Category Archives: Projects

Apples Inspired by Cezanne

“With an apple I will astonish Paris.”

-Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne was born to a wealthy family on January 19th, 1839 in the South of France. His father was a banker and did not want his son to become an artist. So, Paul Cezanne began his studies in law, and as a compromise his father allowed him to take art lessons.

His work developed a deliberately crude, bold style, slapping and smearing paint onto canvas with a palette knife. He is described as a Post-impressionist best known for his incredibly varied painting style which greatly affected 20th century abstract art. Both Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso were highly influenced by Cezanne.

Although he was a prolific artist, producing more than 900 oil paintings and 400 water colours and many more incomplete works, his pictures were turned down by official art shows (the Salon) and critics called him a madman.  He would sometimes get so angry in fits of despair we would break his brushes and throw his pictures away.  He was also said to be so incredibly shy that he would run away if he saw a stranger while out sketching.

His work did not become popular until people’s ideas about art changed. After a one-man show in 1895 he won huge acclaim.

Paul Cezanne died of pneumonia on October 22, 1906. He was 67 years old.

The artists in our classes created their own still life works of art using chalk pastels, and 8 different colours of acrylic paint!

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How to Create Mood – Halloween Inspiration

In today’s class, we looked at the mood in a painting.  Mood refers to the feeling created in the artwork.  The use of the elements and principles of design affect mood in a painting.  The lines, colours, shapes, values and textures in the work and how they are organized through harmony, variety, balance, emphasis and unity.

 The subject matter – people, trees, buildings, objects etc.  and the way they are represented influence the mood of a painting.  The sensory qualities, emotional aspects, symbolism in the work, context – the time period and culture in which the work was produced and even the technical aspects – the medium, materials processes, techniques and style employed by the artist all affect mood.

In today’s class, we created a spooky Halloween mood by using dark colours, making bumpy textured trees with reaching “hands” for branches and a full moon with spooky clouds – hopefully, it isn’t too scary!

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Steve Driscoll Inspired Waterfalls

“I am trying to explore the awe and wonder of nature.”

– Steve Driscoll

This week in our adult class we learned about Toronto artist, Steve Driscoll. To see some of his work this weekend Oct 27 – Oct 30 visit the Angell Gallery booth at Art Toronto.

We were inspired by his contemporary take on landscape painting and used a scraping technique to create our own waterfall pieces.

Driscoll is a landscape painter that uses his unique way of envisioning the vast landscapes of Canada to transform our awareness of the outdoors.

He paints with a fast drying pigmented urethane on board or panel and makes large paintings with modern, heightened colour effects in only a few hours (due to the fast drying of the medium). Urethane is an industry standard for automotive painting and is like a liquid plastic. Using urethane he is able to achieve a luminous and vibrant quality with his work. It is extremely difficult to work with and full breathing protection must be used when using this material.

In 2016, Driscoll exhibited an installation, Just a Sliver of the Room, at Angell Gallery in Toronto. He flooded the gallery space with 2000 gallons of water and built a wooden pathway for viewers to walk across and see and experience his work with the reflection in the water.  In the summer of 2017, working with photographer Finn O’Hara, Steve Driscoll exhibited Size Matters at the McMichael Gallery.

His work is in the collections of TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Nordstrom, The Four Seasons, Seneca College and Aura at College Park.

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Walking Woman Inspired by Michael Snow

“I really want to make physical things so that the experience is a real experience and not just conceptual.” 

– Michael Snow

This week we were inspired by Toronto artist Michael Snow, who was born on December 10, 1929 in Toronto. He studied at Upper Canada College and the Ontario College of Art and Design. He is known as one of Canada’s most renowned contemporary artists.  In Toronto, he is well known for his Canadian Geese display located inside the Eaton Centre as well as The Audience outside the Rogers Centre.  In total there are 15 different statues, and they’re all meant to symbolize the different types of fans such as the father and son, the muscle man, the hungry fan, the heckler and many others.

in 1961, he began a long-term project that for six years would be his trademark: the Walking Woman. It was exhibited at Expo 67 in Montreal and was hailed as his trademark work. He spent six years working it and is arguably his best-known legacy.

In 1981, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to international visual arts. He also received the first Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2000) for cinema. In 2004 the Universite de Paris I, Pantheon-Sorbonne awarded him an honorary doctorate. The last artist awarded this honour was Pablo Picasso.

We used chalk pastel to create our background, spray paint, sharpies, and silver metallic paint to create our own Walking Woman.

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Fall Collages Inspired by Rex Ray

“I’m not as much confident as I am fearless.  I have a lot of doubt and a lot of insecurity when I go into a given situation.  But I don’t let it stop me.  It took a long time to find that.” – Rex Ray

Recently in our adult class, we learned about the life and career of the late American artist, Rex Ray. We printed our own paper using Gelli Plates and acrylic paint. We then used the printed paper to create abstract collages inspired by Rex Ray and the beautiful colours of fall.

Rex Ray (Michael Patterson) was born in Landstuhl, Germany on September 11, 1956. His father served in the US Army. He was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado and later moved to San Francisco, California.

He was inspired by Andy Warhol and adopted the moniker, Rex Ray. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute where he received his BFA in 1989. After earning his degree he designed digital graphics for nightclubs and rock concerts. The first t-shirts and posters he created were for the political advocacy organization called Act Up.

During his lifetime he had an impressive client roster in the music, fashion, entertainment and design industries. He worked with David Bowie, Dreamworks, Neiman Marcus, Sony Music, Apple and many others. His designs have been licensed and produced on clothing, carpets, ceramics, wristwatches, surfboards and on a Mini Cooper.

In the early 1990’s, he moved away from his computer graphics business and returned to studio work. He produced a prolific number of fine art paintings and collages that are marked by the use of psychedelic pop art images. His techniques involved a process of Xerography, handmade woodblock prints, newsprint and magazine images that were transformed into vibrant colour schemes.

Rex Ray has been collected by museums and art lovers the world over and his work continues to resonate in the art world. He was the subject of a documentary, “How to make a Rex Ray”. Sadly, Ray died of cancer in 2015.

To learn more about our adult classes please email artinactiontoronto@gmail.com.

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Georgia O’Keeffe – Adult Class Inspiration

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”

– Georgia O’Keeffe

Our new adult class began with inspiration from the mother of American Modernism, Georgia O’Keeffe. She was born on November 15, 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. The second of seven children she grew up on a dairy farm. Georgia received art lessons at home and her abilities were quickly recognised and encouraged by teachers.

O’Keeffe is well known for her large stylized paintings of flowers, cityscapes and the landscapes of New Mexico. She became most famous for her large, up-close paintings of flowers. She said that everyone loves flowers but few take the time to really see them.

She began her career in New York City with a series of abstract charcoal drawings. O’Keeffe mailed some of these drawings to photographer Alfred Stieglitz who immediately began promoting her work. In 1916 he offered her a one-person exhibition of her work.  The two fell in love and were married in 1924.  They lived and worked together in New York City and Lake George. Three years after Stieglitz died, Georgia O’Keeffe moved to New Mexico, whose stunning vistas and stark landscape configurations inspired her work. She died in 1986 at the age of 98 and her popularity continues to grow.

Everyone did such a great job in our class and were really fearless working with watercolours and acrylic paint.

Would you like to join us? There are three classes in this session left that will be inspired by Rex Ray, The Group of Seven, and Steve Driscoll. Email artinactiontoronto@gmail.com to learn more.

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Wolf Kahn – Abstract Expressionist

“Keep the childlike vision and remain true to your ideas.”

-Wolf Kahn

Wolf Kahn was born on October 4th, 1927 in Germany.  He is a German-born American painter who began drawing at the age of four.   At the age of twelve, in 1940 he moved to New York City.

He attended the High School of Music and Art and studied under the abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann at the Hans Hofmann School.  He became Hofmann’s studio assistant.

Wolf Kahn is known for his work in pastels and oil paint.  He combines realism landscapes with Colour Field Theory.

It is said that Kahn is an artist “who embodies the synthesis of his modern abstract training with Hans Hofmann, with the palette of Matisse, Rothko’s sweeping bands of color, and the atmospheric qualities of American Impressionism. It is precisely this fusion of color, spontaneity and representation that has produced such a rich and expressive body of work.”

He has travelled extensively, painting the landscapes of Egypt, Greece, Hawaii, Italy, Kenya, Maine, Mexico and New Mexico.

He currently lives in New York City and during the summer and autumn, he lives on a hillside farm in Vermont.

Students helped celebrate Kahn’s 90th birthday using soft pastels and acrylic paint to make their creations.

Would you like to learn more about what Art in Action can do? Contact us at artinactiontoronto (at) gmail.com to learn how to bring us to your school or next event.

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