Without knowing the conventions of beauty, he found everything beautiful..
— AY Jackson talking about his friend Tom Thomson
What better way to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of Ontario’s parks this summer than by exploring the rich artistic heritage of our parks and creating your own personal masterpiece?
It’s time to Go crazy about art in provincial parks!
Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven
There is no greater iconic figure in the history of Canadian art than Tom Thomson. Thomson has painted his path in every classroom and doctors’ waiting room. He has helped shape our vision of the North.
Tom Thomson, Canadian, 1877 – 1917. The Artist’s Camp, Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, C. 1915. Oil on panel. Overall: 21.9 x 27 cm (8 5/8 x 10 5/8 in.). The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario, AGOID.69189. Image © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario
Canada’s first unique art movement, represented by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, actively sought out the northern landscape of Algonquin Provincial Park, Algoma, Lake Superior and Georgian Bay. The artists helped define Canada as a culture embodied by the rugged and unforgiving landscape of the Canadian Shield.
It was to this mythical north that Thomson and the Group of Seven were drawn to find new inspiration and expression in their landscape painting.
Ontario’s parks became a natural canvas of inspiration, forever intertwining the words “nature,” “wild,” and “north” with Canadian art.
When the famous group of painters first met in the period 1911-13 (Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, Frederick Varley and Tom Thomson) they were known as the Algonquian school, named after the provincial park where they first found their muse. The Group of Seven was formed in 1920 (without Thomson, who drowned in Algonquin in 1917).
Our shared drive to create
Homo sapiens has been driven to represent what it sees and experiences, since the time of our days in caves. To leave a record. To share a story. There is something in sight, but it remains invisible until the artist’s hand traces the lines that focus our own understanding.
Some beautiful works by indigenous artists are visible within parks and protected areas. Some of the oldest are found in Petroglyph Provincial Park, so named because it contains the largest known concentration of Indigenous rock carvings in Canada.
An artist is not limited by time, but rather slows down, contemplates and distills the emotional essence of the subject: a portal to a deeper understanding. There is not much that separates a non-artist from an artist, other than that the artist dares to show us how he feels about what he sees.
Art connects our spirit with a sense of place. It’s time to escape the hustle and bustle of your everyday existence and get a taste of the artists’ life!
Our provincial parks value these artistic traditions and protect the landscapes that inspired them. Follow the path of the paddle and the paintbrush this summer and help us celebrate our 125th anniversary with a brushstroke of your own!
Ontario Parks OP125 Art Program
This is your chance to break the mold!
A select number of Ontario parks will host family art programs “framed” around painting. outdoor (exterior painting) on July 20, 2018 — Healthy Parks Healthy People Day.
Ontario College of Art and Design student working during Awenda inspired! in Awenda Provincial Park. Photo: Bill Ivy
You can capture the special connection you share with Ontario parks on a natural “tree cookie” canvas and display your collective efforts in an outdoor or “trailside” gallery.
Thomson’s legacy will be honored in a pre-registered mini-paddle painting workshop that will invite participants to create a personal keepsake that combines art and their own experience at the park.
Young artists receive a lesson from “Aunt” Edna Breithaupt, patron of the Group of Seven, in the Painting with the Past program at Awenda Provincial Park
In another natural mix, select parks will offer a pre-registered children’s nature journaling program, which will combine sketches and written observations to help sharpen natural awareness.
Visit the Ontario Parks Event List later this spring for individual park program times and locations.
Share your masterpieces? Use labels #Go crazy about art!