Monthly Archives: May 2013

Maria Merian Butterfly’s

“I collected all the caterpillars I could find in order to study their metamorphosis.”

-Maria Sibylla Merian: Diary entry age 13

Maria Sibylla Merian was a German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator who was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1647.

At a time when insects were thought to be “beasts of the devil,” her beautiful and accurate paintings revolutionized the science of entomology.Her painstaking observation skills refuted the prevailing notion at the time that insects spontaneously arose from the mud.

Maria Merian described the life cycles of 186 insect species.  Long before the camera was invented, through her lavish and accurate paintings, she was the first to document life stages of many insects for the public.

The students explored printmaking with bubble wrap and recycled items from home.

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Birgit O’Connor Spring Flowers

“Making art is about finding the true self – not who everyone has told you that you are, but the person you are truly.”

– Birgit O’Connor

Birgit O’Connor is a self taught watercolour artist who lives in Bolinas of West Marin, California. She specializes in watercolour paintings of flora and landscapes. As a living artist her work is ever changing and growing. She is the author of many books about painting with watercolour. 

We also used watercolour paints to start our multi-media flower creations. We added collage elements with gel medium and finished with black acrylic paint to add depth and abstract detail.


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John James Audubon and a colourful Parrot

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

– John James Audubon

John James Audubon was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist and painter who is most known for his work, The Birds of America

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 met his wife, Lucy Bakewell there and conducted the first bird-banding experiments learning about migration habits.

For this project our students started with a light pencil sketch on watercolour paper. Next we used liquid watercolours to paint our parrot. The feather-like strokes were made with the end of a paint brush scraped through the wet paint. This project was inspired by a post on a wonderful art blog, That Artist Woman.


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Hokusai and the Great Wave of Kanagawa

“I have been in love with painting ever since I became conscious of it at the age of six.”

– Katsushika Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai was born in Edo, Japan in 1760. He was a painter, printmaker and book illustrator who created more than 30,000 finished pieces of art. He changed his name at least 30 times and lived in more than 90 homes.

Hokusai’s most famous piece of art is his woodblock print, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, and was the first piece in his series, 36 Views of Mount Fuji.

The students used liquid watercolours and salt to create the vibrant colours and texture of the wave and sky. The foam on top of the wave was made with white acrylic paint and more salt!

We could almost smell the sea in the air…


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Picasso’s Dove of Peace

 “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

– Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is known as one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. We focussed our studies for this session on his many paintings that depict a dove. In 1949, author Louis Aragon chose the artist’s lithograph, “La Colombe,” (The Dove) for the poster commemorating the Peace Conference in Paris. He also named one of his daughters, Paloma (Spanish for dove). Our project today was inspired by his Dove of Peace painting.

We also discussed the use of negative and positive space in art. The students used chalk pastels to create the colourful negative space and then used q-tips to create the positive space inside the dove.

To learn more about Picasso’s work that features doves please click on the following link, Picasso’s Peace Dove.

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