Recently Art in Action was invited to a private event to celebrate Mother’s day. We lead the guests through two projects, the first was inspired by the Canadian painter, Tom Thomson. We used chalk and oil pastels, watercolours and acrylic paints to create our own Muskoka-inspired landscapes.
The second project was inspired by American artist, Lisa Congdon and her birch tree paintings.
It was a wonderful way to celebrate all that Mother’s do to create happy families.
“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!
“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.
“I don’t really have studios. I wander around people’s attics, out in fields, in cellars, anyplace I find that invites me. ”
Andrew Wyeth was born on July 12, 1917. As a young child he was home-tutored by his father, the illustrator N.C. Wyeth.
At a time when many painters were looking for new directions to explore in abstract art, the realistic painter Andrew Wyeth became one of America’s most widely acclaimed artists. In his art, Wyeth’s favorite subjects were the land and people around him, both in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and at his summer home in Cushing, Maine. Wyeth often noted: “I paint my life.”
One of the best-known images in 20th-century American art is his painting Christina’s World, currently in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. This tempera was painted in 1948, when Wyeth was 31 years old.
Students were inspired by the painting, Snowy Morning and used watercolours, acrylics and many different techniques to create their dark and stormy lighthouses.
“One curator said he didn’t want my work in his gallery because it was so simple even children understood it. I thought, what a wonderful tribute!”
Before the Christmas holidays we were invited into the JK/SK classrooms at Runnymede Public School to do a special project inspired by the Canadian artist, Ted Harrison. The students were very enthusiastic and did a great job on their Northern Landscapes. They learned how to use chalk pastels and how to blend them for a brilliant sky. Next we sponged on snow to fill the bottom of our creations. And lastly we applied collage to build our Inukshuks.
Ted Harrison was born in England in 1926. In 1950 he received his teaching certificate and began his 28 year career in education. He had a great interest in travel and taught in many different parts of the world, including Malaysia, India, East Africa and New Zealand before immigrating to Canada with his wife Nicky and their son Charles in 1968.
They settled in a small town called Carcross just outside Whitehorse in the Yukon. His love of the land and people of the Yukon has brought him national acclaim. He makes simple landscapes even simpler.
Ted Harrison’s paintings are iconic, recognizable and distinctly unique. His paintings are mostly in horizontal sections. In the foreground there are people, animals and other objects. In the background is the Canadian Northern landscape. His paintings are made up of brilliant colors, never shaded, and not always naturalistic – deep purple hills and lime green water. His signature lines give contrast to the brilliant colours.
Doris McCarthy was born on July 7th, 1910 in Calgary and moved to Toronto in 1913. She is a landscape artist best known for her depictions of Arctic icebergs. McCarthy attended the Ontario College of Art from 1926 to 1930. Among her teachers were members of the Group of Seven: Arthur Lismer, A.Y. Jackson, J.E.H. MacDonald and Lawren Harris. She was inspired by their approach to painting, to go out into nature and paint from real life or “en plein air.”
After she retired she travelled to every province in Canada, painting and camping. From the Hoodoo’s in Alberta to friendly fishing towns in the east. She travelled to the Arctic many times, even at 94. To see icebergs, McCarthy would travel by dogsled and set up her easel and paints in the snow.
She bought a property dubbed “Fools Paradise” along the Scarborough Bluffs in 1939 which over time, she built into her dream home and art studio.
In 1989, at the age 79, she graduated from the University of Toronto at Scarborough with a BA in English. McCarthy died November 25th, 2010 when she was 100 years old.
Gothic Art is concerned with the painting, sculpture and architecture that flourished in western and central Europe during the Middle Ages. In the years between 1100 and 1600, architecture was the most important and original art form.
We framed our artwork with a Gothic window frame and made a spooky scene filled with ghosts and a creepy tree.