Devon Kogelheide
Acrylic Paint on Canvas
16" x 20"
London, Ontario

    With my guidance, Devon and I started this painting during the Christmas school break in 2021.  As Devon was working on this painting, I had him also writing the story about its inspiration and creation.  The plan was to make a small book about the painting that he would also give to his teacher as a 'Thank You' present at the end of the school year.  The painting was finished first and the book was finished a month later.  We then organized the words and added lots of photographs to make the book that was completed in June... just in time for the end of the school year!  The following is Devon's story that I've formatted to fit this page.  Please enjoy...

     I love summer vacation!  Every summer we rent a different cottage for a week.  This year we rented a cottage near Havelock.  It was on a river that was very close to Cordova Falls.  We had a lot of fun!  We played badminton, UNO, and we did a lot of swimming!

     One afternoon I saw that there were some board games on a bookshelf.  So, my dad and I went exploring.  Then, my dad found a Chess set.  He asked me if I wanted to learn how to play Chess.  I said, “Yes!”  After lunch, we played at the picnic table on the back porch so we could also enjoy the amazing view.  It didn’t long until I was hooked on the game.

     Two weeks later, school was starting!  I was super excited!  I was going into Grade 5!  My new teacher’s name is Mr. Chapman.  It didn’t take long to learn that Mr. Chapman likes to play Chess, too!  On Fridays, if we are finished our school work early, we can play Chess at the end of the day with one of our classmates.

     About 2 months into the school year he started the school chess club!  I really liked playing chess at the end of the day so I knew I would like chess club, too.  So, I signed up!  Now on Fridays, at first recess, in the library, I play chess with other students in the school.

     My love for chess grew even more when I turned 10 on my birthday!  I was very happy when I opened up the present from my Oma and Opa to find a chess set!  Now my parents and I have such a fun time playing chess together!

     When I play my mom, sometimes I win and sometimes she wins.  When I play my dad, he annihilates me!  But he always says, “Don’t be upset if you lose, because that’s how you get better at the game…   learning from a more skilled player.”

Since the weather was getting colder, we couldn’t go outside as much.  So, my dad and I needed to find something new to do.  Then, my dad asked me if I would like to make a painting for my teacher Mr. Chapman!  I said, “Yes!”

     My dad has been teaching me about art for a long time.  Every year we make an artwork for my teacher.  Last year, it was my first time painting on a full sized canvas!  It was very challenging, but I was up for the challenge.  This time, He said that he was excited to show me another fun technique.  He calls it The Wiggly Worm technique!  I laughed when he said this!

     Now, we just needed to figure out what we were going to paint.  We always like to paint the artwork based on the likes of my teacher.  For example, last year my teacher really liked soccer, so we painted a picture with a soccer ball in it!  For this new painting it only took half a second for both of us to think about painting an artwork about chess!

     My dad also asked me if there was anything else that Mr. Chapman enjoys.  Then I remembered him talking with the class about how he went on a trip to Japan!  He even taught the class about the Japanese language.  That’s when my dad got excited because he loves the art in Japanese symbols!

    So, we went to Google Translate and made it so we could translate English to Japanese.  Then we typed in things like playing chess, winning, and strategy.  That’s when a very interesting symbol that means ‘the winning strategy’ appeared on my screen.  There was a link underneath the image, so we clicked on that to learn more about this symbol…

    In ancient times a great warrior named Miyamoto Musashi devoted his last years to the task of setting down the Samurai secret that he alone knew. He formulated a winning strategy that transcends the clash of war, and speaks directly to everyone who wants to succeed in life. Here are laid down timeless principles of craft, skills, timing and spirit which result in ultimate victory.

1. Do not harbor sinister design
2. Diligently pursue the path to adapt to your environment
3. Cultivate a wide range of interest
4. Be knowledgeable in a variety of occupations
5. Be discreet regarding one’s financial dealings
6. Nurture the ability to perceive the truth in all matters
7. Perceive that which cannot be seen with the eye
8. Do not be negligent, do not procrastinate

     We thought that the symbol looked cool and we also thought that the story behind it was pretty cool too!  Then I thought that the symbol should be included in the painting and my dad agreed!

     The last thing we needed to do before we designed the painting was filling our minds with ideas on what we were going to paint.  Then I thought back to what we did last time to figure out what to paint… we went on Google to search paintings of soccer!  So we decided to do that this time too, except (obviously) we would be searching for images about chess! 

     While I was searching my dad thought we should listen to music!  Then he thought about a band that he listened to over 30 years ago called ‘Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ and their record called ‘Strategem’! He had me find the definition for this word and I showed him that it is actually spelled ‘stratagem’.  My dad said that the band was probably trying to be clever and spelled it with an ‘e’ for some sort of reason… he didn’t know.  The definition for stratagem is a plan or scheme, especially one used to outwit an opponent or achieve an end.  I thought that this could be a great name for my painting.  My dad agreed!

     So… with some music playing, I went searching.  These are some of the images that I found while I was looking…

    These were all really cool paintings, but none of them inspired us.  Then my dad thought maybe we could set up a chess board in an interesting way, and then take a picture of it.  It took a couple tries until we found a setup we liked.  It looked really cool because some pieces were farther away from others so they looked smaller!  We had the camera really close to the first few chess pieces so they would look really big.

     The next thing I had to do was trace the images.  Carefully, I taped a piece of paper to the computer and traced the Japanese symbol.  Then, on another piece of paper, I traced the chess image.

     Now I just had to Gesso the canvas.  Gesso is like a white paint.  You put on the Gesso first to smooth out the canvas.  Gesso is always the first step.  You need to put on three layers of it.

     We gave the Gesso a full day to dry.  Then it was time to put the two images onto the canvas.  There were two ways we transferred these images onto the canvas!

     The first way was to use a grid.  On the sheet of paper with the chess image on it, I drew a grid.  I also drew a grid on the canvas.  Because the canvas was bigger than the piece of paper, the grid squares were also bigger.  To use this method, all you have to do is copy the lines inside each grid square (from the piece of paper) into the grid squares on the canvas.  This was rather tricky because there was so much detail in the chess pieces.

     The second way was to use my dad’s special tracing paper.  The paper has one side of it covered in graphite.  Graphite is the same stuff they use to make pencils.  When you push down on the graphite paper, it leaves graphite on the canvas.  So, I got the sheet of paper with the Japanese symbol on it, and put it on top of the graphite paper, with the graphite side facing down on the canvas.  Then, I simply traced over the Japanese symbol.

     There!  Both images were now on the canvas.  I was ready to start painting!!!

     To get started, we had to mix our first colour.  We decided the painting should be mostly red… very similar to a monochromatic colour scheme.  Monochromatic means that only one (mono) colour (chrome) is going to be used… but there can be many different shades of that one colour.  Some shades could be darker.  Some shades could be lighter.  Our painting was going to be similar to a monochromatic colour scheme… but not quite.  We wanted to take the main colour red and shift it towards purple and blue for the dark chess pieces.  We also wanted to take the main red colour and shift it towards yellow for the white chess pieces.  So… our colour scheme would be expanding to either side of the red just a little bit. 

     My dad has a rule about mixing colours, “always use at least three different colours when mixing a colour together!”  So, to make our starting color we mixed together a lot of red, a little bit of yellow, and just a few drops of white.  My dad said that because the colours were going to shift towards dark purples and blues that we should also add a few drops of black to our main colour.  It didn’t take too long until our main colour was mixed together.  Now it was time to start painting!

     My dad has plans to work with me to create fun paintings for the next many years.  He wants to teach me a new technique in every new painting.  Last time my dad taught me how to paint in the spaces so the paint would be solid and smooth.  This time he wanted to teach me a new way to paint.  He calls it the ‘wiggly worm’ technique.  This technique uses little wiggles.  It looks cool because how much paint you put on the paint brush determines how dark or light the wiggle is and all of these slight shifts in colour end up creating a cool texture.

     I decided that I wanted to use the first red colour to paint the Japanese symbol.  The first step was to fill the symbol with spread out wiggles.  It looks really cool when you make each wiggle unique by making them look different from each other.  This step is completed when 1/3 of the space you’re painting is filled with wiggles.  The second step was to fill in half of the remaining white with the colour. The third step was to fill in the rest of the space.  It didn’t take too long until the first part of the painting was done.  I think it looks great!

     Next, I decided to paint the chess board!  Before I painted it, I had to change the colour of the paint.  So, I took the colour we used for the Japanese symbol and added a small amount of yellow and a bit more white.  Now, we could paint using this new colour!  I used the same technique I used for the Japanese symbol.  After I finished the board, I realized my skills have improved.  I was a bit faster and my wiggly worms were a bit better.

     My dad wanted to teach me how I can use the wiggly worm technique in a cooler way when we painted the sky.  We still filled in this area with wiggly worms, but after every layer of wiggles, we would change the colour by adding a little bit of yellow and a few drops of white.  The top right side has a higher concentration of darker colours, and the bottom left side has a higher concentration of lighter colours.  There were over nine different shades of red and orange used in the sky!  The Japanese symbol and the chess board ended up being one solid colour with an interesting texture and the sky showed how mixing dark and light paint colours creates a cascading texture with all the colours blending together.  My dad calls this ‘eye candy’!

     After that, it was time to paint the chess pieces.  I did not do them in black and white because I wanted all the colours to relate to the original red that I started the painting with.  So, for the dark chess pieces, I added the darker colour on the colour wheel that is closest to red… that’s purple and then blue.  I also added some black because I wanted these chess pieces to be very dark.  For the light chess pieces, I continued adding a little bit of white and a little bit of yellow to make a very light yellowy orange colour.

     For the chess pieces, I used the same technique that I did with the sky.  For the dark chess pieces, every time I finished a layer, I would add a lot of blue, a bit of purple and a little bit of black.  For the light chess pieces, I would add a little bit of white, and a few drops of yellow every time I finished a layer.  So, there are actually three different colours in each chess piece.

     In any painting on a canvas, you always have to paint the border.  If you don’t, you would have white all around the border and it wouldn’t look as nice.  Instead of using wiggly worms, I painted thick, fat lines that follow the edge of the canvas.  My dad said that it is always best to add the darker border colours to the bottom half of the canvas edge.  He says that this ‘gives weight’ to the bottom so that the canvas doesn’t look like it wants to fall off the wall.

     The border colours were added as we painted the main image.  So, pretty much every colour that is in the painting is also on the border.  The hardest part about painting the border was that I had to stand up to paint it.  I used my left hand to hold the canvas steady while I painted the edge with the paint brush in my right hand.  It was a little tricky… but my dad said I did a great job!

      Yay, the painting is finished!  Well, not quite.  My dad says we have to put a varnish on top.  The varnish stops the ultra violet (UV) rays from fading the colour.  UV rays come from the sun.  We used a flat, wide paintbrush to lay down the varnish and we did this four times to give the painting lots of protection.

     Now the painting is actually finished!  I really enjoyed this experience and I’m proud that I have finished the painting!  I’m glad my dad taught me how to use the wiggly worm technique in order to paint.  I had a blast!  I can’t wait to give the painting to Mr. Chapman… I know that he will be very surprised and it will put a big smile on his face!!

The End!



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