Thursday, December 30, 2010

Emily Carr's Trees: essay, part 2

She continued, adding her intent to try to find words for the great pines, because "trying to find equivalents for things in words helps me find equivalents in painting. It is an interesting inversion of Lawrence's great skill, translating from the language of the eye to that of the ear. The search for equivalents also touches on O'Keeffe, who with Stieglitz thought deeply about the issue; unlike Lawrence or Carr, however, O'Keeffe found them most often in photography or music, not words.
To find a visual vocabulary for what she felt about Canadian trees, Carr launched into a series of large studio drawings in charcoal on paper, based on trees but exploring form in a conceptual manner. Though Carr had long practiced drawing as a record of what she saw and thought, this 1930-31 series constitutes what Doris Shadbolt has called "the refined product of a period of study, which she seems not to have repeated at any other time in her life." That this extraordinarily free body of work followed directly upon Carr's visit to New York invites speculation that it was undertaken in response to her conversation with O'Keeffe, who had also used drawings particularly large, expressive studio charcoals during her own breakthrough period in 1915. Had O'Keeffe recommended such liberating exercises? Carr's journal entries indicate a readiness for new ideas: in January 1931 she is weary of past directions, writing, "My old things seem dead. I want fresh contacts, more vital searching." Her words are curiously reminiscent of O'Keeffe's two years earlier when, about to make a fresh beginning in the Southwest, the artist complained of her recent work, "It was mostly all dead for me." Carr seldom stretched for abstraction as much as O'Keeffe, but the 1930-31 charcoals seem to have furthered her movement away from preoccupation with native imagery and toward a search for nature's formal equivalents.

At least one of these drawings may be directly responsive to Lawrence and O'Keeffe. Untitled [Formalized Cedar] and two closely related oils, Red Cedar (1931; Vancouver Art Gallery) and Tree Trunk, are particularly striking as answering motifs. With their central, upward thrusting trunks, these paintings suggest that O'Keeffe's The Lawrence Tree and her jack in the pulpit series, which Carr had also seen during the New York trip, had shown Carr the power of a symbol embedded in a reductivist image. Carr's responses, particularly her Tree Trunk and the formalized cedar drawing, demonstrate a new simplicity in her work, as well as the strong possibility of sublimated eros - a suggestion that would have horrified the prim Emily, simultaneously repelled by and drawn to Lawrence's nature based sexuality.

Perhaps it was Lawrence's characterization of the pine as a "passionless, non-phallic column, rising in the shadows of the pre-sexual world" that made Carr feel she was on safe ground. In any case, she was fascinated (like O'Keeffe) by Lawrence's attention to the darker side of nature, a symbolism of death as well as life. If O'Keeffe had acknowledged that shadowy zone in Dead Tree, Bear Lake, Carr painted it in Old Tree at Dusk. The tree's spiraling trunk and downward drooping branches are strongly reminiscent of O'Keeffe's dead tree, a painting Carr might also have seen during her New York visit.

What Carr definitely saw in New York was an exhibit of Arthur Dove's work at An American Place. On display were twenty-seven recent paintings by the romantically inclined Dove, whose explorations of abstractions derived from nature parallel those of O'Keeffe. A work such as Dove's charcoal Thunderstorm uses angular geometries to suggest the crackling energy of lightning. O'Keeffe had used similar zig zag or sawtooth shapes in works from the Line period. Early in the 1930s, whether in response to the increasing abstraction in Lawren Harris's work (as suggested by Carr scholars) or as I would argue with Dove's or O'Keeffe's angularities in mind, Carr introduced stronger geometric forms into her painting. Grey, discussed above, and an untitled black and gray forest interior from 1931-32 show Carr moving into the most abstract phase of her forest paintings. Zig-zagging shafts of light, a reductivist palette, and strong geometric patterning reveal Carr's interest in cubist derived form.

Equally abstract, but far less angular, is Carr's sweeping Abstract Tree Forms. Great ribbons of color undulate across the surface of the painting; the red in the foreground encloses a deep tunnel form, like the sinuous wrapped shapes in O'Keeffe's paintings of music. Inside this space, however, is a dark bulbous form perhaps a tree stump, a fragment of a downed totem pole, or even the form of the artist herself. The freedom of the work owes as much to materials - thinned oil on paper - as to formal conception. It began as a practical effort: Carr needed to cut her expenses for materials, and she wanted to be able to work large and rapidly. She bought big sheets of inexpensive manila paper, which yielded paintings of consistent size that were simpler to frame and exhibit. To transport the paper and paintings, she made a folding drawingboard. And for paint she chose good quality white housepaint thinned with gasoline, which could be supplemented with oils, if necessary, on her return to the studio. Most days Carr could produce three of these paintings, which she tacked on the walls of her caravan or cabin overnight. A friend who often painted with her remembered that Carr liked to study her previous day's work in the bright morning light.

Working large, she thinned the oil to admit light and air into the composition. Its quick drying capabilities gave her some of the fluidity of watercolor yet provided more opacity and solidity. Not least, the materials were so cheap that she could afford to be profligate in her experiments. Carr made many of these oil on paper works between 1933 and 1936. About them she wrote: "I've learned heaps in the paper oils - freedom and direction. You are so unafraid to slash away because material scarcely counts. You use just can paint and there's no loss with failures. I try to do one almost every day."

Carr sometimes relied on dreaming to press her tree paintings into greater simplification and abstraction. As she wrote, "Last night I dreamed that I came face to face with a picture I had done and forgotten, a forest done in simple movement, just forms of trees moving in space. That is the third time I have seen pictures in my dreams, a glint of what I am striving to attain." O'Keeffe had also developed the capacity to incorporate dreaming into her landscapes, a practice that seems to have facilitated her own impulse to abstraction. In a letter to Dorothy Brett she referred to "that memory or dream thing I do that for me comes nearer reality than my objective kind of work." One thinks here of Gauguin's admonition to the artist to "dream before nature." For both Carr and O'Keeffe, letting go of direct, detailed observation was a key to finding other truths in the landscape.

Carr returned in the 1930s to tree subjects she had painted early in her career, and we can see in the comparison how far her conception of Sei Do had evolved. Her early sedate rows of trees give way to later ones, like Sombreness Sunlit, in which light, and perhaps wind, take visible form and become the real subjects of the painting. All is movement, all light, perhaps accompanied by sound. Carr wrote about these sensory overlaps, a concept known to modernists as synesthesia: "If the air is jam full of sounds which we can tune in with, why should it not also be full of feels and smells and things seen through the spirit, drawing particles from us to them and them to us like magnets?" Such sensory transfers had been made especially visible to Carr during her 1930 New York visit, when she saw the work of Kandinsky and Charles Burchfield; the latter artist was having an exhibit of his early watercolors at the Museum of Modern Art at the time. His brooding works like Church Bells Ringing, Rainy Winter Night exaggerate the expressionistic qualities in plants, buildings, and natural surroundings to make them seem alive with menace. As Ruth Appelhof points out, after seeing Burchfield's work Carr began "to employ rhythmic lines to denote atmospheric movement and as a formal means of unifying the compositions."

Trees figure importantly in the moody spatial evocations of both artists. A work like Carr's oil on paper sketch Chill Day in June employs those devices to great expressionist effect. By now the medium we saw introduced in Abstract Tree Forms about six years earlier had taken Carr's work in decidedly new directions. Although Carr herself referred to her more than two hundred of these oils on paper as "sketches," the term is somewhat misleading; they are finished works in their own right. It is true that she borrowed elements from them for later canvases; but what Carr discovered through the new medium was itself pivotal: in oil on paper she learned to join her means and ideas seamlessly. Great sweeps and washes of color, punctuated with seemingly careless dashes, flicks, and strokes, explore surface and depth simultaneously. Filled with light and air, these works break down the impenetrable wall of green seen in her early forest canvases. Moving beyond the Group of Seven, who had taught her something about vastness, she now opened up space even more in beach scenes like Strait of Juan de Fuca. And in an oil on paper work called Forest, color, air, and light chase one another with abandon. In paintings such as this one, Carr's exuberant paint application best expresses her belief in the unquenchable vitality of trees. Of the breadth and spontaneity her oil on paper technique afforded her, Carr concluded, "I feel I have gained a lot by its use. It is inexpensive, light to carry and allows great freedom of thought and action." Criticized by some for their large size, she justified the scale by saying, "Woods and skies out west are big you can't squeeze them down."

Carr's trees developed in many moods and moments. She never seemed to exhaust their expressive possibilities, probably because she identified so closely with them. Trees were the botanical counterpart of her own imagined existence in nature: varied, changing, joyous, despondent. In the latter mood, feeling alienated from people, she wrote of herself as "exposed to all the ill winds like a lone old tree with no others round to strengthen it against the buffets with no waving branches to help keep time." When the persistent efforts of loggers decimated the old-growth forests in certain areas, Carr returned to the idea she had first used in her 1905 cartoon: she anthropomorphized trees. Loggers were "executioners," she now declared; the stumps mute mourners or tombstones. These things she described, both in paint and in words: "There's a torn and splintered ridge across the stumps I call the 'screamers.' These are the unsawn last bits, the cry of the tree's heart, wrenching and tearing apart just before she gives that sway and the dreadful groan of failing, that dreadful pause while her executioners step back with the saws and axes resting and watch."

Significantly, the trees have a sex - female, in Carr's thinking; their pain is hers. Her paintings of stumps often continue the theme of scarred flesh; they read like amputations. Loggers Culls (1935; Vancouver Art Gallery), Stumps and Sky (c. 1934; Vancouver Art Gallery), and Swaying are three examples of such imagery. In the latter painting surviving trees stand like sentinels in a graveyard of stumps. On the other hand, when Carr entitles a painting Laughing Forest or Happiness (both c. 1939; private collections), we can be sure that she is projecting her own positive emotions onto the forest. The trees seem, at times, to be singing, a concept known to O'Keeffe as well. Georgia O'Keeffe wrote In 1915 of "the woods turning bright ... and the pines singing," but the words could as easily have been Carr's."

In their seasonal and annual cycles, trees offered Carr the constant prospect of renewal. She tapped their energy for her own work. Musing on reawakening her strength at age sixty-nine, she wrote: "I think I shall start new growth, not the furious forcing of young growth but a more leisurely expansion, fed from maturity, like topmost boughs reflecting the blue of the sky." A painting such as Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky expresses that vision of high waving foliage, reaching upward for release and renewal in nature.

Often release took the form of spiritual redemption for Carr, whose religious wanderings brought her eventualy to a highly personal form of Christianity. The forest as religious refuge is expressed in such paintings as Cedar Sanctuary and Wood Interior (c. 1929-30; private collection), which frame space as if it were within sacred precincts. The interiority there is the visual correlative of her own internal questioning: "Why do you go back and back to the woods unsatisfied, longing to express something that is there and not able to find it? This I know, I shall not find it until it comes out of my inner self, until the God quality in me is in tune with the God in it."

Carr's trees form the axis around which her work rotates. Whether she studied them as native totem poles, as foliage curtains in living walls of jungle, as whirling, spiraling young evergreens against the sky, as murdered stumps, or as pillars within her intimate forest sanctuaries, Carr's trees form the thematic and formal scaffolding upon which her whole oeuvre was constructed.

- From "Carr, O'Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own"

extracted from Art History Online. Please click here to see the article in its original context.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Emily Carr on Trees: essay, part 1

Emily Carr's Trees

Emily Carr experienced an ecstatic identification with the spirit of nature, particularly as she found it in British Columbia. There the cool, gray climate, the proximity of water and most particularly the presence of trees offered her endless opportunity for artistic reflection and growth.

To speak of Emily Carr's trees is to seize on the central subject of her work, both as metaphor and form. Like a great axis mundi, the tree centers and grounds most of her paintings. And as a mythico-ritual subject in Carr's work, the tree corresponds in importance to the centerpost often present in her paintings of the homes of native peoples in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1935 Carr spoke before a literary society in Victoria about her art, a talk later published as "The Something Plus in a Work of Art." That "something," Carr explained, was what characterized great works of art - a kind of spiritual connection between the artist and an ideal. It was a connection that echoed Plato as well as the transcendentalists, whom she quoted. But it was more. Carr also brought the Japanese concept of Sei Do into her definition: "the transfusion into the work of the felt nature of the thing to be painted." Like Georgia O'Keeffe, Carr was receptive to principles and practices of Asian art. Carr's influences were received via other artists, particularly Mark Tobey, whose advice and teaching she had sought a few years earlier.

The felt nature of the thing - its essence, its distinguishing core. For a painter whose chief subject was trees, Sei Do was treeness, and the expression of it her life's work. Carr had begun to discover its power very early in her career, when she animated trees in a 1905 political cartoon for a Victoria weekly periodical. Captioned "The Inartistic Alderman and the Realistic Nightmare," the cartoon was accompanied by the following poem:

"Ye ghosts of all the dear old trees, The oak, the elm, the ash, Nightly those gentlemen go tease, Who hew you down like trash."

Carr, it seems, had already seen the dangers posed by unrestrained tree cutting, a cause she would champion all her life. Trees, she suggests, possess a life of their own and should not be wantonly felled. It was an idea that was rarely popular in British Columbia, where the logging industry yearly consumed ever more of the virgin forests. Cartooning could not hold Carr's interest for long; she was after something more deeply expressive in the forest. In 1934 she chastised herself for flagging in her work: "I am hedging, not facing the problem before me how to express the forest - pretending I must do this and that first ... but the other should come first; it's my job."

By that time Carr had spent years investigating the forest, absorbing all she could of tree existence. Her journals are full of her communion with trees, her admiration of them, and, ultimately, her close identification with them. Because Carr wrote so much about her life and her artistic struggle - unlike O'Keeffe - we can more readily see how she projected her feelings onto trees. Typical are her remarks "Trees are so much more sensible than people, steadier and more enduring" and "I ought to stick to nature because I love trees better than people." The latter statement echoes that of O'Keeffe to her friend Hartley.

In their paintings of trees both Carr and O'Keeffe made transcriptions from visual experience, and each artist searched out rhythmic patterning and movement within arboreal structure, although there is no evidence that either painter knew the other's work before 1930. Both often cropped trees, and both made much of the negative spaces between branches. Carr's work in the 1920S usually stayed closer to gritty, palpable realism, while O'Keeffe's toyed with space and pressed toward decorative abstraction. The differences are significant.

In 1930 Carr's and O'Keeffe's interest in trees intersected. That spring Carr visited New York, where, in the company of Arthur Lismer, an acquaintance who was a member of the Group of Seven, she sought out new painting. At An American Place a number of O'Keeffe's paintings were still on exhibit from her annual show. Most were based on her previous summer's visit to Taos, including The Lawrence Tree. Carr and O'Keeffe apparently discussed the painting at some length, during which O'Keeffe related the work's connection both to her experience at the Lawrence cabin and to Lawrence's passage about the great pine in St Mawr. Apparently these ideas lingered in Carr's mind, for later that year she copied Lawrence's description into her journal, though with a qualifying comment: "It's clever, but it's not my sentiments nor my idea of pines, not our north ones anyhow. I wish I could express what I feel about ours, but so far it's only a feel and I have not put it into words."

end of part 1

extracted from Art History Archive. Please click here to see the article in its original online context.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thomas Lorraine Hunt

Boats at Dock. 1930. 71cm x 82cm. oil on canvas.

Thomas Lorraine hunt was born in London, Ontario, Canada on February 11, 1882 to artist John Powell Hunt. At a young age, Hunt began studying art first under his father, then with Hugh H. Brecknridge at the Pennsylvania Academy, and eventually in other various American and European art centers. To earn a living, Hunt learned about the construction business and moved to Cleveland, Ohio to be a real estate developer where he built and sold apartment buildings. During his leisure time, Hunt continued to paint. In 1924, at 42, Hunt moved to California where he continued to his work in real estate development in Hollywood and San Bernadino. He was very involved in the Laguna arts community and was a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association. He taught classes, painted, exhibited locally, and helped aspiring young artists financially and as a mentor. After his wife died in 1934, Hunt returned to Canada and then to Gloucester, Massachusetts where he had painted earlier in his life. He enjoyed his time painting his favorite subjects of wharves and fishing boats. 2-3 years later, he returned to Laguna Beach and died at the Santa Ana Valley Hospital on April 17, 1938 from an ulcer operation and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernadino. While Hunt’s earlier works was influenced by Impressionism, his later works evolved into a distinctive form of Post-Impressionism. Using a highly colorful palette, much of his works revolved around harbor scenes, landscapes, and coastals.

Biography from: Please click here.

Painting: Boats at Dock, from Artnet. Please click here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Barry Atkinson an Artist in Film

This film trailer was written and directed by Barry Atkinson, in Canada. It is available through Amazon Please click here. Barry also directed a short Film ("Into Darkness") which screened at the Sundance film festival in 1998 which is a bonus feature on the DVD. Besides this, he is presently writing a couple of film scripts and plans to shoot a short next year.

For those who are not familiar with Barry, he is one of our featured blog artists. Drop by his blog. Its a good one.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kindness Knows no Borders: An Interview with Lighthouse Santa

This CBC radio interview done in 1949 with American pilot Edward Snow, the "Lighthouse Santa", seems like a fitting wasy to celebrate Christmas Eve.

Its three minutes long but its loaded with the spirit of Christmas. Please click here.

Please note: If your computer lacks updated plugins, then you will be able to hear this item by clicking here. And for extra reading on the famous 'Lighthouse Santa', please click here.

And for further reading about Edward Snow, click here to see the Wikipedia article.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The art of Isaac Bignell

Self taught artist Isaac Bignell was a Cree painter, born on The Pas reserve, 400 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitoba. During his short life he lived in Winnipeg, Minneapolis and Vancouver. Even influenced by Benjamin Chee Chee, Isaac eventually developed his own style of sponge painting, creating wildlife images distinguished by flowing lines. His work is very popular, and many of his images have been made into prints and cards. Isaac died at the age of 37 on December 17, 1995 at the Munson Medical Centre in Traverse City, Michigan USA.
Although he died at the peak of his career Isaac Bignell's presence lives on through First Nations artists who apprenticed under him: Russell Noganosh, Ernie Scoles, Donald Peters and Garnet Tobacco. Also, there are other artists influenced by Isaac Bignell like Sinclair Sabourin & Leo “Sweetpea” Nielsen, who was mentored by Garry Meeches and is also following in the footsteps of Benjamin Chee Chee, and Clemence Wescoupe.
Isaac Bignell's art is in numerous collections all over the world and he is the artist who inspired the NORVAL MORRISSEAU BLOG's Blog Master to start collecting Canada's First Nations art.

"My art is strongly influenced by the traditions of my people. I was brought up to live off the land from an early age. Hunting and trapping, living in harmony with the earth has taught me to respect the animals and the spirit and power of nature. I hoop dance and sing Pow Wows to maintain my cultural heritage. Through art and dancing I attempt to influence native people to continue their cultural ways; the gift that was given to us by the Great Spirit."
Isaac Bignell

Extracted from the Norval Morriseau Blog. To visit this site, please click here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Canadian Artist A Big Hit Down Under

Cambodian Orphans Reap Benefits From Sold Out Show

CLOYNE, Ont. - December 13, 2010. On November 25th, 2010 Canadian artist Brian Lorimer sells out his latest show at the famous Arthouse Hotel in Sydney Australia with the proceeds benefiting the orphans of Sunrise Children’s Village’s (SCV) in Cambodia.

In January, Brian recorded the adventures of City2Sunrise (C2S), an Australian based group who were embarking on a 14,000km motocross ride through South East Asia to raise funding and awareness for SCV. His wonderful paintings were exhibited at Gallery Artplus in Belleville, Ontario in July before the show traveled to Sydney last month.

Earlier this year, Gallery Artplus director Brant Cowie wrote, “It is an artist's mandate to awaken, to inspire, to educate and to provoke. We know that Brian's work has inspired, we now hope that this exhibition of his most recent works will awaken a love for life beyond our borders.” With the success of this collaboration, borders have fallen uniting three continents in their support for the children of Cambodia.

“I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of this incredible adventure. It’s one of the highlight achievements in my career” says Brian. According to Tom Bender, one of the C2S riders and long time friend, “We are so excited to have Brian as part of the team. The sold out show is testimony to how beautiful the work is and how desirable Brian’s work has become.”

This show concludes the City2Sunrise adventure, raising the total proceeds over $135,000 for the orphans of Sunrise Children’s Villages.

You are invited to view Brian's work by clicking here

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Edwin Holgate

Edwin Holgate (August 19, 1892 – May 21, 1977), was a Canadian artist, painter and engraver. Holgate played a major role in Montreal's art community, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where he both studied and taught. He was known primarily as a portraitist and for a number of female nudes in outdoor settings that he painted during the 1930s.

Holgate's family moved to Jamaica in 1895 where his father worked as an engineer. In 1897 he was sent to Toronto to go to school. In 1901 his family returned from Jamaica and settled in Montreal.

Holgate studied at the Art Association of Montreal under William Brymner (who also taught A. Y. Jackson) and later Maurice Cullen. In 1912 he studied in Paris. He was travelling in the Ukraine at the outset of World War I, and was forced to cross Asia to return to Canada. He returned to France with the Canadian Army.

Holgate's first exhibition was held at the Arts Club of Montreal in 1922. He taught wood engraving at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal from 1928 to 1934.

Holgate was considered the "eighth" member of the Group of Seven — he was invited to join the group in 1930. In 1935 he was elected associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

He worked as a war artist in England during World War II. On his return to Montreal after the war, he found that the arts scene had changed, with the arrival of the Automatistes. He left Montreal to live in the Laurentians.

The National Gallery of Canada held a retrospective of his work in 1975. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts organized another retrospective in 2005

Extracted from Wikipedia. Please click here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Robert Spaith's 'Breakaway'.

I was walking in the Calgary airport a few days ago, when I stopped before Robert Keith Spaith's 'Breakaway'.

Sculpturing serves many purposes. It memoralizes great historical events, important people and signifcant moments in time. In this case, Robert Spaith captures the free spirit of Alberta in the form of wild horses.

These are certainly no tame cart horses. They are fire, force and drama all in one.

You know what I like about it too. Robert is acknowledged in the brass plate which is inlaid in the floor.

Robert Spaith was born and educated in Calgary. He grew up on the family ranch near High River, Alberta, where he developed a life-long interest in horsemanship, the cowboy life and western culture.

After graduating from the University of Calgary in 1976 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Robert's growing interest in sculpture led to a five-year trophy bronze contract for the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.

A best Bronze, Best of Show award at the 1984 Stockman's Foundation Art Show further encouraged Spaith to concentrate on sculpture. The challenge of creating three-dimensional art that integrates itself into a specific situation continues to sustain Robert's passion to sculpt.

Robert Spaith's work has been shown at:
Masters Gallery, Calgary, 1984 to 1986, 2003 to present
Wallace Galleries, one man show, 1998
Wallace Galleries, Calgary, 1987 to 1997
Leighton Foundation Art Show, 1981 to 1991
Nichol Art Gallery, Calgary, 1976
Canadian Art Galleries, Calgary, 1973
Masters Gallery, Calgary, 1984 to 1986, 2003 to present
Wallace Galleries, one man show, 1998
Wallace Galleries, Calgary, 1987 to 1997
Leighton Foundation Art Show, 1981 to 1991
Nichol Art Gallery, Calgary, 1976
Canadian Art Galleries, Calgary, 1973

Robert welcomes you to check out his website to see his works. Please click here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Arthur Erickson on an evening with Lawren Harris

The "at home", Saturday evenings were an astonishing exposure to the purveyors of ideas of his city. (Vancouver). Intellectuals, not only from Vancovuer but also from Europe, frequented those evenings, for many composers and conductors, dancers and writers had come to Canada from the conflagration in Europe. Barbirolli, Britten, Arthur Benjamin, and Sir Ernest McMillen were a few I remember. Locally, the Adaskins, Ira Dillworth, the Binnings, Birneys, Bells, Smiths, Andrews and MacKenzies were frequent attendants. The ritual was set. After arriving at 8:30 sharp, you were seated in the living room. Lawren selected the first recording of his huge collection. He spoke about it, clipped the bamboo needle, turned out the lights, and left you in the dark, to concentrate only on your aural senses.

At 10:00 the lights went on and coffee was served. Suddenly, from the night of aural enchantments we entered the day of visible light - the silvery light of Lawren's mountain experiences. The clear blues, muted purples, whites, chrome yellows and silver greys of his non-objective compositions on the walls extended into the serene surroundings of the house. A grey-purple carpet ran throughout on wich white sor silvery rugs were set with cabinets of eaten tin from Mexico and low white sofas. Lawren's and a few of Bess's paintings glowed with the suffused illumination of Arctic ice, the mountain summits, the floating icons of an unlimited sky...."

pg viii
forward from Light for a Cold Land
Lawren Harris's Work and Life - an Interpretation
by Peter Larisey
Dundurn Press
Toronto, 1993.
IXBN 1-55002-188-5

Friday, December 17, 2010

Arthur Erickson, Architect.

Global architect, Arthur Charles Erickson was a passionate advocate of cultural awareness, and a fervent explorer of human and natural environments. His buildings, though remarkably diverse, share deep respect for the context, incomparable freshness and grace, and the dramatic use of space and light. He has brought to his work an understanding of the community of man that, when filtered through his insightful mind and fertile imagination, gives birth to a singular architecture that is in dialogue with the world.*

A Vancouver, B.C. native, Erickson studied at the University of British Columbia and later at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Advanced studies brought Erickson to Greece, Italy, the Middle East and Japan, where he discovered the nuances of architectural style in climate and terrain.

In 1963, Erickson reached a landmark moment in his career when he won a competition to design Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. Upon the University's completion, Erickson's integrative design gained international acclaim, opening the gateway to a long and distinguished career.

Erickson's Graham House, designed 1962.

As both architect and professor, Erickson has contributed much to the architectural community. His works include The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, the Provincial Law Courts in Downtown Vancouver, the San Diego Convention Center, Napp Laboratories in Cambridge, England, the Canadian Chancery in Washington, D.C., California Plaza in Los Angeles, and most recently the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.

Erickson's noteworthy contributions and innovative design work earned him the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in 1986. The highest honor bestowed by the AIA, Erickson was the first Canadian to receive the reward. Prefacing this honor, Erickson received numerous awards and degrees, including gold medals from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 1984 and the French AcadÈmie d'Architecture in 1986.

* taken from Arthur Erickson's 1986 AIA Gold Medal Citation.

Please click here to be taken to source: The Arthur Erickson website.

See also: Please click here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Daniele Lemieux, 'Ingredients # 3'.

Ingredients #3, 24"x24". Oil on Canvas

I don't think I've given much time in my blog to taking a long hard look at a still life, so maybe its about time. And whose work better to look at than Daniele Lemieux's.

The centre bottle stands proudly upright with its top the peak of an equalateral triangle. The bottle looks down on all its subjects, right down to the lowly garlic cloves which are spread along the bottom of the composition.

I am attracted to the painting's musty, earthiness, which spreads from the rich background into the soft hues of the bottles. The red wax seal and the wire cork attachment over the bottle of oil give it an ancient, European look.

Look at the bottle on the left. You can almost see into its depths at the top but at the bottom, the surface is hard and reflective. Interesting huh? This is making art serve your purpose.

The triangular shape is suggested here and there throughout the work, right down to the folds of the tablecloth.

When all is said and done, what takes my breath away is Daniele's masterful working of soft hues, not to mention, the power which she makes of the contrasting darks to bring her rich colours to life.

Pretty dramatic work, all in all.

Artist's Comment:Tuesday, 14 September, 2010

I had been working on this composition, on and off, for two weeks before finally putting paint to canvas. I spent the first day roughing in the large shapes and the next rendering a glass jar filled with fresh tarragon sprigs. This latter part of the composition would be the first to fade, so I wanted to bring it to almost a completed stage before moving onto to the bottles. By the end of the day I realized that no matter how nicely painted, the jar and feathery herb shapes of the tarragon did not belong in this composition and, after about 8 hours of work, I rubbed it out, replacing it with the red bowl. As an experienced painter I felt I should have seen this compositional error sooner, but mistakes are often part of the process.

The next day back in the studio with fresh eyes, I realized I had truly made the right decision—the red bowl was an infinitely better fit. The end result is a solid piece, much stronger than it would have been had I stuck with my original composition.

Readers are invited to visit Daniele's website by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet Daniele Lemieux of Montreal

Danièle Lemieux is a professional artist based in Montréal. She was born in Rosemere, Quebec in 1959. Her work is acclaimed for its fusion of contemporary composition with a classic painterly style and has been reviewed in newspapers, magazines, books and on television. Her style is unique and people appreciate her work for its quiet simplicity and poetic statements honouring everyday objects.
Danièle graduated from Dawson College in 1979 with a degree in graphic design and was a respected art director and commercial illustrator for 20 years. Meanwhile, she kept her first love for fine art alive by continuing her studies for many years at the Visual Art Centre in Westmount, Quebec, carving out time to paint between commercial assignments. For the past 10 years Danièle has devoted herself to painting full time. She has been featured in many group and solo shows and is represented by major galleries across Canada in Vancouver/White Rock, Victoria, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City.

Selected Exhibition
2010 West End Gallery, Victoria BC Two-Artist Show
2009 Wallack Galleries, Ottawa, ON, Solo Show
Agnes Bugera Gallery, Edmonton, AB, Solo Show
2007 Gallery Gevik, Toronto, ON, Solo Show
Harrison Galleries, Calgary, AB, two artist show
Gallery Gevik, Toronto, ON, Group Show
Galerie Arte, Montreal, QC, Group Show
2006 Harrison Galleries, Vancouver, BC, Group Show
Gallery Gevik, Toronto, ON, Group Show
Stewart Hall Art Gallery, Pointe Claire, QC, Group Show
Les Femmeuses, Longueil, QC, Group Show
2005 Arts Sutton, Sutton, QC, Solo Show
Wallack Galleries, Ottawa, ON, Solo Show
Les Femmeuses, Longueil, QC, Group Show
2004 Society of Canadian Artists National Open Juried Exhibition, Montreal QC
Seagram Gallery, Centaur Theatre, Montreal, QC, Solo Show
2003 Halde Galerie Widen, Switzerland Group Shows (2)

To see the power of Daniele in still life painting, please click here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturi 39 by Laurie Near

“I believe that making and looking at art can be a form of contemplative practice, a space in our noisy and information-saturated lives for solitude, silence, and being in the present. Like prayer and meditation, art can become part of the foundation of who you art in the world, as intrinsic to your nature as breathing.”

I am inspired by writings, music and artworks which evoke a sense of connection and timelessness. Process is the driving force in my most recent body of work where paintings are characterized by focus on repetition, fluidly applied colour,and ideogramatic images. Multiple layers of glaze, in conjunction with the use of metallic/iridescent pigments, allow each acrylic painting to reveal subtle
compositional changes depending on the precise angle at which light hits the surface of the canvas, creating a richness and depth that is difficult to reproduce with a photograph.

Painting sessions serve as important meditations where one becomes at once both hyper-aware and lost in the process. The “Satori” series originates from a concept central to Zen Buddhism where “Satori”, in its simplest form, is described as a state of sudden spiritual enlightenment in which one becomes able to recognize and appreciate the “true essence or nature” of things. Key aspects of this dogma include emphasis on inner stillness, intuition and the notion of impermanence – carving out frequent opportunities for quiet reflection is a vital component of my artistic process. The multi-layered Satori paintings are the result of a continuing exploration of the blending of traditional elements of Eastern art (balance, simplicity, “essence”) with key elements of Lyrical Abstraction (process, repetition, spontaneous expression). An avid naturalist (raised by a pair of hardcore “birders”) and a strong believer in basic philosophies regarding the interconnectedness of humans and the natural world, I can often be found hiking with my dog, taking in the scenery and quietly absorbing images and impressions for use back in the studio. Some more abstracted than others, my paintings are infused with symbols, colours and shapes inspired by elements of nature.

To view more of Laurie's works, please click here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brian Lorimer: Kids of Dontro

Where do I begin to write about the kids of Dontro?

I find myself intriqued by the mechanics of how this picture works. When we look into it we see two little children who are surrounded by semi impressionistic/abstract designs,shapes and colours.

This surround effect adds drama to the work and it enhances their visual impact. Its as if the children are caught walking out of an earth coloured tunnel into a world of brightness, and light.

Take a look at the undefinable surround and you will see Brian's love of abstraction coming through with sparkles, bubbles, scratches and feather shapes. Contrast this with such definable qualities as timidity and shyness which are shown in the faces and body language of the two children.

The more I look at the children the more questions come to mind. Why is the little boy naked? Do all little boys his age and in his culture, go naked? Or is this ia world of desparate poverty and need.

This intersection between such defined questions and such undefinable abstraction is the point of power. The children are enhanced. Their needs are more dominant.
Look at the little girl's feet. She seems to emerge from mist. She walks out of her world into our hearts.

Now, look into their faces. They are looking at you and responding to you as the viewer. You are part of this work, like it or not. Are the children awaiting your response?

You certainly know how to reach into our deepest sensitivities, Brian. A well constructed and powerfully painted work.

Artist's Comment


This painting would not exist if not for some very courageous people. You see, one year ago I was invited to join a group known as City2Sunrise (C2S) to help them document an amazing journey throughout South East Asia to raise funding and awareness for some very special orphans in Cambodia. C2S consists of four guys from Australia who embarked on a journey of 14’000kms that would take them through five countries. It took them over three years to plan and almost four months to complete, all on motocross bikes.

In January 2010 my partner Margaret and I joined the team in Singapore. We accompanied the guys on and off for five weeks documenting the adventure at strategic points along the way. Along with us was filmographer Christopher Clarke who was hired to create a documentary film of the adventure. Of course there were many highlights but none touched the moment we all arrived in the Cambodian capitol Phnom Penh to meet the children of Sunrise Children’s Villages.

Sunrise is operated by one of the most dynamic women you will ever meet. Her name is Geraldine Cox, a small robust women with fire-red hair and a personality to match. She met one of the team members at a fundraiser in Sydney Australia and they were so impressed they offered to help any way they could. Several weeks later City2Sunrise was formed.

As for my part, I returned home and began a series of work that to date has been exhibited in Canada and Australia raising over $25,000 for the kids. In total City2Sunrise has now raised over $135,000.

After the Bath by Paul Peel

After the Bath, by Paul Peel was painted in 1890 as an oil on canvas. Its a big work 147x110 cm and belongs to the Government of Ontario.

I first saw this work, while on tour of Parkwoods, the home of RS McLaughlin, the Canadian founder of General Motors in Oshawa, On. I remember it for I was walking down the great staircase and it was hanging on the wall before me.

That would have been before 1972 when it was gifted to the Ontario Government.
The size and power and richness and colour of the work, stopped me in my tracks.
R.S. McLaughlin died that year, so it seems evident that it was bequethed to the government.

Wikepdidia writes that it won a broze medal at the Paris Salon in 1892.

Peel was known for his often sentimental nudes and for his pictures of children; he was among the first Canadian painters to explore the nude as a subject.

The Canadian Art History online archive reports that Paul had two little children, a boy and a girl and that they both posed nude for him and were subjects in several of his works.

While I don't know the journey of this work and how it came to be in the McLaughlin family, the family did have strong connections with the art community. The Art Gallery of Oshawa website, reports that Ewart McLaughlin and his wife Alexandra Luke made donations of work to the Oshawa art gallery, and that Sam McLaughlin's grand daughter, Isabela was a significant artist and a contributor to the gallery and to the arts.

There are far too many holes in this brief internet search for information on this work and I invite readers to contribute to this story.

There is an item on the allexperts website, that reports that the Slack Family of Eastern Ontario came into possession of a work called, "After the Bath" and that they were seeking information on their work. Were the several paintings done on the same theme by Peel?

A copy of the work went on the Christie's auction block in London England on March 18,2008 where it sold for $7.545.

wikipedia link. please click here.

Art history archive. Please click here.

Oshawa Art Gallery. please click here.

Christie's auction information.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Laurie Near - An Inner Quest for Beauty

Laurie Near's love of art and life radiates around her. Laurie's journey in art, began in her childhood in Chatham, Ontario, when she discovered her artistic nature. Laurie was the proverbial, 'classroom artist', and her journey through school saw her consistently winning art awards. Like many artists, Laurie wrestled with finding her direction in life and this resulted in her studying Fine Arts, Child Studies, and Social Sciences at the University of Guelph. Her academic journey saw her graduate from Teacher's College with a M.Ed, which led her to her present job of teaching art at the secondary school level, in Belleville, Ontario. Through it all, Laurie engaged in an intense study of art in workshops, and weekend and night classes. Her artistic interests led her from photorealistic graphite drawings of animals to a number of whimsical series including works featuring insects, flowers, cats and quirky characters. This was a period of artistic apprenticeship for Laurie. After being asked to teach a course on world religions, Laurie began her own personal inner journey, with readings on Eastern religions such as Taoism and Buddhism directing the way. Laurie wrestles with the struggle of juggling the responsibilities of her teaching job and life with her desire to create, stating that " there’s nothing like being in the studio with a good mellow music-mix playing, a full glass of wine and a good chunk of uninterrupted time ahead of you…pure bliss."

Like most artists, Laurie finds great pleasure in talking art and associating with creative people. The last few years have seen Laurie's works migrate into galleries and private collections in Canada, the States, and the UK. Her work can be found in GalleryArtPlus, in Belleville and in f.a.d. Gallery in Bloomfield, Ontario.

Please click here to be taken to Laurie's website to see more of her works.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Paul Peel so Great an Artist in so Few Years of Life

Canadian painter Paul Peel (Born November 7th 1860 in London/Ontario – Died October 3rd 1892 in Paris/France) was the son of a marble-cutter and drawing teacher (John Robert Peel). He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy, Philidelphia (1877-1880 under Thomas Eakins); the R.A. Schools, London ,under William Lees Judson,(1880); and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1881) under Gerome and others.

He returned to London, Ontario, and Toronto for a short time about 1890, but was chiefly active in Paris. He travelled widely in Canada and in Europe, exhibiting as a member of the Ontario Society of Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy. He later returned to Paris where he died in October 1892. Before his death he had achieved a considerable success for his technique in such academic subjects as 'After the Bath' (1890).

His sentimental studies of children, such as The Modest Model (1889) and After the Bath (1890), followed the carefully modelled prescription of the Académie. After the Bath won Peel a medal at the 1890 Salon and displays his skill using light and colour.

He was one of the first Canadian painters to portray nude figures, as in his A Venetian Bather (1889). At the time of his death Peel appeared to be changing his style toward Impressionism. However, he did not live to develop his art beyond its academic sentimentalism. His lung infection was likely induced by overwork and exhaustion. A major retrospective of his work was held in London, Ontario in 1987.

He had two children, a son and then a daughter, who were his models in some of his art.

Many of his works now hang in the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Source: This page was extracted from Art History Archived. com. Please click here.

Note: name, William Lee Judson from the research of Mo Bayliss.

Addend: Answers.Com adds this information to his life story

(b London, Ont., 7 Nov 1860; d Paris, 3 Oct 1892). Canadian painter, active also in France. He was born of English parents who had settled in Canada in the early 1850s, and his early artistic ambitions were encouraged by his father, a stone-carver and drawing instructor. From 1877 to 1880 he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, learning particularly from the progressive Thomas Eakins. He was elected a member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1880, and later that year he left for Europe, possibly stopping in London on his way to France. He spent the first part of 1881 in Pont-Aven in Brittany, where he produced the religious work Devotion (1881; Ottawa, N.G.).

Please click here to be taken to the, website.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Anne Hudec: 'Innocence'.

This beautiful work by Anne Hudec is a heart stopper.

Anne's work was last featured on May 17, 2010 of the Fredericks Artworks blog and was recently the cover featured artist of Splash 11 and since then she continues to produce works which excite the imagination.

Innocence looks like a classical bronze statue of a figure out of Greek or Roman Mythology. Anne's palette is rich with bronze hues. Her little maid, has her eyes closed and this leads me to wonder what is going on within her interior landscape. Is she dreaming? Is she lost in thought? Her eyes and features are gentle and serenely, beautiful. Her smile is almost beatific and her features are loving.

Anne's point of contrast comes where she presents the smooth round, gentle facial features beneath a crop of chiseled locks. And the permanence and strength of these locks contrast with her flowing cape that lifts in the breeze.

Innocence looks on the surface like a bronzed statue with features that have been immortalized. Anne has captured a sense of timelessness in this world of transience and impermanence.

Artist's Comments:

The creation of this painting came in a most unexpected way, and was the most difficult piece I have ever painted. She came about after a time of great fear, worry, and exhaustion, and was a healing balm that helped give equilibrium to my life again. In 2005 my husband and I made a fabulous trip to the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy. The trip was spectacular, encompassing 8-10 hour days of hiking and climbing for an entire month. Upon our return home, my husband – and best friend – displayed flu symptoms which quickly escalated to the news that he had Leukemia. Our world crashed around us, and the reality of our situation seemed an even greater downfall considering how fit and healthy he was just two weeks before.
While my husband lay in Emergency, I went home that afternoon in shock, and packed for an indefinite relocation to Vancouver for his treatment. He was airlifted the next morning with me by his side, and I almost lost him the following day. And so began the struggle of both of our lives to battle this terrible disease in which only half the patients survive. Over the next five months, he fought a lung infection, and a muscle virus that put him into a wheelchair for three weeks. He braved the terrible chemotherapy that wracks your body with nausea and weakness, the bone marrow biopsies and spinal taps, the invasive tests and the blood transfusions. I was with him through almost every minute of his treatment – sleeping in a cot in gown, gloves, mask and goggles while he was in the isolation unit, setting 4 alarm clocks each night to give him round-the-clock pills and nursing him through fevers in our rented apartment when the Leukemia Department was full and the Emergency Ward overflowing. Five months passed and I am proud to say that my husband pulled through the treatment like a Trooper.

By the time we came home, he was so weak that he could not walk up 3 steps without stopping to rest. Life was supposed to become normal again. But – what is normal after such an experience? You realize that life really hangs by a gossamer thread, and your foundation has suddenly crumbled beneath you. It is difficult to trust all is well again, and to start making plans for the future when you have come to concentrate on surviving the day.

I paint to celebrate the joy in my life. My intentions are to express the positive aspects and beauty of the human being, and I hope that I can convey those thoughts to all who view my work. After such an event I needed to regain this joy after feeling like it had been steadily drained from me. I searched through my reference material, and came across the image that is now portrayed in this painting – coincidentally photographed in Paris – the city of love. It called to me; even though she was dark in colouration, her smile was slight and gentle, and her dimpled cheek and down cast eyes were innocent. Innocent of pain and fear, innocent of any cares or worries in the world. Her demeanor called out for me to paint her, yet her beginnings were a struggle to lay down. “Innocence” took several months to complete. Yet that time was healing and well spent, digesting the past, letting go of the fear, and looking forward to a future: a future that has been blessed with a healthy and happy husband by my side, and the inspiration to allow me to share the joys and beauty of life once again through my paintings

Please click here if you wish to see Innocence set in Anne's home surroundings.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Alex Fong presents, 'Daddy's Home'

I love mysteries in paintings, and Daddy's Home by Alex Fong gives me all the question marks I need to intrigue me. First off, Alex comes from Kelowna, BC. When you look at this painting you see the beauty of the surrounding Okanagan Valley. Alex, calls himself a watercolourist. But, the reality is - he paints in acrylics in the style of a watercolourist. For instance, the background of this work flows with the wet on wet application of paint. It looks like a watercolour painted with watercolour paint. The work dances with an adventurous spirit. The foreground grapevine, floats down the hill like an unfolding musical score and the leaves seem to dance to the melody. Alex captures a spirit of gaiety. It's a champagne and joy work and its got a few delightful surprises. His palette sparkles with colour and little bubbles float like coloured balloons over the sky, and grape leaves take on a variety of coloured shapes.

I like the way that Alex teases his viewers with such little surprises as a little pheasant sitting amidst the trellises in the lower left corner. And there - tucked into the picture, within the floating musical lines, we find the man with the white coat and hat, who the title suggests is likely Daddy. The diminutive size of the subject seems ironic if we are looking at Daddy. Alex intentionally leaves us with many questions and few answers. It teases our imaginations. It's classic Alex Fong work.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Anne Langdon, early Canadian Artist, by Janine Rizzetti

‘A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada: The Journals, Letters and Art of Anna Langton’

Written by, Janine Rizetti
Published in: 'The Resident Judge of Port Phillip', Wordpress blog.
November, 25,2010.

About the Author and the Blog:
'The Resident Judge of Port Phillip', is written and produced by Janine Rizzetti, who is a history postgraduate student at La Trobe University, in Australia.

Was Anne Langton a proto-blogger? At first glance you’d have to say no: mid 30s (huh!), spinster, she traveled with her parents and aunt to live with her brother on a property in Upper Canada in the mid 1830s. She began writing a journal to send to the brother who remained in England as the rest of the family sailed away. She knew that she couldn’t keep up her writing on a long term basis, so she divided the year into quarters, then wrote a daily diary for the first month of each quarter; then the next year the second month of each quarter; the next year the third etc. In this way, she eventually covered the whole year although it ended up taking her four years.

But she certainly had the blogger’s sensibility of consciously framing everyday events as a potential blog-post:

Did you ever a write a journal with the intention of sending it to anyone? I think it would be difficult to do with simplicity. One is tempted to act sometimes with the page in view that has to be written, and a day’s proceedings would be often diverted from their ordinary course by the recollection that they were to be recorded. It is different in stirring scenes where events are leading you; but in the employments of everyday life, especially when information has to be collected, inferences drawn, and an average estimate to be formed from the narration, journalizing does become difficult. (Oct 1838)

Anne Langton was born in 1804 into an aristocratic, mercantile family and spent her early years at the family home, Blythe Hall, parts of which dated back to the 12th century. Between the age of eleven to sixteen she traveled with her family, including her maiden Aunt Alice, on an elongated Grand Tour. The desire to escape the shame attached to the decline in their family fortunes led to their extended absence, but eventually the family business in Liverpool foundered and they had to sell Blythe Hall. Anne’s future took a definite turn for the worse: no coming out, and greatly reduced marriage prospects. Her brother John, unable to make money by tutoring students, emigrated to Upper Canada and in 1837 his parents, Aunt Alice and Anne joined him, leaving behind another brother William, his wife and three small daughters. John prepared a house for them, close by his own more humble cottage, although it was not completely finished by the time they arrived and it took over a year to paper the walls so that the logs were no longer visible.

The family was just the type of emigrant that Upper Canada wanted: English, economically self-sufficient, and genteel. They brought with them their furniture and possessions, and joined an elite circle of friends and settlers. They engaged in regattas, ploughing matches, church activities and ‘bees’ to help their friends erect buildings but social distinctions were always maintained. For example, the gentry would dine and dance in the house, while the rest would hold their own celebration in the barn. The ladies of the house undertook charitable activities, and acted as healers and midwives among the sick and needy of the parish.

The life of the 30-plus spinster living with her family was a very constrained one. She desperately wanted to see Niagara Falls but her mother would not allow her to; she was berated for walking alone in the woods, and her mother was very nervous about her boating on the river, their main form of communication during the winter months. She was a talented artist, but mainly painted landscapes or just occasionally portraits of family and friends- never as a form of income. She established a small school, and started the circulating library.

She has a quick, discerning eye and a Lizzy Bennett-like humour. She does not seem to have any close female friends or, indeed, love interests, and the journal is silent about her brother’s marriage. This must surely have caused her some qualms: she had reconciled herself to- even welcomed- the idea of them growing old together, acting as housekeeper in their shared home.

The diary entries are interspersed with letters written not only by her, but also her mother and occasionally the men of the family. She finally achieved her goal of covering the whole year. The entries become sparser after a few years, which is perhaps to be expected, but I found myself missing her as she moved off into middle age and relative silence. The book has a generous, well-written introduction and its conclusion allows you to say your farewells to her. The introduction in particular is interspersed with Anne’s sketches and portraits. This is not the first published version of her journals: there were two preceding versions, and Williams has recovered some of the text that had been omitted from the previous publications.

What happened then? Her mother and aunt died of a form of malaria, and after her mother’s death she returned to England, undecided whether to work as a governess in a friend’s school or not. As it was, her brother John and his wife Lydia back in Upper Canada asked her to return to help with the children, which she gladly did. The family moved to Peterboro where John pursued a political career. She spent her life as a maiden aunt; she traveled with her many nieces and nephews accompanying them on trips, and died at the ripe old age of 88.

reference: Barbara Williams (ed.) A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada: The Journals, Letters and Art of Anne Langton, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2008

Please click here to be taken to 'The Resident Judge of Port Phillip' blog to read the source article.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ken Tobias, Water Pitcher and Rose

Water pitcher and Rose

Ken Tobias kindly responded to my request to send me copies of his most recent works to look at for the blog. I found myself fascinated by his picture, "Water Pitcher and Rose."

Ken presents his arrangement, as if they are sitting on a stage framed within a triangular beam of light. The advantage of this is that they are accentuated by the surrounding blackness. Wasn't it Renoir who advanced the theory that black enhances colour? It certainly does in this case.

As I look at this, I find myself fascinated by the pitcher and bowl. Its symmetrical flow of lines are graceful, and its colouring is sensitive and delicate. I am intrigued by the light patterns, and the visual pathways of delicately shaped lines which work their way around it.

Ken, masterfully presents us with the power of a series of contrasts. The pitcher is elegantly dominating and the rose is almost weakly and nakedly imprisoned within its waterglass. And as if to underscore the dominance of the pitcher, the rose leans towards it.

Not just that, but the smaller size of the rose contrasts with the larger size of the pitcher. The rose even loses out when it comes to colour. Its colouring is subdued, and the colour of the pitcher is strikingly bold. And as if to rub insult into injury, the rose and its watercglass has to share your focus with a towel which hangs behind it.

I love the colouring that Ken uses to make his work come to life. Even though the Rose leaves a bit of its reflected colour on the side of the pitcher, the pitcher, gets the fullest glory of the rose by radiating its soft opera red tone across much of its surface.

Ken,you've got a winner in this one.

Artist's Comments
it is a pleasure to hear you like a poet and a director observing a drama on the canvas. I found myself staring at the painting through your eyes.
It was uncanny. I got a whole new view. Although I'm aware of what I'm doing on my canvas when I draft and paint it I also feel detached at times
and find myself coming back to the whole of the painting and then seeing the composition and the colours holding hands and
getting that it's balanced feeling and not really quite knowing how it happened.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Logger Mistakenly Hauls Away Modern Art Piece

BY Doug Spiers
Winnipeg Free Press

what almost happened, the more my heart goes out to Ron Fahey.

I'm guessing you have never heard of Ron before. Well neither had I, at least not until Tuesday morning when I came across a shocking story from The Canadian Press on our news wire.

According to this story, Ron is a hard-working, 59-year-old logger in Sackville, N.B., who was wandering around in the woods in the middle of a waterfowl park the other day when he came across -- get ready for a surprise -- a great big pile of wood.

If I'm going too fast for anyone, let's take a moment here to recap. Ron Fahey is a logger. In New Brunswick. He went for a walk. In the woods. He stumbled on a pile of wood. A big pile. In the woods.

OK, if we're all up to speed, I'll tell you what happened next. What happened, the story states, is that, being a logger, Ron decided to haul some of the logs away and use them for firewood.

What a moron, eh? Seriously? I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: "Doug, I strongly suspect this was no mere wood pile. I suspect this was a work of modern art."

Correct! This wood pile in the middle of the woods was in fact a work of art by noted local sculptor Paul Griffin, who was paid $5,000 to create his masterpiece, which consists of two dead maple trees entwined on top of a two-metre-high stack of deadwood gathered from the forest.

I mean, what was Ron thinking? As hard as it is for sophisticated persons such as you and I to imagine, Ron did not realize he was looking at a significant piece of modern art.

Where you and I might look at this pile of wood and see man's inhumanity to man or man's search for his own identity in a world gone mad, Ron looked at this artwork and thought to himself: "Hmmm, I'll bet that will burn real good."

Here's what he told The Canadian Press: "To me, it was just a pile of wood. If that's art, then I'm in the wrong racket. I guess I'm not cultured."

In fairness, before I am inundated with outraged emails from professional art snots, let me confess: I know even less about modern art than Ron. I'll bet a lot of you are in the same, poorly decorated boat.

As hard as this is to believe, I am the sort of wilfully ignorant person who appreciates the realism of the Dogs Playing Poker school of art, wherein you look at a painting and think to yourself: "Wow! Dogs! Playing poker! Ha ha ha!"

Call me an uncultured lunatic, but I feel a piece of art should, whenever possible, look like something artistic, or if that's not possible, it should look like something someone might recognize.

The problem is the last thing a modern artist wants to do is to create a work of art that members of the public will recognize as art. The result is, when the average person goes to an art museum, they waste valuable time appreciating trash cans or bathroom fixtures or souvenir shop items, which they have mistakenly confused with actual works of art.

Unless you are a highly trained professional artist, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between an extremely valuable piece of modern sculpture and, say, a motor vehicle collision, or household items someone has piled on their curb during a giveaway weekend.

So I have a great deal of difficulty "appreciating" modern art. A good example would be a giant statue that was unveiled not long ago in the Austrian city of Salzburg on the eve of a visit by Prince Charles.

This statue in front of the Rupertinum Modern Art Gallery consisted of a huge naked man bending over backwards with his hands on the ground and a part of his anatomy that we do not discuss in family newspapers thrusting into the sky, if you catch my general drift.

I'm not sure what artistic message the giant naked man was meant to convey, but I suspect it was something like: "You will not be surprised to hear that I have a hard time finding pants in my size."

The point is, it would have been a tragedy for mankind if the pile of wood sculpture in Sackville, N.B., "the culture capital of Canada," had been accidentally used as firewood.

Fortunately, the town's manager rushed over to Ron Fahey and stopped him before he could haul the wood away. And the artist is considering putting a sign up identifying his wood pile as an official work of art.

I think that's a great idea, but this discussion has tired me out. I think we should all curl up beside my fireplace and get cosy. Hey, you guys look a little cold. Here, let me toss a few more logs on the fire...


Please click here to see the article online.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Cloud by Bertram Brooker

I was drifting through Paul Dorsey's 'Dali House', and came upon 'The Cloud' by Bertram Brooker. Paul caught my attention when he called Bertram Brooker the best Canadian Painter who ever lived.

Ok, that aside, for we are each entitled to individual opinions. That's what makes the world such an interesting place. But, I found myself taking a long careful look at Brooker's Cloud.

I preface what I am about to write about 'The Cloud' with this quotation by Charles Hill. "They (Brooker’s works) combine abstracted concepts of spiritual awakening and natural phenomena with representational elements.”(Charles C. Hill - Canadian Painting in the Thirties – 1975 – National Gallery of Canada).

To begin, I am unsure of where this painting is set but I don't think that matters a lot, for it is really located in the inner vision of the artist and the imagination of the viewer. That being said, it has a certain Okanagan feeling about it.

On first view, we see a painting that literally rolls and undulates down from the background mountains to the foothills and on down into the rolling shape of the trees and fields.

There is a gentle sublimity about it all. The few hard angles we find are the geometrically cut farm fields on the bottom left where the human presence has attempted to cut order and design into it all. But, for the most part, humanity seems to be a small player in it all. The houses and buildings are small and almost insignficant and there are no people to be seen, and there is no movement of life.

Even these hard angled fields gradually give way to gentle pastures. Human concerns seem to surrender to the unrolling, unending universe.

To view 'The Cloud' and Paul's article on Bertram Brooker, please click here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Doris McCarthy, Reknown Toronto Artist dies at age of 100

Born on July 7, 1910, in Calgary, Alta., McCarthy moved to Toronto with her family just before the First World War. She studied at the Ontario College of Art on scholarship under Group of Seven artists, including J.E. H. MacDonald and Arthur Lismer. After graduating in 1930, she worked for a pittance at Grip, the advertising agency where some the Group had met years before. Wanting a real job, she became a teacher at Central Technical School and taught there for the next four decades. Artists Harold Klunder and Joyce Wieland were among her students.

At 62, she took early retirement, and devoted herself to her own empowerment as a painter, a traveller and a mature student. She travelled throughout Canada, including the High Arctic, seeking inspiration from the contours and the colours of this vast land, and, at the age of 76, she graduated with a BA (Hons.) from the U of T.

Besides a prolific output as a painter, she was the first female president of the Ontario Society of Artists and the author of three memoirs. The last, Ninety Years Wise, was published in 2004. McCarthy, who never married, received many honours during her lifetime, including the Order of Canada and several honorary degrees. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Source: Globe and Mail. Please click here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Toller Cranston - Art and the Skater

This news item in the National Post, (written by Mellisa Leong, Nov. 4, 2010) caught my attention.

Toller Cranston did it his way! His journey to become a world class skater went without the financial support of his parents.

I first started at the age of eight. I went from high school to L’École des beaux-arts. This was at the same time as skating. I was self-supporting at 16 as an artist. My parents did not help me financially. I had to pay for me, which meant every conceivable expense known to man within figure skating — certainly, it would have been $60,000.

Melissa's interesting interview with Toller can be read by clicking here.

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.