Summertime art is the bee’s knees

Saturday, August 23 was a great day to instill summer spirit as the season comes to a close. Busy Bees and Other Summer Creatures was one of the most unique accessible programs to date at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Classic tactile art activities were produced, but something new was added to the mix: an interactive presentation with a beekeeper.

Toronto-based beekeeper Jared Taylor was our guest program facilitator. Jared and his wife, Melanie, manage bees and produce their own honey right outside of Kleinburg. This year, the McMichael acquired bee boxes to produce local honey. Jared manages the bees, which currently live on the surrounding gallery grounds within the Humber River Valley.  Jared led an educational presentation for the participants, discussing how bees produce honey, different hierarchies of the nest and the tools used to manage the black and yellow critters as they create liquid gold.

Everyone had an opportunity to try a slice (or two!) of sticky sweet honey, right off the honeycomb. Jared’s beekeeper suit and mask added a fun spin to traditional dress up activities, while he informed the group about the use of a bee smoker and why it is a useful contraption to calm bees in the honey-collecting process.

Following the presentation, the group moved inside to produce multimedia art projects. Honeycomb Creations were the first activity, using textured candle wax in different colours to decorate a rock or flower pot. Rocks were transformed into bees, mice and other cute critters. Intricate shapes and designs added character to each insect.

The group also worked on watercolour paintings inspired by the McMichael landscape and summertime blooms. Drawings were sketched onto craft paper with colourful ink markers before artists used a sponge paintbrush to blur lines and shapes with water, adding an abstract feel.

Busy Bees and Other Summer Creatures was a full house and great way to end summer programs at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

We look forward to another afternoon of accessible and inclusive art making at Adventure of a Maple Leaf on Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

To register, please visit the McMichael website.

Members of Autism Ontario are free. Please provide your Autism Ontario membership number at time of booking. Attendants do not pay.

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Patterns: visible in art and audible in drums

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, Canada celebrated National Aboriginal Day. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection acknowledged Aboriginal heritage by incorporating a special activity in Drumming Circle, a seasonal ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Program. Led by members of the Peel Aboriginal Network, participants learned about Aboriginal culture, listened to ancestral storytelling and followed the beat with their own drums.

The drummers and participants engaged in a smudging ceremony, a method of burning sage leaves to cleanse the spirit and connect to the earth. The driving pulse of the drums and shakers orchestrated the performance, while ears and eyes were attentive to the cultural customs before them. The traditional songs played below tall pine trees echoed through the McMichael grounds and added a positive element to the day.

ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programs are part of McMichael Accessible Programs. This program is designed for youth aged seven and up living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other special needs. Held on a quarterly basis, caregivers, parents and siblings are invited to join in the fun process of tactile art-making activities, dramatic play and social interaction.

To learn more about accessible programs at the McMichael, visit:
http://www.mcmichael.com/programs/accessibleprograms.cfm

March Break Masterpiece

During the week of March 9, 2014, youth across Ontario took full advantage of their mid-winter break. With another snowstorm in the Greater Toronto Area, it seemed that the season of cold and ice had just begun. But some kids spent time warming up to activities far from the ordinary indoor, movie-watching and online gaming.

March break is a whole other world at the McMichael. Without entering a classroom or opening a textbook, it’s an educational experience that’s unique, fun and inspiring. Last week, we hosted March Break Special, our first accessible and inclusive March break program. We were able to accommodate the needs of new and returning participants, while introducing exciting multisensory projects.

The three day program followed a different theme during each session. On the first day, instructor Anna taught the group how to use stencils, paints, oil pastels and engraving tools to make images inspired by the Arctic. After a visit to the gallery to view First Nations and Inuit art, (including a larger than life Narwhal tusk!) the group returned to the studio. Everyone finished off the day with multimedia stamp prints, using plasticine, natural found objects like shells and leaves, and paint.

Well rested and ready for round two, the group returned on Thursday, March 13 to delve into the surrounding landscape. Participants were inspired to make their own tree sketches after experiencing the different textures of bark, branches and pine needles. The group went for a walk in the sunshine to collect an array of pine cones in different shapes and sizes for the next activity. After lunch, the group proceeded with drawing beautiful branches and curvy leaves with textured pastels and vibrant watercolour paints.

To end off the day, participants exited their comfort zone by creating interpretive scenes of horizons, sunsets and surrounding landscape, using thick acrylic paint, sand and salt. By using cardboard combs, chopsticks and forks to create lines smooth and squiggly, the ultra sensory activity was enjoyed by all – even parents sat down to revel in the therapeutic element.

On the final day of camp, the group made three dimensional sculptures with Plaster of Paris. The special product is a modeling clay made by adding water to a fine powder solution. The solution heats up and can be placed inside a confined space, like a balloon, where it can be slowly molded into different shapes by hand. As the plaster cools, bumps and curves form. When this handmade stone is removed from the balloon, it can be painted with vibrant colours or carved into intricate designs.

It was a beautiful day on the McMichael grounds, so we decided to take a walk on the path leading to the Humber River Trail, which is located just below the wedding hill, behind the gallery. The group created their very own sculpture garden, complete with snow inukshuks, porcupines, forts and even a large rabbit!

After some Vitamin D from eating lunch and being in the sun, everyone relaxed by molding Play Clay into various shapes. Some participants made nature scenes with bark and pine cones, while others created key chains and paper weights. Using earthy cream, green and brown colours, the group created beautiful nature inspired works. Some members wanted to mimic Inuit art, swapping ivory stone for Ivory soap to make their own sculptures using safe wooden tools.

As the sun tucked behind the clouds, the Artists’ Studio was filled with triple-threat, multimedia artworks completed by three young artists within three days. We may have seen better weather in previous years, but nothing compared to the fantastic art created at March Break Special.

The group says, "sunshine!" as I take a photo. March Break Special was a blast!

The group says, “sunshine!” as I take a photo. March Break Special was a blast!

See you at the McMichael on June 21 for Drumming Circle, the summer edition of our popular ArtVenture Accessible Family Art programs. With a First Nations percussion performance, art making and outdoor exploration, it’s a program you don’t want to miss!

Make 2014 a mosaic of creativity

How will you inaugurate the New Year?

If you are pining for creative expression and starting things off on a positive note, check out Canadian Mosaic on Thursday, January 2 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

This event marks our second installment of ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programs and we want to celebrate it with you. At Canadian Mosaic, you’ll visit the gallery to explore our vast collection of Canadian art, both classic and contemporary. At the studio, various mosaic techniques will be taught, inspiring you to apply the surrounding winter landscape and McMichael collection to your work.

Let’s make the New Year positive by building it piece by piece at Canadian Mosaic!

Register early – spots fill quickly!

Visit the program page for cost and registration information.

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The artistic side of autumn

Don’t you just love the crisp crunch sound of yellow, red and orange leaves beneath your feet? What about the cones that fall from huge pine trees, each unique like a snowflake, but a season early? Or maybe it’s that fresh smell in the air, clean and cool.

Is there a word to describe all of this at once?
Yes – it’s Fall – an inspiring season of natural aesthetic and transformational change.

Fall at the McMichael is an extraordinary experience. Whether you’re entering through the main entrance or walking on the Humber River Trails, the spirit of the Group is Seven is present and guaranteed to excite your senses.

That’s what participants of Explore Autumn encountered on Saturday, October 19.
The fall installment of our ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programming was a full house.  New and familiar faces gathered inside the Pine Cottage art studio to dive into three different hands-on art activities:

  • Watercolour leaf rubbings: made by tracing the shape of oak, maple and birch leaves in various shapes and colours with an accessible chopstick tool. The veins of each leaf were sketched to add texture before participants added a layer of colour and a spray of water before “stamping” the shape on craft paper.
  • Vibrant watercolour marker paintings: Participants painted nature scenes on a texturized burlap canvas by using smooth markers in vibrant hues.
  • Clay scenes and sculptures: The ultimate tactile activity! By choosing from a vast palette, participants molded clay into animals or produced pictures inspired by surroundings and everyday life.

The fourth component to Explore Autumn included a sample of our Woodland Inspired® iPad Program. Participants were free to let their skills do the painting on applications that include:

  • Art Rage
  • Brushes
  • Sumo Paint

Each application offers the choice of several tools, shapes, stamps and colours. You can change the density of the mark your paintbrush makes or the texture of a pencil. Perhaps you wish to add a flower to your image – there’s a tool for that!

Parents joined to produce their own masterpieces.
Artists also sent their work as an email attachment directly from the application.

Check out the gallery below to see our iPad activity in action:

In the new year, we’ll host our next program, Canadian Mosaic, where we’ll learn about mosaic techniques, piece by piece.

We hope to see you at our winter program!
For now, enjoy autumn before the snow falls.

Celebrate the end of summer with an accessible art camp

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“The sun is shining, birds are chirping and sky is blue.
Celebrate three summer elements with an art camp made for you!”

On Tuesday, August 27, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection brings you Artfully Yours, an accessible summer day camp. It’s the ultimate sensory experience as it merges the unique indoor/outdoor setting of the McMichael grounds.

Designed for youth aged seven and up, this program is a great sensory experience that features tactile art activities. From found objects like leaves, twigs and stones to clay and everything in between, participants will engage in art-making that is fun and open to interpretation.

A professional art instructor will lead the program from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Participants will produce artwork at their own pace throughout each guided activity with time to be social and make new friends.

End summer with a splash of paint – celebrate your creativity with this accessible art camp that’s inclusive for all!

Registration is required for Artfully Yours. For more information on the program, please visit mcmichael.com or fill out our registration form.

McMichael adventures with the maple leaf

March break is always a special time at the McMichael, and a busy one, too.
That’s why they call it “March Break Madness,” after all!

This year, we offered our very first accessible art program, Canadian Maple Leaf Adventure, to conclude a busy week with some creatively quiet family time. On Saturday, March 16th, art instructor Anna Pallotta led five families on an adventure inspired by Canadian landscape and the lush greenery within it.

The program began with pencil sketches at Pine Cottage, where Anna showed the group how to do shading techniques overtop images of birch and maple trees. Following the warm-up activity, the group went on an exciting walk throughout the front entrance of the grounds. Anna distributed photographs she took of the McMichael landscape to each participant to scout out the exact location of each image. The scavenger hunt was a great way to explore the grounds and witness their reflection on the definitive Canadian work inside the gallery – the next destination.

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Inside gallery one exploring the Group of Seven

As families gathered inside the Grand Hall, took of their coats, hats and mitts, Anna guided them throughout the gallery’s many Group of Seven exhibits. She engaged each participant with insightful questions, and everyone was able to make strong correlations between the works and personal experiences.

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Anna discussing the Group of Seven’s siganture painting techniques

 

 

Later, the group wound down with the viewing of The West Wind, a film montage depicting a “day-in-the-life” of artists like Tom Thomson and A.Y. Jackson.

Anna accompanied the film with an even
more natural soundtrack
– a music compilationwestwinddvd from National Parks of Canada,
entitled the National Parks Project.  

It is a beautifully organic album comprised of 39 musicians dispered across 13 national parks. The groups spent five days in destinations that include the Bruce Peninsula, Cape Breton and Kluane. It’s a wonderful way to “capture the majesty of landcape through music and image.”

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The best part about the McMichael is that we don’t need to travel to any of those three parks – we have majestic art and nature at our fingertips! And it’s all accessible, too.

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Hope to see you at our next family art program!