Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Artist United!!!!

…Against the Mega-Quarry!

Over the last year, I’ve shared four stories about an issue of great concern for me and for tens of thousands of other Ontarians…

An American company stole into the beautiful hills of Melancthon Township, lied to farmers as they gobbled up precious agricultural land. Their intent – build North America’s second largest open-pit mine!

This mine could be deeper than Niagara Falls is high and it could achieve a size equivalent to 1/3 the size of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area – including Mississauga, Scarborough, North York, Brampton…).

Five major rivers that traverse the landscapes from this region to Lake Ontario are in jeopardy of being polluted with heavy waters created by the residual left behind from daily blasting of nearly 20 tonnes of explosives.

300 heavy hauler trucks an hour (!!!!) are expected to be destroying all the roadways in this region as limestone and gravel is exported south of our border.

Boy! I’ll bet that the Highlands Co. is sure surprised that in less than one year we stupid red-neck hicks have been able to organize in all levels of government to protest their desires!

To read in more detail about this issue please link to this story – http://bitsandpeaces08.blogspot.com/2011/06/dufferin-county-jobs-and-destruction.html

To read about how people have come together to petition this irresponsible aggression – http://bitsandpeaces08.blogspot.com/2011/10/foodstock.html

Today, I simply wanted to let you know about another event that is scheduled to happen in just a few days…

This flyer may be a little difficult to read so here are the points of interest…

Where – Studio 5 – 1362 Bathurst Street – just south of St. Clair West – Toronto

When – Opening Friday February 3rd – 6:00-9:00pm and Saturday February 4th – 11:00am – 5:00pm

Sandi Wong is the artist responsible (in part she always reminds us) for organizing this wonderful display of colourful landscapes, created by many concerned artists and I want to thank her for this amazing effort! Although I will not be able to attend this event, I am busying myself and my paints to create some new originals that I will be showcasing at other upcoming events.

But that’s another story….


PS – If you attend, please have a great time and return to this blog and post a comment sharing your experiences at this unique and noteworthy event! Thanks!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sunny Days

Brrrr… a wee bit on the chilly side, here in London, Ontario. We’ve finally got a bit of the white stuff on the ground and I’m sure that many skiers and snowboarders are happy!

Although I always enjoy the winter season – ha! for the most part – one thing that I like to do, to keep warm, is reminisce about the summer season. I’ve been saving these gardening photos to share with you now so that you can also enjoy reliving the sunny days of summer…

In 2010 I had a major restoration job to do on the foundation wall at the back of my house. After the work was done, I had a bit of fun painting a silly image on the wall before the whole thing got filled in with soil.

Last spring, I more than doubled the size of this garden area, adding a nice curve to finish it off.

For the most part, I planted yellow beans along the whole front of this space, with Gladiolas planted closer to the house. I added a few small hostas around the garden hose and nearest the corner of the house I planted some baby blue Morning Glories.

I added small round cages around the beans to give them a bit of stability as they grew higher. Since so much soil was exposed to the air – while everything was filling in – I added lots of grass clippings to hold the moisture in the soil. The Morning Glories were growing very quickly and soon I had to add metal poles with string strung between their lengths so that the flowers would have somewhere to grow.

Here you can see that the green grass clippings have turned brown, as they continue to hold moisture in the soil while they decompose to add nutrients to the soil. You can see a few yellow beans peaking out and the Morning Glories continue to grow and grow!

My idea for the Morning Glories was simple… I wanted to grow a wall of flowers. But you can see that my idea was getting out of control. Already the plants have grown as tall as the metal poles and they are reaching to grow higher still! What am I going to do?

It’s a little hard to see, but I ended up using a heavy-duty rope to run lines from the tops of the metal poles all the way to the window awning.

Morning Glories are a plant that needs continuous maintenance – if you are trying to grow a wall of flowers. Daily, I would weave the vines up and down and around the ropes. Left unattended the vines would simply grow upwards for a foot or two, become heavy from the weight of its own self and then fall towards the ground. They don’t naturally twist and weave themselves around the support ropes I put in place.

I would spend close to half an hour, each day, redirecting and maneuvering these vines. It was lots of fun and I learned a lot about how this plant grows… but soon I had a wild jungle on my hands and I saw my control slipping away.

These plants didn’t seem like they were ever going to stop growing… and they never did, until the Autumn frost finally killed the plants and flowers. You can see how far the vines stretched.

Yeah!!!! After patiently watching and tending to these vines for almost two months, it was now time to for the flowers to start blooming!

This particular species of Morning Glory produced flowers in baby-blue hues. What a delight! The flower lasted for just one day and then they died… but not before turning an interesting shade of fuscia. As the flowering season continued my jungle of green sparkled with two different colours at the same time.

To get these photos I actually had to climb onto my garage roof!!! My neighbours must have thought I was a bit nuts cuz I climbed up there quite often. I’m just showing you a few of my favourite ones.

I love macro photography! Getting in nice and close to one flower, while the ones in the distance loose their focus to add interesting textures to the composition.

This photo actually took me a while to compose. It was rather difficult cuz I had to climb up a shaky ladder. I was trying to compose an image that delved into the ideals of structured balance between light and dark. I had to think of the shadows in the foreground and balance them using the light on my neighbour’s garage wall in the background . I also spent time placing the loose, curvy vines in such a way as to compliment the rigid lines of the architectural structures in this photo. By fiddling with different applications on my computer an interesting final composition emerges for you to enjoy!!!

This image was also created using a computer application. As an artist who takes a long time to create just one painted image, I find it rewarding to use a computer to create an image that could well resemble my style of painting in less than an hour.

This final image that I have to share with you, was also created using my computer. I just love the wet metallic feel of this organic lifeform, stretching and yawning in its expanse to grow and evolve!

I’ve added a poem that I wrote over a decade ago – inspired by thoughts of Morning Glories (of course) – to complete this image. I know that many of you like to steal (er – I mean share) many of the images that I use in my blogs, so I made this image just for you. An inspirational poem and image to decorate your office wall, to remind us of the summer’s sun as we continue our way through the winter.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tallying The Scorecard

I began my 2011 blog posts with a story entitled “I Resolve”.

In this story I listed over 30 resolutions that I hoped to accomplish over the year that has just past. Let’s take a look and see how I did…

I began my list stating that… “In 2011 I resolve to continue to find ways to make this world a better place for future generations.”

The best way - that I can think of - to make this world a better place is by sharing positive inspiration that leads to positive actions. In April, I shared the inspirational artworks of The Peacebus at an Earthday event and during the day I planted several trees.

Next on my list was this statement… “I resolve to understand where my food comes from so that I can make choices that will protect endangered forestlands.”

I was referring mostly to the horrors of McDonalds and my goal was to inspire others to boycott this evil franchise. Imagine my surprise when, last summer, I noticed that several of my old Peacebus students had created a Facebook group entitled “McCruelty – We’re Hating It!” and I was invited to join!!! Now, I’m sending this invitation to you to join our group…

In this group, we share stories about how to maintain a healthy diet by not eating fast foods and links are shared to news stories about how the McDonalds industry is beginning to crumble in other parts of the world!!!!

My next resolution had to do with maintaining my home to make it a better place…

… and I spent most of the summer doing just that! Now I have a garage roof that doesn’t leak.

Further down on my list I resolved to… “inspire children to be artful and creative.”

I think that I have accomplished this in more than just one way! For 3 months the students of The Peacebus and I worked together to create a total of 63 artworks inspired by thoughts of peace, animals and monochromatic colour schemes. The end result was this beautiful collage of the Earth in space surrounded by the Sun and the Universe.

Jeanne Sauve elementary school allowed me to have an artful celebration in their gymnasium and afterwards the students and I donated this artwork to the London Children’s Health Foundation.

Next, I resolved to… “share inspiration with the friends I have made on Facebook.”

I do this all the time, so I have easily accomplished this resolution. My Facebook highlight happened in September, when I started a new, fun, artful and educational group entitled, “Turtle Book Ink”. Again, I’m extending an invitation for all of you to join…

People from around the world are sharing pictures and stories about the turtles that they love! We’ve had a few fun contests with really cool prizes. People have been posting petitions to save turtles from harm. I even asked the students who ride The Peacebus to share their artistic talents and one young girl was so inspired that she created over 25 turtle drawings. These drawings, in turn, inspired me to create a special story about one courageous turtle who went on a great adventure. You can read the whole story and see the many beautiful artworks by following this link…

On my resolution list I also stated that I would… “attend community events that celebrate the diversities of my homeland.”

Last spring, I became aware of an American company who came to the part of Southern Ontario – where I grew up – to lie to all the farmers in the area. This company bought out many of the farms and soon became the largest potato producer in Canada! That wasn’t the lie. This spring, the company announced their plans to stop farming potatoes so that they could create North America’s 2nd largest open pit mine!!!

This story is so detailed that I will insist that you learn more by reading this story…

In July, the community of Orangeville, Ontario hosted an information event in the downtown core, to further raise awareness about this critical issue and to raise funds to fight the Highlands Corporation. I was in attendance!

This debate is still in process and I will invite you all to learn more and to support this cause by joining our Facebook group…

One of the easiest resolutions for me to keep was to… “appreciate the beauty of Nature.”

I do this every single day!!!! This is just one of the many arted photos that I took to capture the elegance, fury and majesty of our Earth and its ever changing weather patterns.

Next on my list was… “I resolve to maintain my sense of humour in response to environmental issues.”

To accomplish this, I continued to post many environmental cartoons in my Facebook album entitled, “The Lighter Side of Doomsday!”

One of my favourite resolutions was to… “grow more flowers in my gardens.”

Just look at all the flowers filling this photograph!!!! This is my front garden and it is dedicated to flowers. I dug this garden two years ago and last year I had a bumper crop!

“I resolve to appreciate and celebrate the accomplishments of others,” was also on my list. A noble resolution indeed!

I can think of many instances when I accomplished this goal, but none stand out on my mind more than when my lovely wife of 17 years gave birth to our son, Devon James Kogelheide!!!!

Now, I’ll easily be able to accomplish this resolution every single day, as I watch my beautiful boy, grow to wiggle and giggle his way through life!!!!

I love music! Especially music that bangs the beat for universal peace!! So, it is fitting that I made this resolution to… “attend great Rock’N’Roll concerts that fill my heart with waves of electric light.”

What better way of keeping my resolution than by going on a 3-day mini-holiday - for my birthday present - to Toronto to see my favourite band U2!!!!

I like to make my resolutions fun to accomplish. Like… “I resolve to drink locally manufactured beer with old high school friends around a bon-fire.”

Well… this resolution fell a little short. Yes, I was able to drink locally manufactured beer with old high school friends, but this year our gathering was at home where we couldn’t have a bon-fire. Almost got this one! Better luck this summer!

Also on my list was… “I resolve to take a picture of you taking a picture of me taking a picture of you.”

Again… I fell a little short of accomplishing this goal, but I almost got it! In the end I got a picture of my dad looking into my camera as I got ready to take a photo…

… of my whole family sitting by the Christmas tree!

Well… that about covers most of the resolutions from my 2011 list and you can see that I was able to accomplish almost all of my goals. Although many of my resolutions were created in fun and were quite easy to realize, I’m most proud of the ones that were hard to define, yet were the most satisfying to be a small part of… even when that small part was a lot of hard work!!!

All in all, it would be hard for me not to say that 2011 was the greatest year of my life… and even though that is a very bold statement I am confident that the best is still to come!

Yeah!!!!! It’s here!!!! Bring on 2012!!!!