Category Archives: Projects

Bikes Inspired by Michael Valenti

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Michael Valenti has been creating images and advertising campaigns as an Art Director, Designer and Illustrator for more than thirty years.

Michael Valenti works for Fortune 500 companies as well as small wineries in Michigan, creating advertising and design solutions for clients like Allstate, McDonald’s, Eli Lilly, Hallmark, Disney, Morgan Stanley, Pillsbury, Kraft, Kellogg’s and Procter & Gamble.  Valenti has also worked with smaller clients, including Timberland, Carnival Cruise Lines and the Round Barn Winery.

This summer, Michael Valenti plans to follow the Tour de France and draw each day. He will post daily on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Students did a great job drawing their bikes and creating the landscape background. It’s time to go out for a bike ride…

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Spring Tulips Inspired by Judith Leyster

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Judith Leyster was born on July 28 in 1609.  She is one of the few female artists of the seventeenth century to have emerged from obscurity. Among her known works are portraits, genre paintings, and still lifes common in the Dutch Baroque period.  She is best known for her happy scenes of couples, families, and Dutch social life, with her subjects singing, dancing, and enjoying themselves.

In the late 1630’s, a strange phenomenon occurred in the Netherlands, which had been brewing for a number of years.   It became known as Tulpenwoede (tulip madness) which saw the price of tulip bulbs rocketing.  In some cases, one of these bulbs was worth the cost of a large Amsterdam house.  Many people, who watched the rising value of the tulip bulb, wanted part of the action.  People used their life savings and other assets were cashed in to get money to invest in these bulbs, all in the belief and expectation that the price of tulip bulbs would continue to rise and they would suddenly become rich. Alas, by the end of February 1637 the price of a tulip bulb had crashed and many people lost their savings.

However the rising value of the tulip bulb came as a boon to floral artists.  If people could not afford the actual tulips for their gardens or pots the next best thing was to have a painting of them and even better still would be to have a book full of beautiful depictions of different tulips.   Judith Leyster realised that the public’s love of tulips could be advantageous for her and she produced her own book of tulips.

Students used palette knives and acrylic paint to create their dramatic background. Next a variety of techniques were used to paint their tulips. Our classrooms were filled with visions of spring!

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Inspired by Tim Gagnon

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“I find nature to be the most beautiful thing in the world. My style is defined by my mood. I can paint flowing clean landscapes, if that is how I interpret it, or, I may paint think, slashed paintings, that have emotion and energy.” – Tim Gagnon

Tim Gagnon is an award winning, internationally collected, published artist from Maine. Tim Gagnon was born and grew up in a small town of Washburn in July, 1980. As a young boy his mother would draw pictures and tell Tim stories to go with the drawings. As he grew older he began to enjoy drawing on his own and would draw every day; sometimes cartoons and animals. For Tim, drawing was a way to express emotions in a nonverbal way.

Tim Gagnon paints full time and today he’s a professional artist having sold of 1,000 paintings and licensed prints of work in more than 30 countries. He also teaches online art courses and travels around the world teaching seminars.

Students used liquid watercolours to create their sunset skies and painted the barn and landscape using a variety of acrylic paints.

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Geranium’s Inspired by Henri Matisse

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“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”

-Henri Matisse

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!

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Runnymede Kindergarten Inspired by Claude Monet

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“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.

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Sunsets Inspired by J.M.W. Turner



“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.

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Sparkling Skies inspired by David Langevin

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“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.

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