I have tried to stop him but it is no use…

After about half and hour, the beach was covered in many piles of rocks.

I challenged Koly and asked him if he could spell his name with the rocks from the lake… and he went straight to work.

Who says, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?