Inspired by Norval Morrisseau


“I want to make paintings full of colour, laughter, compassion and love. I want to make paintings that will make people happy.”

-Norval Morrisseau

This week we have been celebrating the life and career of legendary painter, Norval Morrisseau. Students used a scraping technique for the background and then used various colour of acrylic paint to create their valentines day inspired creations.

Norval Morrisseau was born in Northern Ontario, March 14, 1932.

His full name is Jean-Baptiste Norman Henry Morrisseau but he signed his work using his Ojibwa name “Copper Thunderbird” in Cree Symbols:   ᐅᓴᐘᐱᑯᐱᓀᓯ.

Morrisseau was an Aboriginal self-taught  Canadian artist known as the “Picasso of the North.”  He had a tumultuous life filled with highs and lows.  His work is still sought out by curators and was imitated by forgers.  He was an innovative artist and arguably one of Canada’s greatest painters who received the Order of Canada in 1978.  He was married and had seven children.

He drew his first picture in the sand at the age of six when his grandfather  Moses Potan Nanakonagos began teaching him Anishinaabe customs and legends.  Morrisseau’s grandfather was a Shaman and his Grandmother Veronique  was a devout Catholic and from her he learned about the Catholic religion.  The contrast between these traditions was an important factor in his life and artistic career.

Morrisseau style is characterized by thick black outlines and bright colors. He developed a pictographic style, also referred to as “woodland Indian art”   and later “Anishinaabe Art,” “legend painting” or “x-ray art.”  Initially he painted on any material he could find – especially birch bark and moose hide.

He was a prolific artist – completing over 3000 painting in his lifetime.  His work now hangs in some of the most prestigious museums in Canada and around the world, including the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Morrisseau died in Toronto Dec. 4th 2007 at the age of 75.

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