From accountants to art teachers, novices to semi-professionals, students of every stripe can be found taking fine arts courses through continuing education in Toronto.
“We do get some people who are actually artists, but, for the most part, people are taking it out of general interest,” says Munir Noormohamed, chair of the fine arts program at George Brown College. “It’s a great way for people who have nine-to-five jobs to do something different in the evenings or on the weekends.”
Students can choose from nearly three dozen courses at George Brown, ranging from the ever-popular foundation design and drawing courses to newer additions, such as sculpting, mural painting and children’s book illustration.
Noormohamed says the majority of the students will eventually apply their courses toward one of four fine arts certificates offered at the school: Drawing, introductory fine arts, painting or sculpture.
One such student is Jamie Lynch, who graduated from the college’s full-time graphic design program in 1995. Now working in digital media in the newspaper publication industry, he returned to George Brown four years ago to hone his talents in the more creative side of arts and design.
“I’m doing it because I love art and I like to paint,” says Lynch, who recently had some of his artwork displayed at the Steam Whistle Gallery. “You can learn off every artist, (so) it’s nice to be in a room with people who have the same interest.”
Lynch is also looking forward to the opening of a separate fine arts building at George Brown later this year, a move that will give part-time students the option of attending day classes.
Sheridan College offers its own unique set of drawing and painting courses, which students can apply toward a certificate in fine arts.
One of the school’s most popular courses is landscape painting with Len Aguanno, says program co-ordinator John Parker. In warmer weather, instructor Aguanno will take his students out to various locations around the Oakville campus for outdoor lessons. “They might drive down a country road — there could be farm animals, could be cows — and they’ll sit and they’ll draw,” says Parker.
As with George Brown, most of Sheridan’s fine arts students are people looking for an outlet to explore their creativity, says Parker.
“We’ve got accountants who are learning to draw because they’ve been working with numbers all day,” he says. “(When) drawing a human figure or a still life, they find it so rewarding because it’s so different from number crunching.”