Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Painting Algoma 2020 2nd annual Canadian Master Class in Plein Air Painting

I think the photo says it all. OMG. Colour!!

Painting Algoma 2020 In mid-September 2020, I took 10 adventurous and courageous students to follow in the footsteps of the group of 7, and see what they saw, when "THEY" painted Canada. It's been a dream unleashed, and I can't wait to see more of what "they" saw. I'd like to thank my intrepid students for their enthusiasm and dedication to do this, in a very unsettled time. We got lucky with Covid, as our time frame co-incided with nice weather and came before the 2nd. It was a perfect pocket of fortune. Sorry, we didn't have nice weather, we had exceptionally beautiful warm weather, with maybe one or two licks of rain, and I mean licks. 

The North Channel, La Cloche. A magic dawn, just outside our cabin. 

 Our trip has several layers to it. First of all, we were following the places the group of seven painted frequently, in the La Cloche area, and Mitchipicoten, just outside of Wawa, Ontario. Without a doubt, the highlight for me and many others, was the drive between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa. Lake Superior Provincial Park. Wow. This is Ontario? OMG. So dynamic! I cant believe I have aged to a certain vintage and not seen Ontario, in my own country. Oh yeah-One more lucky, the leaves were in full throttle of change, bold reds and oranges, all the way to Wawa, where the forest becomes boreal, with greens, and golds only. 

 Let's start at the beginning. We met up in Sudbury, a town also have never been visted by me. Our hotel was almost right across the road from the Art Gallery of Sudbury. Most of us made it over there to see locally made artwork, before heading off on Sept. 17nth for our first destination, the La Cloche area. This is about one hour southwest of Sudbury. 


Jon and Kerry Butler and myself, standing on a bit of rock, where the group of 7 painted over 250 paintings in any given direction. That's Frood and Cranberry Lake behind us.

 We decided to start the whole tour off with a very exciting bang, by meeting up on Willisville Mountain. Myself, my students, with Jon and Kerry Butler. 

Here are a couple of examples of his work, obvious keen knowledge of where the poet- trees exist. These are both from the La Cloche area. 

I feel especially lucky to have Jon speak to our group. Not only is he an excellent photographer and knowledgable about the whole area, he had extensive knowledge about where the group of seven painted, locally. In fact, the first thing we did was follow him, scrambling up a huge piece of white granite, to view the notch between Frood and Cranberry Lake. 


Our first day and first time being together as a group, scrambling to this remote rock, were the "group" painted many times. 

Bonnie knocks one out of the park.

I was astounded to learn in his lecture from the rock, that more than 250 paintings had been done by the group, from this rock- it bears repeating! Just astonishing. Jon and his wife Kerry were more than hospitable and I thanked them with the golden elixir, my homemade raspberry liqueur. Once we had our bearings and found out all of Jons'  group of 7 facts, we were left on the rock to paint, in any direction. It was a clear, bright day and in fact got downright hot out there. We stayed all afternoon, shooting pictures, making thumbnail sketches and paintings, in pastel, pen and ink, and watercolour. 

 Our day was toasted off with Champagne and cake because hey! we just have go to celebrate, whenever we can. Being around other people during covid seemed a joyous occasion enough. 

                                          Day 2 -- Boat tour, Cranberry lake, hiking to Grace Lake 

 Day 2 took us back to Willisville, where we were boat-taxied through Frood lake (much painted by the group 7) into Cranberry lake. We mosied by Carmichaels' cottage, still owned by his descendants, and onto the end of Cranberry, all of us taking pictures wildly. At the end of Cranberry, was a portage trail, which we took, all the way to Grace Lake (painted much by the group of 7), inside the boundaries of Killarney Provincial Park. 

                                      Just a weird growth on tree in dense forest during our hike. 

Quintessential group of 7 Pines and Island

Our reward for hiking in to Grace Lake, a la group of 7

We spent most of the day painting in that magical landscape, and magical it was. I enjoyed mid ground Islands, huge vistas of red covered mountains far away, and close ups of light and detail on trees, bushes. The weather, spectacular. 

Margot, soaking in

 Trish working it out in pen and ink. 

Gorgeous pen and ink illumination by Trish

                           Another gift on the boat trip back. Was this colour real? Stay tuned on this one,...

 By his time we're pretty exhausted, so Day 3 saw us painting around our cabins, painting the north Channel, pretty colours of maples in change, and whitefish falls, truly beautiful. I learned so much about the group of 7 on this trip, I am amazed, and hope to get to know Killarney better. 

Close to the finished painting, oil, 11X 14 by Ferraro

 Art Gallery of Algoma , Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario

Here we are at Art Gallery of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie, being given our own special show of group of 7 artwork, from executive director Jasmina Jovanovic and her assistant, Ky. 

Here is Ky, public engagement officer for the Art Gallery of Algoma, showing us the back of a painting! They have 2 such paintings at the gallery. 

We had quite a treat and I'd like to thank Jasmina Jovanovic, executive Director of the Art Gallery of Algoma, for producing a special exhibit just for our group, on the works they have of the group of 7. We got to see works, up close and unframed (no touching!) as well as hear all about these works and the group of 7 in this area both from Jasmina and Ky. One thing I learned there, is that the group often painted two images, one on either side of the small panels they took on location. The Art Gallery of Algoma had two of them, which we got to see. I also got to see just what kind of an excellent technician Carmichael was, in smaller pieces, done with a very small brush, patience and impeccable precision. 

                            Driving through Lake superior Provincial Park, was absolutely amazing. 

Sorry about the fuzzy, check out the colour! 

One on many beautiful waterfalls

Many waterfalls, camping areas, views of  Lake Superior, and spectacular vistas of hills bordering on Mountains,  in vivid fall colours. It was hard to keep eyes on the road. (Once our tour was over, I spent an entire day travelling back through the park, hiking, taking pics and doing some sketching.) It was truly breathtaking. 

                                                                Wawa and Mitchipokoten 

Rock Island Lodge, the view
View from the rocks on our very private coastline at Rock Island Lodge. We had the whole place to ourselves, to paint, and get together to share our work. This was the more open and windy side. Many excellent shots of Lake superior were had. 

Margot, having fun with rocks and water 

Rock Island Lodge, a protected little alcove for socializing

The beach on the other side at the lodge. Nice composition by Hilary.  

A lovely fire our last night, before getting dark and stargazing

Did I mention the gorgeous sunset over Lake Superior? Pastel, by Carole. 

                 My personal view upon waking each morning, with or without ethereal morning fog. 

Did someone say morning fog (?) by Jacques. An artist observes and finds a way to speak his own language regardless of the setting. Many variations were done, this is only 1of many. 

 This leg of the trip, we learned quite a lot from our next presenter, Johanna Rowe. She's a local historian, who is writing a book on A.Y,Jackson and his meanderings in Mitchipicoten. 

We saw the cottage AY owned with a few friends, right on the north shore of Lake Superior. Once there, it's quite obvious where he got his inspiration from -- many, many paintings done on this small beach. 

AY Jacksons' beach

There are many waterfalls still in this area, and many of us got to paint silver falls (below, bottom), very close to where we were staying. 

High Falls, just south of Wawa, Ontario

Sweet and small, Silver falls. I could have painted this from many perspectives. 
Not enough time!

Margaret Stalker has been practicing her compositon and drawing skills. Look at this gem. 

Blueberry fields turned a gorgeous red.

                          Someone was bound to do it, variations on red. Colour Harmony! By Patricia 

 Fields and fields of blueberry bushes changing to red here everywhere, making for some very unusual palettes and subject matter.

In the Footsteps of the Group of 7-By Jim and Sue Waddington

Jim and Sue Waddington are Art historians, and avid canoeists. They started a journey of canoeing and finding the spots the group of 7 painted many years ago, and have discovered so many of the locations that they decided to write this excellent reference book. 

Many of us brought this book with us, and could see for ourselves what the group of 7 painted, as nothing has moved after all these years! It was astounding. 

What really impressed me is seeing a scene painted many years, decades earlier, that is very accurate to what is still,..actually there. It gave me a new found appreciation for the draftmanship of the group of 7. I find graphic artists make a seemless transformation over to fine art. Much design practise can serve your fine art side. The views I saw in general all reminded me constantly of group of 7 paintings. I can see how excellent designing skill helps makes the most of what is actually there. For example, the black spruce trees that are typical of Algoma. The group would use these as a design element that "anchored" paintings ,texture, cushioning values and colours, generally providing fullness to these natural scenes. In my own teaching, especially plein air, I often instruct to take objects out if they don't serve your composition. It was obvious from observing the scene of one famous painting after another, that the group did not do that. They painted everything in, but found excellent compositions to work from with accuracy. 

Look at the light on the rocks. Really feeling the reflections too. Thanks to Bev for this one. 

                              WIP, Frood Lake Magic, oil by Ferraro, I'm working a large oil of it now.

Capturing the movement of water. magical. Vivid splashing water. Thanks Betty!

 AS with all my trips, there was a multitude of different subjects and different scenes to paint. I find it frustrating in turning off and rejecting subject matter I'm not going to use.  We only painted such a small bit of what we saw. Time was limited. The fall colours are such a spectacular time of year, but only lasts such a short time. But it was truly a wonderful time, shared by likeminded artists. 
We were from all over Ontario, as far east as Ottawa, and as far west as Guelph, Ontario as well. Thank you to the hardy, positive individuals who made this trip such a success. 
I look forward to Post Covid time, more travels, and marvelling at the miracle of nature, through art.  
In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and happy painting to everyone. 

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