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Firefly Puzzle Art Mural

May 10, 2017 – with today being a full moon – I thought I would post this beautiful piece of artwork highlighting the moon, stars, and fireflies!  Enjoy!

A Team of Little Picasso’s.

Back in September of 2016, I spent the afternoon at the Children’s Home in Pittsburgh, PA.  I worked with the Child’s Way Children.  Child’s Way is a Pediatric Extended Care Center which offers an alternative or supplement to in-home nursing and therapy care for medically fragile children.  The children range in ages birth to 21 and is run like a typical daycare center.  It’s divided into five classrooms:  infant, younger toddler, older toddler, preschool, and school-age. .I spent the afternoon creating puzzle art with the children.  We decided to do a collaboration piece for the 6th Annual Noe’s Night of Lights, a fundraiser for the Children’s Home, hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Jason and Sherry Ott in memory of their two children Noe and Shay. 

As I watched and helped the young children mix their colors and paint, it really hit me how powerful ART can be.  The children were focused and determined.  Some were non-verbal, so it was crucial that they were able to express themselves thru art. This was a way for them to communicate and be heard.  By expressing themselves through ART they were able to talk to YOU, to ME, to EVERYONE!

The Meaning Behind the Mural

This mural consisted of 23 fireflies, each firefly representing a Child’s Way Child, and two BIG, BRIGHT, fireflies, symbolizing Noe and Shay Ott.  I choose fireflies because they are tiny messengers that whisper in the darkness…”don’t lose hope because magic does exist!”

How was the mural created?

The project was a collaborative piece between the Child’s Way Children and Miss Gabi. All 23 children painted a puzzle piece blue and purple swirls creating the night sky.  Next we (my team) assembled the pieces and mapped out and painted the moon, the star and fireflies.  To add the finishing touches, I added four (4) sets of LED Battery operated lights plus glitter to make it glow! 

This mural clearly has become another beautiful example of how ART heals.  Through the creation of this puzzle art mural, we are able to show a sense of peace, strength and LOVE.

Passion….Art….Unconditional Love….it all goes together.  We were able to make a connection with the children as well as EVERYONE around the world.  Again, the Puzzle Project connects and continues to touch lives and by making a difference with ART.  ART HEALS!  ART IS GOOD FOR YOU!

Written by: Miss Gabi

Expression, Connection and Other Peoples Perspective

5.5.17  (Written on a very rainy Friday in New York City)

“Expression, Connection and Other Peoples Perspective”
by Tim Kelly, coordinator of The Puzzle Project

Art and The Puzzle Project have taught me many lessons. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that Perspective is Everything.

The project offers participants a multi-layered creative experience. When you decide to express yourself creatively, you not only go on a creative journey, but the person you share your art with learns about you and a new perspective that is not their own. It is one of my favorite aspects of this project… New Perspectives.

At the very beginning of the project I worked with a kid from The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center during an Art is Good creative workshop. Her name is Mikayla. She painted a rainbow on her puzzle piece with the words, “It Takes Both Rain and Sunshine to Make a Rainbow.” I was floored by the wisdom of such a young child. Her father died of a brain tumor. Mikayla loves making art. She told me that her Mom always says this quote to her. I think it is beautiful that she chose something her Mom says as her meaningful puzzle piece idea. Her mother, Wendy, is the grief councilor for the brain tumor center. She turned her rainy days into sunshine and a rainbow. The message is a great perspective to have when times are tough.

We are all different. Each puzzle piece is different, just like us. Each piece is someone’s perspectives or story. That is what makes the puzzle project exhibition events so interesting and inspires & fascinates me every day.

puzzle project, art is good, healing arts, rainbow, rain, sunshine, art, puzzle piece, tim kelly artist,

(Left) Created at an Art is Good Creative workshop for The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center
(Right) The Brooklyn International High School staff at Exhibition at Brooklyn Borough Hall

After my experience with Mikayla, the story became part of my standard Puzzle Project introduction to new participating groups. When I discuss different ideas people have for their puzzle piece and why, I tell the story of Mikayla’s piece, “It Takes Both Rain and Sunshine to Make a Rainbow.”

One day I gave a project introduction at The International High School in Brooklyn, an amazing institution with a great staff and intelligent students. The students were all born and raised in another country. The staff brought me to the school, so students can make puzzle pieces about their individual immigrant experience.  I brought dozens of example pieces and spoke specifically about a few of them. I told Mikayla’s “Rainbow” story. I discussed the analogy of rain being a bad day or difficulty in life and sunshine being a good day and/or healing. The teacher informed me that it is an ESL (English as a Second Language) school and I may not want to speak too fast and should keep things simple so every student can understand. I noticed one of the students looking confused. He was a polite young man from the Middle East. I apologized to him for speaking so fast and asked him if I needed to repeat anything he didn’t understand. But the thing is, he heard me clearly and understood my words, but didn’t comprehend the logic of the analogy. He asked in the most concerned and curious way, “So, RAIN is BAD??”

This young man grew up in a family of farmers. When it rains they are elated. RAIN is GOOD! Rain is damn good. Perspective. Now that I’ve learned his perspective, I have modified my analogy with the disclaimer that RAIN is GOOD… I’ve learned this because ART is GOOD. Perspective. 

To Learn more about The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center go to:
*Mikayla is now a teen 
counselor and assists with social media at Camp Jinka.  She has “Grown Up Jinka.”

To learn more about the Brooklyn International High School go to:

This is an excerpt from an unedited draft of the book about the Puzzle Project called, “Art is Good: the story of the artsolutely extraordinary journey of the puzzle art installation & collaborative project.” The chapter is called, “Expression, Connection and Other Peoples Perspective”


Graphic Design & Fine Art: Two Peas in a Pod

Graphic Design & Fine Art are Two Peas in a Pod
(by Tim Kelly)

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso


Every designer and creative professional I know is really a fine artist at heart. Most creatives were born artists, loved making art as kids & teens and eventually transitioned to design in college.

My story is much the same. I’ve been an artist since birth. Creativity has always felt right. It started with doodling and coloring then moved quickly to sketching cartoons. My parents interrupted my 17 year daydream to ask what I wanted to major in at college. They recommended art, since it made me happy. My parents stressed the importance of doing what you love. Since they never steered me wrong, I enrolled at The West Virginia University School of Creative Arts.

Originally, I went to art school but transitioned to Advertising in my 2nd year. Earning a living as an agency creative, as opposed to a fine artist, seemed more practical. But, I never stopped making art.

The thing is, graphic arts and fine arts are two peas in a pod. Advertising creative/graphic design (like fine art) is a combination of balance, color theory and creative story telling. They really have the same goals: get people thinking and elicit a response, emotion or action.

After college, I began working in advertising with a focus on design and print production. In 2000 I began working for a 5th Avenue branding & design agency in NYC. The whole time, I never stopped making and selling my art.

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In 2006, I resigned from my agency and started CreativeSeven, an award winning design boutique specializing in branding, creative development & production management. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Still, I never stopped making art.

Each day I toggle between design and art projects. Toggling allows me to step away from each project, while remaining in the “creative zone”. Graphic art and fine art are two peas in a pod… both are forms of creative expression.

Soon the freedom offered by my freelance career allowed me to pursue more art opportunities. In addition to being a creative director, designer and artist, I began teaching art and facilitating creative workshops. My professional life and means of income are 100% creative.

When I meet a colleague during an advertising or design project, I know they’re an artist and always have been. I ask. Many still paint, but many do not. Some feel you must be either “a designer” OR “an artist”… not both. But I say you can be both. It’s OK. Expressing one’s self with fine art may even make you a better designer or creative professional. Never stop making art. Why should you? Design and art really are just two peas in a pod.

– My design site:
– My creative workshops:
– My art:
– My world-wide art project:

The Art-Love-Triangle

(by Tim Kelly)

The Art-Love-Triangle

The end goal of most creative workshops is to exhibit and celebrate the artwork created during Art is Good. The coming together of artists, art and beholders is an important part of the Art is Good experience about art and you.  

art, artist & beholder

The interaction between beholder and artist may be a simple glance of approval, an honest compliment or a sincere question.  The dialog about what has been created, both stokes the confidence of the artist and may inspire the beholder to create their own art.  Sometimes, the beholder finds meaning within the art that is not stated by the artist.  Looking at artwork often evokes a feeling or an emotion. Talking about it adds life to the art.


Art, artist and beholder.  These three elements together are what makes the exhibition experience so important.  It is a way of looking back and reveling in what has been made. It gives context to what has been created and why. It is an artful celebration. It is another reason why Art is Good.

Collaboration is a Beautiful Thing

(by Tim Kelly)

Art is Good Creative Workshops are a great tool for team-building. Corporations, organizations and arts groups have utilized them to strengthen connections between team members. By making art and collaborating together, the shared creative experience forms lasting connections within each group. Each participant creates something meaningful (to them). Your team will learn a little bit about each other and may even learn a little about themselves. The Art is Good Team will bring the art supplies... your people simply need to bring their good ideas.

Creating together is a fun, meaningful activity that your group will always remember.

Creating together is a fun activity that your group will always remember.

The artwork created is a tangible product that can be exhibited at your office, headquarters or locally (and celebrated). The process of discussing each others artwork adds depth and meaning to the creative experience.


It is a great Summer Team-Building activity. Try it, you will like it. Book an Art is Good Creative Workshop Today!

Art is Good for You

(by Tim Kelly)
Art is Good for you, this I know.  You don’t have to consider yourself an artist to experience the benefits of creativity. Making art is an amazing form of expression & catharsis.  You can make art for a living or just for yourself. You can make it out of anything and about anything.  There truly are no rules to it.

People love to dance together at weddings or out with their friends, but don’t think they have to be Mikhail Baryshnikov or Misty Copeland.  People sing karaoke or in the shower, but don’t have to be Luciano Pavarotti or Lady Gaga.  Why do people think they have to be Salvador Dali or Frida to make art??


There is no official ID card declaring someone an artist and making it legal for them to create.  I’m really not sure why people make a big deal about it. You don’t have to be a master artist to create your own personal masterpiece.  You don’t even have to show your art to anyone.

Grab a pad or a blank canvas and create something.  Don’t over think how you make it, but consider WHAT you will make it about.  Draw, doodle, paint or collage.  What you create in the end may not be what you original planned, but like in life, you creatively improvise.  Don’t be surprised if you like it. You may learn something about yourself from your art. You may even have fun.

I hope your feeling creative today… Art is good for you!


Tim Kelly, artist

The True Benefits of Team Building

Every good manager knows that team building is an important aspect to aligning company goals, visions, and overall mission, as well as to strengthen the bond between staff. We believe that fostering deeper, professionally driven connections with fellow employees and continuing to build upon them through shared experiences is imperative to a company’s overall success.We believe this so much that we took that sentiment to new heights recently by capping off a busy day of staff meetings and strategy sessions to engage a team building consultant to help us not only unwind, but also celebrate our team ties … and form new ones through creativity.Enter Tim Kelly, a New York City-based artist behind the Puzzle Art Installation & Collaborative Project, who designs dynamic, arts and creative workshops where individual participants are asked to decorate and add personal creative expression to a white 24 x 24″ puzzle piece that is designed to fit together with the rest of their colleagues’ pieces to form one giant, colorfully creative puzzle. In effect, the overall theme is to contribute one’s individual voice to the overall final product and presentation for the collective good of the team.In the end, our team members crafted pieces from colorful and comical themes to uplifting and reflective expressions, to create our collective puzzle.

In working side by side, we succeeded in supporting, encouraging, and reveling in each other’s inspiration and creativity, and ultimately learned something we may not have known about each other.

Get inspired in your company or office! Plan some fun, motivational team building exercises with your staff – it’s a great unifier. And hopefully, your experience might mirror ours; by the time we finished, we were invigorated to know that our individual pieces would fit altogether to produce this wonderfully artistic, awe-inspiring, meaningful, creative puzzle.

Here’s a look at our work in progress:

vsag_puzzle_pjct12Through Tim’s passion for art and connecting people, since its inception in 2009 the Puzzle Art project has been created in more than 20 states and 10 countries. And Tim’s not stopping there as he and his team are working towards a massive NYC exhibition featuring thousands of the pieces collected from around the world. For information go to the Puzzle Art Facebook page.

To see more on our team building experience with Tim and his Puzzle Art Installation & Collaborative Project, click here.

Ocean Star: Puzzle Art Project Comes to Belmar, Gives Locals a Voice

Tim Kelly, 37, an artist and owner of CreativeSeven, a design boutique specializing in branding, creative development and production management, recently quoted Deepak Chopra when describing the importance of the Puzzle Art Project currently underway and on display at Surf Taco, in Belmar.

“There are no extra pieces in the universe,” he said, quoting the acclaimed author. “Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”

Mr. Kelly is also an art instructor for Art is Good, a series of beginner art classes offered by The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center located at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch. The classes are geared towards children and teens whose parents or immediate family members have either been diagnosed with, or have passed away from, a brain tumor.

Mr. Kelly believes that art is an essential part of everyday life, an outlet for self expression which should not be overlooked at any cost.

Mr. Kelly also believes that those in government who are reducing endowments to the arts because they deem the arts to be non-essential need only walk through Surf Taco and glimpse one of the puzzle pieces on display to witness the innate power of one voice depicted in the scribblings of a Sharpie marker or the flick of a paint brush.

The Puzzle Art Project, which started out as a puzzle installation and collaborative project during the 2009 Teen Arts Festival at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, has since become a collaborative jigsaw puzzle art project, in which local children and adults, eager to make their voices heard through art, design oversized puzzle pieces which then interconnect to form a jigsaw mural of larger-than-life proportions.

Mr. Kelly and Sandy Taylor, Monmouth County Arts Council [MCAC] member, first came up with the idea for the first installation which was featured at Brookdale Community College.

Mr. Kelly decided to continue the project at Surf Taco, where he teachers Art is Good courses to local children. With the help of the Belmar Arts Council, members of the MCAC, and volunteers from the Art is Good program, Mr. Kelly organized the first Puzzle Art Project workshop last Thursday evening, in which artists, both novice and accomplished, young and old, designed puzzle pieces for the project at Belmar’s Surf Taco location.

Surf Taco and the MCAC are now co-sponsoring the project, which Mr. Kelly hopes will only grow in grandeur as the summer season gets underway.

Over 100 puzzle pieces were on hand for artists to choose from last Thursday evening, along with essential art supplies, such as paints and brushes.

A small donation of $10 was required to participate, of which $5 went to benefit the David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center and the remaining $5 went to continuing the puzzle project and the purchasing of art supplies.

The workshop raised $150 for the David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center, Mr. Kelly said, adding that last Thursday was the first workshop in a series of workshops to raise funds for the center and continue the project.

A second workshop will be held at Surf Taco, in Belmar, on Sunday, July 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. Puzzle pieces will be handed out on a first come, first served basis.

Those interested in adding their voice to the project can e-mail Mr. Kelly at, or

Those who wish to design a puzzle piece but choose not to attend the workshop can request a puzzle piece at the counter of Belmar’s Surf Taco branch. The pieces must be returned and will be put on display in the jigsaw puzzle the following week.

Mr. Kelly stressed that there are absolutely “zero rules” when designing a puzzle piece, with the exception that the pieces not be made too heavy to hang.

Mr. Kelly shared one additional piece of advice, “Don’t just make something. Make something meaningful to you.”

Mr. Kelly thanked Ms. Taylor, with whom he came up with the Puzzle Art Project idea; Rob Nagel, owner of Surf Taco, Belmar, and Chris Quinlivan, manager of Surf Taco, Belmar, for all of their support with the Puzzle Art Project and the Art is Good program; and Jessie Chism, artist assistant and educator, whom Mr. Kelly stated has done a “tremendous amount of work” on the Puzzle Art Project; and members of the Belmar Arts Council, for their continued encouragement and support.

By Kelly Skellinger

The Power of the Puzzle Project & Puzzle Team


To whom it may concern:

I am a Special Education Teacher with New York City Department of Education, serving students in District 75 with behavior and emotional disabilities in grades 6 through 8. As a teacher of this population, my goal everyday is to focus on my students abilities without including the “dis.” Working with this population is quite difficult on a daily basis, as the students are on different levels with different personalities and specific demands. I know my students very well and it is a trying task to keep them on track, producing successful pieces of work and feeling proud of themselves.

Fortunately, 4 years ago I stumbled upon Tim Kelly and it turned out to be a blessing. My students had a very rewarding experience with Mr. Kelly and his assistants, that left a wonderful and lasting impression on them, as well as our staff.

I first contacted Tim Kelly out of curiosity, because of his creative “puzzling” website. It seemed like an unattainable project for my students. I honestly had my doubts about working with him, thinking I would just borrow some of his ideas and create something similar on my own. It is sometimes difficult to meet the individualized needs of my students, I felt he probably wouldn’t be able to. Through our first conversation, I was immediately captured by Tim’s demeanor and kind nature. Right away I knew this could be a possibility for my students. I didn’t even have to get into detail about the specific needs of my students as Mr. Kelly assured me that he would engage each and every student through this project. Well, to my surprise he did!

Mr. Kelly is a warm spirit. Our experiences with him have always been professional, as well as exciting, educational, interesting, productive and simply fun for all. The work my students created with him seemed to tell a story. Some of my students are introverted/non-verbal and some are (inappropriately) extremely verbal. Mr. Kelly surprisingly met each and every child’s needs in a professional manner without my assistance or background knowledge.

One of my students, Sal, has Asperger’s Syndrome and I knew he wasn’t going to do anything, but had him join us for the social interaction. Tim & Dave of the Puzzle Team sat with Sal and within 10 minutes he had a paintbrush in his hand and was actively engaged. I wanted to ask Mr. Kelly right then and there, “what did you say/do to him?” but I couldn’t, as he was accommodating and inspiring a group of 25+ students. Not to mention the fact that I lost numerous staff members because they wanted to create their own puzzle pieces.

Not long after his understanding of Sal’s needs, I found Mr. Kelly sitting with another student. Danny has behavioral issues and is usually defiant. He does not like to add color to any of his work and is basically cut and dry. Yet, Danny had intentions to participate this day. He was prepared and planned on creating a puzzle in the shape of a heart with a piece missing. Unfortunately, when the atmosphere changed, Danny shut down. Working in a larger environment, not in his classroom of 8 classmates, with so many people around he withdrew. I believe he was afraid to express himself. I made numerous attempts to inspire him. I have a wonderful bond with Danny, but I could not seem to convince or even bribe him with an incentive. No longer than 5 minutes went by when Mr. Kelly did it again. He had Danny smiling and creating his beautiful creative heart, adding color with the missing piece that closed the gap in the heart making it a “Happy Heart”. This is what these kids need!

Tim Kelly is an inspiration. He went beyond creating art with my students. He encouraged these young adults to not only create something, but to create something meaningful to them. This was done successfully while meeting the many needs of my students, as well as State Standards. I have been in education over 15 years and have had countless interactions with Art Educators and trip facilitators from local museums, including renowned Museums, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art. I can honestly say that my students have never been more actively engaged and proud of their work as they were working with Mr. Kelly and the Puzzle Team.


Rhonda Tasca, Special Education Teacher, R025 South Richmond IS/HS