Look up! Look down! Now, look ALL AROUND.

Take a few minutes to see, smell and feel the land that surrounds you. When you hear "landscape" what do you imagine? You might picture rolling hills or perhaps clusters of trees and rocks. This week, we're going beyond the traditional and inventing new ways of seeing the land around us. We'll have fun in the sun and get to know the animals that walk the earth with special guests from the Toronto Zoo! We'll also make flowers, and maps - both on paper and in our memories.

What does land mean to you?

Land Acknowledgement

The Art Gallery of Ontario operates on land that is the territory of the Anishinaabe (Mississauga) nation and is also the territory of the Wendat and Haudenosaunee. The Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant is an agreement between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Anishinaabe Three Fires Confederacy to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. Toronto is also governed by a treaty between the federal government of Canada and the Mississaugas of the New Credit (Anishinaabe nation). Toronto has always been a trading centre for First Nations.

Ki nsadwaamdaming

Maanda Gchi-mzinbiige-gamig Ontario, gii-nokiimgad akiing e-aawang Anishinaabe ezhimaamoosiwaad debendaagozijig miiniwaa gii-aawan Wendat miiniwaa Haudenosaunee gewiina gaazhi-maamooziwaad gii-aawan. Maanda bezhig naagan geye emkwaan Wampum Gchi-pizowin nendimoowin aawan maamowi giizhendamowwaadjin Haudenosanunee e-zhimaamowiziwaad miiniwaa dash Anishinaabe Nswi Ishkoden, bzandamowaad ji maamowi nakazwaad miiniwaa ji-maamowi gnowenjigaadeg kina gegoo eteg gaataaying Gchi-gimiing. Gewii maanda gchi-oodeno (Toronto ezhinikaadeg) pane gii-zhi-gimaakidaajigaade gchikwiinwin nji-sa gchi-gimaanaang mompii Canada miiniwaa giiw Mississaugas odi New Credit Ntam Anishinaabeg. Toronto pane gii-ni-aawan gii-meshtoonmaaged-enji maawnijiding nji sa giw Ntam Anishinaabeg.

Draw The Sun

The sun brings us warmth and energy and is so very important to life on Earth! Let’s get creative and see how many ways can you draw the sun! With markers and pencil crayons? Making straight lines or tons of swirls?


Drawing of the sun

The Wisdom of the Universe

Let’s get inspired by Christi Belcourt’s stunning painting The Wisdom of the Universe. Belcourt uses a technique where she paints very small dots to depict images of birds and flowers which come together to make a larger, connected universe of living things.

“All species, the lands, the waters are one beating organism that pulses like a heart. We are all a part of a whole. The animals and plants, lands and waters, are our relatives each with as much right to exist as we have.” - Christi Belcourt

Christi Belcourt. The Wisdom of the Universe

Christi Belcourt. The Wisdom of the Universe, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, Unframed: 171 × 282 cm. Purchased with funds donated by Greg Latremoille, 2014 (2014/6). © Christi Belcourt


Step 1. What other small things make up a bigger thing?

When houses and apartments are grouped together they become a neighbourhood. When a bunch of trees grow up together they become a forest.  Look at the land around you and think about what smaller things, when put together, make up a bigger thing? Get inspired and choose an idea to create yourself. 

Step 2. Play and practice mark making

Christi Belcourt uses painted dots in her artwork, but what kind of mark making will you use to create yours? Experiment with a few different tools to test out your unique marks. Use a pencil, pen, marker, or try using a brush to make stars, lines, squares, squiggles….use some scrap paper to practice and have fun!  

Step 3. Outline your big idea

Draw a simple outline of your idea before you start to help keep you on track!

Step 4. Enjoy the process

Start filling in your outline shape using your own unique marks with the materials of your choice.  Enjoy the repetitive action of making the little marks and watching them become part of the big picture. Slowly but surely!

Step 5. Share your creation!

Title your artwork and share with us by tagging #AGOmakes.

You can also read more about Christi Belcourt’s The Wisdom of the Universe and watch her creating the painting here.

Land Art

Get outside and use the land around you to create an awesome work of art! Sticks, rocks and fallen leaves become your materials and the land is your canvas. Watch AGO Artist Instructor Amanda Arcuri make land art in a park and at the beach. Where will you make your land art?


A Neighbourhood Frottage Collage

Explore your neighbourhood and capture all kinds of textures using a fun rubbing technique called frottage. AGO Artist Instructor Daphne McCormack used these rubbings to create a neighbourhood collage. What textures can you find? What will your collage look like?


Frottage Collage

Making Maps!

Grab some coloured markers or pencil crayons and let’s make maps of our surroundings by drawing our memory, smells and sounds. How can a map capture the smell of a bakery or the sound of a honking car? Try making maps in these 3 fun and unique ways!


A map of a the neighbourhood

Live Event: Sketching With The Toronto Zoo

Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 10 am
We're going to the Zoo! Grab paper and a pencil and get ready to sketch with us from home! Join Tiana Roebuck, AGO Associate Curator, Studio Programming & Learning in conversation with special guest, Shawn Blackburn, Learning & Engagement Coordinator from the Toronto Zoo. We'll learn all about the largest land carnivore in the world, the mighty polar bear and learn all about gesture drawing - a great way to capture animals in motion!


Photo of a Polar Bear

Let’s Dance!

“I like to carve what I feel, not merely what I see.” —Pauta Saila

Pauta Saila is known for his dancing bear sculptures. The stones he used are heavy, but his bears look light and graceful. Check out this AGO Activity Card and get dancing!


Pauta Saila, Dancing Bear, 1984. Mottled dark grey stone, ivory, 51.2 x 38.8 x 22.8 cm. Gift of Samuel and Esther Sarick, Toronto, 2001. © Estate of Pauta Saila, courtesy Dorset Fine Arts. 2001/331.

Pauta Saila, Dancing Bear, 1984. Mottled dark grey stone, ivory, 51.2 x 38.8 x 22.8 cm. Gift of Samuel and Esther Sarick, Toronto, 2001. © Estate of Pauta Saila, courtesy Dorset Fine Arts. 2001/331.

Hanging Flower Garden 

Watch AGO Artist Instructor Melissa Pauw use strips of paper to create a beautiful hanging garden. Make loops, teardrops, swirls and zigzags. You can keep it simple, or go WILD and fill your home with flowers!


Sidewalk Shadows


Step 1. Get outside and find some shadows!

Leaves, tree branches, a bicycle… what shadows do you want to capture?  If it’s cloudy or rainy you can even create shadows inside by sitting near a window or placing a light source behind something to cast a shadow. 

Step 2. Start tracing

Lay your paper down so the shadows are on your piece of paper. Use a pencil (or marker, crayon, anything you like!) to trace around the edges of the shadow.  

Step 3. Take it to the next level!

Shadow drawings are amazing on their own, but if you like you can add colour, lines or even shapes to the inside of your shadow drawing. 

Step 4. Post your amazing creation!

Yay! You captured some amazing shadows!! Take a photo and share it with us! #AGOmakes 

Shadows of tree branches on the sidewalk


Show us your AGO Makes: Summer Edition artwork and join our online gallery!





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