Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wayne Clarkson Artist Contributes to War of 1812 Bi centennary

This meticulously realistic painting by Wayne Clarkson will be on display at the Grimsby |Museum to celebrate the bi-centenary of the War of 1812.

General Sir Isaac Brock is remembered and celebrated across Canada. Streets, schools, and even a city are named for the famous general, who helped defend Canada against the invading Americans in the War of 1812.

Yet, Brock died in the first months of the war, in October 1812. The war raged on for three more years. Only historians seem to remember the name of the man who took over leadership at Queenston Heights, though he won a baronetcy for his valour. That man, Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe, also become Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada during the war years, yet his portrait does not hang in Queen’s Park. Hale’s obscurity may be coming to end, thanks in part of the efforts of Linda Stanley, founder of Canadian Art Cards.

“Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe is a man almost completely forgotten,” said Stanley. “He was not a popular commander.”

Sheaffe was disliked by citizens of Upper Canada and his own troops. Though he won at the Battle of Queenston Heights, his cautious leadership meant he was later accused of cowardice. At the Battle of York, he withdrew his regular troops, and left the local militia to be killed or captured. American forces burned and looted the town, and Sheaffe was removed from command and from his office as Lieutenant Governor. As a result, some of his positive actions are forgotten.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Art of Ion Vincent Danu

Its been fun to see the works of artist Ion Vincent Danu.  Ion is not only a good artist who enjoys exploring a breadth of different subjects, but he is also a good caricaturist.

Its important to understand that caricaturism is not cartooning, although cartooning may embrace caricaturism.  There's a fine but important difference here.

These two works by Ion, are good examples of what I mean.  These works are disarmingly simple in style. There's a certain reduction of features as Ion gently probes to see which features he can exaggerate, be it lips,  length of neck, cranial dome,  or forehead furrowing,  Its as if Ion, carefully massages these features, while still maintaining an overall integrity in the subject's face.  And, here's the important thing - in gently exaggerating these elements, Ion actually strengthens certain characteristics.  His work becomes overcharged.

These two works seem disarmingly simple in style. The facial contours have hard outlines. Look at Meika's hair and see how the colour of paint flows into the background. Or is it vice versa?  Meika's eyes are large, her lips are sensual and her neck is long. Both subjects have features that present strong personality characteristics.

I like the feeling of liberation I get from Ion's works.  The casual looseness, bold colours and strong delineation of his subjects' personalities give me the sense that we see an artist who thoroughly enjoys his creative experience.

Artist's Comments:

When you have limited time to finish a portrait (between 15 and 35-40 minutes if you are lucky) simplification in drawing and color is essential and inevitable. Speed also give more spontaneity to the final result, more raw emotion.(As for "caricaturist", I call myself that mainly because it's easier to understood by the public and less binding  than "portrayer", it gives you some leeway to exaggerate, instead of a photographic, boring, resemblance to the model...)
No doubt I enjoy immensely drawing portraits like this one. As for Mieka, a kind, generous and sensual young woman I met at Shazamfest (a mini-woodstock on the Canadian side of the border, near Way's Mills, in the EasternTownships) she has a very interesting heritage, being of Amerindian and Irish or Scot descent, both visible in her features, hair and eyes color.
As for my self portrait, it speaks for itself. It's a Ecce Homo kind of self portrait I used to do every year the 31 of December. 2005, when I did this one, was a borderline year. I was still quite sick (diabetes and complications) but I have started to radically change my life style, especially what and how I was eating, with quite impressive good results.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville by Marlene Hilton Moore

If you've ever driven down University Avenue, in Toronto, you will  have seen a procession of large bronze statues looking over the city.  They are larger then life. Their formidable size is a statement in itself that their image is far greater then reality. They have become apotheosized.

Somewhere along the way sculptor Marlene Hilton Moore opted for realism.  She likes statues which can be seen - face to face - like real people.

This sculpture is of Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville a hero from New France who helped drive out English invaders. It can be found in Ottawa's Confederation Square.

To read the source article, in Canada.Com, please click here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ion Vincent Danu, Artist from Shebrooke Qu.

"I am a Canadian visual artist, born in Sibiu, Transylvania. I loved to draw as an infant and between 14 and 18 I was an 'apprentice artist' at the Art High School in Sibiu. Then life took over and for about 20 + years art was just an occasional delight... I've returned to my first love, drawing, painting, in Sherbrooke, Quebec, where I immigrated with my family in 1998. Since 2003, I'm a full-time professional artist, teaching artistic expression to catholic nuns on the side...

I paint mostly in watercolor and acrylics but I cannot stop myself experimenting with all kind of other themes, materials and styles (The art dealers say this is not good but what the heck!?) I've learned to take pictures since I was 11-12 years old and a camera is always somewhere near. I use photography as a art in itself and also as an auxiliary source of inspiration and documentation for my drawings and paintings. Recently, I've started to work in the fascinating field of digital art.

Writing is a complementary mean to express myself (and, as Graham Greene, put it once: a therapy.) Being an admirer (not to say a huge fan!) of Vincent van Gogh I have a blog called just that: 'Van Gogh and I'. Please click here to visit the site.

In fact, what Graham Greene saidabout writing is, for me too, emblematic:

'Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or PAINT can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation. Auden noted: 'Man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep.'

A couple of years ago I understood that my main vocation was to draw portraits (the thing Vincent van Gogh, his favorite artist, always wanted to do - and did - but less than he wanted...) Now, he is quite happy and hopes to stay like matter what..."

To visit Ion's site to see his paintings, please click here.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

When Artists Fight Back - Franke James "listed" by the Government.

The latest story out of Ottawa, is about the government listing BC artist Franke James.

"Franke James, a Canadian artist, and environmental advocate, blacklisted by the Harper government has obtained internal documents indicating Canadian officials worked behind the scenes to discredit her work."

An internal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) media monitoring report from July 2011 lists James as "an inconvenient artist" ("une artiste qui dérange"), the headline of an article in La Presse. The document was part of the 1,500 pages of internal documents James obtained through Access to Information requests since August 2011.

"To be on the list of hot foreign issues, it was just shocking," James said in a telephone interview. "I'm right up there with Arctic sovereignty and Afghanistan."

This is beginning to sound frighteningly like the secretive actions that communist governments took against poets, artists and intellectuals prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The whole concept of putting a Canadian citizen on a secret government list of  "Foreign Issues" of concern, suggests that James is viewed as an outside threat and not as a citizen, living within her country.

Take a look at her. Does she look like a serious threat. I think not.

This government's attack on the freedom of the artists to express their opinions, if not, undemocratic, it suggests a draconian fear of  'the enemy within'.   About all I will say is that artists are the eyes and ears and voices of the people.

The exerpt, and pictures for this blog entry came from the Vancouver Observor. The news entry can no longer be accessed online.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canadian Contemporary Art at US Show

A vast array of vibrant Canadian art — created by artists ranging from Kim Adams to Annie Pootoogook — has taken over the MASS MoCA contemporary art venue in North Adams, Mass.

Oh, Canada, which opened to the public in late May, explores the vast expanse of art being created today in our country.

Organizers have billed the show the largest survey of contemporary Canadian art ever produced outside of Canada.

CBC's  Arts and Entertainment section online features this story.  If you wish to read the complete article, please click here.,

The Mass Moca website provides this information about the show:

Oh, Canada
May 26, 2012 through April 1, 2013
Canada is the second largest country in the world by area and boasts both a vibrant nationwide arts community and a strong public commitment to culture. And yet Canadian contemporary art has not received widespread attention outside Canada's borders. The largest survey of contemporary Canadian art ever produced outside Canada, Oh Canada features work by more than 60 artists who hail from every province and nearly every territory in the country, spanning multiple generations and working in all media. MASS MoCA's curator Denise Markonish spent the last three years crisscrossing Canada to view hundreds of exhibitions in museums and galleries, visiting over 400 artists' studios, and making connections with a full range of artists working in Canada today.
 Markonish's extensive research brings this project the fresh perspective of an informed and curious outsider. While Oh, Canada will ask questions such as "What are some of the distinguishing characteristics of art made in the country?" its aim is not to present a merely nationalistic show. Rather, the goal is to encourage a dialogue about contemporary art made in Canada (one touching on issues of craft/making, conceptualism, humor and identity), a dialogue that will resonate just as deeply for Canadians as for outsiders.
 The exhibition will be mounted in the 14,000 sf comprising MASS MoCA's first floor galleries, as well as additional indoor and outdoor spaces. From an initial list of over 800 prospects Markonish narrowed down her list, focusing for the most part on artists who have shown less frequently in the U.S. The artists participating in Oh, Canada include:
 Kim Adams, Gisele Amantea, Shuvinai Ashoona, Amalie Atkins, Nicolas Baier, Daniel Barrow, Dean Baldwin, Rebecca Belmore, Patrick Bernatchez, BGL, Valérie Blass, Shary Boyle, Bill Burns, Eric Cameron, Cedar Tavern Singers AKA Les Phonorealistes, Janice Wright Cheney, Douglas Coupland, Ruth Cuthand, Dave and Jenn, Michel De Broin, Wally Dion, Mario Doucette, Marcel Dzama, Brendan Fernandes, Michael Fernandes, Eryn Foster, Noam Gonick and Luis Jacob, Hadley + Maxwell, David R. Harper, David Hoffos, Kristan Horton, Terrance Houle, Allison Hrabluik, Sarah Anne Johnson, Garry Neill Kennedy, Wanda Koop, Diane Landry, Micah Lexier, Craig Leonard, Myfanwy MacLeod, Kelly Mark, Luanne Martineau, Rita McKeough, Divya Mehra, Chris Millar, Kent Monkman, Kim Morgan, Andrea Mortson, Clint Neufeld, Graeme Patterson, Ed Pien, Annie Pootoogook, Ned Pratt, Michael Snow, Charles Stankievech, Joseph Tisiga, Hans Wendt, Janet Werner, Mitchell Wiebe, John Will, and Étienne Zack. 
The first work visitors will encounter at the museum will be Kim Adams’s Optic Nerve, a car that has been altered to glow from within like a giant lamp. A new massive outdoor commission by Michel de Broin will use full-sized picnic tables as its basic building element, while another new work by BGL will be comprised of crowd control barriers fashioned into a fantastic carnival ride in our front courtyard.
Visitors will find new work from Gisele Amantea, who will create a densely patterned abstraction re-conceiving the foyer of MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center for the Performing Arts. In the lobby, viewers will encounter work by Rita McKeough and new songs by the Cedar Tavern Singers (who will record new songs based on Canada’s arrival in the Berkshires). In the main galleries, John Will’s new text-based piece will include the names of all the artists from the exhibition. 
Ten other new commissions will join 95 already existing works (made within the past five years) for the exhibition including: Micah Lexier’s A Coin in Every Corner comprised of a series of specially minted coins painstakingly installed in corners throughout the multi-building factory campus; Kent Monkman’s double diorama based on fictitious buddy characters Tonto and the Lone Ranger, and Germany’s Winnetou and Old Shatterhand; and Ed Pien’s installation made from cut paper and projected video; and new work from Terrance Houle, Divya Mehra, Graeme Patterson, Garry Neill Kennedy, Mitchell Wiebe, Craig Leonard, Janice Wright Cheney and David Harper. 
A comprehensive full-color 450-page catalogue by MIT Press will accompany the exhibition and will provide insights into Canada’s thriving contemporary cultural scene. The book will guide readers through the provinces and territories of Canada, introducing them to Canada’s cultural topography and the artists who inhabit it. Markonish will provide a history of recent Canadian art, placing this new body of work into the context of 20th-century Canadian art. Featuring artist-to-artist interviews, the book also includes contributions from notable Canadian writers and poets Lisa Moore, Warren Cariou, Douglas Coupland, and Jane Urquhart. Contributing curators include John Murchie, Wayne Baerwaldt, Lance Blomgren, Candice Hopkins, David Liss, Lesley Johnstone, Steven Holmes, Louise Déry, Sarah Fillmore, Pan Wendt, Bruce Johnson, Cliff Eyland, Jen Budney, and Nancy Campbell. 
The exhibition will also be accompanied by live events at MASS MoCA focusing on Canadian acts.

Please click here to visit the Mass MoCa site.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Politicizing of Art - When Artists Speak Out

As long as there has been art, there have been artists who have used their skills on a geo-political level
Franke James is no different. Her video is filled with the caracitures and drawings and her very real concerns.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Danu's Nudes

A well painted study of the human form. I like the boldness of colour and the strength and confidence of Ion's work.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What's Up With Christie's Art Aucton?

A mysterious pair of wooden figures from 19th-century Canada — created by First Nations carvers on the B.C. coast, and originally obtained more than 100 years ago by an infamous American collector — was sold Monday for about $40,000 at a major sale of aboriginal art in France.

Article by Randy Boswell, Postmedia News. Extracted from The Vancouver Sun.

Please click here to Read more: 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kelowna, BC - A City Which Takes Pride in its Arts

My wife and I walked around the cultural district of Kelowna, BC today and I have to tell you that we were very impressed.  As mamma so aptly put it; "Its a shame that other cities don't place the arts this high in importance."

Before going any further its important to present the history of this area. At one time this area was an industrial zone of  canneries, railways, shipping wharves, a sawmill, a packinghouse, and even a cigar factory. This 6 block area, was once the centre of the Okanagan Fruit Industry. Since a lot of the land was belonged to public ownership, it seemed understandable that the city believed that the land should continue to be owned by the people and for the people.  Behind all of this, a generous benefactor named Stanley Simpson, who owned the local sawmill and box factory, donated a big chunk of land along the waterfront to the community.

The transition began in 2000 and by the time it was finished, it had a public walkway and park along the shore of Lake Okanagan and the walkway looped around a marsh and back and past the front of the city's marina.

We walked through the beautiful, Rotary Centre for the Arts.  As we entered the building a youth orchestra appeared to be leaving and the musicians were carrying their musical instruments.  The centre featured studios and galleries, and halls which were richly adorned with works of art from Kelowna's citizenry.

Just across the street was the community's publicly owned Art Gallery.

We walked along the Artwalk and looked at mosaics, a statue and large concrete apples.

Its no wonder that Kelowna was named a Cultural Capital of Canada by the Department of Canadian Heritage in 2004.

The Cultural Centre also includes a striking statue with leaping white dolphins (or are they balugas?), the Kelowna Actors' Studio, the Kelowna Library, the Okanagan Heritage Museum, and the Okanagan Military museum and a strikingly people centred waterfront Park.

As a painter, I have to tell you that its most impressive when the visual arts, plays such a prominent place within the community's other artistic venues and helps define the values of its people.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Vincent Comes to Canada

Van Gogh: Up Close

25 May 2012 - 03 Sep 2012

Discover the true nature of Van Gogh this summer at the National Gallery of Canada, the only Canadian venue for this unique exhibition.

Van Gogh: Up Close is the first major exhibition in Canada in over 25 years of works by this famous Dutch artist. It brings together more than 40 of Van Gogh’s paintings from private and public collections around the world, as well as a selection of Japanese woodblock prints, nineteenth-century photographs, and works on paper from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

This exhibition explores Van Gogh’s love for nature and his gift for representing the world around him, from landscapes down to the smallest blade of grass.

Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Excerpt from the National Gallery of Canada Website.

When You Mess With the Arts - Expect a Fight

A painting of Stephen Harper, called “Emperor Haute Couture”  has recently rocketed through the Canadian media.  The only thing that holds me back from publishing this picture as its seen (although no media picture I have seen has published it as it looks without the maple leaf), it's a matter of basic respect for his position as a father and as our Prime Minister that I refrain from doing so.  The artist is Margaret Sutherland and she was making the statement  that like Hans Christian Anderson's, Emperors New Clothes - our Prime Minister isn't whom he seems to be and that he isn't living up to his promises.

Margaret is a prominent portrait painter who has appeared on Bravo Television's series, Star Portraits.

One thing for certain, its stirred up a huge public debate. Click here to read some of the comments in Kingston's The

Judi McLeod of Canada Free Press writes, in her article, "The Nakedness of Politics Posing as Art".
Emperor Haute Couture, with its graphic male plumbing reached the pinnacle of publicity. The painting, for which Harper never posed, was “motivated” by the political frustration of Kingston, Ont. artist Margaret Sutherland.  Proof on canvas that everything about the left, from its staged protests to the art of frustration, is 100% manufactured.
Judi's complete article can be found by clicking here.  
There are many others that can be found on internet  now.  How about these.

                                                     The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

The representation of the PM as a Nazi was painted by Jamie Miller a contemporary realist artist.
If you wish to visit Jamie's site, to see this and other works, please click here.

Jamie writes about this work:
Naturally, different people tend to derive different meanings from art
that they encounter; A work of art can go beyond expressing the
artist's primary message and will often mean different things to
different viewers.
Ideally, an artist can anticipate various interpretations of a
particular work such that whatever meaning is derived, is at the very
least, not contrary to the artists primary objective.
All this to say that; I expect that my portrait, "The Right Honourable
Stephen Harper" will sometimes be interpreted as suggesting a
similarity between Harper and everybody's favourite fascist dictator,
however, my intended message/motivation is simply this:
Inevitably, perhaps often unavoidably(?), the foreign policy of any
large collective yields atrocious consequences. In the pursuit of
objective social criticism I endeavour to assume the perspective of
those who perceive themselves to be victims of our collective's
foreign policy. See ourselves through our (unintended) victims eyes.
I chose Harper as a symbol for myself, the average Canadian.
While article 2a of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms unrealistically
guarantees freedom of conscience; occasionally, inevitably, we as
taxpayers contribute to funding atrocities that violate the conscience
of virtually every single Canadian. In that it would be unrealistic to
imagine a large society that doesn't occasionally yield collateral
damage, its equally unrealistic for the Charter to suggest that
Canadians can enjoy freedom of conscience on more than a
sentimental/superficial level.
One might argue that the portrait "The Right Honourable Stephen
Harper" is an overly harsh portrayal of the average peaceful,
generous, Canadian. Certainly, however, there are some who have
suffered tragic loss courtesy of a Canadian bullet, or Canadian
policy, that would relate to the intended, or more obvious, message.
"As provocative prose require reading, words that cause us discomfort
are easily avoided or dismissed. A passing glance at an engaging work
of art can speak volumes with, or, without the consent of the viewer."

There is much more on the website called, Department of Culture; a you tube song, cartoons and a picture by artist Lily May, of the PM with a gourd on his head.

Lily writes on her site,

Since we're having an election soon, here's a portrait I painted a few years ago of Stephen Harper with an ornamental gourd on his head.  I did this as an antidote to the dire tone of his government.
Ezra's site called Media Arts/Political Stuff gives us a picture of our PM, with a Van Gogh twist - a portrait with a bandaged  ear. Please click here

Friday, June 8, 2012

Controversy Surrounds the Death of Artist Paul Boyd

Anna Maria Tremonti interviewed  the father of late Vancouver artist, Paul Boyd. The interview was heartrending for Paul's father told of his son suffering from mental illness and losing his life in a confrontation with the police.  While the death of the mentally ill at the hands of the police is a huge social tragedy, I approach this blog entry from the perspective of an artist.

Paul's father reported to Tremonti, that his son was an outstanding artist.  So it was that I googled Paul's name and came up with some items of interest.

The website, cartoonbrew reports a few details of Paul's bio.Blog writer Jerry Beck writes:

Boyd was a director on Ed, Edd ‘n Eddy and The Mr. Hell Show and provided animation on Gary Larson’s Tales From the Far Side and Mucha Lucha!

The website wikia reports:
According to his family, Boyd was friendly, intelligent, gentle, humorous and compassionate. From his youth he showed an unusual gift for expression in the visual arts. For the past 15 years he had a successful career as an animator, employed by a number of different animation studios in Vancouver. He was passionate about his work and it was highly regarded.

While in his early twenties Paul was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression), an illness for which he has received constant and usually effective treatment. He battled this illness for almost 20 years. Most of the time he was well and few would have guessed that he suffered from any kind of mental disorder, but periodically he would suffer periods of mania and depression which could produce vivid paranoid delusions that made him fear imagined threats. Over and over he faced these setbacks and bravely climbed back out of the depths of his illness and was able to work productively and enjoy a satisfying life. Sadly, there are very few people who have not suffered from this illness who can appreciate what kind of courage this takes.

During the evening of Monday August 13, 2007, Boyd was in the midst of one of his episodes. Vancouver police arrived on who were responding to a 9-1-1 call, with a potentially lethal weapon. Police said Boyd began assaulting two officers, so far as delivering a near-fatal blow with a heavy chain to one of them, when a third officer, who'd been in the force for three years, fired at him in self-defense. His actions during his last moments were not part of his personality but were a result of the irrational fear produced by his illness. Controversy had sparked over the officer's use of deadly force.
In 2012 video footage from a tourist was discovered which re-opened the case.

For those so inclined, a Google search turns up videos of Paul's death in his disturbing confrontation with the police.

Please click here to visit the wikia website.
Please click here to visit the cartoonbrew website.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mesa Light and Spiny by Colin Bell

Mesa Light and Spiny by Colin Bell

Anyone who has ever painted in waters can appreciate the work of Colin Bell and  this painting is no exception.   Mesa Light and Spiny captures the beauty of the desert landscape using the right painterly language. After having painted in waters, I am impressed by Colin's loose style. It looks easy, but trust me - it takes a lot of experience, confidence and artistic skill to create such a work.

The painting is constructed in a a triangular shape with the butte dominating the upper centre of the work and with two cacti on the lower angles. The butte is warm and rose hued. The surrounding hills spread out like outstretched arms, and its easy to imagine them embracing and even capturing the lower cacti.

There is a delightful simplicity about it all.  There is the sky, the butte, the hills, and the cacti.  Everything else is  suggested by deft brushwork and loose flowing lines.
The work is reductionist and the viewer's attention plays back and forth between the butte and the cacti.

The hot colours of the earth are balanced by the cool blue sky and Colin interprets the desert terrain with warm earth hues blended into his greens. The heat of the scene is reinforced by the pinkish hue blended into the butte's cast shadow.

Its no accident that Colin should have identified with the light in this work. The painting is balanced by the touches of white canvas showing as clouds and hilltop edges, and  by the bounce of light in the bottom right canvas.

It looks deceptively easy to paint but try it sometime.  Work like this takes several years of work and experience to accomplish.  Well painted Colin!

Artist's Comments

I was surprised and amazed at your critique.  I expected some harsh words!  The painting was actually painted back home in Calgary, from a black/white print off my computer.  I took the photo in Sedona in late February, with temperatures varying from +18deg C and slightly below freezing (we had some snow one night).  I did several plein-air paintings while in Sedona, but left them all at the ALT Gallery there.  A couple of them sold, so I was encouraged to paint a second set using my photos for reference.  I was captivated by the feeling of light in this scene, and introduced the path and the prickly-pear cacti to add foreground interest and balance the composition.

You are welcome to visit Colin's Bell, by clicking here.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Colin Bell, An Artist for All Seasons

Colin was born in Argentina in 1936 to Anglo-Argentine parents.  He attended English-speaking schools in Buenos Aires, where an English curriculum was taught as well as the mandatory Spanish elementary and high-school curriculum.  Sports were a large part of school activities, including soccer, cricket, rugby, swimming and athletics.  Colin’s family was seriously involved in the arts, including painting.  When Colin showed serious interest in drawing at age 14, his godfather paid for him to have lessons in drawing and painting with a professional artist in Buenos Aires.  Colin’s father was an avid sportsman, winning numerous club championships in tennis, golf, skeet shooting (he was on the Argentine team for the 1950 Pan-American Games) and sailing.  He was also a keen fisherman, even fishing large sharks off the coast of Mar del Plata.  Thus Colin inherited a love of the outdoor sports along with his love for art and music (he studied piano until reaching university).

Colin studied architecture because he was persuaded that a career in pure art would be too uncertain, income-wise, to raise a family.  His studies were interrupted by 14 months of mandatory military service.  In 1961 he married his girl Irene and went to San Francisco, USA to find work.  After a very brief stay the Selective Service asked him to report for a medical examination.  Having no interest in performing additional military service, Colin & Irene returned to Argentina, where he started work as junior partner to an established architect.  When a large project that was into the working drawing stage decided to abort, with no additional projects in view, Colin took employment with Teching, a large international engineering & contracting company, where he worked for 3 years as a designer and cost estimator.  By this time, 1965, Colin and Irene now had 2 children, and prospects for long-range plans in architecture were bleak.  Hearing that there was a need for architects in Canada, Colin communicated with the R.A.I.C. (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada), who put him in touch with the various provincial organizations.  Many letters resulted, confirming that there was a lot of work for architects.  Colin got a work permit and started work in Toronto in May 1965.  He rapidly decided Toronto was too big a city, and moved to Calgary.  At the time Calgary had a population of around 300,000, was close to the mountains and had a trout river running through it.  Ideal!  He settled into his work there, also joining a tennis club and renting a piano for his leisure time.  Immigration authorities finally granted his family their landed immigrant permits, and they arrived in Calgary on a snowy day in November 1965.

From 1965 until 1972 Colin worked as an employed designer at a succession of architects’ offices.  Meanwhile he and his family had become Canadian citizens and Colin had obtained his Canadian registration as a registered architect.  In 1972 Colin started in private practice, first with a partner, and then on his own.  Although he had enough work to put food on the table, income was uncertain, and vacations could never last over a week.  When a position was advertised for a staff architect at the City of Calgary in late 1974 Colin got the job.  The job involved the design, maintenance and restoration of city-owned buildings (arenas, indoor pools, firehalls, police stations, pump stations, etc.), with some involvement in pedestrian overpasses and sound barriers.  There was a lot of in-house design and even more supervision of outside architects doing work for the City.

Once the children, Charlie and Marie, had reached high-school age, Colin returned seriously to painting.  First he took an evening course at the University of Calgary, then a watercolour course with Susan Woolgar.  He became a member of The Group in 1982, and of the Calgary Artists’ Society the following year.  Sales followed increasing artistic output.  Over the years he took workshops with Rick Grandmaison, Stan Blodgett, Zoltan Szabo, Mike Svob and a large number of other recognized artists, learning as much from watching the instructors’ methods of setting up as from their demonstrations and words of wisdom.  In 1984 he plucked up the nerve to approach a gallery, and had his first show in 1985.  In 1994 Colin retired from the City.  He joined Irene in her translating business when she was offered a translation of 220 pages for a pipeline tender in Ecuador and said she would have to turn it down unless Colin assisted her, which he did.  Since that time Colin divides his time between painting, hiking, travel and translating.  He occasionally instructs workshops in plein-air sketching and painting.

Please click here to visit Colin's website.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Celebrating HRH, Queen Elizabeth 2nd - Diamond Jubilee Day

June 2nd 1957 - June 2nd. 2012

It's strange how in a lifetime, things come and go. Fashions, technical innovations, modes of thought, and even the way people look at their country.  But yet, the one constant throughout my life, has been the public portraits of Queen Elizabeth 2nd.  She has looked down on me, as a youth, in my classrooms at school, in arenas, and government buildings. I have followed her as she has aged on postage stamps and coins alike.

Today Canada and England along with the rest of the commonwealth countries celebrate Elizabeth's diamond jubilee.

This work was painted in 1957 in celebration of her coronation.

You can check it on the Government of Canada's website by clicking here.

painted by Lilias Torrance Newton

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lilias Torrance Newton

Lilias Torrance Newton
1896 - 1980

"It's impossible to jump into a portrait. It takes time to make up my mind about the best, most attractive pose, and as I sketch, my subject becomes natural, more unconscious, and I catch an impression I may have missed at first."
(Lilias Torrance Newton, 1957)

Part of an important group of women artists to emerge from Montreal between the wars, Lilias Torrance Newton was one of Canada's most successful and respected portrait painters. In some 300 portraits of friends, fellow-artists and leading Canadian figures, she conveyed sympathy for her subjects and an understanding of character. Of her subjects, it was her intimate circle that inspired her best work, notable for its informality and sometimes unconventional poses. Newton was the first Canadian to paint portraits of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Lilias Torrance was the daughter of Forbes Torrance, an amateur draughtsman and poet. She started taking drawing classes at the Art Association of Montreal at age twelve, and entered the school full-time at sixteen, studying under William Brymner. She moved to London during the First World War to volunteer with the Red Cross, and studied with the Polish-born painter Alfred Wolmark. Returning to Montreal after the war, Torrance established herself as a professional painter, at first creating portraits of friends and family members. She helped found the Beaver Hall Group, participating in its first exhibition early in 1921. In the summer, she married Fred G. Newton, and by the end of the year, had sold two paintings to the National Gallery of Canada. She spent four months in Paris in 1923, studying with the Russian artist Alexandre Jacovleff, considered a master draughtsman, and won an honourable mention at that year's Paris Salon. Soon after returning to Montreal, Lilias Newton was elected Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy. She would be made a full member, only the third woman to do so, in 1937.

Abandoned by her husband in 1931, Newton made a living during the Depression by taking commissions for portraits. When Eric Brown, Director of the National Gallery of Canada, commissioned her to paint him in 1931, he helped to solidify her reputation, and further important commissions followed. Newton also taught, first out of her studio, and from 1934 to 1940, at the Art Association of Montreal, along with Edwin Holgate. She attended the Kingston Conference in 1941, and as an unofficial war artist, was commissioned to paint two portraits of Canadian soldiers. After the war, she traveled across the country painting portraits of the Canadian elite, and in 1957 was commissioned to paint the royal couple.

Newton's drawing Nude Figure (c.1926) demonstrates her deft hand for strong sculptural forms. In Self-portrait (c.1929), she conveys her own strength of character and self-assuredness, using the warm, vibrant palette that is characteristic of her work. The unusual pose and strong triangular composition of Louis Muhlstock (c.1937) makes this one of Newton's most powerful portraits.

Lilias Newton was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters. She held an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto (1972).

Source: National Gallery of Canada
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