Category Archives: Avenue Road Arts School

ARAS artist about to jump from canvas to fashion runway

Works by ARAS Student Niam Jain, 13, have been featured on CBC.


He only picked up a paintbrush one year ago as part of his therapy for autism, but a Toronto teenager has now sold dozens of paintings worldwide and will soon have his work featured by a Canadian fashion designer.

Niam Jain, 13, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder — a social communication disorder — at the age of two, and still has minimal speech and comprehension skills. But give him a brush and some paint, and he communicates expressively.

Read more below:

And check out our previous blog post about Niam!



Out of the Bush Garden – Contemporary Artists from Central-Eastern Canada



Instructor Pete Smith (Abstract Painting, Drawing for Beginners, Landscape Painting, and Painting from Photos) is a featured artist in Imago Mundi‘s Out of the Bush Garden collection.

Pete’s piece AOI-13022015, is featured, and an image found below.

The book is a new, broad and diverse collection that Imago Mundi is dedicating to Canada: 216 works that bring together the creativity and expressive cultures of artists from the central-eastern side of the country: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador. From the complex and erratic mosaic of the canvases, the different cultural souls of this vast country emerge, as do the contamination and amalgamation of different languages, colours and forms. Like a long journey among works and inspirations that seem to say: look at us and in the light of the Great North you will discover something about us and about yourself. Something singular and, at the same time, universal.



AOI-13022015, Pete Smith


Four Avenue Road Arts School students show work at Queen’s Park


Young ARAS artists attended an opening reception for the Youth Arts Program hosted by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on November 30.  Their work was selected from hundreds of submissions to this program which “celebrates the incredible artistic talents of young Ontarians.” Their paintings will be on display at the Legislative building until March 2017. Congratulations to Maria Malakhova,Gayle Tiomico and Kate Moon pictured below with ARAS Founder, Lola Rasminsky, and to Caroline Wang whose work was also chosen to be showcased at Queen’s Park.

The Youth Arts Program was launched in 2012 by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, the Honourable Dave Levac, to celebrate the incredible artistic talents of young Ontarians aged 12-18.

Each year, youth from across the province are invited to display their works of art throughout the Legislative Building, from December through March, showcasing their creativity and diverse artistic abilities. 

Artwork submitted consists of a variety of media including: photography; sculptures; ceramics and pottery; drawings in ink, pencil and charcoal; acrylic, oil and watercolour paintings.


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Da-Da cannot be understood. It must be experienced. 

Richard Huelsenbeck, German poet, 1920

01-shgardin-2010-jpgA piece by ARAS instructor will be featured in TARA DA-DA, International Digital Miniprint Exhibition 11, at Le Centre d’artistes Voix Visuelle in Ottawa from November 5 to December 6, with an opening reception on November 10.

Curated by Marie Hélène Giguère, the exhibition takes a fresh look at the Dada phenomenon, 100 years after its birth.

Baffling and absurd, the movement reinvents the pictorial composition. It allows the artists to give a new meaning to found objects, to bring manufactured commercial objects in a museum context.

Collage and photomontage have arrived, forerunners of digital art itself.

For this exhibition, artists who worked in the spirit of Dada are from Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, India, Japan, Poland, Romania, Serbia and United Kingdom.

The opening of the exhibition will take place on Thursday, November 10 at 5 p.m. at Centre d’artistes Voix Visuelle. Three cash prizes will be awarded at the opening. The gallery is located at 67 Beechwood Avenue (2nd floor), in Vanier, and is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.

Centre d’artistes Voix Visuelle would like to thank the Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Heritage, the City of Ottawa and Marcil Lavallée for their support.

Read more on the website.

Profile of Genevieve Finley, ARAS student

“At For the Love of Cake, we’re not just bakers, we’re also designers. We pride ourselves on taking special care and attention to detail with all of our cakes and custom designs.”

Owner and head designer Genevieve Finley started For The Love of Cake in a small loft studio in June 2008, and recently enrolled in the school’s I Wish I Could Paint class to further improve her cake artistry.

In 2009, Genevieve opened her first retail location in Liberty Village, offering up Toronto’s first filled cupcakes and unique ‘mancake’ flavours while making headlines and garnering international attention.

In 2010, Genevieve’s husband Adam joined the team full time, heading up customer service with Genevieve focusing on producing delicious works of edible art. For The Love of Cake has quickly become one of Toronto’s go-to bakeries for tasty and extraordinary custom novelty cakes.

Since opening, Genevieve has been featured on Roger’s Cable “Start Something Big!”, The Cooking Network’s “Best in Chow”, Breakfast Television, W Network’s “Double Wedding” and has competed on Slice Network’s “Cake Walk”. Her cakes have been featured in numerous wedding magazines within Canada, the “Extreme Cakes” calendar along side some of the top US cake designers and in the Huffington Post and Reddit.

Genevieve can also proudly say that she is the only person to have ever made a cake for the son of Buddy Valastro, other than the Cake Boss himself. The team at For The Love of Cake have also created cakes and cupcakes for Katy Perry, U2, Dr. Jane Goodall, Elisha Cuthbert, Queen, Snow, Tia and Tamera Mowry, Howie Mandel, Drake, the entire Breakfast Television cast and Jose Bautista.

Adam, Genevieve and their team look forward to many more years to come of pleasing everyone with their mouth watering recipes and eye catching creations.

Visit For the Love of Cake to find the perfect cake for your next event!

Read about a geode wedding cake that Genevieve created at the Toronto Star.


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image1ARAS instructor Sadko Hadzihasanovic’s first animated movie Bee Boy (directed and edited by Hanna Jovin) is in the official program at the Banja Luka 2016 International Animated Film  Festival, October 23-28th, Bosnia and Hercegovina.



Read an essay about the movie by Gary M. Dault below:


Although Sadko Hadzihasanovic’s animated film, Bee Boy, is only 45 seconds long, it required 400 of the artist’s painstaking, minutely sequential drawings to make it.  An animated film, however charming, is a very inefficient visual engine, with a prodigious, gluttonous appetite for content.

Despite its labour-intensive compression—or maybe because of it—Bee Boy, brief in duration, long in suggestibility—is arguably that oxymoronic thing, a miniature epic.

As a virtuoso painter and draftsman, Hadzihasanovic, is not normally a filmmaker; he produced and “drew” this film, however, which his daughter, Hanna Jovin, directed and edited.  He notes the film may have been partly prompted by his admiration for the graphic piquancy of the short animated films of South African artist William Kentridge (see, for example, his 9 Drawings for Projection).  But he also cites a more direct source for the film—a story inspired by something that befell his father.

Hadzihasanovic says that in 1939, in Bihac, Bosnia, when his father was only six years old, he was playing in the garden when, as unlikely as it sounds, a swarm of bees suddenly descended onto the unsuspecting boy’s head.  His plight alarmed  what Hadzihasanovic refers to as “a man from the mosque” (one longs to know what man and what mosque) who quite sensibly yelled for help—which came quickly in the form of the boy’s grandmother, who valiantly smoked away the swarm with her billowing cigarette.

But what Hadzihasanovic has constructed here is not just a vivid family anecdote or an amusing / appalling shard of the inner mnemonic landscape.  Bee Boy—despite its radical storytelling economy (or because of it)—has all the clarifying force of a moral tale.  It’s a miniscule story about bravery, about courage, is it not?  Or foolhardiness (but how could the boy have suspected there’d be bees?)?  Or bravado?  Mostly, I think it’s about hubris.

     Hubris, the exhilarating state of rising above oneself.  Here, as the film begins, is Hadzihasanovic’s father-to-be, walking briskly away from the viewer, heading

confidently—perhaps over-confidently—to a waiting chair (and a not very stable-looking chair at that) and beginning to clamber up onto it—a climb made up of equal parts uncertainty and determination.

One of the things I love about this masterful little film is the way Hadsihasanovic’s animated line boils and roils and percolates and pulses, becoming a convincing graphic outering and uttering of the boy’s tremulousness itself, of his gleeful, risky will.  This continually frenetic agitation of the line may well be a normal low-tech by-product of the way animated films like this are made.  Nevertheless, the effect of the constantly throbbing line is to generate in the viewer an inescapable sense of the boy’s self-appointed high-pressure, high-anxiety state.  We behold what he enacts—and even what he feels.

Having attained the chair (which is as shaky as he is), the boy carefully stands up on it—a growing smile of accomplishment on his face—and turns proudly (and carefully) to face the viewer.  This is as triumphant a moment as first climbing Everest must have been.  The boy climbs the chair because it is there.  He over-reaches himself.  But perhaps his pride, honestly enough earned, is nevertheless too excessive, too provocative, not to have angered certain malevolent bee-gods.

The bees come out of nowhere.  They descend like the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute.  Their maelstrom-like, vortex-like swarming is represented by lines of a different, rougher, scarier texture than the boy’s lines or the chair’s lines.  These bees are not honey-giving, living lozenges of sweetness and light.  These bees are tough and angry.  Their swarming defeats the boy, obliterates, obfuscates, overwhelms him.  The swarm overwhelms us too, filling and blackening the screen.  All the puerile bravery in the world cannot prevail against this other-worldly  descent.

The film thus offers us an innocence we can understand (a beatitude of courage and self-possession), and then threatens it with a disturbing, almost extra-terrestrial inexplicability we cannot understand.   The juxtaposition of the two is funny, sad, whimsical and really terrifying.

 — Gary Michael Dault

August 24, 2016     

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Cavan Plein Air Festival


Instructor Sam Paonessa (Essentials in Landscape Painting, I Wish I Could Paint) recently participated in the Cavan Plein Air Festival and won an award for his painting, pictured above.

For many years Sam has traveled and painted plein air landscapes in North America and Italy. He is a founding member of Plein Air Canada and is a member of the Ontario Plein Air Society and the Ontario Society of Artists.

Other notable recognition includes a Quick Draw 1st prize in 2007 and 2nd prize in the 2006 International Plein Air Painters Annual Paint Out and an honourable mention in the oil category in 2005.

View Sam’s work at his website.

Sam (right) with other winners.

Profile of Anna Nenoiu, ARAS student

Anna Nenoiu is a Romanian Born hair and makeup artist with Page One Management (P1M) and Vanity Fair Vienna, and is attending our new Classical Painting Techniques course this fall.

Anna trained in Europe and attended York University for Fine Arts, and later moved to Los Angeles to work with BMG Music, where she became personal makeup artist to Dolph Lundgren.

Says Anna,

Beauty is in everyone. Sometimes it only takes a bit of paint and a few brush strokes to emphasize what is already there or what’s been forgotten. My most rewarding work to date has been with the Look Good Feel Better campaign where I had the immense pleasure and opportunity to teach cancer patients a few tricks of the trade to help them cope with their struggles during their brave battle for life. As a makeup artist, nothing has been more humbling or fulfilling. […] Colour mixing and understanding the anatomy is a highly valuable skill of a makeup artist. However, a lot of the knowledge comes with experience, practice, taking chances and being exposed to and open to different environments and situations.

She is known for editorial spreads in magazines (including Bazaar Thailand, American Vogue and FASHION) and advertising campaigns for brands like Armani and Garnier. Anna has worked with many celebrity clients, and photos from her adventures can be seen on her Instagram account @annanenoiu, where she recently featured a piece from her painting class at the school.

Anna’s editorial collaborations have been featured nationally and internationally in Flare, FASHION, ELLE Canada, Schön!, Vouge, DarkBeauty, Glow, Harper’s Bazaar Thailand, Clear, Russian Elle, Plaza, Noblesse, InStyle, and New York Moves.

Nenoiu’s celebrity clientele includes Lady Gaga, Robin Thicke, The Pussycat Dolls, Carmen Electra, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Carly Rae Jepsen, Greta Gerwig, Sarah Gadon, Selma Blair, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Nickelback, Fall Out Boy, Brooke Shields, Lights, Fefe Dobson, Dan Aykroyd, Paul Anka, All American Rejects, Patrick Adams, Hayden Christensen, and the late Ray Charles.

We look forward to seeing the artwork that Anna’s time at the school produces, and hope it helps to expand her creativity and career!

Follow Anna on Twitter and Snapchat @AnnaNenoiu, and visit Page One Management (P1M) to see makeup and hair by Anna!

A sampling of Anna’s work can be seen below:
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