Friday, September 9, 2011

Watercolour and Economic Necessity

Interviewee: Carl Schaefer
Interviewer: Charles Hill
Interview Date: 11-12 October 1973
Transcriber: Lexitech International
Transcription Date: 31 March 2008
Transcription Editors: Nina Berkhout, Marcia Rodriguez, Charles Hill, Cyndie Campbell, Amanda Graham and Marie-Louise Labelle
Archival Reference: Canadian Painting in the Thirties Exhibition Records, National Gallery of Canada Fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

SCHAEFER: With the advent of 1930s’ economic conditions, and this will fit in I think very well with you, of the whole idea of the thirties. Why? No money. We were on our uppers. God, it was awful. We couldn’t afford oil paint. What did we do? We find another medium. We do a lot of drawings, drawings. I couldn’t afford a dollar and fifty cents for a tube of cadmium yellow. I couldn’t do it. But I could afford twenty-five and thirty-five cents for a pretty good sheet of handmade watercolour paper. And a small tube, this big, an inch and half, which I could buy for, say, thirty cents. This was the difference: twenty-five and thirty cents against a dollar and a half, against a dollar seventy-five or perhaps two dollars. Canvas, stretchers, and so—which—this will come in with you, and I think you can dovetail this in, the advent of the Watercolour Society. The Watercolour Society was formed. Charter granted in 1935 or so; I became a chartered member at that time.\

HILL: Wasn’t the Water Colour Society really formed by Carmichael and Casson in ’26?
SCHAEFER: Oh yes. Yeah. Pardon? In ’26?
HILL: In ’26.
SCHAEFER: That’s right, but you see, they were the forerunners.
HILL: Right.
SCHAEFER: See, like Owen Staples, and C.W. Jefferys, and people like that.
HILL: But then the Water Colour Society did take on a far greater importance—
SCHAEFER: Oh yes. In the thirties it was no holds barred.
HILL: Right

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