Saturday, November 29, 2008

Temagami Pine #3

The grade 3 students of Kensal Park sure know how to put a smile on my face. What a great pleasure for me!!!

Yesterday was the final day of this art workshop and we began with the judging of the colouring contest. I am always impressed with the student’s art , but – pardon me – I mean BUT!!!! I could not believe the high quality images that these children created. I was really blown away!

The colour blending was phenomenal! The textures that they designed were masterful! The ‘flow’ of their linework would humble Tom Thompson. The student’s passion is overwhelming! The one drawing that really put a light into my eye made me feel like I was on the moon, viewing the Earth in the distance – this artist also drew a meteor impacting the moon! Take a look for yourself…

These students were very happy to win a special ‘Art For Earth’ T-shirt!

This is a poem that the students created for me:

P lease keep our planet clean
L earning something about EARTH makes us smart
A ir is our greatest need
N o more plastic bags and other garbage
E arth is a very special place
T he third planet from the sun

E at healthy and you will be healthy
A Korean word for Earth is Jeegoo
R ecycle, reuse and reduce
T urn garbage into something useful
H elp clean our world

After the contest prizes were given away, the painting continued…

By the end of the day ‘Temagami Pine #3’ was completed.

Thank you, grade three students of Kensal Park, for sharing all your warm smiles and open hearts with me!!!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Home - newsarticle

To read this story in full ( this scanned article is missing a sentence) link to:

For those in the London, Ontario area - please note that 'things' are being organized for a public showing of these paintings for sometime in mid-December. When I know more I'll let you know!!!

I'll look forward to meeting you then.


A Day of Threes

I spent most of my day, yesterday, with the students of Kensal Park School. It was the third day I painted with these students and by the end of the day the third painting in my series of six was complete. Here are pictures from these days…

Later, I went to the downtown library to work on their computers. I visited – online – one of London’s community newspapers. I read a story about my art workshops with the students of The Montessori House of Children. Here is the link to that story: . This was the third time my picture has appeared in a newspaper, this year.

The third great thing that happened to me, yesterday, occurred while I was working on the computer.

A teenage boy approached me and with a questioning tone in his voice he asked, “Are you Jim?”. I looked up and said, “Yes, I am… and you are Chris.” He was very happy that I had remembered him.

In 2004, a little while after Joanne and I had moved back to London, from Nova Scotia, I began to organize an environmental art workshop with the help of the Central Library. Chris was one of my students.

It was great to see him, after nearly four years. He sure was a lot bigger, now! We chatted for quite a while – I enjoyed hearing that Chris had continued to pursue his interests in art. He had told me that my art classes were the thing that really got him interested. Can you imagine how happy that made me feel???!!!!

Chris is now in grade 11 and he is studying at one of London’s most recognized ‘School of the Arts’. He told me that after high school he will be attending Fanshawe College’s Graphic Design course.

Every once in a while I wonder if the work that I am doing is having any kind of positive effect. It’s moments like these that make me realize that I am helping influence a younger generation in many positive ways!!!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Shaving To Save The World

We live, sadly, in an extremely wasteful society. Seldom, is consideration given to realize that we are destroying our environment with the products that we purchase.

Every product that is created started as a natural resource, which was torn from its place on this planet – leaving scars by our miners. The resource is then processed into an item, within our factories – creating harmful pollution for our air, water and soils. This item is then packaged and shipped throughout our world – creating more garbage – as the packaging is thrown away, and more pollution as the item is transported around the world using boats, planes, and trucks.

Here is just one simple example to show how easy it is for each of us to make conscientious decisions about what we purchase…

In 2003, I was getting ready for school – I was in college then – and I was having a shave. My electric razor broke, so I had to buy another one. After my classes were finished for the day, I went to a local drug store to see about a new razor.

While I was staring at a wall of choice, I began to think about how many broken razors are being thrown into the garbage, everyday – around the world. I wondered if I should start using disposable razors instead. As I thought of this I realized that I would have to buy shaving cream and that meant that I would be creating more garbage after I threw out the empty containers. I also realized that many chemicals are used in the shaving gels and that by using these products I would still be creating a lot of pollution. What was I going to do? It seemed that every choice offered to me was a bad choice!

Then I saw, on the bottom shelf, at the end of the display, a simple shaving solution.

I bought a shaving kit that came complete with a razor that allowed me to change just the thin metal blades, a cup with a bar of shaving soap, and a brush to lather the soap. I had found a solution.

I purchase one bar of shaving soap every year and a half and I buy a new pack of razor blades about once a year. Let’s not forget to think of all the electricity I have saved by not using an electric razor.

In the last fifteen years, since I made this decision I figure that I have saved our landfills about two or three electrical razors. If I was using disposable razors and shaving gels I would calculate that I have saved our landfills over sixty containers used for the shaving gels, plus all the chemicals used in the gels and over five hundred disposable razors. This would be a savings of close to fifty cubic feet of garbage!!!

Each and every small positive change that we make in our lives does make a difference.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Catching Up

What a busy week! By Wednesday, another painting was completed. This was the third class in my Art For Earth workshops with the students from Matthews Hall Independent School. Here are a few photos…

Of course, I had another colouring contest with a few T-shirts going to the student’s favourite drawings. Here are three drawings…

The following poem was created by using sentences from many students’ work.

P lant lots of trees
L ove the Earth
A ll people should be helpful
N ever throw litter on the ground
E veryone can make a difference
T he Earth is a wonderful place

E arth needs our help
A ll people should be grateful
R emember what is really important
T ell people to lend a hand
H elp each other

+ + + +

Imagine my surprise when I was walking through the hallways of the school, when I suddenly saw that there was a beautiful display of poetry and art that was created during my last workshop at Matthews Hall, almost three weeks ago.

The grade 2B teacher told me that she was so delighted with the students artwork and poetry that she had to share this inspiration with the rest of the school.

+ + + +

I noticed another art display in the new library. These twenty-seven canvases were painted during my 2007-08 Art For Earth workshops. If you look closely, you will notice that each canvas is slightly different. Yes, we created an animation film. This film is now available for you to view at my youtube account. Here is the link:

+ + + +

I spent Thursday and Friday with the students of Kensal Park School. These students were learning about the Temagami forestland. I used the same teaching techniques that I taught myself a few weeks ago. While I’m talking about ‘what makes a healthy forest’, I ask the students to help me draw a forest on the blackboard…

Then the painting began…

On Friday, the painting continued…

This painting will be finished this coming Friday. I’m excited to see the artwork and poetry that the students are now creating – for their chance to win a special T-shirt!

Whew! Now, I’m caught up, a bit. I’ll be spending this weekend preparing my classes and canvases for this coming week.

Until again,


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I’m Speechless – Now With The Words…

I wanted to get the students excited about participating in my ‘colouring contest’, so I decided to give away one T-shirt. I asked three of the students to come to the front of the class. Then, I asked each of them to tell the class one thing that they had done (in the last twenty-four hours) to help make this world a better place. The answer that the class decided was the best – got the T-shirt.

The first student tells the class how she walked around her block, with an empty garbage bag, filling it with litter. She said that she really wants everyone to stop leaving garbage on the ground.

I hesitated for a moment… and I asked her to tell me that story again. She did. I was still in shock. I am soooooo amazed that these young students are working so hard to understand this need for change, by doing the things that they are doing.

That story could not be beat…

The next student told how he and his father had walked into a nearby wooded area, with a garbage bag, and they, too, had it soon filled with garbage.

What was going on here?!!! Something smelled fishy….

Later, I learned that these two students belonged to the school’s ‘Green Team’ and that their newest assignment was to clean up garbage around the areas where they live. The students that make up this team of environmental learners are from all the grades and they have accomplished many, many goals over the years. A quite inspiration is blooming in our world with positive action. If you listen closely, you just might be able to hear the celebrations of our united future…


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Always Like A Happy Ending

Yikes! What a start to the week I had, yesterday.

So…….. I arrived at Victoria School and began to bring in my art teaching supplies. I struggled thro’ a couple of sets of double doors and made my way to the office. I arrived at the perfect time to get set up, with time to spare to meet my first guest speaker that is helping me with this art program. The principal smiled and gave me a curious look and said, “Hi Jim! Aren’t you teaching here next week?”

D’oh!!! She brought out her calendar and sure enough… I felt like a complete idiot. I guess there is always a first time for everything!

When I finally got to Matthews Hall, my guest speaker had already arrived. We were getting ready for our presentation and I picked up my guitar to make sure that it was sounding okay. Two days ago, I had just put on a new set of strings, so the guitar needs to be checked often, during the first few weeks, while the strings tighten a bit. I didn’t realize that my guitar tuner was set incorrectly until the end of the process. Then the class arrived and I had no time to fix my problem.

I played my guitar a little more softly – cuz I knew it didn’t sound that good. After class the students asked me to play a song. I told them that my guitar was out of tune and they said that they didn’t care – and they didn’t – they were having a great time. Then my bottom ‘e’ string broke…

The students really made me feel at home and truly welcome. Even tho’ my day had a rough start, I can’t stop smiling because of all the other happy memories that the children brought into my heart.

+ + + +

The presentation began with me doing my ‘yak’ ‘yak’ for a little bit – getting the kids all excited!!! (I always laugh when I think of the teacher getting the kids to be silent – then she introduces me and the first thing I do is get the kids to laugh and make lots of noise as the express how happy they are feeling – so much for the silence!!!!LOL). Then I introduced my guest speaker.

Julie works for a local environmental organization called Reforest London ( Julie knows lots of things about trees and she became excited about this art program, right away. We had talked a week ago – to get prepared – and this is what we did…

Julie engaged the students with questions and observations about forests. Twice, she gave me a little bit of an amazed look, because the students had known answers that she didn’t think they would. Heck – I didn’t even know the answer to one of the questions!
While Julie was doing this I began to draw some wiggling trees and branches on the blackboard. When she began to talk about the different types of trees found in this area, the students who answered correctly got a chance to draw leaves onto my trees.

Then there was talk about butterflies and badgers and beetles and soon the blackboard was filled with all sorts of ‘foresty’ things.

The students loved doing this – their final drawing was truly inspiring.

And then, the painting started…

I’m looking forward to spending the next two days working with these students some more. Today, I will be telling them about the colouring contest. I know that will make them very happy!!!!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Home #3 of 4

My Home #3 of 4

Last Thursday saw the completion of the third painting in this series of four, with the students of the Montessori House of Children.

The students worked very hard all class…

By 3:30 pm the painting was completed

Here is a poem that was created by the students, as a part of their homework assignments.

My Home

M any people come together
Y ou can make a difference

H ouses are important
O wning up to mistakes makes you learn
M aking opportunities is a goal
E xtinguish poverty

I love the Earth
S ome day our world will earn its peace

P erfection occurs seldomly
L ush forests smell great
A nimals prepare for the seasons to come
N ew challenges come upon us every day
E verything has its place
T rees give us air to breathe

E veryone should have a home
A ll the people help to form a community
R eturning favours is a nice gesture
T rue friendships are made
H ealthy planet = healthy people

It was a great joy for me to work with these great students. We all enjoyed our time together and I think a few of the students may have actually learned something! LOL!

To find out more about this art endeavour - visit:

It’s going to be an extremely busy two weeks for me – starting tomorrow morning. At the end of this time I will have worked with four different groups of students and four completed paintings will have be born. Then I finally get a small chance to catch my breath before the next wave of classes begins.

I hope that you will continue to visit this blog to see all of these new artworks.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Run And Hide – Death Is Coming

Ha! What a fun night we had on Halloween. And you can see that I had a bit of fun playing with a few of the photos…

During this Halloween period, I was surprised – and then maybe not so much – by the number of people using facebook who changed their profile picture into something themeful. These three photos will be used on my facebook page next year!!!

Here are a few photos from that evening…

Kristen took all of these photos, but at the bar I was able to steal her camera to take this photo of her.

Her real legs are the front legs of the bull that she is riding.

I took this picture, too. The bar was filled with lots of people – all dressed up in so many different costumes. It was hilarious!!! Everyone had a great time and we did a lot of dancin’……