Ming Vases

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The Ming Dynasty existed from 1368 – 1644 and during this time the Imperial porcelain factory was established in Jingdezhen, China. Dishes were manufactured for use in the imperial court and were marked by the reign mark of the emperor himself.

During this time special decorative innovations were made and the famous blue underglaze was used. The Ming period exported porcelain around the world on an unprecedented scale. Aside from supplying porcelain for domestic use, the kilns at Jingdezhen became the main production centre for large-scale porcelain exports to Europe.

The style of Ming Dynasty vases remains popular throughout the world today.

We were inspired by fall gardens and included the plant, Chinese Lanterns in our still life. Students were very creative when decorating their Ming Vases.

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Wooly Mammoths

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Our first class for the Fall session travelled back in time to the Lascaux caves in France. They are famous for the Palaeolithic cave paintings found in a complex of caves in the Dordogne region of southwestern France. The exceptional quality, size, and sophistication of the paintings has given them the rightful designation as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Estimated to be up to 20,000 years old, the paintings are primarily of large animals that were once native to the region. The cave contains nearly 2,000 figures, which can be grouped into three main categories: animals, human figures, and abstract signs. Most of the major images have been painted onto the walls using red, yellow, and black colours from a complex mix of minerals and pigments.

Students used a variety of chalk pastels to create their own rock walls. Next we used a printing technique to apply our Mammoths. We finished everything off with paint!

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KCS Welcome Back BBQ

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Art in Action had a lot of fun at the Welcome Back BBQ at Kingsway College this past weekend. Students were inspired by the season and I love the colours they mixed for the background. We used tape to make off our trees and sponges and acrylic paint to fill in the fall colours. After peeling off the tape they added colour and texture to the tree trunks and branches with oil pastels.

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Welcome Back!

Jamie McLean 4

Welcome back to the new school year! For me, September feels like more like the New Year than January. New classes, new school supplies and new experiences. Art in Action is very excited to launch our new fall program:


Travel through time and explore the visual arts with Art in Action!

Climb aboard our time machine and learn about art through the centuries.  Our art adventure begins 20,000 years ago at the Lascaux caves famous for their Palaeolithic cave paintings. We will travel through the Ming Dynasty, visit the Vikings, learn about the abstract art movement and more.

Inspired by famous artists through the ages, our program has an art history component as well as the tactile experience of working with a variety of materials such as watercolours, acrylics, collage materials, oil pastels, chalk pastels and more. To register for our program please go to our registration page on the date registration begins for your school. Questions? Contact us at artinactiontoronto@gmail.com.

Registration begins:

Park Lawn Junior Middle School – September 15 @ 7pm

Swansea Junior and Senior Public School – September 16 @ 7pm

Lambton-Kingsway Junior Middle School - September 19 @ 7pm

Humbercrest Public School - September 20 @ 7pm

Humber Valley Village Junior Middle School - September 21 @ 7pm

Kingsway College School – registration is done through the school


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Eagle Silhouettes Inspired by John James Audubon

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“The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang the best.” 

-John James Audubon

John James Audubon was born in Haiti in 1785.  His father was a French sea captain and plantation owner. At a very young age he was interested in birds and nature.

When he was 18, Audubon was sent to a family owned estate near Philadelphia. He became a businessman – setting up a dry goods store in frontier Kentucky and continued to draw birds as a hobby. After hard times hit Audubon set off and an epic quest to discover America’s birds.  He lived a rugged existence, but the finished work brought him immediate success and a modest degree of comfort.  He settled in New York City.

He is most known for his major work The Birds of America which is unsurpassed as one of the greatest ornithological works ever completed. In this book he documented all types of American birds in their natural habitat with exquisite detailed illustrations.  He produced a prolific body of work that included over 435 paintings of birds.

The students in our class learned how to create a multi-coloured watercolour background with liquid watercolours. Lastly they painted the cliff and eagle silhouettes.

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Water Lilies Inspired by Claude Monet

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“My only merit lies in having painted directly in front of nature, seeking to render my impressions of the most fleeting effects.”

-Claude Monet 

Claude Monet was born in Paris, France in 1840. When he was young he did not like being confined to a classroom and was more interested in being outside.  He filled his school books with sketches of people, including caricatures of his teachers.

Monet loved to set up his easel outside and paint his pictures en plein air.  He even had a small houseboat and would paint the scenes he saw from that view. Monet was a founder of Impressionist Painting.  Monet would use strong colours and bold short brushstrokes.  Turning away from the blended colours and evenness of classical art, he placed colours side by side to create a division of colours.  The term Impressionism comes from the title of his painting: Impression, Sunrise.

In class we used oil pastels to draw our water lily and the rocks on the bottom of our pond. Students used pink chalk pastel to blend in the petal colour and finished with liquid watercolours to create the sky and pond water.

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Damien Hirst Inspired Butterflies

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Great art – or good art – is when you look at it, experience it and it stays in your mind. I don’t think conceptual art and traditional art are all that different.”

-Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst, born June 7, 1965 is a British artist, entrepreneur, and art collector. He is the most prominent member of the group known as the Young British Artists (or YBAs), who dominated the art scene in the UK during the 1990s.

Damien Hirst was born in Bristol and grew up in Leeds. His mother encouraged his passion for drawing from a young age. Although he struggled with school throughout his education the one subject that kept him going was art. He worked for two years in construction in London before studying at Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London.

He is the winner of the 1995 Turner Prize, and, as of 2009, the wealthiest artist in history. He rose to fame after the success of two warehouse shows he organized featuring his friends and his own work; at his second show, advertising executive Charles Saatchi purchased his work and began a long mentoring relationship with Hirst.

Hirst’s work has generated enormous controversy for its subject matter. Some of his collections include: encased dead animals in various states of preservation, the incorporation of butterfly wings into stained glass-like images, cabinets filled with pharmaceuticals, and diamond-encrusted skulls. A team of assistants help Hirst carry out his projects; his spot paintings and spin paintings are almost entirely the work of others.

In September 2008, he bypassed his galleries and sold a complete show,  Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, at Sotheby’s by auction and earned $198 million, breaking the record for a one-artist auction.

Students used a scraping technique to create their colourful backgrounds and chalk pastels to colour in their butterflys.

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