Tuesday, November 30, 2010

William Kurelek - NFB Short Film

The film was produced for the NFB by William Pettigrew, in 1967. Its 10 minutes and 7seconds long. You won't be disappointed for taking the time to see this one.

Please click here.

It is a considerable documentary about the self-taught painter William Kurelek told through his paintings. There are scenes of village life in the Ukraine. the early days of struggle on a prairie homestead and the growing comfort of family life.

Other references:

A profile of painter William Kurelek
. From the Library and Archives of Canada.
William KurelekThis biography of William Kurelek is from the Tundra Books website.
Kurelek’s Vision of CanadaA brief book review about Canadian artist William Kurelek and his art. From the CM Archive.

Monday, November 29, 2010

William Kurelek, a Troubled Artist

The Canadian Encyclopedia online writes:
William Kurelek (Wasyl), painter and writer, evangelist (b near Whitford, Alta 3 Mar 1927; d at Toronto 3 Nov 1977). Influenced by Bosch and Brueghel and by prairie roots, his UKRAINIAN heritage and Roman Catholicism, Kurelek's realistic and symbolic paintings record his historic culture and religious vision. The oldest of 7 children, he was expected to help run the farm. His lack of mechanical aptitude attracted harsh criticism from his father, as did his wish to be an artist. He studied at Winnipeg, Toronto and San Miguel, Mexico. In England (1952-59), he sought psychiatric help and was hospitalized for severe emotional problems, depression and eye pain. He converted to Roman Catholicism (1957), credited God with his healing, and began to paint the Passion of Christ according to St Matthew. This series of 160 paintings is housed in the Niagara Falls Art Gallery and Museum

Returning to Toronto, he was established by the early 1960s as an important painter, alternating realistic works depicting his prairie roots with didactic series. In the 1970s he began to publish his paintings with simple texts. His books for children (A Prairie Boy's Winter, 1973; Lumberjack, 1974; A Prairie Boy's Summer, 1975; and A Northern Nativity, 1976) have become modern classics. His autobiography, Someone With Me (1973, rev ed 1980), ends with his marriage to Jean Andrews (1962). Kurelek was an outstanding artist with a unique idealistic and pragmatic vision. A modern Jeremiah, he painted a coming apocalypse - divine justice on a materialistic, secular society.

Vicki Palmquest, writes in the Children's Literature Network:When William decided to pursue art, his father argued that his son was being lazy—this was something William never forgot.

And on his technique:To create a painting, Mr. Kurelek would apply acrylic or oil paint on a board, outline his images in ballpoint pen, use colored pencils to create texture, and then scratch, scrub or brush the surface for detail. He finished by further outlining details in ballpoint pen.
Please click here to be taken to Kurelek's biography in the Children's Literature Network.

Please click here to be taken to the Kurelek article from the Canadian Encyclopedia.

And for the readers in our blog, you may wish to read:The Ukrainian Pioneer
William Kurelek, 1971-76, acrylic, graphite and pencil on masonite (courtesy NGC). Author Patricia Morley.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bill Lishman's Autohenge

There are plenty of henges based on the vehicle type we often refer to as "a car" - amongst others Carhenge (awesome photograph!) by Jim Reinders, 1987 AD and Dubhenge by the Hugh Jart artist collective that consists solely of Volkswagen cars, 1996 AD. But the first known "Autohenge" was created 1986 AD by William Lishman for the Chrysler tribe company.

Built to the exact same scale as Stonehenge - but probably a bit less heavy despite the cars' iron carcasses - 'Autohenge' surely deserves a place in our top 10.

Sadly enough, Autohenge was destroyed in 2001 AD.

Extracted from 'Unlock the Wonders - Heritage Key'. Please click here to be taken to this unusual site.

Other unusual henge's include, butterhenge, cellphonehenge, doorhenge, computerhenge, tamponhenge among others.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Winnipeg's Daniel Barrow Wins Sobey Art Prize

Winnipeg native Daniel Barrow is the 2010 winner of the $50,000 Sobey Art Award, given annually by a jury to the Canadian it considers the best visual artist in the country under 40 years of age.

Mr. Barrow, 39, prevailed over four other finalists Thursday evening at an awards ceremony at the Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal. Each of the runners-up received $5,000 from the Sobey Art Foundation, which created the award in 2002 to heighten awareness of contemporary art and younger Canadian artists. To be considered for the award, an artist has to have shown work in a public or commercial gallery within 18 months of his or her nomination.

It was Mr. Barrow’s second try for the Sobey, having been short-listed in 2008. In a release, the five-member jury described Mr. Barrow as its “unanimous choice. Over the past 15 years [he] has created a unique, self-sustaining fictional world composed of drawing, storytelling and manual animation of the antiquated technology of the overhead projector . . . Wry, politically astute and strangely heartbreaking, his comic narratives address love, loss, gender and media culture.”

The Sobey divides its nominees by geographical region. This year Mr. Barrow, who’s now based in Montreal, was the representative from the Prairies and the North. Kamloops’ Brendan Lee Satish Tang was the B.C./Yukon finalist while collaborators Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, both graduates of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, represented Atlantic Canada, Montreal’s Patrick Bernatchez Quebec and Torontonian Brendan Fernandes Ontario.

The five finalists were chosen from a long list of 25 announced last April. Works by Mr. Barrow and his four competitors are on view at the Musee d’art contemporain in Montreal through Jan. 4, 2011.

Please click here to read the article in the Globe and Mail.

Written by James Adams
Source: Globe and Mail. Mov. 13.2010.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Artist Marcel Dzama, Leads the Winnipeg Art Scene

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal hosts Survey of Marcel Dzama's Outrageous Art

MONTREAL.- While Vancouver and Toronto may have boasted the most vibrant art scenes in Canada in the 1980s and 1990s, Winnipeg took over in the 2000s, spurred on by artist Marcel Dzama. He quickly carved out an international reputation for his unclassifiable, disconcerting art that reveals a fanciful, anachronistic world. Marcel Dzama – title (Of Many Turns), which offers a critical survey of his haunting yet outrageous work, is the largest solo exhibition of Dzama’s art by a public gallery. It will be presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal from February 4 to April 25, 2010.

Of Many Turns
The exhibition contains some sixty pieces produced over the last three years, including several new works specially created for this event. It comprises a sketchbook, drawings, collages, dioramas, paintings and films, and examines the artist’s favourite themes: nostalgia, early modernism and the relationship between irony and cynicism, politics and subjectivity.

The title Aux mille tours (Of Many Turns) is taken from the prologue to the Odyssey, where Homer introduces Ulysses as “Polytropos,” a man of many twists and turns. Like Ulysses, Dzama’s art is elusive, prolific and multifaceted. His works draw on a rich repertoire of artistic and literary references, from prewar children’s book illustration and Marcel Duchamp to James Joyce and Dante. He also often refers to childhood experiences in his hometown, Winnipeg: landscape, wildlife, the family farm.

Dzama’s strange works elicit a feeling of ambivalence as, nightmare-like, they present recognizable elements in disturbing, violent or even erotic surroundings. His world has something surrealistic about it, like the famous Goya etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.

You’re sure to be swept away on a most extraordinary odyssey.

Marcel Dzama was born in Winnipeg in 1974. He began drawing his own comics as a child. He took up painting at high school and enrolled at the University of Manitoba in 1996. With some fellow students, he founded The Royal Art Lodge, a group of artists who meet weekly to create musical performances and collective works, and at the same time pursue solo careers. While he was still at university, Dzama caught the eye of the Richard Heller Gallery, in Santa Monica, California, with an exhibition at the Fate Gallery in Winnipeg. In 2000, Winnipeg’s Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art organized a one-man show of Dzama’s works, called More Famous Drawings, that travelled across Canada, with a stop at the Saidye Bronfman Centre in Montréal. Dzama was featured here again as part of the CIAC Biennale in 2002.

Marcel Dzama has had a number of prestigious exhibitions around the world. His works can be found in the collections of such major museums as MoMA and the Guggenheim in New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington and the Tate Modern in London. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal is especially proud of its acquisition last year of a spectacular work by the artist: a fresco of 300 ceramic sculptures titled On the Banks of the Red River, 2008, and shown here for the first time. Dzama has lived and worked in New York since 2004. He is represented by the David Zwirner Gallery, New York.

Visit the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal at : http://www.macm.org/

Appreciation is given to the editor of Art Knowledge News, for permission to reproduce the above article. Please click here to be taken to www.artknowledgenews.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jean Chong on the Commemorative art of the Chinese as the Builders of Canada

The long low whistle of the CPR steam engine runs through my family memoris, and the area where I live in Ontario is steeped in railroad history. I think that is what resonated with me when I chanced upon Jean Cheung's blog the other day.

Jean shares with the readers of her blog, the story of her discovering the statue of the Chinese workers constructing the CPR bridge. She writes:

In Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, where I have visited and lived, there is outdoor public art which commemorates the historic work by the Chinese Canadian railway workers on Canada’s transcontinental railroad. The Chinese labourers helped build the national Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from 1858 – 1885. Each of the profiled city monuments were independently conceived, designed and installed by different artists and local Chinese community groups at different points in time. Although there was no national coordination of this art, local community and city efforts coincidentally produced a suite of different artistic interpretations across Canada on this same historic achievement and rail line that is still with us today.

CPR recruited a total of 17,000 Chinese male labourers from China and the U.S., for half of the wages for Caucasian railway workers, which was $1.00 day. Work included dangerous working conditions that required dynamite blasting. There was always the threat of landslides and frigid cold winters in the mountain ranges in order to build rail tunnels and rail bridges across river canyons. The construction of the 600 km. rail section between Eagle Pass and Port Moody, B.C. was Toronto’s Monument: Largest Yet Furthest Away from Most Dangerous Railway Construction.When you ride north from the Toronto’s Waterfront Trail from either the eastern, Scarborough side or from the western Humber Valley-Etobicoke bike route sect ions, you can encounter Canada’s biggest railway monument by the SkyDome (now Rogers Dome) near the Union Station railway yards by the foot of Spadina Rd. The 30-ft. high artwork integrates large sculptures of two Chinese men working with suspended rail ties on rail bridge trestle.

The Toronto artwork was installed in 1989 and truly does evoke achievement on a momumental scale. It is simply named, “Memorial to Commemorate Chinese Railway Workers in Canada. When I came across it by bike a few years later, I was abit surprised. Although the most dangerous rail work was undertaken thousands of kilometres away in western Canada, Toronto had the largest monument.

Jean welcomes visitors to her blogsite, where you will find other pictures and information about the artistic commemoration of the Chinese people to the building of Canada. Please click here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sir Frederick Banting and AY Jackson by Mo Bayliss

Dr. Frederick Banting and AY Jackson aboard the "Boethuk" on a painting expedition in the North West Passage 1927
Banting, celebrated as a Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of insulin by this time, enjoyed painting with his friend and mentor A.Y. Jackson. Together they explored and documented the Arctic, the North West Territories, Quebec, Cobalt and many other locations. Like Jackson, Banting worked outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions and seemed to be inspired by the challenges this posed.

April 26th, 1962. AY Jackson with his nurse Miss Zeta Wilson at the Banting Homestead.

Some day probably we shall have a biography of Sir Frederick Banting. When that comes to pass (and one may hope that it will not be too soon) it will be found that at least one chapter has already been written in Mr A. Y. Jackson's "Banting as an Artist". It is very short, but Mr. Jackson has managed in its small compass of words to do just what he has always been so infinitely capable of doing with his brush-he has produced a picture. If the biographer-to-be is wise he will take it just as
it is, and be thankful. It is hard to say wherein the charm of this bit of writing lies, though perhaps not any more difficult than is usually the case in tracing charm to its source. It has at least, however, complete freedom from any attempt at effect; it is perfectly simple and direct.

That is much. here is in it an underlying tone of austerity, of rigorous conditions of work, along with the tranquillity of untouched country life. One feels something of the fascination of the villages of Quebec, just as Banting felt it. Here is an extract from his diary while he was at Ste. Fidele on the North Shore:

" I hate to leave this country. There are so many fine things about the people. Life is less complicated. They have simple faith, large families, little of this
world 's goods and much happiness. They work long hours and steadily, but not too hard. They are never in a hurry."

Banting moved in it as naturally as a Canadian would, loving it and painting it with almost incredible success. But after all, the charm must lie mainly in the quality of Banting's mind, his wholesomeness, his eagerness, his honesty. He knew he wasn't a painter. "The pleasure," as Mr. Jackson says, "was in making them (his paintings), in mixing up a lot of colours in a sketch box and all the adventures that led up to it, the freedom from responsibility, scrambling over unknown country, getting burned by the March sun, smoking a pipe before the camp-fire, or the welcome at the ittle hotel and the good meals and the looking over the day's work."It is a side of his nature which it is very pleasant to be shown by so kindly and so wise a guide as his friend Mr. A. Y. Jackson.


Reference also: BANTING AS AN ARTIST*
By H. E. MacDermot, M.D., F.R.C.P.(0)

* Banting as an Artist. A. Y. Jackson. 37 pp.,
illust. $1.00. Byerson Press, Toronto, 1943.

photo of AY Jackson with nurse: From the archives of the late Edward Banting.

To revisit the F-A blog entry on Mo Bayliss and to see her art, please click here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Emily Carr. "More often then not worthwhile things hurt. Art's Worthwhile."

I had advanced from the drawing of casts and was now painting "still life" under the ogling eye of the French Professor. I was afraid of him, not of his harsh criticisms but his ogle-eyes; jet black pupils rolling around in huge whites, like shoe buttons touring around soup plates.

He said to me, "You have good colour sense. Let me see your eyes, their colour."

The way he ogled down into my eyes made me squirm; nor did it seem to me necessary that he should require to look so often into my 'colour sense'.

He was powerful and enormous. One dare not refuse. His criticism most often was "Scrape, repaint."

Three times that morning he had stood behind my easel and roared."Scrape!" When he said it the fourth time my face went red.

"I have and I have and I have," I shouted.

"Then screpe again!"

I dashed my palette knife down the canvas and wiped the grey ooze on my paint rag.

In great gobbing paint splashes, I hurled the study of tawny chrysanthemums onto the canvas again. Why must he stand at my canvas - grinning?

The minute he was gone, I slammed shut my paint box and gathered up my dirty brushes and ran from the room.

"Finished?", asked my neighbour.

"Finished scraping for that old beast." She saw my angry tears.

The professor came back and found my place empty.

"Where is the little Canadian?"

"Gone home mad!"

"Poor youngster, too bad. Too bad. But, look there!" He pointed to my study. Capital Spirit! Colour! It has to be tormented out of the girl, though. Make her mad and she can paint!

The hard faced woman student, the one who ordered birds for her still life studies to be smothered so that blood should not soil their plumage; the student we called "Wooden heart," spoke from her easel in the corner.

"Professor, you are very hard on that young Canadian girl!"

"Hard?" The professor shrugged, spread his palms. "Art, the girl has makings."
It takes red-hot fury to dig 'em up. "If, I'm harsh, its for her own good." More often then not worthwhile things hurt. Art's worthwhile."

Again, he shrugged.

The Complete Writings of Emily Carr. Douglas and McIntyre, Vancouver, Toronto. 1997.
ISBN 1-55054-578-7 pg. pg.326.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stephen Snider's Tribute to a Flying Officer

Stephen Snider turned one of life's lemons into lemonade. As a young man, Stephen was rejected for military service when he failed the coloured dot test. Now, many yars later, Stephen, has become a successful commercial artist. Although, there ar times he finds iironical when he is called upon to paint military artworks.

I was struck by the pensive look Stephen in his subject in this work. It transcends military rank and uniform. We see the face of a man who is lost in his inner landscape. What is he thinking of?

Like any good artist, Stephen strives to gives his art life and meaning. In this picture, he has opened a door of many thoughts. What has happened in his subject's life? Is he reflecting on experiences past? Is he thinking about the helicopter we see below him?

Artist's Comment:

I did this particular portrait for the army back in the mid '80's and the original hung for years in the Armed Forces College on Avenue Rd. This flying officer was sent over to Italy back in the '70's to help out after a devastating earthquake there. His helicopter flew into hydro lines and got tangled and crashed to his death. After that incident the Armed Forces devised special heavy duty wire cutters to be mounted on top of the canopy and underneath the fuselage to cut the wires for the next time, so his life was not in vain

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sue Coleman: The Transformer

The Transformer captures a certain west coast, Salish mood. I like it, but then again, I respond favourably to impressionistic art.

My left hemisphere wants to nail this down - you know what I mean - this means this and that means that. But does it really matter what it says? In some ways, this is about space and containment and height. The tall pole like structures are jumbled together like a grove of aspens. There is barely any space between them, and you can almost can feel the pressure of coastal rainforest overgrowth, crowding in around you.

But there is more than that. The aspens if they are aspens have carved designs. Are they trees or are they carved poles? Maybe this is the point. There is a kind of naturalness about it all...as if to say that Salish art is not just part of the life of the coastal native people, but it is a product of the environment. And, where does it begin and where does it end? See what I mean? And when answers fail us, all that remains is emotion and the feeling of the human restriction.

Artist's Comments:

I am always fascinated with the perspective of others when they look at my paintings. Sometimes I have no real direction when I start a piece and when I do it quite often it takes off in a totally different direction entirely.
This was one of those pieces that had a mind of it's own. I was trying to hide the spirit if the Raven (Transformer) in with the trees. I wanted to blend him into his habitat to give the feeling that he is all around and watching you when you are out in the woods.

I'm not sure if it worked but I had fun doing it. The colours are not vibrant and it is a rather somber piece but it is very much West Coast especially in the fall or winter.
If you wish to see more of the works in Sue's gallery please click here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bloodied Noses in Art Punch Out

The continued story of the legal battle between the Beaverbrook descendents in England to capture ownership of the Beaverbrook Gallery of Nova Scotia's collection is winding down with both parties lying bloodied on the canvas.

While it may seem that it all ended with the thump of the judicial gavel, the spin off story begins.

The Beaverbrook family in England has to resolve some very big financial issues.
James Adams writes for the Globe and Mail:

Last year, to meet its debts and obligations, the foundation put up for sale Cherkley Court, the first Lord Beaverbrook’s English country estate, purchased in 1911. The asking price is a repoprted $30-million.

But there's more.

The Beaverbrook Foundation in England, to cover debt, has released the 48 art works it was given title to after the legal battle in Canada. The most formidable being a massive canvas by French artist Claude-Joseph Vernet" A Grand View of the Sea Shore Enriched with Buildings, Shipping and Figures. This is reportedly worth 2.5 million dollars and it will go on the block in Sotheby's New York Auction, on Jan. 27, 2011.

Adams goes on to write:
Some of the results from the auction and, if successful, manor house sale, will likely end up in New Brunswick as the gallery was awarded costs in earlier legal decisions.

To read this complete article, please click here to be taken to the Globe and Mail, site.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Starwars and the Canadian Connection

I was listening to Jian Gilmeshi on CBC radio the other day, when he interviewed Edmonton artist Robet Bailey.

Robert had been doing what artists do everyday when he got one of those 'out of the blue' from the famed Starwars creator, Jon Rinzler.

Robert's online works drew Rinzler's attention, and the result is history.
Since then, Robert hasentered into a cooperative process of helping expand Rinzler's visual imagery for a possible future Star Wars production.

Robert received his formal art education at Longton College of Art in Staffordshire, England. Has had a long interest in Military art, and his prints and paintings hang in many military settings.

When I look through Robert's gallery of works, I am struck by stylistic elements which may have caught Jon Rinzler's attention. His paintings are noteworthy for their broad skies, and sweeping earth panoramas and dramatic action.

Robert's personal biography can be located by clicking here.

And his Star Wars page.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Robert Genn: From the Haven - Gabriola

I find myself returning again and again to look at Robert Genn's artworks.
This particular work, From the Haven: Gabriola, is located in White Rock Gallery. Please click here

As with many of Genn's paintings, this one shows both delightful simplicity and a great palette,

I think what never fails to surprise me in Robert Genn's works is his exciting colour scheme. As a landscape painter, I thrill am intriqued at the variety of colours he uses in his treeline and in the sprighty looseness of his brush strokes.

But even moreso, he has the kind of artistic vision to use the element of surprise, be it an exaggerated play with light, or in this case by the presentation of the great painted beak which overhangs the scene.

You can learn more about Robert Genn's art and his bi weekly eletter, Painter's Key, by clicking here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Walter Seymour Allward, Sculptor: Creator of Toronto's Beautiful South African War Memorial Statue

Walter Allward is probably Canada's most respected sculptor. Even though Allward died many years ago, he lives on in his magnificent statue. And most significant paerhpas, is his iconic creation at Vimy Ridge, which took him eleven years to complete. It was finished in 1936 and unveiled by King Edward VIII.

Allward was born in 1876, and began as a carpenter's apprentice working for his father. He later served as an apprentice to the architectural firm, Gibson and Simpson and he also worked at the Toronto Brickworks in the Don Valley. Allward is said at an early age to have had a penchant for molding clay.

Allward was a predecesor of Emmanual Hahn. They both lived in Toronto and both sculpted their place into the hearts of Canadians. Walter's stunning
South African Campaign Memorial, looks silently down Toronto's University Avenue, and adds dignity and character to the city.

We are indebted to Richard, the creator of the Toronto Then and Now blog who has put together this marvellous collection of pictures. Please click here to visit Richard's site.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lisa the Model, by Karen Martin Sampson

I met Lisa a few years ago at the life drawing group I attend on Tuesday mornings. She has a wonderful,energetic, and very beautiful drawing style and I was impressed with her work. She also was the model for us on a couple of occasions and proved to be inspired at getting those great poses we all dream of having for our drawings. I was planning a fairly formal portrait for my entry into the Canadian Institute of Portrait Artists exhibit in 2006 so I asked if she would pose.

Her face is very expressive and she has wonderful penetrating eyes. She came out to my place in Sayward and I had her wear a purple satin robe that I owned and tried a number of poses, props, and settings. I find it is always a bit nerve wracking when I actually get to have a model to work with and then I stumble through various ideas for posing. I try different types of lighting, various backdrops and props and never seem to connect with that special awe inspiring look I'm after. I make do with what I get and often it is just exactly what I needed once I look at all the shots I have taken. Sometimes I incorporate the best parts of different photos (like using the hands from one, the angle of the head from another, etc.) but in this case the chosen shot had everything pretty well placed. There is mystery and some pensiveness but also a dash of irreverence. The warm lighted side is in strong contrast to the cooler shadowed side and I used a complementary palate of yellows and violets. I frequently emphasize the colours I see in skin tones and did so here. I worked on this painting for some months and was able to enter it in the show for jurying just in time. It was juried into the Calgary show, won an Award of Excellence in Oil Painting and used as the cover image for the small brochure about the show.

Lisa moved away, somewhere in England, and I don't believe has seen the painting! It has been shown now in several cities and received very positive attention. I also used it for a gallery page image in an issue last year
of The Artist Magazine.

Please click here to be taken to Karen's website and her excellent gallery of works.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Emanuel Hahn and the Art of Statue Making

30 May 1881 – 14 February 1957

I don't know how many times I have driven around Queen's Park in Toronto and down University Avenue, and marvelled at the great memorial statues which look out at the flow of life that moves around them.

I recently chanced upon information about Emanuel Otto Hahn, who was one of Canada's early sculptors. He was born in Germany and emigrated to Canada.

Emanuel studied at the Toronto Technical School and the Ontario College of Art and Industrial Design,

Among his many works you will find:

the Alexander Graham Bell Memorial in Brantford
the Baldwin-Lafontaine Monument in Ottawa
the Ned Hanlon on Toronto's CNE grounds
the Sir Adam Beck statues in Toronto
the bronze Native Indian Statue at the National Art Gallery of Canada
and the bluenose dime, the caribou quarter and the voyaguer silver dollar

Please click here to read about Emanuel Hahn in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Please Click here to read Hahn's Wikipedia entry.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meet Patty Henderson

Patty Henderson can be called an emerging artist since she began painting in 2002. But, to be honest,its a poor artist who isn't aware of their developing process of growth, whether they have painted for 10 years or 50. It has less do with the length of time you have painted then to how great your love of painting and commitment is, and Patti has an abundance of both of these qualities.

Patty knew where she was heading and it wasn't until after her first watercolour lesson, when she put her works in a show that she experienced the joy of validation from those who discovered her artistic side.

Patty is a great niece of the famous early Canadian artist, Homer Watson - who has long called "Uncle Homer" by family members. She works in a medical laboratory, she has 2 grown sons. Patty lives in Wallaceburg, Ontario.

She has fast tracked her painting journey by painting pet portraits and doing house commissions. Patty really gets off on painting animals. Nature resonates within her soul and her long term goal sees her painting in her retirement and building a solid collection of works to help her land her first gallery.

Dog Day Afternoon,'portrait of my sundog'

Why are we not surprised to learn that Patty has inherited great artistic genes? Patty is related to the late, famous, artist Homer Watson. She says that it was well over 30 years ago when her father last saw "Uncle Homer." He was told by Homer to pick out a picture which he could have one day. Patty says that her father couldn't accept the painting because it was an inappropriate subject for a family home. Oh my.

Patty welcomes you to check out her website. Please click here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Walter Seymour Allward and the Vimy Ridge Memorial

Walter Allward took eleven years to create the magnificent Vimy Ridge Memorial Statue in France. It was quite possibly his most magnificent statue.

The memorial took monument designer Walter Seymour Allward eleven years to build. King Edward VIII unveiled the memorial on 26 July 1936, in the presence of French President Albert Lebrun, 50,000 or more Canadian and French veterans, and their families. Following an extensive multi-year restoration, Queen Elizabeth II rededicated the memorial on 9 April 2007 during a ceremony commemorating the 90th anniversary of the battle. The memorial site is one of two National Historic Sites of Canada located outside of Canada and is maintained by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Picture credit: Statue at the Vimy Memorial
Fox Photos Ltd.
John F. Mould fonds
Reference Code: F 954
Archives of Ontario,

Picture Credit of Robert Allward.
Toronto Then and Now, Blog.
Please Click here

November is Art Auction Month in Canada

November 23rd: Sotheby's at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
Please click here to view the auction catalogue

November 25th: Heffels, Park Hyatt Hotel, Toronto
Please click here to read the Heffel auction notice.

Important Notice - The Heffel auction in Vancouver, this past spring was live streamed onto the web.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Artist George McLean Presents his Landscape Painting Book


Toronto Sun photographer Andy Donato (right) chats to artist George McLean (left) at the Toronto launch of George McLean: The Living Landscape. The book, written by Virginia Eichhorn, Tom Smart and Adam Duncan Harris, was launched at the Ben McNally Bookstore in downtown Toronto.

McLean is one of Canada’s finest wildlife artist. His technical prowess, his affinity for his subject matter, and his densely layered depictions of the natural world emerge directly from his intense interest in wildlife.
Now in his seventies, his passion for the creatures and the habitat that surrounds him is as intense as it ever was, as is his desire to share his passion with others through his art.

In this new book, Tom Thomson Gallery curator Virginia Eichhorn, examines the development of McLean’s art and trace his varied influences, casting his work in the light of early 20th-century artists Carl Rungius , Bruno Liljefors, and Andrew Wyeth, with whom McLean feels a profound kinship. The $64.00 book features more than 90 large-scale colour reproductions, and is published by Goose Lane.

The launch of The Living Landscape coincides with the opening of an international touring exhibition of McLean’s work at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound. The exhibition will tour to The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Toronto in January 2010. The show will also travel to galleries in Sudbury,Ontario and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Please click to visit Stephen Weir's blog and to see this particular entry along with others.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A river of paydays for artists? Not bad. Not bad.

We all know that once an artist in Canada, sells his work and the money is stuffed into her pocket the financial transaction is over.(forgive my efforts at being sexually politically correct)

Did you know that in France, an artist can receive residual royalties over and over again after the original work is sold and resold and resold.

If you read the article below, you will see what I mean.

In 59 ... countries including most of Europe, [painter Mary] Pratt would get a small percentage (from a fraction of one per cent to five per cent, depending on the sale price) of the hammer price of her resold painting thanks to a principle known as “droit de suite,” or the artist’s resale right.

The right, which has existed in France for decades but was only introduced to the U.K. in 2006, means that an artist, who has previously sold works for low prices, can profit from rising prices on subsequent sales of those pieces. The law applies after death too, so that an artist’s heirs would get a share until copyright expires, 75 years after death in most of these countries.

“The whole value of an art work is not made on the original sale,” said April Britski, national executive director of the Canadian Arts Representation (CARFAC). “Visual artists are at a great disadvantage compared to writers or musicians who keep getting money from recordings or books. [With art,] you sell it once and it’s gone.” Britski said the right would be particularly valuable to older artists and to Canada’s aboriginal artists, who may sell works for much less than urban collectors eventually pay for them. Australia has just adopted the right specifically to address the exploitation of its aboriginal artists.

source: Entertainmentmedialawsignal.com
Please click here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Joni Mitchell Painter, Singer and Artist

Not many people, (me included) realize that Joni Mitchell is a painter.

How about these quotes taken from Joni Mitchell.com

"I'm a painter first, and a musician second..."
- September 8, 1998

"I have always thought of myself as a painter derailed by circumstance."
- June 2000

Joni's comments from the StarArt book on her Charles Mingus painting 'Chair in the Sky'.

"I painted almost constantly for two days to do this portrait of Charles Mingus. I had his features down, so the likeness was there, but there was no real emotion coming off. I just kept pushing the paint around on the board, waiting for the right expression to appear; then suddenly it was there. The emotion is a very complex one in a way. I'm hesitant to say the emotions I think it embodies but if I were in his place I think I know what he would have been feeling at that time in his life and I think I've captured it."

So see this painting and others by Joni Mitchell and the soure of this blog entry, please click here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Karen Martin Sampson

Karen Martin Sampson is another of Vancouver Island's many great artists. Karen writes that she lives "on the north third of Vancouver Island in Sayward Valley quite near Kelsey Bay. It is a semi remote area with a population of both valley and village at around 1200. We have one set of street lights which allows access to cross the one lane bridge over the Salmon River."

Karen shares her life in the area with bears, elk, cougar, grey whales, and orcas, and more recently a bear has claimed her yard as part of its territory.

As an artist, I cannot help feel a sense of envy when I look at pictures of Karen's studio. Imagine being surrounded by such natural beauty!

But it wasn't always so. Karen's life took her along many diverse pathways before she got where she did. Like many artists, she came by her artistic skills naturally. Her father had been accepted to study under Group of Seven painter Arthur Lismer, but was unable to pursue his dream.

Because of childhood illness, Karen drew from her innate artistic talents to express herself and explore her life situation. After a time in Toronto's Sick Children's Hospital and recovery, she moved to Cleveland Ohio with her family.

Karen's home

Karen's artistic nature flourished in the States. As a youth, she attended classes in the Cleveland Museum of Art and she later attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and she earned a Fine Arts degree. And for good measure she followed it up by earning her Masters in Fine Art at Syracuse University. All of this led her into commercial art and illustrating. She worked in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Rochester, NY. Karen became an instructor of illustration at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She also taught classes in figure painting.

Karen, in all has over 40 years of experience in art. Her personal journey took her back to Canada where she gained much from her association with the Alton Mill art group. It was during this time that she met her second husband,Bob Sampson whom she married.

The ribbon of art has flowed down through Karen's family genetics to her son from her first marriage; Tristan Tomiselli. Tristan has become an English Professor and a writer.

Not just that but Karen says that her maternal grandfather was a Sunday painter. Like many of us, Karen was the "Classroom artist," as a child and she has had a life long interest for painting the human face and human forms. She writes that "The variation in skin tones and the magic of lighting and shadows are of great interest to me."

As with most artists, Karen becomes excited by a good sale, or when she wins an award for her work. Most of us, I expect, are motivated by recognition and acknowledgement. The most exciting moment for Karen was when she won the Gund award in Cleveland, which gave her a full year scholarship to continue her art studies at the University Level.

One of the problems of moving to a rather remote and rural area, is that while your spirit is fed by the environment, you become far removed from the sales potential of urban centre. Her internet exposure through her blog has helped her to a degree bridge the gap of not having gallery exposure.

While others label her work as photographic, she isn't troubled by it. She recognizes it as their way of being complimentary. But, Karen, through necessity sees her work evolving into a leaner and more simple style which is born in part out of her necessity of not being able to replace wasted materials. She has to stretch what she has to their limit.

her studio

Karen sums up her understanding of her art and her place in our world by saying:

I can not change much in the world but I can paint how I feel about things. Most of it is understated and not terribly obvious but I have found that when people really look at my work they get the point. I love the planet and the beings on it. We're losing species every day, every minute another child dies from hunger or sickness, and injustice and craziness seem rampant in world governments. I work at not giving in to despair and hope to show that to others. Despair solves nothing, but the joy of living and being part of this world, learning to feel the interconnectedness of everything, can save it all. I just paint a tiny part of that. That is what art is for, to remind us that just being here is pretty special.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tom Thomson- accidental drowning or murder?

Extracts from 'The Tom Thomson Mystery'.
From the chapter: Incident on Saturday night

1. "Tom was naturally quiet and self effacing, in sharp contrast to the brash, outspoken, and often boastful son of Mr. Bletcher, Senior, a long time cottager on the lake. On leaving the cabin before midnight, Bletcher who had made himself unpopular because of his outbursts and actions towards the guide (Tom) hurled some additional insults and a final threat of: "Don't get in my way if you know what's good for you!" pg. 40

From the Chapter: A fateful Summer's Day

2. Dr. Robinson introduced a point..............He states that Tom's canoe was "discovered" in Bletcher's boathouse, by Charlie Scrim, a local guide. pg. 47pg

From the Chapter: The Search

3. The spare or portaging paddle had been found lashed in a position to portage but had been knotted in a most unorthodox way, as if a much less experienced canoest than Tom Thomson had tied it. pg. 50

From the Chapter: Dr. Howlands's Discovery

4. At the time of Dr.Howland's discovery, Mark helped remove the clothing from the body. In the process, he was obliged to remove al length of fishing line that was wrapped around Thomson's leg at the ankle, 16 or 17 times. pg. 57

Mark is later quoted as saying: "Now, it wasn't tangled up in a fishing line. That's not so. This was wrapped on as carefully, right around and around and around and Roy Dixon asked if I had a sharp knife and when I said that I did, "Will you just remove those strings?" And, I did; and I counted them. That's why I know there was 16 or 17. I have it in my dairy or notebook, just how many there were. pg. 58

5. "There was no water in the lungs." pg 58

6 "Across the left temple there was a mark, it look like he was struck by the edge of a paddle." pg 58

After Tom's Death - the Coroner's report
Chapter: The Coroner's Inquisition

7. "The coroner for that area , Dr. Ranney, of North Bay, had been delayed in the course of his duties, so that he arrived at Canoe Lake on the 8pm eastbound train via Scotia Junction, on the evening of the day that Tom was buried in the Canoe Lake Hillside. Arriving at the Canoe Lake Station, the doctor was met, interestingly by Martin Bletcher Sr. who drove him to his own cottage by motorboat a mile or two through Potter's Creek across the north end of Canoe Lake. Dr. Ranney had supper at the Bletcher household.... pg. 72 and pg 81. "There was little doubt that the Bletcher cottage was a restrictive environment to the participants in the inquest. Some might have been more willing to express their opinions had a neutral location been selected for the investigation.

Chapter: Blowden Davies checks the facts

8. "The weather and water conditions on canoe lake that day was calm." pg 94
9. "The portage for which he was heading is adjacent to the shallow soft bottom with no real difficulties to explain an accident occuring at the landing. One would be touching bottom almost before the bow of the canoe would touch shore. If a person were to fall out of his canoe, he would not likely be completely submerged and would be lying in soft decayed vegetation and silt bottom." pg 94

The Tom Thomson Mystery, Willim Little. c1970, McGraw-Hill, Toronto. ISBN: 0-07-0922655-7.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Canadians and the Arts

In general, Canadians believe all of these factors contribute in some way to the quality of life their communities, although once again this is most likely to be the case with respect to public green spaces (64% say this makes a significant contribution). Half of Canadians think that good relations between different groups (52%), local services (50%) and active citizen engagement (49%) play a significant role in the quality of life in their communities, while four in ten (42%) think the availability of employment opportunities contributes significantly to the quality of life in their communities. Fewer Canadians identify the availability of arts and culture as a contributing factor to the quality of life in their communities, although one third (33%) nevertheless believe it makes a big contribution.

Opinions on the contribution of these aspects differ significantly between Canadians who live in larger cities and those who live in smaller communities, most notably when it comes to the availability of arts and culture, and the presence of public green spaces.

source: Vitalsignscanada.ca
please click here

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Art and Vision of Adam Pronay

On a clouded morning in early summer, 2000, this piece of driftwood came ashore on the wind surfer's beach in Harrison, BC. It was covered in bark, sand and weeds and was old and tattered looking. At the top a face looked out, with a wise, humoristic understanding of how simple life really is; how the washing of tears brings clarity in vision throughout all the faces of our lives with an affirmation that all the Creator asks of us is to be happy and to enjoy the gifts of our lives together with the family of humankind on this circling rock; and that our footprint of time is unique in the universe.

R Adam Pronay was born in Ontario, the son of a Mohawk/Metis woman. His early years found him on the reserve with his aboriginal family. The elders talked to the children of the natural ways of the connection with nature, traditons, history and heritage. As Adam grew he spent a great deal of times at museums, art galleries, nature centres and embracing many cultures. Wandering in the foothills of Alberta and the coast of British Columbia for weeks and months at a time absorbing all he could. Adam's path is witih continued global Aboriginal Art, social and spiritual studies.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sue Coleman of Cowichan Bay, British Columbia

Strange how life works. I was on Vancouver Island about seven years ago, watching the Mann Cup, lacrosse championships being played out between the Victoria Shamrocks and the Peterborough Lakers. During the days between games, my wife and I would drive around the Island.

Somewhere along the way I chanced upon some cards produced by Sue Coleman. I was intriqued by the way she blended native mythological symbols into her artwork.
After I began producing the blog, I tracked Sue down through her website.

Sue, lives in Cowichan Bay. She and her husband and daughter operate a publishing business (Coleman and Coleman Enterprises).

Sue has been painting for about 30 years, although she confesses that like most artists she was born with the gift of natural talent.
Sue prefers painting in watercolours, and she says:

I realize now that oils and acrylics can be so controlled that they are not exciting. There is no challenge in their creation. Mistakes can be covered up, not so in aquarelle. I don't use white paint so each painting has to be planned and thought through carefully. Even so I find there is more freedom working with flowing water than with stiff oil paints.

Sue would be the first to tell you that she enjoys capturing the play of light and reflections on water. And as most watercolourists will tell you, this is more easily said then done.

Sue has managed to create a reputation for herself at a time when many BC galleries have had a reserved attitude towards watercolour painting. And what a reputation! Sue's works have appeared at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. She has painted and taught art on cruise ships on the Alaskan passage, and she has been a guest artist at the Epcot Centre in the United States.

Sue reminds me, in one sense, of Emily Carr insomuch as she is also a writer. Sue is presently working on a novel. Sue demonstrates the same kind of respect and admiration for native culture and art that Emily Carr experienced.

You are invited to check out her delightful gallery of works. Please click here to be taken to her website.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Our Younger Artists Don't Know About Canadian Painting

This is a no holds barred blog entry. Older artists won't likely raise an eyebrow when they read what I am about to write. Hopefully, the words I write will impress younger painters to see the Canadian art scene from a different perspective.

To begin with - Canada is a vastly different country today then it was 50, 60, or more years ago. Canadians are a pretty patriotic lot today. We have our symbols in place and we know who we are as a people. But I want to turn back the clock 60 years or more.

English Canadians in the early to middle of the 20th century, struggled with self identity issues. Let me give you a couple of examples. When I was a kid in 4th grade my teacher would occasionaly have us sing - our other national anthem, 'The Maple Leaf Forever'. A picture of Queen Elizabeth looked down on each school classroom and when we chose to identify ourselves by flag we used either the Union Jack or our Naval Ensign. (not a bad looking flag either).

Ask any Canadian over the age of 60 to sing God Save our Queen - and they can stand and bellow without losing a beat. Ask any Canadian under the age of 40and they would look at you as if you have a mental problem. Canada sure had a problem. We had a colonial mentality and we were caught between two pretty big international players. School kids up until the middle of the 20th century had a strong sense of belonging..............to the British Commonwealth.

Ok..you may ask, where am I leading with this?

Because we had a weak national identity, we also had a big national insecurity complex. Older Canadians can remember the days when we used to say, "Canadians are not a funny people...we don't have much of a sense of humour?" It seems hard to imagine that today, doesn't it?

As Canadians we didn't see ourselves eclipsing the ordinary. The CBC, for instance did not allow for a "Star System", in broadcasting. Our few heroes were Foster Hewitt, Barbara Ann Scott, Frederick Banting and a whole slew of hockey players.

This attitude was particularly hard on the Group of Seven. Their colour driven, impressionistic style of painting did not go down well in Canada.

AY Jackson didn't pull any punches in his autobiography of the early days of the Group. Jackson quoted some of the many letters received by readers to the Toronto Star.

"They daub and squirt." "Art is desecrated by modernism," "A horrible bunch of junk," The brazenness of these daubers," "Arrogance of Canadian Group," Fignments of a Drunkards Dream".

Jackson went on to write in his autobiography about how the group fought back.

How do you fight national insecurity and a country unwilling to bestow recognition on its own citizens? Well, you put this article in the Toronto Star.


What press says about modern Canadian Art
1. They are garish, loud, affected, freakish. (Toronto Star)
2. A single, narrow, formula of ugliness (Saturday Night, Toronto)
3. A school of landscape painter who are strongly race of the soil (London Times)
4. The foundation of what may become one of the greatest schools of landscape painting. (The Morning Post, London)

AY Jackson then wrote this letter to the editor of the Mail and Empire

for nearly ten years there has been no cessation of the carping criticism of academic painters of the National Gallery of Ottawa, the Group of Seven and the modern movement in Canada generally, the efforts made to prove that what recognition the modernist has received is due only to favouritism in Ottawa.

That the many exhibitions the Group of Seven has in the United States at Boston, New York, Philadelphia Washington and various other cities, might have been due to the merits of their work seems inconceivable to the academic mind. The fact that these exhibitions have nearly always resulted in invitations to exhibit again might suggest that they were appreciated. Those who are in charge of American art galleries have heard that in Canada there are artists who are trying to interpret their country with freedom and freshness of vision. Seldom has there been any of the brash criticism these artists have received at home, and the generous recognition they have received in the USA should have been a stimulant to all Canadians instead of arousing feelings of envy and bitter partisanship.

No Canadian exhibition that has ever went abroad has won the fine eulogies that the Wembly Show did. It was only in Canada that the London times and Morning Post were sneered at. If the academic painters in Canada are not overwhelmed with invitations to exhibit abroad, it is inherent in any long established societies. The natural instinct is to look after their own members first and to show tolerance towards old members who should be retired. Inability to control members who are better politiicans than artists results in exhibitions which may be representative but which are nevertheless dull and monotonous. So in self protection they seek to gain control of the work of artists, who have more vision than they and to be the sole and final arbitrators or what is to be called Canadian Art.

They might better prove their right to such authority in some finer way than by getting a lot of malcontents to sign a petition to our overworked prime minister.

A.Y. Jackson.
When Canadian discovered that people in other countries recognized and paid tribute to Canadian art abroad, they were able to identify their homegrown, dismissive, and parochial attitudes.

All of which reminds me of Toronto Blue Jay baseball player telling Toronto fans in their world series.,,,in the press......"ITS OK TO SHOUT AND CHEER."

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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//www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/rsc-1985-c-c-42/latest/rsc-1985-c-c-42.html

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.