Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jeff Molloy - Speaking Out For Canada

Jeff Molloy is an artist whose work focuses on Canadian culture, history and tradition. . He is a farmer of art. He likes to get his hands dirty, using humble and ordinary materials to create multi-dimensional, multi-sensory works that elicit an emotional response from the people who experience them, and bring energy to the spaces they inhabit.

That being said, its important to roll back the clock to Jeff's roots for we are products of our life experiences and our environment. Jeff's journey into art began as a young boy, where he grew up in a middle class working family home off the Danforth in Toronto in 1957 . As a young boy, Jeff took to art using it as an emotional and expressive outlet in an age when children were spoken to but seldom heard. Jeff already had a strong interest in art when he had the good fortune to meet celebrated artist, A.Y. Jackson, who was then the artist in residence at the Mc Michael Art Gallery in Kleinberg.

“We sat in the shade and chatted about art and life,” Molloy remembers. “At the time, I didn’t really know who he was, but I liked his kindness and generosity as he shared his stories about art. This made an indelible impression on me.”

Other early artistic influences were Vassily Kandinsky and Henry Moore, both of which he encountered at the Ontario Art Gallery. Molloy particularly loved the naturally lit Henry Moore wing and spent countless hours admiring Moores plaster maquettes. Jeff also remembers walking past
a doorway catching a glimpse of his first Vassily Kandinsky painting, an experience he describes as “ feeling a wind ”. These early encounters set Molloy on a path from which he would never return.

At points in his life Jeff suppressed his creativity, wrestled with addictions and depression, his marriage suffered with Jeff always on the road working in the construction industry. Molloy refers to this time as the dark ages. In 1995 the Molloys moved to Victoria BC. This was a pivotal time for the entire family.

Jeff went on to study art at the Victoria College of Art where he graduated in 1999. Until attending Art College Molloy had never considered himself an artist or exhibiting his artwork publicly. Since graduating Jeff has won numerous awards, mounted many solo and group exhibitions as both an artist and a curator. Molloy, on occasion has teamed up with other artists to produce award winning collaborations while maintaining his solo practice. For nine years Jeff mentored countless upcoming artists through their first solo shows as the curator from 2000 to 2009 for the Gallery at the Mac in Victoria BC.

In 2007, Jeff and his solemate Kathryn. seeking a quieter life, moved to Gabriola Island where Jeff maintains a studio a stones throw away from a field of sheep. On the solstice, June 2009, a seven hour surgery saved Molloy from a rare form of Cancer. August of the same year, not able to stand on his feet for more then a few minutes at a time, Molloy mounted a solo exhibition, titled
In Search of Ritual at the Campbell River Art Gallery.

Other important exhibitions for Jeff were Fibre of a Nation (Toronto,ON -1999), Human Residue (Victoria/Nelson, BC - 2000), The Mattress Project (Vancouver/ Ft St John,BC - 2001), Venetian Vignettes (Victoria - 2006),  Wax & Wool  (Gabriola/Edmonton2008), A Canadian Portrait (Victoria/Gabriola - 2010) Fachada Cubana (Victoria – 2011)Due North (Toronto/Victoria - 2012)

Canadian history and culture has been a recurring theme in Molloy's work.  CBC announcer, Shelagh Rogers who hosts, 'The Next Chapter', said this of Jeff:

"Jeff Molloy’s work has been capturing the spirit of Canada long before the rest of the world caught on during the Olympics. He is one of this country’s leading editorial artists and one of the most original artists at work in Canada today."

Jeff's work is iconically Canadian. At a recent showing, appropriately called "Due North, held at Toronto's Artscape Gallery and at the Winchester Gallery in Victoria,  Jeff's art features old canoe paddles, hockey sweaters, and life sized-encaustic blankets.

There can be no doubt - that Jeff uses his art to present the culture and history of our country.

After more than thirty years on the prairies and on the westcoast Molloy's recent work embraces a strong First Nations and Metis influence. Mia Johnson of Preview Magazine describes Molloy as a Canadian artist whose work “focuses on the cultural symbols of Canada.”

To visit Jeff's website please click here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

What? An Art Book with No Pictures?

Can this really be so? Students being asked to buy a book such as the one pictured above?


Students enrolled in the Ontario College of Art and Design's Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800 are required to buy a $180 "custom textbook." Despite exclusively covering material that is, by definition, in the public domain, and despite a Canadian Supreme Court ruling that establishes a broad "fair dealing" exemption for educational materials, this year's textbook contains no pictures, because the school and the copyright holders (whatever that means in the context of material from "prehistory to 1800") can't agree on licensing.
In other words, this is a blisteringly expensive art book with no art in it. It will not serve as any kind of lasting visual reference. It's hard to see how it will serve any use at all. And it's mandatory.
Students have taken up a petition to protest the "preposterous" situation.

To see the article at source, please click here.


Canadian University, Publisher Promises To Fix Problems With Art History Book That Has No Photos
Source:  Please click here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kelly's Farm by Bruce Newman

Kelly's Farm is  pastoral and painterly in style.  There's a certain sense of nostalgia about it for we are living in the era of the end of the barns.

Bruce takes us on a visual journey along a country road to an unknowable place in the upper right quadrant. This is the darkest area of his painting and its a place of  mystery where the road disappears and imagination begins.

I like how Bruce boxes this area in with of a  suggestion of a grey sloping roof and a larger building.
Notice how the horizontally placed barns, point strategically in that direction.

The painting is divided into horizontal thirds. There is an atmospheric zone with its blue sky and blue-green background hills. There are lightly colour fields and road and there is a middle zone with buildings and a windmill. 

We find within it a  progressive gradation of tone from the top and bottom and from the left towards the right,  where we find the the darkest area.  The movement of vision from right to left is blocked by the vertical windmill.

Bruce's work  is loaded with atmosphere. The blue sky gives way to blue green hills which move horizontally across the panorama and downward into the line of undulating hills. The long flow of landscape across the painting creates a beautiful feeling of peace and serenity. The softness Romantically supports the overall mystery of Kelly's Farm..

 Bruce's red barn is appropriately weather aged and the hue is perfect for it doesn't drawn unnecessary attention.

The brushwork and application of paint suits the mood and when all the pieces fit so perfectly together as they are in Kelly's Farm, you have a beautifully painted work. 

If you would like to see Bruce's other works, please click here to visit his site.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Bruce Newman - Perfecting a Swing with a Brush

Born in Yonkers, New York in 1948, Bruce spent most of his life in professional golf, construction management and real estate development before discovering art. Bruce taught drawing at the University of New Brunswick for three years and currently gives private drawing lessons in his studio and conducts occasional workshops. Most of his time, however, goes to painting, usually en plein air.

Bruce's primary influence has been Richard Schmid and he has studied his work thoroughly. In October, 2007, Bruce attended a week-long workshop with Albert Handell in Putney, VT. Handell is a world-renowned pastellist and oil painter and also a close friend of Schmid. In this intensive workshop, Bruce developed a deep fondness and respect for Albert and spent another week painting with him in Maine under a special mentorship program in September, 2008 and again in 2009.

In 2010, Bruce studied for a week with Marc Hanson in Taylors Falls, MN and in 2011, he was invited by Plein Air Magazine’s publisher, Eric Rhoads, to a private painting retreat in the Adirondack Mountains of New York where, along with 87 plein air painters from every corner of the US, he--the only Canadian--participated in producing approximately 700 plein air paintings over five days. This special group was named the Adirondack Mountain School Painters and has been featured in major US art publications. Bruce was again invited and attended in 2012 and is planning on taking part again in 2013.

"I regard plein air painting as the most demanding and rewarding painting approach because quick decisions and solid drawing skills are necessary to capture the fleeting moments of light and color. I also feel it is the most authentic method for me because I am capturing a real experience as it is happening. It is this experiential discovery that I love about painting directly from life."

Since 2003, most of Bruce’s work has been done en plein air or, literally, outside in the open air as shown in the photo above, and usually in one session. While still preferring to paint from life, he plans on balancing his schedule with more studio work in the future.

Although primarily a landscape painter, Bruce is also a former golf professional and amateur champion and paints memorable golf holes of Atlantic Canada. He offers framed, signed and numbered limited-edition Giclée reproductions which can be found on his website.

Bruce is a juried member of Oil Painters of America, Landscape Artists International, Gallery Connexion, Plein Air Painters of the Bay of Fundy, The Fredericton Society of Artists and The Fredericton Arts Alliance. He is represented by Harrison House Gallery, Saint John, NB. He has had five solo and numerous group exhibitions and his work is held in private collections across North America and Europe.

You are invited to visit Bruce's website to see his work. Please click here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crimson Fog by Gord Jones

This painting by Gord Jones captured my attention after it appeared on The Portrait's Facebook page.

Gord takes us to a day when nature hangs in a balance.

Follow me and you will see what I mean.  There is a soft fog which hangs in the background.. The white cerulean blue sky, softly melds into the background hills and with the line of  line of forest which horizontally reaches  into the middle of the work. The tonal mid values of the crimson forest then drops down to what appears to be a broad expanse of reeds and the slightly blurred background  gives way to the more clearly defined woods and pine tree on the left.

As we move towards the foreground we find some strong contrasting values. The darkness of the tree and the dark blue ice contrasts strikingly with the white snow, and the soft edges contrast with the hard edges and sharp angles of the snow banks.

There is also a delightful sense of motion as the viewer takes a playful, meandering journey which is punctuated by snowbanks and drifts.

This is a good example of how a minimal palette of what appears to be muted sap green, raw sienna, possibly yellow ochre, variant blue hues and a touch of crimson is enough to do the job. Anything more would be distractive.

Notice how Gord uses a vertical drift of wind borne snow which points towards the middle of his painting to create a sense of distance and direction.

Its all so perfectly done.  This is one of a winter series of paintings found on Gord's website. Please click here.

Artist's Comments

My source for all my work is either a photo I took myself, or a plein air session. This painting was from a photo. I'm attracted to the natural landscapes of the Haliburton area where I've cottaged for many years. Winter, is probably my most inspirational season.  I like contrast, and the quiet solitude of winter is attractive to me in comparison to the busy summer vacation time.

I  don't really know what else to add except that I am pleased to know that this painting seems to have connected with another artist (you). I appreciate that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gord Jones Captures the Beauty of Haliburton in Waters

I was looking at Gord Jones’ works online, and was stirred by his mastery of watercolour, and by his love of landscape painting. Gord divides his time between his two residences: one in Stoney Creek, Ontario and the other in beautiful Haliburton, Ontario.

While Gord brings to his craft more than 30 years of experience - he confesses to being somewhat inconsistent over the years and painting more "off than on".

Gord is employed by the Hamilton Separate School Board, and he's been married for 25 years and has one son in university.

Gord remembers enjoying drawing pictures and comic book characters during his childhood. That was when he first recognized his artistic skills.

Gord calls himself a workshop junkie, but there's much more to it than that. Gord is a lifelong student of the craft. He's studied at the Dundas Valley School of Art and he's taken dozens of workshops. Like many other artists, he's an avid reader of art books and magazines. His love of studying art has given him a profound recognition of those who have contributed to his development. People such William Biddle with his remarkable “ability to "set up" a composition as well as draw anything, in any perspective, from any angle, all out of his head." Not to mention artists such as Gordon Perrier, Katherine MacDonald, Stan Hughes, John Wilkinson, Bonnie Steinberg, and Barry Coombs.

"Early on I took a workshop with Brian Atyeo who painted watercolour more expressively than I had experienced before. I met and painted in the beautiful Killarney Provincial Park with a wonderful plein air painter Jane Champagne. More recently, well known and respected artists and instructors, Doug Mays and Art Cunanan have been instrumental in recharging me and encouraging more individual expressiveness in my efforts."

I am impressed with how Gord has reciprocated this love, by giving back to the community. He's a member of the Haliburton Arts Council and his paintings hang in the ‘Made in Haliburton’ Gallery, in downtown Minden.'

When Gord looks towards the future, his wish is to spend less time behind the wheel driving between Haliburton and Stoney Creek and more time behind his brush.

Gord is rather philosophical when he says that art sharpens his senses to what is visually out there in the natural world and his interest allows him to appreciate other’s work in a more informed way. Gord sums it up by saying that “it’s all about communication, whether it be in music, literature, theatre or the visual arts." Gordon's paintings speak eloquently for themselves.

To view Gord's paintings on his website, please click here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Phillip Gevik's Galleries get Knocked Off Again.

So, how about that? The boys of the night, who wear black masks and sleuth around the art districts have been at it again. This time, Gallery Gevik in Toronto's Yorkville district got knocked off and the thieves made off with two Group of Seven works; Beach Litter by Arthur Lismer and a Tom Thompson work. I wish they could have driven to my place and ripped me off at the same time. I could use all the publicity I can get.

The Gallery owner Phillip Gevik, must be wondering what else he can do for a living. His Quebec Gallery got knocked off a couple of years back.

If you click here, you can read the complete story, in Toronto's Globe and Mail. It was written by Timothy Appleby.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Arabella Magazine - a Visual Art Success Story

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Brian Usher, the Publisher and CEO of Arabella magazine. I am not sure which cabbage leaf I have been living under, for I hadn't even heard of Arabella. Brian was very gracious and let me off the hook by telling me that Arabella is most frequently found in the Homes section of magazine stands (an area which I tread warily around when I am in the hunt for painting magazines).

We explored together, in a couple of conversations, our perspectives on our respective media productions.

Arabella has been around now for about 5 years; distributed across Canada and the US. As a result of early distribution in the Muskoka area, it attracted the attention of the president of Barnes and Noble magazine who opened the door for Arabella to appear on the stands of some 1200 outlets across the States.  It also appears on bookshelves across Canada at Chapters & Indigo and is available from many of Arabella’s gallery partners, as well as many libraries. With both print and digital publication, it is truly a national magazine with an international arm.

While visual arts have a prominent place in the magazine, it also comfortably embraces architecture and design.  In the recent harvest issue, Arabella serves up a diverse menu covering such things as wooden tree hangings, galleries and the works of some outstanding visual artists. Tucked between it all is an article about the Island of Nevis where some nice properties were shaped by Canadian architects.  (A lot of Canadians are drawn to the Caribbean for winter retreats).

I had no qualms about paying around $15.00 for my copy of the  magazine, since it is loaded with content and runs to 404 pages. It’s so thick, that Brian admits the binding won't support a larger publication.  It will take a long time for me to work my way through this issue, just in time for the next quarterly creation.

Arabella has spared no expense in production using heavy, glossy paper and the pages are loaded with large, coloured photos of paintings.

Artist profiles are written by the magazine’s Founder and Editor in Chief, Debra Usher, in an easy first person style and the articles are lengthy,casual, explorative reads.

Brian writes in his recent Harvest 2012 editorial that a few older, “established” gallery owners were critical, suggesting it wasn’t a “serious” magazine. Like, so what?  We're talking business reality here. Arabella is out to present to Canadians and others, an image of the Canadian visual art milieu – they’re not into analyzing the life out of it. In developing the editorial, Debra and her team of writers let the reader look at the artists and their works and form their own judgements. At least that's how I see it. If I wanted a university focus I wouldn't be buying an off-rack magazine in Chapters.

The magazine is eclectic and universal while maintaining a Canadian identity. The feedback both Debra and Brian receive by email and phone calls from right across Canada and the States indicates a high degree of reader appreciation.

Debra calls the current issue, the 'Artists' Issue'.  The visual arts are very well represented in this issue, for this is the time of year when art appears in parks and on the streets and is displayed in studio tours across the country.

Both of the Ushers are justifiably proud of the impact of Arabella on the Canadian art scene.  “We’re truly demonstrating the impact of the magazine in supporting and promoting Canadian artistic and creative talent,” says Brian. A recent ARABELLA article on Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis resulted in the value of her works rising from between $2,000 and $4,000 into the $7,000 plus range. That sounds like a serious impact on the arts to me, and one which has a peripheral ripple effect which every gallery owner and artist can benefit from.

Arabella is a business. Let's face it, they're not in the publishing business to go broke, but at the same time, they do their best to carefully blend professionalism with art. They seek out artists to profile and at the same time they sell space in their magazine to galleries and artists to elevate their images onto the national stage.  To ensure the best store placement and grow their reader base they invest a substantial amount with Chapters for presenting their magazine front and foremost in the entrance areas as you walk through the main door. That's where the rubber hits the road – where business and art sing in harmony together.

Arabella is in the position of building the infrastructure to take them to the next level. They are represented in the print and digital media and their goal is to be represented at, and to even host, a number of select art events and feature art development workshops and to present future art shows.

A lot of artists are eyeing their national art competition, The Arabella Great Canadian Landscape Contest, which is presently inviting registrations from artists across the country. Registration for entry closes January 1, 2013 and there will be a 2 month window between April and June of 2013 for artists to submit their works.  Using social media, an Artists’ on-line community presents many great works of artists in the contest, and in 2013 there will even be an opportunity for art lovers to check out the paintings they like best and vote to determine a people's choice winner.

It was an exciting experience for me to discover Arabella and to learn of their contribution to Canadian visual arts.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Frank Panabaker's Georgian Bay

I'm a sucker for ragged pine paintings. This delightful one is by the late Frank Panabaker. I like it for several reasons.  It doesn't impressionistically blur the edges of reality but on the other hand, it's charged with a sort of sublime, natural emotion.  You can almost feel the bite of the autumn wind and hear the pounding of the waves upon the shore. Don't you like it when a painting, pulls your experiences out like that?

The above picture is posted on,  I did an internet search and found a number of works by Panabaker and it seems that he painted a number of variations on the Georgian Bay, ragged pine theme - which isn't uncommon. Artists frequently get off on the process of exploring a single subject.

The Panabaker biographer on, writes:
"His work embraced a wide range of subjects, and his output was large, two or three paintings per week for most of his productive years. Most of them were landscapes, although he also executed many portraits. While many of his landscapes were repetitive, produced for a clientele who wished similar types of work, his genius lay in the outdoor sketches made in all weathers and across the country, which inspired and were the foundation of the paintings. As we recognise the skills required of the pleinair artist--of colour balance, tonal control, mixed with knowledge of paint behaviour and sensitivity to every mood of the landscape even under the most severe conditions--Panabaker's special abilities will be more widely appreciated.

Frank Panabaker lived between 1904 - 1992.

Please click here to see the Historical Canadian Art article.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Boy with Bread by Ozias Leduc

Boy with Bread, by Ozias Leduc, is disarmingly simple. Its painted with a pretty restricted palette and its subject matter is quite basic.  We see a chair, a boy, a table, a bowl, a spoon and some broken bread.  It's so basic that its easy to assume that it presents a cameo from an externally, simple world.  The boy is barefooted and his clothing is unfashionable  and this suggests that he may be a country boy.  It seems that the more simple a painting is, the more we are invited to paint our conclusions into it to fill the void.

There's an interesting geometric arrangement of lines and angles firing off each other here and the line of sight works its way up the boy's leg to his elbow and up his arm to his hand. And beyond that the geometric patterns are picked up in the boy's shirt.

Asceticism makes a lifestyle statement. The world within this painting is stripped of material distractions. Taking it a step further, there's a monastic quality about it.  If the camera's lens were to be moved upward, I could easily imagine a Catholic Cross fixed to the wall.

 Is Leduc making a philosophical life statement? Is he saying that this boy's life and surrounding world  is carefully and tightly organized?  Are the straight lines and angles representative of a system of human thought and organization? Possibly. Is he saying  that this simple controlled environment is in harmony with rural Catholic life?  Its your call, but it seems that way to me.

The work is no. 15793, in the National Gallery of Canada collection.
Please click here.

Canadian, 1864 - 1955
oil on canvas
50.7 x 55.7 cm
Purchased 1969
National Gallery of Canada (no. 15793)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Armand Tatossian and The Forcefulness of Art

Armand Tatossian at work.

Extracted from the late artist's website. Please click here.
When I meet Tatossian, he tries to explain his art, talking in a soft voice with a slight Armenia accent. He reminds me of one of the hobbit characters from the LORD OF THE RING, a comfort-loving person, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a painter." You are born with a technique and it develops with time," he says. Drawing is important. I am drawing all the time, with the brush."
                                                                                                          Joan Murray

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Death of Glenn Gould

 October 4th commemorates the 30th anniversary of Canada's  most celebrated pianist, Glenn Gould.

This wonderful sculpted tribute by Ruth Abernathy sits just outside the CBC Studios on Front Street in Toronto.  You can read about the creation of the works by clicking here.

To read more about Gould's life, accolades, acheivements and eccentricies click here.

Contributor: Maureen Bayliss

Montreal Artist, Armand Tatossian dies.

Canadian artist Armand Tatossian passed away in Montreal on Aug 23 at the age of 61, his sister announced, reports.

Mary Tatossian has cared for her brother since he suffered a stroke in 2007 that left him unable to paint.
Tatossian's works are displayed on the walls of the Musée du Quebec as well as art museums in Greece, Italy, Armenia and the United States. The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa has also featured his paintings.

He was the youngest member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts when he was accepted as a member in 1973.

Born in Egypt, Tatossian was introduced to art by his grandfather and went on to study under French painter and lithographer Jean Carzou and painter Bernard Buffet. He also studied mural technique at the Carrarra Academy in Italy.

Tatossian mostly created abstracts, landscapes and still life paintings using oil on canvas. His distinctive style was dubbed "Tatossianisme."

Visitation is scheduled for Thursday, Aug 30 at Rideau Funeral Home in Dollar-Des Ormeaux followed by a funeral service Friday at St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Cathedral in Outremont.

Excerpt from
Please click here.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Of Days Passed - Ferruginous Hawk by W. Allan Hancock

Allan positions his hawk, on the seat of a decaying farm instrument, where it is profiled against a clear, blue, sky. The bird has survived, in spite of man ripping open the topsoil and altering its habitat.

There is an innate nobility about hawks. When I look at this magnificent creature, its easy for me to imagine medieval noblemen, releasing hooded peregrines.

Have you ever noticed  how hawks seem to sit immobile for hours, peering, waiting, looking?   There's a timelessness about them. But then again, nature didn't invent clocks - man did that.

Nature seems so perfect in this work.  The fields undulate and roll in the background while the  foreground has a cacophonous jumble of human rubble.

While the  hawk sits silently, peering out across the fields I find myself wondering what it sees, if anything? I love paintings which leave me asking questions

A strikingly beautiful painting!

Artist's Comments

I painted Of Days Passed - Ferruginous Hawk in 1991.  It is 24 x 30 inches and my first venture into acrylics.  To this day I vividly remember the struggles I had with this painting.  It was put aside a number of times and eventually became my sixth completed acrylic work.  It is also the first of many of my paintings that comment on our impact on the natural world.

While I greatly enjoy painting portraits of birds and animals, as well as paintings that depict the subjects in their natural habitat, my favourite paintings to work on are ones with depth of meaning or ideas to communicate (perhaps a result of my English studies).  Of Days Passed specifically comments on the fragile state of endangered species and habitats.  It depicts an injured Ferruginous Hawk, an endangered species, perched on an old binder.  The binder, which is extinct in that it is no longer used (except as yard decoration), adds a human element suggesting our involvement.  Bird and binder are set against a backdrop of short-grass prairie, an endangered space.  I was trying to achieve a beautiful prairie scene that upon closer inspection causes the viewer to ponder an uncertain future (I'm glad it left you asking questions, Winston).

My hope is that we make every effort to cherish the natural world - a world that inspires me daily, a world we have a great impact upon.

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.