Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wrapping the Flag in Canadian Art

An earlier post told a portion of the story behind the design of the painting for the “50 Years of Our Flag Project”. There is much more to that story! The project wraps the Canadian Flag in history, art and science. The selection of the art works and locations from my collection of plein air paintings was not accidental but it will take many posts to explain all of the details. This post is about the ancestry of the style of the art itself.

A cursory look at the brush strokes is reminiscent of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. I am not intentionally copying anyone’s style but when one paints outside, surrounded by Canadian inspiration and weather, there is only one way for me to apply pigment to canvas.
Thomson was deeply inspired by the same Canadian landscape and he very much inspired the Group of Seven.  Thoreau MacDonald, the son of JEH MacDonald, Thomson friend, Thomson co-worker and Group of Seven charter member said the following about Tom’s art.
“Thomson’s work would be a fine study for some competent critic, but anyone attempting it should be familiar, not only with every phase of his work, but with the country too, lakes, rivers, weather; have them in his bones … “
To understand Tom’s work one must have Canada in your soul. There can be no better art to wrap the Canadian flag in.  Unfortunately Tom’s art is out of reach for this project but the Group of One was available!
From history there is another reason to use Thomson styled art! Tom Thomson was directly related to Sir John A Macdonald through his mother, Margaret Matheson. Sir John was the first Prime Minister of Canada and one of the “Fathers of Confederation” - perhaps he could be called the "Father of Canada".  It is most appropriate that art inspired by Canada, Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven-One brand the culture of Canada – a nation whose very existence owes a tremendous amount to his relative Sir John A Macdonald.

In my painting for the “50 Years of Our Flag Project” there is a dove grey (cobalt blue based)canoe at the portage for Ragged Falls. Tom would have certainly parked his canoe there.
Matheson? Tom’s mother was Margaret Matheson! Isn't the "Father of the Canadian Flag" John Ross Matheson? Is there another story here? Stand by …

No comments: