Robert Houle, The Pines

Robert Houle, The Pines, 2002–2004. Oil on canvas. Panel (centre): 91.4 x 121.9 cm; Panel (side, each of two): 91.4 x 91.4 cm. Gift of Susan Whitney, 2017. © Robert Houle. 2017/243.


This course skips the weekend of 21st for Family Day. 

Students in this course will learn some of the fundamental techniques and concepts we use when we make paintings. We will explore the use of colour and composition, and will focus our explorations on our relationship to places and their human, plant and animal inhabitants. We will look for inspiration to the work of Saulteaux Anishinaabe artist Robert Houle, whose paintings, installations, and drawings are the focus of the exhibition Red is Beautiful on view at the AGO.

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Week 1: Colours are Beautiful. Guided by Robert Houle’s earlier paintings we will look at Abstract Art and explore basic rules of painting, and key ideas of how colours can be mixed and how they can influence our emotions. 
Week 2: A Family of Paintings. We will learn about traditions and meanings that belong to the stories of Anishnaabe people. Using several techniques for paint application, we will consider materials, forms, symbols, composition and proportions to create a group of small paintings. 
Week 3: Land and Water. Inspired by Robert Houle’s paintings like “The Pines”, we will create a meaningful painting of a special place on a canvas board or panel.
Week 4: Making Visible. This week we will explore how colour and composition can be used to make meaning more visible; combining printed images and painting to create our final artwork, inspired by Houle’s artworks that focus on Indigenous history in Canada.



  • Sketch paper or sketchbook, minimum 10 sheets, 9 x 12 inch or similar
  • Canvas paper for painting: 10 sheets, 9 x 12 inches to 12 x 16 inches approximately. For example: Strathmore Canvas Paper Pad, or Canson Canva-Paper. Alternatives: heavy weight paper that can accommodate wet media: watercolour paper (140-300 lbs) 
  • Canvas boards or panels, 2 or more for week 3 and 4: 9 x 12 inches to 12 x 16 inches approximately
  • Construction paper 8 x10 inches or 9 x12 inches, 1 sheet of each: red, blue, green, black, white, and pink. 

Paints and Medium: 

  • Acrylic paint, non-toxic, student quality, 75 ml -125ml tubes: primary red, blue, yellow, black, (titanium) white. For example: Amsterdam Acrylic Colour Standard Series Primary Set of 5, 120 ml tubes, or Liquitex Basics.
  • Acrylic Matte Medium: For painting and collaging, 8 oz or less, (approximately 100 ml). For example Liquitex Professional Matte Fluid Medium. Alternative: “Modge Podge” or white PVA glue, but they are not as compatible with acrylic paint. 

Brushes, have 3-4 types and sizes: 

  • A piece of sponge, approximately 2 x 4 inches 
  • Flat, approximately 2 inches 
  • Filbert,  ½ or ¾ inch 
  • Round, ¼” inch (small), that makes a nice point (watercolour brush) 
  • Any other brushes you may already have and would like to use. 

Other Supplies: 

  • Palette: aluminum foil or wax paper wrapped around a stiff surface, or foam or plastic plates. You will need a fresh surface for each week.
  • 2 Water containers: 450ml-750ml vessel that you will not use to drink from.Pencils: HB or 2B graphite, carmine red pencil, light blue pencil
  • Masking Tape
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Ruler
  • 1-ply cardboard (cereal or granola bar boxes), a few pieces for week 2: cut into large shapes: triangle, circle, square, rectangle. Minimum 6x6 inches overall for each shape. 
  • Images for week 3 and 4: Collect some black and white images from newspapers or printed photos.
  • Optional: Oil pastel and or crayons: if you already have these bring them to class.

These are the recommended materials for this course. All sizes are approximate. On your first day of class, your instructor may recommend additional optional materials. Our Instructor’s will do their best to accommodate alternative materials whenever possible. 

Some suggested retailers for purchasing your art materials:

Aboveground Art Supplies (discount code: AGOSTUDENT10), Curry’s, DeSerres, Gwartzman’s, Michaels, or any other art supply or discount craft store.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, delays are very possible. 


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