Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Art of Michael Dumas

Mill cloth


Genetic drift



Algonquin Falcons

Silence in the shadows

Michael Dumas is an award winning artist known world wide for his amazing talent and skill as well his dedication and support of nature conservation.

Mr. Dumas' paintings hold a special place in my list of favourites. These days, it is rare for me to find an artist whose passion and dedication is so obvious and to find one that explores different subject matter throughout their career. I have heard many people in the business give the advice to artists "pick one subject and keep doing that one thing".  That might be good advice for a factory owner but it does little to keep fresh that fire of inspiration and passion in the heart of most artists. I doubt most poets want to write the same poem over and over again and although some themes return and become part of the heartbeat of a particular artist, I believe it is wise to see that there are many subjects through which we can express ourselves. The journey of being an artist is forever moving and changing and shifts and develops as we do.

With every painting of Dumas' that I am fortunate enough to see, I am consistently met with the realization that he loves his work and that each aspect of his work is filled with devotion, sensitivity and care.  I think, in reality, those qualities are his subjects and they filter through him to become the images of his paintings. All artists are painting those unseen forces that they carry, and the art work that they produce is an expression of that process.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Angel Academy of Art - The Academic Process

Michael John Angel has had a profound impact on those who have had the good fortune to study with him. In 1997 he established his first school in Florence, the Angel Academy of Art. "Dedicated not only to passing on his love for classical and traditional art, but also to instilling the disciplines that lead to successful mastery of the techniques necessary for representational painting." For those of you looking to study drawing and painting in the old-master tradition, grounded on the teaching techniques of the 19th century European academies, I highly recommend you consider the Angel Academy of Art

Part 3 of the series "The Academic Process" has recently been released on the Angel Academy of Art's youtube page. They are definitely worth watching.



Monday, February 14, 2011

The Paintings of Jason De Graaf





Reflections of Modern Art

Orchid II


In some circles in the art world a quiet but present conflict wages between those who uphold Abstract and those who uphold Realism as being the valid art form. For the most part the two never meet or acknowledge each other. In reality, there really is no point to argue or fight to prove the validity of any work of art. There comes a point where the level of the work is beyond any argument.

Jason De Graaf's obvious skill is balanced with the wonderfully beautiful imagery that he explores. The mood it subtle and quiet, the images are clean and clear. From my perspective much care has been employed in the creation of each piece. I also enjoy the journey I take with each painting where there may be a connection to the past or an opportunity to feel the effect of patterns from cool reflective surfaces. The light in Jason's work often reminds me of how I feel just before the sun sets or rises. That quiet, often cool reflective moment that comes while witnessing something as it changes into something else.

Here is Jason in his own words. It is an excellent example for art students learning how to write their artist  statements. 

"My paintings are about staging an alternate reality, the illusion of verisimilitude on the painted surface, filtered so that it expresses my unique vision. Though my paintings may appear photoreal my goal is not to reproduce or document faithfully what I see one hundred percent, but also to create the illusion of depth and sense of presence not found in photographs. Many of my paintings are about the relationship of light with reflective and transparent surfaces and my journey to understand those qualities and convey my sense of wonder and intrigue over them. In all of my paintings the subject matter is a springboard and a means to explore my ability to communicate something unique to the viewer. I use colours and composition intuitively with the intent of imbuing my paintings with emotion, mood and mystery. Throughout, I try to remain open to new ideas as the painting unfolds."

Jason De Graaf is represented by Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal .

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Portraits by the Group of Seven

Mrs.Oscar Taylor, 1920, Lawren Harris.

self portrait, 1919, Frederick Varley.

Ludivine, 1930, Edwin Holgate.

The members of the Group of Seven are known for their landscapes, most of which could be described as expressive, impressionistic and abstract. One thing I appreciate from studying their work is that they all explored and experimented with different ways of painting. I thought it would be interesting to see what portraits came from this group. It turns out that Varley and Harris were the only 2 from the Group that painted portraits. I added one by Holgate who was apparently considered the eighth member.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A look back to end of the 19th century.

The young gleaner, 1888, Paul Peel.

The Spinner, 1881, Paul Peel.

The young biologist, 1892, Paul Peel.

Lady in the garden, 1889, Paul Peel.

A wreath of flowers, 1884, William Brymner

 Boy with Bread, 1892-99, Ozias Leduc.

The young student, 1894, Ozias Leduc.

My mother in mourning,  c.1890, Ozias Leduc.

Forbidden fruit, 1889, George A. Reid.

Here are just a few paintings from the end of the 19th century. A small selection that includes work by Paul Peel, William Brymner, Ozias Leduc, and  George A. Reid.

I was extremely surprised at how difficult it was to find any resource for realism in Canadian painting from this time period. Surprised and a little disappointed. I understand that when "Canadian art" is mentioned most people think of The Group of Seven. I would love to be able to change that, even if only a little bit. I do have an appreciation for the work of the Group of Seven, one that is growing as I get older, so I don't mean at all to sound dismissive of their contribution to the rich artistic heritage that is in Canada. I am however trying desperately to find more realism.  Something that has that flavour that comes from serious academic study with a long tradition.  This selection is some of what I managed to find. I see now how much more research is going to be needed if I plan on looking back at all. Hope you enjoy these pieces. I've seen some at museums, and as with most paintings, the impact is much stronger when seen in person.

Looking at some work coming out of contemporary painters these days it feels like a reconnection is being made after almost a century. I am thrilled to see this momentum toward realism again and to see a return to sane and logical methods while exploring new ways of looking at the world. It's a very exciting time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Artist Profile : Scott James Owles

A Daughter's Gift

One size fits all


A Gaze to a Glare

I have  always been drawn to anything done with skill, quality and care. Getting a chance to see work by Scott Owles certainly falls into that category.

There is a charm in Scott's work that is hard to ignore, especially when viewing his paintings in person. The quality of the craftsmanship is exceptional. The paint feels rich, controlled, never excessive. There seems to be only what is needed. Collectors and artists alike have a great appreciation for the skill that Scott brings to his work, a skill that is balanced with his ability to tell a story as he explores visual language through painting. Each piece is definitely saying something and as an art lover it is a very engaging experience to stand before his work and listen to what is being said.

Scott James Owles was born in 1964, in Peterborough, Ontario. In 1973, he and his family moved to Toronto.  In 1987, while studying at Ontario College of Art Scott was introduced to artist Michael John Angel at his studio and soon after decided to become a student in his school. Michael John Angel's rich understanding of the place of art in the tradition of Western liberal humanity helped Scott to experience art at a deeper level.  In 1990, he traveled to Florence, Italy for an in-depth study of painting. Since then, Scott has been actively producing works that are uniquely his own, yet steeped with historical language.

"I see my work as the acquisition of an understanding, the most essential comprehension of art as a visual language; exploring both the techniques and practices of those from centuries past. Like any language, to survive it must grow, and this growth comes from an understanding of its past or tradition with a firm grasp on the present and an eye forward."

Scott currently lives with his wife, artist Bonnie Bews and daughter in Muskoka where he also works and teaches out of his studio.

Scott James Owles is represented by Ingram Gallery in Toronto.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Looking for and Finding Excellence in Canadian Art

Growing up in the 70's, I didn't really feel a strong sense of a Canadian identity. At that age I don't think I understood what it meant to be Canadian. I think in order to really understand something you  need to build  it, and that takes time. Creating a painting takes time. Feeling how a piece of art moves you requires your involvement and sometimes a stubborn interest becomes a life long passion.

Since high school I have been preoccupied with art history. Looking at the development of human expression through art has always been a fascinating subject of study for me. Representational work, specifically, has always demanded my attention. From Bernini's sculptures to Rembrandt's portraits right up to the landscapes of Edgar Payne. I am in awe at the remarkable work of so many great artists, both historical and contemporary.

The last few years has been a very exciting time in the art world. An appreciation for realism is most certainly growing. The development of networking sites, websites and blogs have become useful tools in helping artists promote their work.  Art critics no longer dominate the landscape as they have in the past. The artist is now more than ever taking their place as the author of their own potential. People are starting to believe that they can actually "know something about art" and are becoming more comfortable in describing how a piece of art makes them feel without waiting for an "expert" to tell  them what it means.

There are some wonderful things happening in the art world right now and a lot of it is taking place in Canada. I have always felt that Canadian artists deserve more attention. This is what my blog is about. My search for art in Canada and my humble effort to write about it. I love realism and I want to promote, celebrate, and learn more about the wonderful talent that flourishes across this country.

Here is a prelude showing some great work being done by Canadian artists. The expressive portraits and figures of Daniel Hughes, the wonderfully refined work of John Hansen, the romantic imagery of Danielle Richard and the rich still life paintings of Mina dela Cruz.


Daniel Hughes

John Hansen

Danielle Richard

Mina dela Cruz