• All Levels
  • Painting

Artists from antiquity to the present have borrowed intuitively or intentionally from pre-existing traditions and models, whether from their own immediate contexts or from more distant cultural, geographical, or historical ones.  

Examples range from the reworking of Greco-Roman motifs during the Renaissance to Picasso’s borrowings from African sculpture and his direct variations on old master paintings, Howard Hodgkin’s inspiration from his own collection of Mughal Indian paintings, or Cecily Brown’s recent New York exhibition of paintings based on Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa.

This studio course for both figurative and abstract painters will help individual participants personally identify and employ useful art historical material for their own paintings in terms of styles, themes, motifs, or techniques, as they develop their own works through a variety of preliminary studies to more finished paintings.  

Tuition: $290

Notes: It is recommended that students should have some prior painting or drawing experience. Students may paint in any preferred painting medium, e.g. acrylics, watercolour, gouache, oil, or mixed media. (Oil painters: only odourless mineral spirits allowed as a solvent.)
* This course is not currently open for registration

What you will learn

  • learn to use art history to inform and enrich both process and meaning in your paintings
  • learn to develop a variety of working studies based directly or indirectly on art historical works, styles, themes, motifs, or techniques (e.g. tonal, colour, compositional, technique studies)
  • explore cultural and historical differences concerning notions of originality and the study of the past in art training
  • consider more deeply the possible implications of working with inherited and/or adopted forms and traditions, as well as issues surrounding colonialism and cultural appropriation

Materials to Bring

  • Sketchbooks and/or paper for drawing and painting studies
  • A variety of dry and wet media for drawing and painting studies such as pencils, charcoal, pastels, coloured pencils, ink, watercolour
  • Your choice of stretched canvases, canvas panels, wooden panels, or watercolour paper according to your preference
  • Palettes and brushes as preferred


Suggested palette for acrylic, watercolour, or water-based oil paints*

  • Titanium white
  • Cadmium yellow light or hansa yellow
  • Yellow ochre
  • Cadmium red light or napthol red
  • Earth red such as Venetian red
  • Alizarin crimson
  • Ultramarine blue
  • Phthalo blue
  • Phthalo breen
  • Mars or Ivory black

*if oil based oil paint is used, only odourless mineral spirits allowed as a solvent.

A few useful books  (most are available through the Toronto Public Library)

  • Bober Phyllis and Rubenstein, Ruth, Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture: A Handbook of Sources, 2nd ed., 2010, Harvey Miller Pub.
  • Clark, Kenneth, Rembrandt and the Italian Renaissance, 1966, NYU Press
  • Cowling, Elizabeth; Cox, Neil; and Fraquelli, Simonetta, Picasso: Challenging the Past, 2011, National Gallery London
  • Galassi, Susan Grace, Picasso’s Variation on the Masters, 1996, Abrams
  • Poore, Henry Rankin, Pictorial Composition, 1976, Dover