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Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven

In his autobiography A.Y. Jackson complains that he and the rest of the group would spend half the day trucking through the woods to find that perfect composition, getting back to camp foot sore and mosquito bitten to find Tom sitting by a campfire painting the vista from the door of the tent.

I’ve always thought the biggest difference between Tom and the rest was the way they saw the world, vision.

Tom didn’t need to leave the campsite in order to find worthwhile subjects to paint; he was painting negative space, the place that exists between the material world.

Now Emily (Carr) painted the spirit of place not just her totem poles but her trees too are imbued with the unseen world. They are living sentient beings.

David Milne on the other hand painted more from mind then emotion. It was an intellectual exercise, reducing the marks almost to abstraction, limiting his palette so that the colour had room to breathe and soar.

Every time I encounter work by these three artists I marvel anew at the freshness of their vision.

About geri binks


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