Friday, 1 May 2015

Why I love “Painting like Famous Artists” and You Should, Too

Tree of Life after Gustav Klimt

Blog 17

If you are a subscriber to my newsletter or follow me on Facebook or Google+, you have probably seen some of the artworks my students and I created during my “Painting Like Famous Artists” sessions. I have taught this programme for two years to kids from 7 - 12 years at the Bob MacQuarrie Complex in Orleans as well as in separate adult workshops at Wallack’s in Orleans last summer. The students have always responded so enthusiastically, that I am offering adult sessions this spring at François Dupuis Centre in Orleans.

Every session, I pick different artists. At the beginning, I tried to incorporate at least one Canadian painter. Now, I also try to have different genres as well as one female painter among the four artists we study every session. As many of my students are girls and women, I want to make them aware of the fantastic female painters who often get overlooked due to the male dominated art world.

Each series is not only fun and educational for my students but also me. I always prepare a little biography of the painters’ lives, find out what was important to them and their painting process. During the preparation of my classes, I always get some new insights. Sometimes, trying out a different style is very uncomfortable because it differs so much from how I work.

Often, if you try something new, it is uncomfortable at first until you know what you are doing. You might find out that an art style you really admired is a painting technique you really do not enjoy at all. This happened to me with the works of Monet. I have the highest appreciation for his works and still love them but I really do not enjoy painting with the short brush strokes the Impressionists used to create their art.

In my demo work, I try to stay pretty close to the painting I am copying. However, I encourage my students to take liberties. Ultimately, my goal is not for them to become a copycat of the famous painter we are studying but to learn some of the techniques they used, to appreciate the seemingly simple artworks for their proficiency, to acknowledge the artist’s skills independently from the student’s likes of a certain painting style or object.

Whenever I took a workshop studying a certain painter, I tried to implement what I enjoyed in the process into my own painting technique. I also encourage my adult painters who usually already have some painting experience to do the same.

If we think about the history of art, many of the masters we cherish today were completely misunderstood and rejected during their lifetime because the created works of art which did not comply with the way art was produced and appreciated by the majority of art critics and viewers. The had a new vision which differed radically from the academic opinion.

I would like my students to have an open mind when looking at different kinds of art. There is so much variety. It is easy to say “I could do this,” or “A child could paint this.” Believe me, I have had these thoughts at times, too. However, you have to remember that you would only be copying someone else’s ideas. It is always easier to copy but it is a challenge to create something new and fresh.

So if you want to find out how some of the famous artists of the past created their beautiful works of art, the next four week session of “Painting Like Famous Artists” at François Dupuis Recreation Centre starts on May 19, 2015, from 7pm to 8:30pm. We will look at the works from Franz Marc, Lawren Harris, William Turner, and Mary Cassatt. Trying to copy one of their paintings might inspire your own creative juices. In the next couple of months I will write about some artist who inspired me on my creative journey.

To register and for more information please go to for the adult session and for the kids session which starts on May 24, 2015, from 1pm to 2:30pm, at Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex. During the kids session we will be studying works of Gustav Klimt, Franklin Carmichael,Gabriele Münter, and Vincent van Gogh.

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