Guelph School of Art Gets Hands-On for Culture Days!


As Culture Days wound toward a close in Guelph, people gathered above Wyndham Art Supplies at the GSA to get up close and personal with art-making materials. The school’s director, Laura Paghal, came up with the idea to pair a demo of Gamblin oil paints and mediums with an “Art Materials Petting Zoo.” The free afternoon event began with a demo led by Elora-based artist and former GSA instructor Phil Irish. More seminar than sales pitch, Phil taught attendees about a variety of Gamblin paints and mediums and how to use them. A medium, for those who don’t know, refers in a wider sense to the material used to make a work of art. Paint, marble, clay, film and photography are common examples of visual artistic media. That said, it’s worth checking out the staggering variety of less-traditional media contemporary artists are using. In this case though, medium has a more specific meaning: liquids and semi-solids of varying chemical properties which, when mixed with paint, alter its substance and behaviour such as flow, texture, and drying rate in amazing ways.

Irish had an offer to work for a paint company, but found he didn’t actually like working with their particular product. Knowing he needed to stand behind a product he believed in, he thought about which materials he truly loved to work with, and approached the company who made them to see if they couldn’t work together to their mutual benefit. Endorsed as a teacher by the former director of GSA, Irish is now the only Canadian Gamblin rep. In addition to having access to a deeper knowledge of materials and their properties, the company supplies him with quality materials to fuel his art practice. In this role, Phil not only shares his wealth of knowledge with demo attendees, but also supplies awesome (free!) goody bags of really nice mediums for artists of any experience level to experiment with.  

Following the demonstration, attendees rolled up their sleeves, threw on an apron, and got busy! Laura supplied a variety of mediums for people to try. There was a table with Indian ink with elegant bamboo brushes, another where indefatigable sticks of concentrated oil paint could be used to ‘sketch’ a painting.  Across the room, several children sat absorbed with the luminous chalk pastels they were provided, using them on heavy black paper to great effect. And of course, we got to try the mediums and paints used in the demo, on board, stretched canvas, and canvas cloth. What a treat!

Guelph School of Art hosts these types of demos about 6 times per year: two in fall, two in winter, and two in spring. They host their next free demo, this time with Golden Artist Colours, from 1-3 p.m. this coming weekend, Oct 5th, 2014. Get in touch with GSA to save yourself a spot.

Maybe we will see more “Stay and Play” type activities follow these demos in the future!

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