Monday, April 4, 2011

The Development of Emily Carr.

A few weeks before she returned to Victoria, Emily left Gibb to study in another French seaside town, Concarneau with her only woman teacher, an artist named Frances Hodgkins. The two women had a lot in common. Hodgkins too, was escaping the conservative art community in her native New Zealand. She was single, about Emily's age, loved animals and the French countryside, had painted the native Maori's of New Zealand , and supported herself with teaching, and painting. The two women were also similar in temperment; both had a keen sense of humour and a caustic temper. Each had also turned down a suiter to pursue her commitment to being an artist.

With Gibb, Emily had painted strictly in oils. Now Hodgkins a superb teacher and brilliant watercolourist insisted Emily return to the watercolours she had been using in Canada. Under the direction of Frances Hodgkins, Emily did not revive her old muted palette but adopted her new teacher's Fauve bright colours. She also used to learn as Hodgkins did a strong dark outline to outline forms, and to paint the large features of a scene without getting distracted by detail. For the first time, Emily moved into the realm of 'modern' art by painting how a scene affected her, rather then trying to transcribe a literal picture. It was an important breakthrough and something she had been striving for.

Before she left Paris in the fall of 1911, two of Emily's paintings were hung in the Salon d'Automne, a prestigious salon for new, modern, artists. This was the same exhibit that introduced the Cubists - Matisse, Jouran, Leger, Rouault and Valminck - to the art world. Emily's two small paintings aroused little notice but it was an important validation. She went home proud of her developing style and how her art had grown and been acknowledged in France. More, her exposure to the radical artists and art ideas she met in France showed her that defiance could be an acceptable part of an artist's career. This would make her stronger for what was to come.

Emily Carr, Rebel Artist by Kate Braid. pp.66-67. Quest Library. Montreal PQ. 2,000ad. ISBN: 0-9683601-6-5.
Also: The Canadian Encyclopedia. Please click here.

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