Friday, November 23, 2007

Art of the Canadian Rockies

I live in Canada, but my wife and I still celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving holidays. Even though the Campobello Island school bus whizzes by in the morning and the Canada Post office is open all day, we join our state-side friends in spirit and take the day off. Holidays let me catch up on my stack of magazines and books. Today, I finished reading Lisa Christensen's A Hiker's Guide to the Art of the Canadian Rockies.

As an outdoor painter, I find this book a feast. It's a volume of paintings created by Canadians in the early years of the last century. Most of these artists painted outdoors, and I believe all of the paintings in this book were painted on-location. The book is juicy with explanatory and biographical texts, as well as personal observations by the artists themselves. Here's W.J. Phillips:

"Woolen gloves are clumsy but permit the use of a pencil, but a sock is the best protection of all. It is pulled over the hand and the pencil point thrust through the toe. The fingers thus have full play and will keep warm provided the sock is thick enough. The number of lines drawn depends on the temperature."

I'm particularly taken with oil paintings that have strong brushwork and in which the paint has been applied confidently. Some of my favourites include work by: Illingworth Kerr; Peter Whyte and his wife, Catharine Robb Whyte; and also A.C. Leighton, Carl Rungius, Belmore Browne, J.E.H. MacDonald, Charles Comfort and A.Y. Jackson. Some of these were members of the Canadian "Group of Seven."

I'd like to include some images, but for copyright reasons, I won't. Go to the following sites to see some sample images:

The Whyte Museum - http://www.whyte.org/index.html
Paintings by Peter Whyte & Catharine Robb Whyte: http://www.whyte.org/familiarsky/index.html
J.E.H. MacDonald: http://gallery.ca/cybermuse/search/artist_work_e.jsp?iartistid=3428
The Group of Seven - http://www.tomthomson.org/

So, this is today's inspiration. Now I'm going to go paint!

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