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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Toulouse-Lautrec Inspired Chat Noir

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 “I paint things as they are. I don’t comment. I record.”

-Toulouse Lautrec

Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa, was born on November 24, 1864 in Albi, France. He was an aristocrat, the son and heir of Comte Alphonse-Charles de Toulouse and last in line of a family that dated back a thousand years. Henri’s father was rich, handsome, and eccentric. His mother was very devoted to her only living child.

At age 13 he fractured his right leg and at 14 he fractured his left leg.  The bones did not set properly and ceased to grow any more. Toulouse-Lautrec immersed himself in art. He became an important Post-Impressionist painter, art nouveau illustrator, and lithographer, and, through his works, recorded many details of the late-19th-century bohemian lifestyle in Paris.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s skilled depiction of people relied on his painterly style, which is highly linear and emphasizes contour.  Many of his works may be best described as “drawings in coloured paint.”

Over his twenty year career, Toulouse-Lautrec created: 737 paintings on canvas, 275 watercolours, 363 prints and posters, 5,084 drawings as well as some ceramic and stained glass work.

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Cherry Still Life – Inspired by Mary Pratt

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“Sometimes I seem to be two people. One who does not paint and one who does. The one who does not paint assumes that the one who does can paint anything. The one who is the painter sometimes finds it difficult to live up to that faith.” – Mary Pratt

Mary Pratt was born on March 15, 1935 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She is a Canadian painter specializing in still-life realist paintings. She attended Mount Allison University, studying Fine Arts under Alex Colville, Lawren Harris and others. In her second year, she met the artist Christopher Pratt and they married in 1957.

The focus of her work is the ordinary household things one finds around the house: jars of jelly, apples, aluminum foil, brown paper bags. The style is bold and flamboyant, rendering the subject vivid and realistic.

Mary Pratt’s paintings have been exhibited in most major galleries in Canada, reproduced in magazines such as Saturday NightChatelaine, and Canadian Art. Her work is found in many prominent public, corporate, and private collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick Museum, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, and Canada House in England.

She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland where she continues to paint and write.

Students worked with pencils to sketch out their composition. Chalk pastels and acrylic paint filled their paper with colour and energy.

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Turner Inspired Sunsets

“Light is therefore colour.”

– J.M.W. Turner 

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Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in England on April 23, 1775.  His family lived above his father’s barber shop and young Joseph began to sketch pictures at a young age. By the time he was 13, some of his drawings were sold from his father’s shop. At the age of 15 he became a student at the Royal Academy of Art in London. He continued to sketch and work with watercolours. While he mostly sketched buildings and architecture, he  started to draw some pictures of the sea.

Turner painted his first oil painting in 1796. It was called Fishermen at Sea. Critics loved the painting and Turner gained a national reputation as a talented artist. He was known for being solitary, silent and totally devoted to drawing with a reputation for eccentricity.

In 1807, Turner accepted a position as professor at the Royal Academy, where he lectured until 1828. He grew increasingly eccentric and secretive, avoiding contact with virtually everyone except for his father who lived with him for 30 years.  Turner continued to hold exhibitions but begrudgingly sold his paintings. And later in life became so fond of his paintings he called them “family” and refused to sell them.  In his will, Turner asked for all his paintings to be displayed in a public gallery – as they are today- at the Tate Exhibition.

Known as the “Painter of Light,” he was fascinated by the power of nature, especially the ocean and the sun. In the painting Snow Storm which critics called “soap-suds and whitewash,” Turner claimed to a friend that he had actually been tied to the mast of a ship in order to experience the drama of a storm at sea firsthand.

Students used many different techniques to create their Turner inspired sunsets. They painted watercolours wet into wet and used tissues to blend the colours. The sea had an under painting of watercolours and was finished off with layered acrylic paint.

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