Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spotlight on Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 15th, 1452 in Vinci, just outside of Florence, Italy. He was the illegitimate son of Ser Piero, a legal notary, and a peasant girl by the name of Caterina. Despite his illegitimacy, Da Vinci spent much of his youth in his father's care. It was there that he was introduced to scholarly texts and the beginnings of his informal education. At the age of 15, he was apprenticed by his father to Andrea del Verrocchio, a famous local artist that had seen the likes of Botticelli, Perugino and Domenico Ghirlandaio associated with his workshop. It was there that he received more formal training, that would have included, among other things, drafting, metallurgy, leather working, as well as drawing, painting and sculpting. It was also during this time that he was accepted into the famous Guild of St Luke, which was an artist guild in Florence. He continued to work out of the Verrocchio workshop until 1477, at which time he struck out on his own.

The Last Supper
Da Vinci continued to work in Florence until 1482 when he relocated to Milan. In Milan, He found employment with Duke Ludovico Sforza, where he was commissioned to create paintings, bronze sculptures, draw up architectural plans, as well as to design military equipment and even floats for parades. It was during his 17 years in Milan that he painted "The Last Supper" for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which subsequently became one of his most famous paintings.When the French invaded Milan and overthrew the Duke, Da Vinci fled back to Florence, leaving behind him a fantastic period of creativity that spanned much scientific research, many weaponry designs, the study of geometry, mechanics, municipal construction, and perhaps even the first conceived helicopter. With his attention divided between so many interests, he found it hard to focus on any one thing, but between frequent forays into nature, meticulous transcribing of his studies of anatomy, painting, mechanics and architecture in several journals, he also managed to paint "The Virgin on the Rocks".

Mona Lisa
In 1502, Da Vinci gained employment with Pope Alexander the VI's son, Cesare Borgia. He travelled extensively around Italy as a Senior Military Architect and General Engineer, where he surveyed cities and sketched some of the first maps available. By 1503, he moved back to Florence and rejoined the Guild of St Luke. It is also believed that during that year, he began work on his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. It is with this painting that he established "Sfumato", which was a style of painting that used a shadowy quality that he became well known for.

Between 1506-1508, Da Vinci moved between Florence and Milan, focusing mostly on his study of anatomy and architecture. By 1513, he moved to Rome, where he was offered a home at the Vatican, by his good friend Giuliano de'Medici. He stayed there until 1516, when the King of France, Francis I, offered him the position of First Painter, Architect and Engineer to the King. The famed Renaissance Painter left behind Italy, never to return again. He died on May 2nd, 1519.

 "The Vitruvian Man"
While Da Vinci is lauded as a brilliant painter, he is equally as well known for his drawings, inventions, journals, scientific studies, engineering and anatomical understandings. All of these pursuits helped to better hone his skills, which established him as a master in many things in his day and beyond. In fact, his width and breadth of knowledge is obviously noted in his ability to capture the human form, as well as mastering the art of the "vanishing point" (ability to capture depth and three-dimensionality).

On October 1st, 2011, at the Western Fair Farmer's Market, children aged 5-12 years will get the chance to learn more about Leonardo Da Vinci through the use of games, stories and art history lessons with the folks from Budding Artists. In a 90-minute workshop, children will learn basic art techniques and be able to take home a masterpiece of their own making, based on the styling of this famous Renaissance Painter. This is the second in a course of workshops that will feature a new master artist every week. If you think your little budding artist could use some helpful hints or new techniques, register them now! You will find us on the second floor ready to get creative and have fun. See you there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spotlight on Pablo Picasso


Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain on October 25th, 1881 to Don José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y Lópe. In fact, his legal name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, honouring several saints and relatives, which was typical of his Spanish heritage. While his lengthy name is remarkable, this incredible man went on to be one of the founding members of the Cubist movement and one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century.

LIFE AND TIMES: The Early Years

Couple in Cafe - 1903
Picasso's mother claimed that her son's first words were "piz, piz" or a shortened version of the Spanish word for pencil. He showed an early propensity for artistic ability, and was taken under his father's wing to be formally taught oil painting and figure drawing at the age of seven. Not surprising, considering his father was an artist in his own rights, specializing in naturalistic depictions of birds and other game, as well as being a professor at the School of Crafts. With the help from his father's early teachings, Picasso went on to enrol in advanced classes at the Royal Academy of Art in Barcelona at the age of 15. From there, he moved to Paris in 1900, where he quickly took to the then Art Capitol of Europe.

While Paris may have been the Art Capitol of Europe, it did nothing for Picasso's financial status in the early years. He was said to have burned many of his paintings just to keep warm during his "Blue Period" that lasted from 1901-1904. Not surprisingly, much of the art work that he created during that time was related to poverty and forms of melancholy. The dominant colour palette was in shades of blue and blue-green, a darkness that perhaps reflected the world around him.

La Famille Acrobate au Singe
It is no wonder then that the "Rose Period", from 1905-06, followed up his more sombre years, for that is when he met Fernande Olivier. He met this Bohemian artist in the middle of a storm in 1904 and began a love affair with her, that ushered in a lighter colour-palette and subject matter to his work. The circus figured largely during this time period. Picasso also began to explore the medium of sculpture at the tale end of the Rose Period.


Ma Jolie
As Picasso moved out of the Rose Period, a fascination with African-inspired art followed between 1907-1909. It was during this time that he began developing a new style of art with Georges Braque that would eventually be called Cubism.

By 1909, Picasso was entering his Analytic Cubism period. It was characterized by monochromatic colour palettes with a heavy use of brown, but more importantly, featured objects in terms of their analytic shapes. As he morphed into Synthetic Cubism in 1912, the use of cut paper fragments dominated his style forming the collage-type images that he is now best known for. This period grew and developed until after the First World War, when Picasso again took his art in another direction. By the 1920s, his work featured many graphic and often grotesque nudes that had many describing his work as a forerunner of Surrealism.


Not content to settle on any one style, Picasso continued to develop his mediums. By the 1950s, he was experimenting with reinterpreting paintings by other artists such as Goya, Manet, Delacroix and Velazquez. He was also heavily into sculpture, ceramics, copperplate etchings and drawings. By the time he died in 1973, it is estimated that he produced over 50,000 pieces of artwork, making him one of the most prolific and well-known artists of his day. While he can be said to have been influenced by Gertrude Stein, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse and Cézanne, Picasso's sphere of influence is much harder to define. You can see his effects in such varied artists as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Juan Gris, Lee Krasner and of course any Cubist artists that followed him. With individual pieces of his artwork selling  for over $100 million dollars each, it would seem that his fame is here to stay and that the appreciation for it is alive and well.


Budding Artists is well aware of Pablo Picasso's fame and influence. We admire his variety of mediums, as well as the scope of his work. That is why, on Saturday September 24th, 2011, we will be focusing on Pablo Picasso during our first art workshop of the season at the Western Fair's Farmer's Market. The 90-minute workshop will contain art history through games, stories and cool art projects that your Budding Artists will create and take home at the end of the day. Geared for 5-12 year olds, they will be sure to have a lot of fun and perhaps discover a new medium that speaks to them. If Picasso could explore so many styles over his lifetime, imagine what your child could accomplish in theirs.

*Written By Katherine Krige

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It has been long time since I posted. It was a busy summer with a good balance between time spent with my family and friends and working on Budding Artists. For the first time, my friend Nancy and I  organized two art camps out of her studio and backyard. We had a dozen awesome kids. It was so enjoyable. We focussed on one master artist a day. 

Inspired by Van Gogh, The Bedroom

Inspired by Van Gogh's "Starry Night" made by Grade 1s

Sculptures inspired by Giacometti's Walking Man

Pillowcases inspired design of Freidenreich Hundertwasser