Monday, 31 October 2011

'Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven' at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven is the latest exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery  It includes the largest group of Canadian paintings ever to leave Canada!

The exhibition opened recently and is on until 8 January 2012.  It's been organised in liaison with the National Gallery of Canada and collaboration with the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo and the Groninger Museum.

This is by way of a preamble as I've not yet seen the exhibition - but I hope to see it very shortly!  I'll also be doing more posts about the development of Canadian landscape art.

Franklin Carmichael, Autumn Hillside, 1920,
Oil on canvas 76 x 91.4cm,
© Art Gallery of Ontario,Gift from the J.S. McLean Collection, Toronto
© Courtesy of the Estate of Franklin Carmichael
Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven

This exhibition is one of those "once in a lifetime" events.  

The famous landscape paintings of Canada which feature in this exhibition were first seen at the British Empire exhibitions at Wembley in 1924 and 1925. Although both Thom Thomson and the Group of Seven are greatly revered within Canada, they are much less well known outside that country.  However they very much deserve to be better known.

Sketch for the Jack Pine by Thom Thomson
This is the first major exhibition of Canadian landscape art outside Canada and includes the largest  number of paintings (122 paintings in total) ever to travel to Europe plus Tom Thomson’s sketchbox.

Painting Canada is displayed as a journey across Canada, from East to West, framed by two grand rooms dedicated individually to Tom Thomson’s electrifying sketches and paintings of Algonquin Park and Lawren Harris’s other-worldly paintings of the Arctic and the Rocky Mountains. Between these two ‘poles,’ a selection of the best work by Thomson and the Group of Seven will be on display. A special feature of the show will be the juxtaposition, wherever possible, of the initial sketch with the finished canvas. One room will be devoted entirely to a display of these vibrant sketches, which represent one of Canada’s most impressive contributions to 20th century art.
Exhibition Catalogue
The 216 page fully illustrated catalogue is available online from the Dulwich Picture Gallery shop.  It tells the story of the beginnings of the Group of Seven and how and why they started to try and depict the landscape of Canada in paint, the challenges they faced and the journeys they undertook to find their subject matter.
Tom Thomson developed an artistic language that captured the unique qualities of the Canadian landscape - dazzling in colour and in tune with the subtle changing of the seasons. After his untimely death, Thomson’s friends organised a memorial exhibition, and followed this up by forming probably the most famous artistic force in Canadian art history: the Group of Seven. Lawren Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston, Franklin Carmichael and A.Y. Jackson created - along with Thomson - a landscape style that to this day influences the way Canadians visualise their own country.

Highly revered in Canada, these great artists are virtually unknown outside. This spectacularly illustrated book, arranged according to the geographical areas depicted, with scholarly essays investigating different aspects of the painters’ craft, aims to redress that imbalance.
Interestingly this exhibition also has a related art blog - which also focuses on the journey across Canada. Here are some of the posts - and a quote from the first which explains what they are all about
Over the next three months and seven blog posts, Julian Beecroft will travel across Canada from Atlantic to Pacific coasts. During the course of his extraordinary journey he will introduce you to Tom Thomson, Canadian landscape painter, and the members of the Group of Seven, their paintings and something of their individual characters, as he visits and photographs the sites of paintings loaned to the exhibition coming this autumn to Dulwich Picture Gallery.
The exhibition is also going on tour to the following locations:
There is also an iPhone app associated with the Exhibition - priced at $1.99 from the iTunes store.  It's compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  It's especially useful for visitors to the Gallery.  However it's NOT available from the iMac Store and there doesn't seem to be an Android application.
A unique, interactive exploration of Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. Featuring over 70 works and using landmark technology developed by ArtFinder, visitors to the exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery (19 October 2011 – 8 January) can use image recognition “snap” technology to use their app to identify the works in front of them and listen to audio commentaries accompanied by text and a room by room guide to the exhibition. Alternatively simply explore the exhibition by room and location to take a virtual tour of the show.
Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven
Exhibition dates:  19 October 2011 – 8 January 2012 
Exhibition Opening hours:

  • Tue - Fri 10am–5pm 
  • Weekends & Bank Holiday Mondays 11am– 5pm
  • Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays 
Exhibition entry: £9, £8 Concessions Free entry for children and Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery

For those interested in Canadian art 
you might like Canadian Art Calendars 2012

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Autumn Landscape: Paul Gauguin - By the Stream

By the Stream, Autumn (1885) - Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903)

This is one of those paintings of which there are innumerable images on the Internet - but nothing which tells you much about it as a painting.  It's as if the hand-painted reproductions have taken over - and there's nothing left of the artist.

If the date of the painting is correct then it seems likely that this painting was painted by Paul Gauguin:

  • three years after the stock market crash, in January 1882, which led to Gauguin deciding to take "the bull by the horns" and become a full-time artist
  • three years after he participated in the seventh Impressionist Exhibition in March 1882
  • after he left his Danish wife and family in Copenhagen (she had returned to her home) following the difficulties the marriage experienced after he decided to become an artist despite having a growing family.
  • during a period (1883-1886) when he is struggling for financial survival and painted very little despite becoming an artist.  In fact, he probably painted as much when he was a stockbroker and Sunday painter.
It seems likely it was painted in France - possibly somewhere close to Dieppe where he spent the summer of 1885

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Plein air painting demo by Bill Guffey

Bill emailed me to say he's put a plein air painting demo up on YouTube - and here it is - enjoy the brush strokes in time to the music!

If you are also doing videos of yourself painting landscapes plein air - or even in the studio do let me know.

This plein air oil painting demonstration was filmed on October 23, 2011 at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Cumberland County, Kentucky.

The painting is 24" x 20" and was completed in about an hour and 20 minutes. I knew traveling to this location was going to be a race against the sun and time. The camera battery ran out about 10 minutes before the painting was completed. A shot of the finished painting ends this short film.

You can see more of Bill's work on

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2011

Scottish amateur photographer, Robert Fulton has won the title of Landscape Photographer of the Year 2011 for his stunning picture of a Winter Field in Snow.  The Cumbernauld-based photographer is the fifth person to win the overall title and the £10,000 prize.

Robert Fulton – Winter Field, Stirlingshire, Scotland

An exhibition of the winning and commended entries in the 2011 competition is to be held at the National Theatre in London.  It opens on 5th December 2011 and runs until 28th January 2012.  

A book has also been published - see Landscape Photographer of the Year Collection: 5 (Photography)

There were thousands of entries for the award - which encompasses different perspective on the landscape including urban landscapes as well as classic landscapes.  The competition also has a number of awards including one category for young photographers.

You can see a slideshow of the various photos which won awards or were highly commended on the Telegraph website

Photograph by Oscar Stewart-Packe
Landscape Photographer of the Year 2011 - Awards

Below are the names of those who won awards.  The place names relate to the location of the landscape in the image.
  • Landscape Photographer of the YearRobert Fulton – Stirlingshire, Scotland.  Robert was 49 before he started taking photography seriously - although he'd always been interested in the visual arts.  He became a digital convert 11 years ago and is now a Scottish landscape photographer with an interest in Natural History.  He's very pleased to have won "the big one"!  The winning image is at the top of this post
  • Young Landscape Photographer of the Year:  14 year old Oscar Stewart-Packe – London.  His winning image is on the right.
Classic View:
We are looking for an image that captures the beauty and variety of the UK landscape. An iconic view; a view along a cliff-side path or of a historic village; a view down a valley; an urban skyline or snow-capped peaks; maybe showing the drama of our seasons. Recognisable and memorable; a true classic.
  • Winner Classic view:  Tim Harvey Guernsey, Channel Islands
  • Runner-up Classic view:  Angus Clyne River Tay, Scotland - this was the first photography competition Angus had ever entered
Living the View
This is a category for images of people interacting with the outdoors – working or playing in the UK landscape. Possible subjects include mountain bikers, kite boarders, walkers, shepherds or even your best friend biting into a sandwich - as long as your picture shows people within their outdoor environment.
Urban View
It’s hard to pin down an exact figure, but statistics suggest that up to 80% of the UK population lives in towns or cities. That’s a huge number, so we wanted a category that highlights the surroundings that many of us live in every day. It has always been possible to enter city skylines in Classic view and concepts in Your view (and you still can), but this category really focuses on the subject - from historic to modern - but no underground car parks, tube stations etc please – anything urban and outside is eligible. 
Your View
What does the UK landscape mean to you? A stream rushing over pebbles, a foggy day in the Peak District, fish & chips on a deserted beach, you and your friends on your first big summit. Pretty much anything goes, as long as it is in the UK and in the outdoors. Use your imagination, as you have the scope for a very conceptual and personal approach. 
Youth class (16 and under)

  • Winner Classic view - William Lee Lincolnshire
  • Winner Living the view -  Jessica Nineham Hampshire
  • Winner Urban view - Matt Woods Hampshire
  • Winner Your view - William Lee Lincolnshire