A new online project hopes to expand Canadians' knowledge of homegrown artists beyond familiar names like Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.

The recently launched Canadian Online Art Book Project, the inaugural initiative of Toronto-based Art Canada Institute, will publish six to 12 art e-books a year for the next five years.

"We want to tell the story of our nation's art history, bringing audiences closer to our extraordinary artists — some of whom are world-renowned and others who aren't yet household names but should be — in a smart, accessible format, designed for expanding online audiences," said Sara Angel, the institute's founding executive director.

Each volume will be available in English and French, written in an accessible, welcoming format by leading Canadian art experts, filled with images of major works and focus on either the life of an important Canadian artist or a key theme or topic in Canadian art history.

Artworks previously hidden away in vaults or perhaps able to be seen only at specific galleries will be shared much more widely via these digital art books, which will be available for free download from the Art Canada Institute website.

In the attached video, Angel and other institute contributors discuss the new project.

The first few titles in the series look at London, ON.-based Jack Chambers (who in the 1960s was Canada's highest-paid artist), Toronto's Kathleen Munn (who was much celebrated in her day and showed her works alongside the Group of Seven) and Michael Snow.

"I think any discussion of the arts is valuable. Extending it to not only books and magazines but into other mediums is really a wonderful thing," said Snow, the acclaimed Toronto-based contemporary artist.

Paul-Émile Borduas, Emily Carr, Harold Town, Paul Kane and Joyce Wieland are among the artists to be featured in upcoming ACI e-book titles.