Saturday, October 31, 2009

Meet Johannus Boots

I would like to express how important a role my parents played in encouraging my gifts. My father is a talented cabinetmaker and he would love to sculpt in the evenings around the kitchen table. I would sit and watch him and be amazed at how he could transform a block of wood into something so beautiful. I also remember a neighbour showing me a drawing he did of a farm with a driveway that seemed to leap right off the page. It struck me how two lines could show such depth on a flat surface. In 1966, my family immigrated to Canada from Alkmaar Holland.

I was always drawing and when I was sixteen my parents presented me with an airbrush for my birthday (born Nov. 30/1955). I would experiment with friends' motorcycles and soon I was getting work, doing murals and such. This was in the early seventies when customizing vehicles was at its peek. It would dishearten me however, to see my works get damaged or rust away with time and so I turned my creative energy into a more permanent medium, acrylics on canvas.

In the late 70's I attended a commercial art program at Mohawk College in Brantford. This program was offered through Employment Canada. I felt that a certificate would make me more marketable in obtaining a commercial /graphic arts career. After completing the course, I was hired as a spotlight artist with Sears Canada. The job entailed drawing up ideas for promotional displays. It was a great experience however short lived , due to cutbacks. This then lead to the opportunity to open my own art/graphic studio with my brother, Petrus ( and the never wavering support of my parents.

In 1981 Artistik Images was born. We had a small storefront in Bowmanville, Ontario, offering a number of services such as design, portraiture, signs, framing, custom airbrushing on clothing, anything that would pay the bills. When time allowed, I would paint my own work to build a collection of originals so that I could eventually start to attend local art shows and festivals. My expression in my work was highly detailed and somewhat mystical, as I would hide certain things within the paintings that the viewer would slowly come to realize.

In 1988, with the help of Teresa, I began publishing my originals into Limited Edition lithograph prints, which we would sell to galleries but it proved to be much harder than we had anticipated. Galleries were reluctant in taking on an artist's work without a reputable publisher backing him up. So in 1989, I signed up for a three year period with a distributor /agent who helped get my work into 200 galleries throughout Ontario. My creativity was somewhat stifled and compromised, as he would dictate what to paint, since he "knew" what sold. It became a job. He did however introduce me to Judy Smith, a wonderful gallery owner in Toronto (Westmount Gallery). Her 32+ years experience was refreshing and she certainly knew my heart. She helped me by introducing my work to her client base and hosting a number of shows in her gallery. She had clients commission me to do projects for such corporations as Buckley's, Cardinal Courier and the School Bus Operators of Ontario. Eventually my goal was to become self-publishing and distributing, and this dream became a reality.

I reside near Kinmount Ontario and have two children, Symon 21 and Ariah 17 whom have been the subject of many of my paintings.

I feel very fortunate to be able to have a career that is supported by my creative side and to have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people.

Please click this line to visit Johannus's website:

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Driving Inspiration

Most of the time when I am driving the 'perfect painting' rushes past me and I either don't have my sketch book, nor my camera, nor the time to stop to record it.

It wasn't the case this time, as I drove along the north shore of Lake Superior today.

These dramatic scene were perfect for future paintings.

Ottawa Art Association - 2009 Spring Awards

Oil Painting
1. Karen White, 'Shoreline'.
2. David Kearne, 'Laney'.
3. Jay Anderson, 'Art Rock'.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shary Boyle wins $25,000 Iskowitz Prize

Multidisciplinary Toronto artist Shary Boyle, whose live-drawing work has been projected during concerts by musicians such as Feist and Peaches, has won the 2009 Gershon Iskowitz Prize.

The $25,000 prize, awarded by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Iskowitz Foundation, is given to aid the development of a promising Canadian artist.

Boyle, raised in Scarborough and a graduate of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, started showing her work in underground galleries on Queen St. West in Toronto in the 1990s.

Recently, she has attracted attention for her hand-animated projections — which have accompanied performances by Feist, Jens Lekman, Will Oldham, Es and Christine Fellows — as well as for her intricate porcelain figurines.

Her work is multi-disciplinary, including drawing, painting, sculpture and performance and often exploring themes of gender, sex and violence.

Her live-drawing and performance pieces include A Night with Kramers Ergot for the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and Dark Hand and Lamplight, performed with musician Doug Paisley in Brooklyn and L.A. .

Boyle's works often incorporate contemporary takes on myths and archetypes, infused with a touch of the grotesque.

Her porcelain figurines, which are a stunning and sometimes disturbing fusion of the delicate and the grotesque, came out of Boyle's interest in the craft of porcelain lace-draping. She learned the technique by befriending and apprenticing with elderly women in Ontario who use the technique to create more traditional porcelain figurines.

Boyle's porcelain sculptures have been exhibited in solo shows at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Ont.; Toronto's Power Plant; the Space Gallery in London, U.K., among others.

Two porcelain works — To Colonize the Moon and The Rejection of Pluto — were commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario and are exhibited in its permanent collection.

Boyle was a finalist for the Sobey Art Award this year, and her work will tour Canada this fall and next year with the four other finalists. The winner, announced last week, was David Altmejd. Boyle, who is represented by Toronto's Jessica Bradley Art+Projects gallery, was also a semifinalist for the award in 2006.

AGO curator of contemporary art David Moos calls Boyle's work "singularly bold and original" and said she is starting to achieve international prominence.

Her work appears in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Paisley Museum of Art in Scotland and others.

The Iskowitz Prize was established in 1985 by painter Gershon Iskowitz to raise the profile of visual arts in Canada.

Past winners include Mark Lewis, whose films are currently on display at the AGO, and Françoise Sullivan, who will have an AGO exhibit in February 2010.

Reprinted from the Toronto Star. Oct, 27, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Emily Carr: Bluffing Your Way Through a Painting

There is no right or wrong way to paint, except honestly or dishonestly. Honestly is trying for the bigger things, dishonesty is bluffing and getting through a smattering of surface representation with no meaning, made into a design to please the eye.

Source: Hundreds and Thousands, pg 188

Virtual Reality Tour of Ancient Lascaux Caves Art

This virtual tour site takes you on a journey through the Lascaux Caves of Southern France, to see ancient art, which is beleived to be at least 15,000 years old. Simply amazing!

The Story of the caves:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Peterborough Artist Joins Cancer Fight

Murray Henderson is a premier Canadian Sports Artist. That rare breed of painter who paints action pictures that profile famous sports celebrities.

Murray had the world drop out beneath his feet this year when his fifteen year old daughter Courtney, was rushed to Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto where she was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Unfortunately, the situation turned from bad to worse, and the Henderson family lost Courtney this past August. And, so it was with a grieving heart, that Murray decided to use his gift, in Courtney's name, to help fight Lymphoma.

Murray invites you to read his webpage, and to join him as a fellow artist, in his personal and meaningful journey to fight cancer. Please click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Johannus Boots

The Dreaming

Johannus Boots, in 'The Dreaming,' takes us beyond our ordinary lives, into a spiritual world. He blurs the present with the past, and he reminds us that what we have today, was the birthright of people who lived long ago.

In the above painting, we find a beautiful woman of European descent lying asleep with the face of a benign and kindly native man looking over her, like a guiding spirit.

In this work, as in many, Johannus delights in contrasts. His viewers switch back and forth between the temporal and spiritual worlds.

Everything lives and breathes and works in harmony in Johannus Boots' spiritually infused world. The standing woman, for instance, in the work above, becomes one with the tree. Her arms become its branches and she holds the moon abover her in an attitude of reverence. And, the tree, of course, is an ancient symbol of life.

As you journey through many of Johannus Boots' works, you find this theme reoccuring as he presents us with a world where animals, people, and children look mysteriously, from within the shapes of rocks and trees.

Johannus Boots gives us a kinder and more loving, pantheistic world of peace, harmony and natural coexistence.

Please join Johannus by clicking on this line to view his website.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Morriseau Speaks Through His Art

Norval Morriseau was one of a small group of native artists who pioneered a unique native style of painting in Canada. His works featured solid colours, hard lines, and separated areas. This picture, lacks perspective and variety of tonal values. It speaks in a flat language for acceptance for what it is. There are no shades to the realities Morriseau gives us in this work. It has an impressionistic reality of its own, like a huge transfer lifted off a rock petroglyph, then compacted and interwoven.

I find that his art, creates more questions than answers. But then again, I am not native.

It is open ended. Is the snake and the penis one and the same along the trail along the bottom of the picture?

Is there an intentional heirarchy in the work, with the central person being dominant?

Are there symbols and meanings in birds, and snakes that are known only to native shaman?

Or, is the unity and interconnection what its all about and if it is, what really matters beyond this? And if there are only questions and no answers, then is that the answer? Is it an existential statement that it simply exists. No more, no less?

Blog readers are welcome to participate in this discussion posting.

Ballad of Crowfoot

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This film The Ballad of Crowfoot was written, directed and performed by Willie Dunn and produced by Barrie Howells in 1968 for the National Film Board of Canada.

This is not simply an artistically brilliant work, but it features a collection of some of Canada's earliest historical photographs. Many of the photographs of Chief Crowfoot and his braves are artistically powerful.

The film is a little more then 10 minutes long. Viewers are advised to turn off the playlist music at the bottom of this blog for your listening pleasure.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lawren Harris Paintings and Others for Sale in Toronto

St. Patricks Street, Toronto among other famous Canadian paintings on the auction block in November

A stunning private collection of Canadian art worth as much as $8 million is to be auctioned off next month in Toronto, highlighted by Lawren Harris's final oil sketch for his iconic, full-canvas North Shore, Lake Superior - one of the National Gallery of Canada's most treasured paintings.

The collection is being offered from the estate of Helen Band, daughter of late Toronto businessman and arts patron Charles Band. He died in 1969 after acquiring works from major international artists and Canada's own Group of Seven - including his childhood friend, Harris.

Four Harris paintings - including three valued at more than $1 million - are to be sold at a Heffel Fine Art auction on Nov. 26.

The Old Stump, Lake Superior - a sketch version of the identical scene depicted in Harris's famous North Shore, Lake Superior - has a high-end estimate of $2.5 million. Two of his other paintings - Iceberg, Baffin's Bay North and Houses, St. Patrick St. - are each expected to fetch up to $1.6 million. The fourth Harris work, In Buchanan Bay, Ellesmere Island, is valued at between $550,000 and $750,000.

Other notable works among the 15 paintings and sculptures being sold include Frederick Varley's portrait of a reclining woman which is expected to fetch up to $500,000. It is described as "among the very best" creations of Harris's fellow Group of Seven member.

Another Group of Seven "classic," a Lake Superior scene by A.Y. Jackson, is also valued in the $500,000 range.

Twelve works by Harris are among the 37 Canadian paintings that have fetched auction prices of more than $1 million.

Three paintings joined the million-dollar club this year when Emily Carr's Wind in the Treetops ($2.2 million), Tom Thomson's Birches and Cedar, Fall ($1.4 million) and Jean-Paul Riopelle's Jouet ($1.2 million) were sold at a Heffel auction in June.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Capturing the Magic - Ron Morrisson

This is Ron Morrisson at his best. Ron's paintings sparkle with vitality and energy and colour. But, there are many who believe that Ron takes them up a notch when he includes his homebrew stories to go with them.


All righty then, this may take some 'splainin', so bear with me...My grandmother was a Rosicrusian who would tell anybody who would listen that, "when she went, she wanted her ashes spread in her garden." As a precocious child I figured I could untangle this riddle. A Rosicrucian must be some kinda gardener specializing in roses. But where was she going and what did "ashes" have to do with anything? If I'm a nut case its partly her fault, I'm pretty sure. Her husband was a newspaper editor for the old Vancouver Times and an amateur painter. He checked out the week I was born. All through my childhood I looked at two muddy oil paintings that hung above the chesterfield in Granny's livingroom.

My brothers used to ask our dad to draw stuff to illustrate the stories he would cook up for us kids. He couldn't draw worth a lick but he gave it a shot. My brothers were always impressed, but I would look at the drawings and shake my head, the ol' man would grin and that was that. When I would draw something he would show his poker buddies and generally advertise the productions of his oldest kid. Well he packed it in too, leaving the whole outfit shy of male influence. As luck would have it, my grandmother had a brother. In retrospect my great uncle was prolly a full blown loon, that no responsible parent now would let a kid anywhere near. But times were different and I was shipped off to see visit the iconoclastic recluse (that may be redundant, but you get the idea) for weeks at a time during the summer. I would be about ten and his shack was in the interior and it was hot and magical and I learned a lot of stuff that I maybe shouldn't have.
I called him, "Gunk"..a contraction of great uncle. Thing is, the ol boy was sort of a patron of the arts and a polymath and encouraged me to draw and paint. He was an incurable contrarian and encouraged me to question everything as a matter of principle. He had (wait for it, you can see it coming) wrecked cars and junk and told me what they were and how they got to his yard. I loved the idea of the junkers and the designs, colours and history...I was hooked.Gunk sent me supplies, books and encouragement until he joined the rest of the crowd up above (I hope). He lived to see my first big junkyard painting and was over the moon about the whole production, somebody else saw what he saw...beautiful junk.
Gunk's real name was Ian Marshall Beaton. An appropriate name for a natural "bad attituder" who didn't see any real future for mankind, yet whose bright light shone on his grand nephew (or whatever I was).

Please click here to visit Ron's website

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Norval Morriseau, Renown Native Artist

Norval Morrisseau
(March 14th, 1931 - December 4th, 2007)
A member of The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (R.C.A.) since 1970, Norval Morrisseau is the celebrated founder of the Woodland Indian School of Art (today called the Anishnaabe art), which revitalized Anishnaabe iconography, traditionally incised on rocks and Midewiwin birchbark scrolls.
A self-taught painter, Norval Morrisseau created an innovative visual vocabulary which was initially criticized in the Native community for its disclosure of traditional spiritual knowledge, previously passed down orally. He acquired his knowledge from his grandfather, Moses ("Potan") Nanakonagos, who taught him about Midewiwin scrolls which provided him with a source of powerful images and meanings.
In 1962 Morrisseau was the first Aboriginal artist to have work shown in a contemporary art gallery (the Pollock Gallery in Toronto), where his bright, stylized images of Windigos, spirit guides, and animals were so well received that he sold all the paintings at the opening night. His colourful, figurative images delineated with heavy black/blue formlines, were characteristically signed with the Cree syllabic spelling of "Copper Thunderbird", the name Medicine woman gave to him aiding his recovery from sickness in his youth.
Norval Morrisseau completed many commissions during his career, including the mural for the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo '67. He was presented with the Order of Canada (O.C.) in 1978, and in 1980 honourary doctorates from McGill and McMaster Universities. In 1989 he was invited, as the only Canadian painter, to exibit at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris to mark the bicentennial of the French Revolution. In 1995 he was awarded with the Eagle Feather (the highest honour awarded by the the Assembly of First Nations). In 1996 he was appointed Grand Shaman of the Ojibway and in 2005 he was elected to the ranks of The Royal Society of Canada (R.S.C.).
The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa had in 2006 a major retrospective of his works: "Norval Morrisseau - Shaman Artist" - the first solo exhibition featuring a First Nations artist in its 126-year history.
Morrisseau, who had been living in Nanaimo, British Columbia, died at General Hospital in Toronto on December 4th, 2007.
1 - The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts is one of Canada’s most enduring cultural institutions is comprised of members in over twenty visual arts disciplines from across Canada.
2 - The Royal Society of Canada (The Canadian Academy of the Sciences and Humanities) is the senior national body of distinguished Canadian scientists and scholars. Its primary objective is to promote learning and research in the arts and sciences. The Society consists of approximately 1700 Fellows: men and women from across the country who are selected by their peers for outstanding contributions to the natural and social sciences and in the humanities.
Please check the Norval Morriseau website.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Anne Hudec, Victoria BC, Watercolourist

Anne Hudec was born in Kingston, Ontario, the youngest of four children, and only daughter. Being of a military family, she spent her childhood living and travelling across Canada. Although she excelled at art in school, she shelved her creativity to pursue a career in the financial sector.

Upon returning to Victoria in 1988, she met her husband and best friend Alvin, who encouraged her to cultivate her love of art. Travel outside of Canada inspired her to take up photography to capture the fleeting sights she was experiencing during these journeys. Although the photography was satisfying, she felt that some of the images beckoned for a different interpretation. She turned to watercolours to realize this desire.

Anne’s subject matter came naturally to her, as she was repeatedly drawn to the statuary she encountered during her travels, whether they were located in parks, castle gardens, on buildings, bridges or in cemeteries. Her painting style was influenced by her exposure to British watercolourists of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and the sensitivity, colouration and symbolism portrayed in the works of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Anne enjoys painting in her home studio in Victoria, BC, Canada. In March 2008 she was elected to Signature Status (AFCA) with the Federation of Canadian Artists. She regularly exhibits her paintings through various juried art shows in the region. Her works can be found in collections in Austria, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Germany, Grand Cayman, Italy, Japan and the USA.

Please visit Anne's website:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lawren Harris on the Group of Seven

This CBC radio documentary features Lawren Harris, a member of the art group the Canadian Seven, who talks about the history of art in Canada and the place of the group within the Canadian art scene.

Harris's talk was given at the Vancouver Art Gallery to an appreciative audience.

Broadcast date: April 9, 1954.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

St. Mary's Lake, by A.C. Leighton

This is the kind of painting that resulted in AC Leighton becoming an artist for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Scenes of wherever their tracks went, became posters and were displayed on train coaches, and in railroad stations and magazines. They inspired people to travel - and to visit Canada from abroad.

This painting reflects, Leighton's English watercolour background. While the scene is beautiful, its colours are muted and the power and grandeur of the Rockies is only one step removed from the hills and the lake country of northern England.

Leighton paints with a restricted palette. This is a picture of blues and browns and with a reduced middle range of light values. This constriction has sensory and emotional consequences. The edges of emotion are rubbed out...almost mistified, and indeed, almost mystified. And, this is the power of the painting. St. Mary's lake reaches across the globe into travel offices and its neutralized, dreamlike quality suggests that there is beauty to be seen, beyond the horizon, and this beauty is untrammeled by wires and crowds, and that this beauty is available if you let the Canadian Pacific Railrroad take you there.

Leighton's art can be seen in Glenbow Museum in Calgary, and at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, in Banff, Alberta.

Please visit:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vincent by Don McLean

Viewers of this thread may wish to disengage playlist music at the bottom of the blog.

I've included this entry in the blog, because it presents viewers with a magnficent collection of Van Gogh's works. Many of Emily Carr's supporters, drew a parallel between her paintings and his.

Angela Fehr: BC Artist. Why Artists Want to Paint Loosely

Watercolour: Silent Beauty by Angela Fehr.

"I'm thinking that non-artists must wonder what artists are talking about when we strive for looseness in painting. I'm right in thinking this isn't just a watercolorist's goal, aren't I? What's that saying about holding precious things loosely? I'm sure there's a lifestyle quote along those lines...anyhow, just like that single friend of mine who never gets a date because she tries too hard, in art when you choke up on the brush and paint with gritted teeth, aiming for perfection, you squash creativity and kill a painting.

I'm not knocking realism in painting - I love realistic detail. But the best realism is painted with a gentle hand, and frequently isn't truly realistic - when you get up close you realize that your eye has been fooled into filling in detail that is only suggested by the artist's brush. Loosening up frees creativity. When I find I am painting too "tight" it is because I have become a slave to something - the reference photo, the "rules" of watercolor, the attempt to paint like someone. I admire instead of following my own path, even the desire to make a painting important - sale-worthy or competition-ready. All of these things choke out freedom and spontaneity. A few tricks I have found that encourage me to greater looseness in my work:"

Trying a new technique, medium or surface. This week's exercise in yupo has captivated me and I am freshly excited by what I can do.

Studying two (or more) very different artists. Observing artists who paint loosely in watercolour, artists who paint chunky textured abstracts and artists who have thrown out the rules and are using their medium in a new way makes me want to throw caution to the wind and try seeing and painting in a new way too.


Freeing myself not to care about the end result. Repeat after me: "This is just a sketch." When I take the pressure off of having a perfect painting outcome, I can experiment and accumulate skills and knowledge for the next big painting - or maybe my sketch will turn into my next painting sale - what matters is letting go.

Please visit Angela's Website:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reminscence by Anne Hudec

Reminiscence by Anne Hudec

For over a century
These Statues have observed
The joys and sorrows of countless individuals
Who have passed beneath them.
They are the silent witnesses
To the struggles of mankind.

When asked why she would choose to paint statues, Anne says:

"My subject matter of 19th century statues is admittedly uncommon. However, over the years I have become even more aware of their haunting beauty. These ubiquitous figures found throughout Europe are seemingly viewed with indifference. They fall victim to the forces of nature, abuse, vandalism and neglect. For me the charm increases with their natural weathering. Covered with a patina, lichen, or moss, their beauty, texture, and colouration are enhanced. My goal is to infuse them with human emotion to create a personal connection with the viewer."

These poignant words can be found before entering Anne's watercolour gallery called 'statuettes', on her website:

Want to become a successful Painter: No Problem. Paint for 10,000 hours and you might make it. Interview with Malcolm Gladwell - the Outliers

Artists often say that it takes 200 paintings to make it. Malcolm Gladwell advances the theory that it takes 10,000 hours of hard work to programme the brain to reach advanced levels of achievement in any pursuit. When translated into actual time, that would take 4 hours a day for 10 years.

I have spoken to several artists, who seem unable to describe how they manage to paint so succesfully. They just do it! Not only that, but many artists are uncomfortable talking about their art process.

Could it be that once they have banked up the 10,000 hours it takes to become a sophisticated acheiver, that the brain's reservoir of repeated experiences and judgements slides into overdrive and takes over and that there is a minimum of analysis that goes into painting? Could it be that most artists, don't fully understand this dynamic of painting....or it becomes almost mechanical?

How important is 10,000 hours for us becoming a skilled artist? Gladwell argues that it is absolutely critical if we want to become highly accomplished.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation,
George Stroumboulopoulos,'The Hour',and video on You Tube.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Winnipeg Artist, Andrew Valko Wins Kingston Arts Award

Personal Surveillance by Andrew Valko

Winnipeg artist Andrew Valko has won the $10,000 Kingston Prize for portraiture, a national award given by the City of Kingston, Ont.

Valko won Thursday night with his painting Personal Surveillance, an image of a young man turning a video camera on himself, apparently in a darkened room.

The jury hailed the work for its subtlety and intriguing qualities. The three jurors were Eliza Griffiths, an assistant professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Robert Enright, an art critic and professor at the University of Guelph, and Lily Koltun, former director of the Portrait Gallery of Canada.

Valko was one of 30 finalists selected in July from 471 entries.

Czech-born Valko trained at Red River College in Winnipeg and studied woodblock printing in Japan.

Valko is known for his photo-realist paintings, many of them dimly lit or night scenes, which make seemingly mundane scenes seem disquieting.

He often explores themes from contemporary culture, including motels and drive-in movies.

The jury also chose two paintings for honourable mention: Anuta in Blue by Allan MacKay of Kitchener, Ont. and Distraction by Fiona Ackerman of Vancouver.

Portraits created by the 30 finalists will be on display at the Grand Theatre in Kingston until Oct. 25 and will also have showings in Wolfville, N.S., Toronto and Calgary.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
please see:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet James Houston - the man who brought Unuit art south

James Houston : 1921-2005

James Houston is often called the man who introduced Inuit art to the world

Exerpt from the Obituary of Artist James Houston.

"After spending five years serving with the Toronto Scottish Regiment during the Second World War, Houston briefly studied in Paris before deciding to travel to the Canadian Arctic for artistic inspiration. He made his first contact with the Inuit in 1948, when they showed him their carvings. He lived among them for the next 14 years and became a civil administrator for west Baffin Island. "

Houston became a major proponent of Inuit arts and culture, introducing stone, ivory and bone carvings created by local artists to the Canadian Guild of Crafts, the federal government, the Hudson's Bay Company and, eventually, the world.

In addition to creating glass and sculptural art, Houston was a documentary filmmaker and author of numerous award-winning novels and children's books about the Inuit people and their stories. His White Dawn was adapted for film in 1974.

For the last 43 years of his life, he worked as a designer at New York City's Steuben Glass Company, where he introduced the use of gold, silver and other precious metals into the company's glass sculptures.

In 1974, Houston was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for acting as a representative of Inuit artists and craftspeople and, in 1997, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society awarded him its Massey Medal.

In 1981, Houston's son John opened the Houston North Gallery in Lunenburg, N.S. – the province where his mother, Houston's first wife, Alma, who was also an advocate of Inuit art, was born.

It was James desire to have half his remains stay with his family in Stonington, Conn., and the other half scattered over the hills of Cape Dorset off Baffin Island.

A memorial celebration was planned for Mystic Seaport, a historical museum region located 16 kilometres east of New London."

Please see the following source sites:
Canadian Broadcasting Corportion
Note the video on the right side of the page

The Canadian Encyclopedia

Monday, October 12, 2009

Frank Haddock, Edmonton Artist

Frank received his BFA at the University of Alberta in 1984. He has been working solidly in the world of art since then. As well as maintaining an active studio career and operating his own art school - the ARTRA Art School. Frank has been teaching for more than 20 years. He also teaches at Grant MacEwan Community College and several other cultural centres in Alberta. His work is shown throughout Western Canada and is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. One of his watercolours was included in the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour exhibition that appeared at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria several years ago.

His work has been seen in “Galleries West Magazine”, “Edmonton Women’s Magazine”, and “Watercolour Artist Magazine (June 2009 issue)”.

Frank Haddock is a versatile artist who works in any painting medium with ease. His works are characteristically illuminated by a strong light source that gives his art "an inner life and energy". Frank's artwork often focuses on the human figure upon which he arranges a cascade of light that produces interesting arrangements of shapes and colours. The result is a character study that has the spontaneous spirit of a moment caught in time. The freshness of this moment is often complemented by a gentle, unfocused background almost creating a dreamlike atmosphere. In other paintings he intensifies the light by contrasting bright surfaces with dark backgrounds.

Frank's love of drawing and painting comes through in his art courses where he eagerly demonstrates for his students. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of any course with Frank is his dazzling demonstrations! He easily works on images that students bring to class as well as the images he plans to show his students.

Frank started his exploration of art when he was a child. Soon after being shown a simple drawing by his mother he decided that creating images was the job for him. Frank has studied and explored art in many mediums over the years. He has worked in the commercial art field as well as exhibiting art in many art galleries in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. His work has been seen in “Galleries West Magazine”, “Edmonton Women’s Magazine”, and “Watercolour Artist Magazine (June 2009 issue)”.

Please visit Frank's website:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Exploring the Spiritual Link between Georgia O'Keeffe, Emily Carr, and Lawren Harris by Jim Kalnin

North Shore, Lake Superior, Lawren Harris

The western art tradition of spiritually focused landscape painting, of which Paterson Ewen would be an unintentional and reluctant contributing member goes back far before his time. It really started with the Romantics in 18th century Europe and evolved from their idyllic views of nature. After several subsequent art revolutions, it now includes a wide and still growing range of styles and sensibilities. Almost everyone in the western world has watched golden rays of sunlight breaking through dark clouds and has associated that light with heaven. We see other aspects of the world as spiritual metaphors as well. Lofty mountains are enduring and uplifting dark forests symbolize mystery, flowing rivers and flowering trees represent the source of all life. These are just a few of the parallels drawn by artists in many cultures and especially by those who live where wilderness is a large part of life.

Paterson Ewen's predecessors purposefully explored these metaphors in their life from different points of view. Some rendered trees and mountains as minimal essential forms in order to present the essence of life. These artists managed to create a powerful sense of presence in the way they painted.

Georgia O'Keeffe's painting of flowers and bleached bones and Emily Carr's dark forests are good examples of this. Carr's dark and lyrical forests are alive with spirit. They fill me with the same sense of reverence I get from walking in a real west coast rain forest. like the ones that inspired her. O'Keeffe's minimalist painting of bleached bones and cactus flowers bring a similar sense of awe of walking in a southwest desert as well as the understanding of the interconnectiveness of all things.

Lawren Harris, a contemporary of Carr's also painted the landscape in simplified and stylized forms that could inspire a sense of spirit or grace. His austere paintings of icebergs, mountaintops, or bare rock hills are full of spirit and life. Almost all religions incorporate the tree of life as a condiut between the physical plane of existence and the source of all life. Harris's painting North Shore, Lake Superior, continues this tradition in a surprising way, using as his subject a tree stump.

Text: The Spirituality of Art,
Essay Two: Art as Sacerdos pg. 39-40
Essayist: Jim Kalnin
Publishers:North Stone Publishing Co., Kelowna, BC.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Painting like a Mongrel: by Emily Carr is climbing and striving for something, not a bundle of 'rules', nor a bundle of 'feels' or taking another man's ideas, and tacking them onto that man's ideas and making a mongrel idea and calling it my own. It is seeing dimly beyond, and with eyes straight ahead in a beeline, marching right up to the dim thing. You'll never quite catch up. There will always be a beyond. It would be terrible to catch up - the end of everything. Oh God, let me never catch up till I die. Let me always be feeling up and out, and beyond and beyond into eternity.

text: Hundreds and Thousands, the journals of Emily Carr
pg. 155

When Magic Happens

The Mount Arises - Fredericks

I sat in MacDonalds yesterday afternoon enjoying coffee with a friend. As we talked, I made some space at the table, and slid a couple of my 9x12 watercolours out of a plastic bag as a launching pad for our afternoon art talk.

Don examined the pictures and looked at me. "What do you want me to do?" I was surprised by his comment for I had anticipated him to strike the match under a lively critiquing session. But Don was interested in bigger game. He had his eyes set on my overall direction in art and his questions were both probing and challenging.

"Do you know what I would suggest, he asked?"

I looked, with puzzled eyes at him.

" I would take a smaller mat, and scan over them to see if I could find an interesting picture within the larger picture and I would paint that smaller picture, again and again and then watch what happens, for each time you paint a picture your comfort level increases, you work the flaws out of it. And as your comfort level develops, you aren't thinking so much on what you are doing. and then your right brain kicks in."

He leaned back, gave his coffee a little swirl and continued. "After that you will find that you become more relaxed and happier in what you are doing, and this is when magic takes place."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lawren Harris in 1961 Television Interview with Percy Saltzman

Here we fnd Percy Saltzman interiewing 75 year old Lawren Harris. He discusses his own background as an artist, and as a member of the Group of Seven. Saltzman asks Harris if the thought of dying scares him. Harris touches lightly on Theosophy.

The group was not an organized group, and there was no head of the group or collaboration on their art.

Percy Saltzman challenges him on his stylistic move into abstraction, by saying that abstract art "doesn't relate to people and their experiences." Harris, gives a thoughtful, examination of himself as an abstractionist. Saltzman persists and says, that someone called abstraction a nightmare of geometry.

"99% of present day painting is going down the drain, says Harris..........but this is no different then any other age."

appx 20 minutes

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Clive Powsey receives D..L Stevenson Award, for painting 'Grocery'.

Clive Powsey, of Cumberland, BC, was the recipient of the D.L. Stevenson Award, at the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour Annual Juried Exhibition at The Leighton Centre for the Arts, in Calgary, Alberta.

Please visit Clife's webpage at:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Edmonton Artist: Frank Haddock in Watercolor Artist Magazine

Spanish Red

Frank Haddock is a versatile artist who works in any painting medium with ease. His works are characteristically illuminated by a strong light source that gives his art "an inner life and energy". Frank's artwork often focuses on the human figure upon which he arranges a cascade of light that produces interesting arrangements of shapes and colours. The result is a character study that has the spontaneous spirit of a moment caught in time. The freshness of this moment is often complemented by a gentle, unfocused background almost creating a dreamlike atmosphere. In other paintings he intensifies the light by contrasting bright surfaces with dark backgrounds.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

AC Leighton, Painter of the Rockies

AC (Alfred Crocker Leighton) emigrated to Canada in 1924, at the age of 23. He was hired by the Canadian Pacific Railway to paint scenes which enamoured Canada to the rest of the world. And, no area in Canada seized the imagination of people at home and abroad as the Rocky Mountains. The CPR, provided Leighton with accommodation and food in return for first rights of purchase of his paintings. Leighton's imagination was seized by the Rocky mountains and in 1933 he established the visual arts programme for the Banff School of Fine Arts. Leighton's health began to fail him when he was about 35 years of age and he returned to England. He returned to Canada prior to WW2, and moved to Vancouver Island, and for a time he lived in California. He died at the age of 64, leaving one of the most visual records of the Canadian Rockies, ever painted at that time.

Collections of his works can be seen in the following museums:
Glenbow Museum, Calgary:
The Whyte Museum of Banff, Alberta.

Source: Terry Fenton:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Artists here, Artists there....Art and Artists Everywhere?

I heard a singer on the radio the other day call himself a recording artist. Language has changed a lot over the years. For instance, long ago, the word 'concert' was reserved for describing classical music venues. It seemed almost profane the first time I heard the word being applied to rock music shows. Now it seems that everyone is an artist.

I leave you with a question. Is a singer who was born with a God given, natural voice but who lacks the talent to creatively write music, and lacks the poetic and linquistic skills to create beautiful lyrics for verse and song, an artist? Or is he/she simply a good singer.

How far can we stretch the meaning of this beautiful word which dominates our lives? Does proliferation of the word somehow diminish our labour and effort to uniquely interpret our world? I have heard artists describe their paintings as their "babies". And, this so appropriately describes the creative, birthing, process which seems to me what art is about.

Quality Speaks for Itself: Paintings by Jia Lu

You've got to see it to believe it. Jia Lu emigrated from China to Canada and from Canada to California, where she now resides in Los Angeles. Her website describes her art:

“Just as the Himalayas were once ocean floor, so all things change in an endless cycle,” says the artist. “Life is merely a part of this grand transformation. Yet there is a part of us that continues unchanged through all these changes: a soul, a divine spark, a portion of the eternal we carry within us forever.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dr. Salem Bland, by Lawren Harris

It is unusual to find a portrait painting by Group of Seven member, Lawren Harris.   This painting of Dr. Salem Bland is, however one such painting, which has been found online.

This is a picture with few compromises. The flat background, the black clergical gown, the contrasting white clergical collar, the steel grey-white hair the severely sculptured beard and the strong, squared jaw give Dr. Bland a rather doctrinal, black and white view of life.

Bland's face lacks any trace of a smile. His features from his eyes down are drawn and tight and his beard is precisely trimmed.

I find myself looking at the backlighting behind Bland, and wondering if I don't see subdued suggestions of a halo effect?

But there is more. Harris's genius in this is in his ability to turn Bland into a man we can empathize with. Dr. Bland looks at the world with tremendous compassion and gentleness. His eyes are questioning and they suggest that he has been weeping or is at least, near to tears from the matter of human sin and suffering.

Dr. Bland, has a high intellectual forehead and cerebral dome, which phrenologists say befits a man of great intellect.

The statements made by this painting, are perhaps best seen by looking at Lawren Harris's theological viewpoint. Dr. Salem Bland, suggests that Harris is presenting a theosophistic statement against the doctrinal position of conservative, protestant, Christianity, for Harris was a Theosophist.

I won't expand upon this for I don't wish to use the blog as a forum for religious points of view, so you may wish to learn more about Theosophism on Wikipedia.

But, viewed in this context, Harris is following the footsteps of a legion of artists who have gone before him and who have used their art as a vehicle for making religious statements.

Wikipedia provides a good insight into the life of Dr. Bland. He was a foremost believer in the social gospel and his life was marked by many valued contributrions to humanity and to the ministry. Dr. Bland served in the Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, and United Church of Canada, after church union.

As producer of the Portrait of the Visual Arts in Canada, I wish to thank Mr. Jonathan Cameron for the comments he sent 'The Portrait'. I took Mr.Cameron's advice and found an excellent article on Dr. Bland.
All things considered, I decided that this entry required some rewriting to set the matter about Dr. Bland straight for the record. And, I extend my apologies to family members who were related to Dr. Bland.

 If you click on the Wikipedia link you will learn more about his contributions and life in the ministsry.  Please click here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Antoine de St-Exupery on Perfection:

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away".

Canadian Artist, Ice Bear (Chris Johnson) at his Dallas Exhibition

I have not chosen art, the painting and sculpture. It is a task, a responsibility if you will, given me by the Creator from birth. As a small child removed from home and family, speaking no English and placed in foster care in Toronto, drawing was often my primary means of communication. The elders of my people, whom I met for the first time a few years ago, tell me that even as a toddler, I drew. I am, they say, what the Anishinabe call a Dreamer.

You can find Ice Bear art at these fine galleries:
British Columbia,
CRS Trading Post, Brittannia Beach,BC
Coastal Carvings, Coombs,BC
Eagle Feather Gallery, Victoria, BC
House of the Spirit Bear, Vancouver, BC
Oak Leaf Gallery, Chemainus, BC
Sooke Harbour House, Sooke, BC
Turtle Island Gallery, Kelowna BC
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre Whistler,BC

Elsewhere in Canada
Wah-sa Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Whetung Gallery,Curve Lake, Ontario

Agora Gallery, New York
American Indian Art Council, Dallas, TX
Turnbull Studio Gallery, Maui

Ice Bear's website:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Steven Snider, Ontario Artist

I first met Stephen after responding to an advertisement to join his weekly art group in Warkworth, Ontario. Stephen took me into his sketching class, even though my focus was watercolour painting.

Stephen's classes were lively, communicative affairs and loaded with good teaching and lots of laughter.

Stephen knew how to challenge and push buttons. He walked into a zone where most teachers dared not tred, when he took my brush in his hand and demonstrated over top of my artwork.

I was frustrated beyond imagination. I tossed my work down on a sofa, in frustration at my own lack of progress.

On another occasion he whipped a small brush out of my hand and admonished me for its use. But, through it all, Stephen placed my development foremost, and he provided valuable lessons on values of light. Stephen later told me that he had not had any painting student who had such enormous drive to succeed. He has been a supportive friend in art ever since and is generous with advice, encouragment and supportive critiques.

Stephen is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art, in Toronto and he has lived until recently in the picturesque village of Warkworth. His artwork has been used by advertising agencies, businesses, magazines, and the Dept. of National Defence and the War Museum. No surprise, for Stephen had his early sights set on becoming a pilot.

Look for some of Stephen's future works on the blog.

Please check his website:

Fredericks-Artworks Blog, copying policy

The Canadian Copyright act, section 29 reports on fairdealing, that it is not an infringement to reproduce someone else's work for research, study, criticism, review or to report. Which pretty much sums up what this site is about. All content sources, be they artists, printed references, and website url's are respectfully identified on this site. http://http//

Mission Statement
A Portrait of the Visual Arts in Canada, is intended to celebrate the richness of Canada's visual arts, and to promote the arts in Canada.

Statement of Intent
I make every effort to credit the sources of information used in this blog and to obtain the permission and cooperation of all the works presented by living artists. I try, as much as possible to use works from public sources eg. national and provincial collections, of deceased artists. If for any reason, any artist disapproves of anything written about them or their work the artist is encouraged to request withdrawal of the content.