“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”
Henri Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 in France. He grew up in a small town in Northern France and came from humble origins. His father was a grain merchant and his mother ran a paint shop and sold house paints. Henri later credited his mother’s colour sense as training for his own colour choices later in life.
In 1887 he went to Paris to study law. Although he found law tedious he nonetheless passed the bar in 1888 with distinction.
Matisse discovered painting after an attack of appendicitis. His mother brought him art supplies during his recovery time and right from the start he realised that this is what he wanted to do.
Matisse was one of the leaders of the Fauvism an art movement known for paintings that expressed emotion and used unusual colours to paint their subjects. He is regarded as one of the great initiators of this modern art movement which uses bold primary colours and free, simple forms.
By the end of his life, Matisse was thoroughly interested in patterns and collage. Due to illness that confined him to a wheelchair he began to “paint with scissors.” He used bold hand painted paper cut into shapes.
Students used chalk pastels for their backgrounds and watercolours for their flowers. The leaves were made from collage paper. It was so colourful in our classrooms!
“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”
– Claude Monet
Spring has sprung and we spent a week with the Kindergarten students at Runnymede Junior and Senior Public School creating gardens inspired by Claude Monet. We really enjoyed working with over 200 kindergarten students and the staff at Runnymede. The students used watercolours, oil pastels and acrylic paint to make their gardens. They also learned how make fluffy white clouds by pulling out wet paint with a paper towel. Currently their work is on display at Maison Fou in Bloor West Village
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 – a painting created outside in front of the subject. 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.
“Light is therefore colour.” – J.M.W. Turner
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.
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.
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 liquid watercolours to create their own sunsets.
“I wanted to know I could achieve any effect that I could imagine. I wanted complete expressive freedom…” – David Langevin
David Langevin currently lives and paints in Kamloops, British Columbia. He was born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and began drawing and painting even before he stared school.
After spending several years teaching art, David continues to lecture and give workshops on “The Craft of Painting.”
David’s painting style is somewhat unique. He uses an elaborate system of layers of transparent and translucent paint, called glazes and veils, as well as a variety of texture effects that create dramatic images of his subjects. Having studied the painting methods of his favourite historical painters like Da Vinci, Correggio, Titian, Caravaggio, Rueben, and Rembrandt, to name a few, he has developed a system of painting that is part Renaissance, part Canadian.
Students created their night skies using vibrant liquid watercolours. Black silhouettes of evergreen trees drew the viewer into their sparkling night skies.
“Pictures must be miraculous”- Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, was born on September 25, 1903 as Markus Yakovlevich Rotkovich. He was an American painter of Russian Jewish descent. He was born in Russia and could speak Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew and English.
Rothko is arguably most famous for his multiform paintings. He felt they contained a ‘breath of life’. The multiforms brought Rothko to his signature style.
For seven years, Rothko painted in oil only on large canvases with vertical formats. Very large-scale designs were used in order to overwhelm the viewer, or, in Rothko’s words, to make the viewer feel “enveloped within” the paintings. He even suggested that viewers position themselves as little as 18 inches away from the canvas so they might experience a sense of intimacy and awe with a sense of the unknown.
Students used a variety of materials to create their own vibrant paintings inspired by the work of Rothko. They used a scraping technique to prepare the background and then used oil pastel, acrylic paint and chalk pastel to create the colour fields.