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Summer camp – for grown-ups

May 25th, 2018

A close-up on two hands, one holding three pencils and the other using another pencil to shade in a sketch.

Image by the AGO.

Our summer camps for kids are filling up fast – and it’s not hard to see why. You get to spend all day in the AGO, learning new skills, seeing art, finding outlets for self-expression and getting to know like-minded people. But what if you’ve grown out of the summer camp age?

The AGO has a solution. This summer, we’re offering a diverse lineup of intensive art classes that take place for a few hours every day over a few days or a week. Learn everything from street photography, sculpture, stop-motion and more. These intensive courses are designed for art fans who want quick results, or want to add a bit of creativity to their summer staycation.

Toronto-based artist Kelley Aitken is teaching two such courses this summer – Introduction to Watercolour Intensive and Art of Drawing Intensive. We spoke to her about what makes this type of learning experience unique.

A woman looks over the shoulder of another woman holding a sketchpad and a pencil, instructing a class on drawing.

Kelley Aitken teaching at the AGO. Photo by the AGO.

AGO: Have you taught intensive courses before?
Kelley: I’ve been teaching a drawing intensive every summer for about six years and a watercolour intensive more recently. An intensive is a distilled version of a longer course. Summer intensives make sense for teachers, university students and people who can take a week off work or arrange a week of shortened hours.

AGO: What will students learn in the watercolour course?
Kelley: Important basics like paint mixing, colour theory, how to apply a wash, how to handle the brush, and so on. It’s surprisingly challenging, which is why it’s good to take a course when you’re starting out. And watercolour is lovely, sensual, challenging, satisfying and portable – it’s the ideal medium for painting outdoors or on a trip.

AGO: What will students learn in the Art of Drawing intensive?
Kelley: We work in one or two areas each day: contour and cross-contour; positive form and negative space; light and shadow; composition; proportion and perspective; the geometry of landscape, etc. Sounds like a lot, eh? But each concept fits with the one that came before. And it all adds up to a tool kit for drawing.

AGO: What do you like about teaching courses at the AGO?
Kelley: I love museums. They’re storehouses of beauty, knowledge, skill, history (a not always benign history). I have been teaching at the AGO for ten years. I still feel a sense of pleasure and pride when I enter the building. I walk in and think, “I contribute to this.”

I love how learning is a two-way street. My experience of art at the AGO has been enhanced by what my students discover, what they honour with their attention, what they draw.

AGO: What do you enjoy about drawing in the AGO galleries?
Kelley: Drawing slows your reception of art. It makes you stay a while and commune, not just with the work but with the person who made it. Drawing is an extension of your senses, your capacity to experience the world. The more you draw the more you see.

Have we piqued your interest? Check out our full list of intensive courses and sign up today.

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