Through Tom's Eyes: A Discovery of Truth, Light and Colour
My project to follow in the footsteps and paddle strokes of famous artist Tom Thomson and paint 100 paintings marks the centennial of the mysterious death of this artist in Canoe Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario. It also celebrates the 150th birthday of Canada. Tom Thomson has been a major influence on Canadian art and artists, even 100 years after his death. Though Tom’s paintings only became well known after his death, he was part of a group of painters from the early 1900s who saw rugged and beautiful Canadian landscapes through fresh eyes and brought these colourful landscapes that told the truth about the simple beauty of the wilderness to a wider audience who had not experienced Canada outside of bustling cities and pastoral farms.
Tom Thomson’s life in Algonquin park is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. He disappeared on July 8, 1917 and his badly decomposed body surfaced on July 16 in Canoe Lake between Wapomeo and Little Wapomeo Island. The cause of death was quickly determined, by simple observation, as drowning even though there was no coroner present. To add more intrigue, it is believed by many, that his body, quickly buried at the Mowat cemetery on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park and supposedly exhumed a few days later and reburied in Leith, Ontario, is in fact still resting under the shady trees in Mowat.
I grew up at Oxtongue just outside Algonquin Park. As a child I met A.J. Casson, a member of the famous Group of Seven, painting on the banks of the Oxtongue. After watching him paint, I knew that I wanted to be an artist too. This project came about when I and my artist friend Terri Howell decided that Thomson's contributions to our Canadian heritage coupled with Canada's sesquicentennial were reason to celebrate and remind all of us just how lucky we are to live in Canada.
Tom Thomson’s last spring was 1917. During that last spring, he painted daily. He completed some of his best sketches, 62 in total, which had he lived, would have become a focus for larger canvases that winter. In the spirit of Tom, my goal over a year, was to paint 100 oil paintings on birch panels, searching out general locations where Tom had been. I wanted to get inside his head , see his landscapes, and feel his paint brush as I painted.
With the help of long time Canoe Lake leaseholders, Terri and I were able to walk the path from the old Mowat lodge that Tom might have walked to the Trainor cottage, home of his girl friend. We found Tom’s rock and we imagined him camping in the whispering pines of Hayhurst Point. On the 99th anniversary of his death, we hunkered down in our canoe in a steady drizzle holding on to a rock on the shore of Little Wapameo Island where his body, 99 years ago, was lashed to the shore waiting for the coroner. We paddled Smoke Lake and camped on Parkside Bay in order to experience sunrise to sunset days. Through all this and more, I experienced Tom’s frustration at painting outside in cold weather with sleet and snow pounding down on me and experienced the problems of laying down paint with black flies and hemlock needles stuck in it. I know what it is to paddle across Smoke Lake in an old cedar strip Chestnut canoe (Tom’s canoe of choice) in a wild wind hoping not to lose the last few day’s canvases over board or go for an unwanted swim.
So come along on this journey with me as I tell the story of seeing Algonquin through the eyes of Tom Thomson and celebrate his love of the wilderness on the 150th birthday of Canada and the 100th anniversary of his untimely death.
"SEEING THROUGH TOM'S EYES, A DISCOVERY OF TRUTH, LIGHT AND COLOUR"
All 100 framed paintings are in this exhibition plus the addition of 10 more in honour of my Grandfather. I am grateful for the support and sponsorship from the Town of Huntsville for showcasing this exhibition.
A soft opening took place on Saturday July 1st, 2017 with a public reception from 12:00 pm-2:00 pm, followed by a viewing of the documentary "Painting the wilderness of the Oxtongue. One River. One Lake. Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven" film sponsored by Algonquin Outfitters. The official opening was on July 16th from 1:00 pm-2:00 pm followed by a live performance of the play "When Winnie knew" in the Algonquin Theatre and then a post reception for both in Partners Hall from 3:00 pm-4:00 pm. The show continued until August 31st.
My exhibition was a resounding success and nearly sold out with only 4 left out of 112 paintings!! Truly remarkable and I am extremely grateful for this show of support
that has now spurred me on to create three more bodies of work!
The remaining paintings are 8x10 oil on birch panel, framed in an espresso dark brown frame and sell for $325.00 (plus HST) Contact the artist directly via email
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