The artist Niki de Saint Phalle, was a french painter, sculptor, and film maker. Today would have been her 81st birthday. Much of her work is naive in style, and has a playful, whimsical quality. The Tarot Garden in Italy is a perfect example of this, with its large scale sculptures covered in brightly coloured mosaics. So is the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris, filled with water-spraying sculptures made by Niki and her husband Jean Tinguely.
Of course it’s all much too happy looking for Halloween, but as luck would have it, she happened to create a unique looking assemblage called Portail de La Mort providing the perfect inspiration for this unusual, quirky little Halloween project. Trust me to sniff out one of the few colourless pieces she created! Joyeuse Anniversaire Niki.
The Austrian artist and architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, had a truly unique way of expressing himself. His work was filled with bold colours, organic shapes, and an obvious respect for nature. Some his architectural designs included rooftops covered with grass, deliberately uneven apartment floors, and always a preference for curvy lines over straight ones. He loved to experiment and often chose to make his own paints, while also exploring a variety of different supports for his work like wood and wrapping paper. He remains one of the most well-known contemporary Austrian artists, and his unique and unusual architectural designs and paintings continue to draw admiration today.
This mixed media project is about painting a building inspired by Hundertwasser’s style, filled with vibrantly coloured waves, curves, and irregular forms.
Our universe is made up of billions of galaxies. Each one is a collections of stars, dust, gas and dark matter, and found in either elliptical, spiral, or irregular shapes. Images of galaxies can be truly breathtaking and mysterious, and will easily inspire children when making their own version. They’ll be painting, sponging, splattering, and using a glass bead textured gel medium to create a cool effect.
OCAD University’s recent 2011 Graduate Exhibition had over 500 thesis projects on display, from 12 different disciplines, spread over 6 floors. As always, it’s impossible to give everything proper attention, but the children I brought along loved the environment, were inspired by what they saw, and eagerly chatted with some of the artists. But after a few hours of this, your brain tends to get a bit cloudy, which could explain why I almost bought the kids pins with illustrations of serial killers. This is true. I innocently wandered over to look at Lauren Kaiser’s work, but in my distracted state, failed to immediately notice these were illustrations of famous serial killers as children, doing what I suppose future serial killers might do like beheading Ken and tying up teddy. Her humorously disturbing work was definitely not child friendly, so I quietly put the Charlie Manson pin down and engaged in some major distraction. This was clearly my cue to call it a night before I failed miserably at parenting 101. Below are a few of my favs.
Praxis by Callum Schuster was made with insulation foam, spray paint and enamel. It’s texture and unconventional beauty was truly stunning.
Untitled (Grid #1) by Charles Bierk. I liked the parts, but the whole was much more powerful and intense.
Memorium by Michael McDonnell. This was all about metamorphosis with the use of animation and video. The result was mesmerizing, and the hauntingly beautiful music was the perfect accompaniment.
It’s spring, and little creatures are just about everywhere you look, hiding under piles of leaves, and resting under rocks and trees. Insects alone outnumber us, with an estimated 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10 quintillion) of them worldwide, making them the most successful life form on the planet. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by coming up with a few imaginary ones of our own, inspired by the work of artist Jerome Couëlle .
Couëlle is a french born artist, who lives in both Toronto and Vermont. He uses the word suranimals to describe the wonderfully imaginative creatures that inhabit his surreal paintings. You’ll find fish strolling about on legs, smiling holstein cats, and multi-coloured insects with hats. I invite you to discover his magical world, which will surely inspire you to create some whimsical creatures of your own.
“My paintings are dedicated to the animals whom I call ‘suranimals’ for they are all knowing, to the children, to the artists, to the poets, the writers, the musicians who refuse to be chained to what used to be, and do not accept the world as their reason has taught them, but have freed their eyes to be the true window to peer into infinity.” Jerome Couëlle
The egg carton’s primary purpose is to escort eggs from the chicken coop to your home, where it either gets tossed in the recycling bin, or with the help of some ingenious humans, mutates into bug eyes, seed starters, sorting trays, cat beds, flowers, molds, lights, and creatures of all kinds. Finding a second life for an egg carton has never been a problem, but using it as a canvas to paint portraits and patterns on never occurred to me until I came across the work of Enno de Kroon. His “eggcubist” portraits play with the viewer’s perception, looking strangely deformed because of the peaks and valleys of his unorthodox canvas. They’re also very cool and look deceptively easy to paint. I found focussing on vibrant colours, patterns, and simple shapes worked best for children, and proved easier to execute. They’ll love the results.
Jackson Pollock’s explosion of drips filled his canvasses with energy and passion, and while the paint appeared to be applied randomly, he usually had a very clear idea of what he was looking for. This American artist was born in 1912, and died at the young age of 44. Today would have been his birthday.
During his “drip” phase, Pollock dispensed with traditional tools like easels and brushes, preferring instead to place his unstretched canvas on the floor or wall where he could fully engage in applying paint from any direction. His unique style of pouring, flinging and splattering paint with tools such as sticks and basting syringes, earned him the nickname “Jack The Dripper.” His body of work was considered part of the Abstract Expressionist movement, and is currently part of an exhibition at MoMA called Abstract Expressionist New York, on until April 25, 2011. It will then move on to Toronto’s AGO from May 28 to September 4th.
For obvious reasons, children love to explore this technique of getting paint on canvas, so let’s celebrate Pollock’s work and splatter some canvasses of our own.
I’ve filled a good 30 bags of leaves, and have chosen to ignore the remaining stragglers until spring. And by stragglers, I mean another 10 to 15 bags worth. My body aches, and while I thought I was in shape, apparently I’m not when it comes to raking. So I’m turning my attention to other autumn options, and found that a few pressed leaves and a little gold paint can look magical.
“Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and …stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to “walk about” into a hitherto unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want?” Wassily Kandinsky 1910
Music accompanies us throughout the day while we are driving, playing, or walking along with our ipods. It can create a peaceful ambience as we go about our reading, or stir powerful emotions begging to be expressed in some way, which brings us to this project. There is a wonderful connection between music and visual art which has been examined by many artists. Russian-born Wassily Kandinsky was fascinated by this relationship and explored it in many of his paintings. He is credited with creating the first truly abstract paintings like the one above, and is suspected of possibly being a synaesthete, having the ability to see sound as colour and vice versa. This project gives children the opportunity to think about the emotions music awakens, and how they choose to paint the sounds they hear.
Ten year old Sophie painted this while listening to E.S.T.’s ‘From Gagarin’s Point of View‘
“In the beginning it was relaxing like a day at the beach, so I made some blue and white waves. In the middle of the song it turned darker, so I decided to paint the other half with black and white which also turned to grey. At the end, both sides come together.”
Sophie painted this while listening to the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
“You may think it’s a pink background with a bunch of colourful splatters on it, but think again. The beginning is not too angry so I thought dark pink was perfect. To represent the anger and violence, I decided to do some black splatters, but then it became more joyful so I chose colour – like a war between colours. I chose to make splatters to represent the energy and anger.”