Posts Tagged ‘Group of Seven’

Vermont 2018 – First Two Days!


I just got back from beautiful Vermont last night. A week ago Sunday, on the 23d of September, our group of Canadian and American watercolour painters converged on the lovely and welcoming Highland Lodge, which overlooks Caspian Lake in the Northeast Kingdom. Our generous host, Heidi Lauren, offered us cocktails in the charming bar before we enjoyed a delicious Welcome Dinner together.

The following morning, Monday the 24th, we met in our Ski Hut Studio. I started the painting week off with a slide presentation with two themes. The first segment was entitled Planning Your Watercolour and focused on a sound process. The second part featured the work of acclaimed Canadian artist, A. J. Casson (1898-1992). Casson was a member of the celebrated Group of Seven; a ground-breaking group of Canadian landscape painters. We took particular interest in how he simplified foliage in his watercolours and oils and how he dealt with fall foliage, in particular.

A. J. Casson

A. J. Casson

After our studio meeting, we headed to the famous Greensboro Barn at Turning Stone Farm and were hosted by local artist, Jennifer Ranz. It was a wonderful painting site with a great variety of subject matter including the barn itself and a classic Vermont maple sugar shack.

We settled in for the day. The painters spread out all over the property. It was overcast and cool but that doesn’t stop a keen bunch of ‘en plein air’ watercolourists!

Eventually, it was time to warm up and have a look at the day’s work. It was a short drive back to the lodge and our Ski Hut Studio. Here’s the work from our first day. Click on any critique image to view a larger version.

Monday Critique a

Monday Critique b

It was a grim day. Cool and wet. Fortunately, we had our spacious and well-furnished studio where we met for a demonstration. Looking again at the work of A. J. Casson, I discussed the simplification of foliage and greens, as well. Do you see the four swatches of green in the lower left corner? They were all darkened with the same wash of Cobalt Blue. Works, doesn’t it?

The resourceful painters found several places to work for the day. The studio, the front porch, the lodge interior and even through the windows of their rooms and cabins. Of course, it helped that the Highland Lodge has a spectacular view.

Ski Hut Studio

Lodge Interior

Front Porch

Undaunted! It was a productive day as you can see from our critique. Stay tuned for the next episode of our creative adventures. There’s lots more to come from Vermont.

Tuesday Critique a

Tuesday Critique b



Historic Art Instructional Booklets



I’ve been doing a major cleanup in my studio this week and, while going through my art books, came upon these gems. These booklets are undated but I believe they were produced during or just after the Second World War.

Each booklet is 16 pages and only 4 1/4 by 5 1/2″ in size. They were compiled for the benefit of members of the Canadian Armed Services. In this era of cutbacks and little respect for the arts, I doubt a project like this would even be considered.

Arthur Lismer and A. Y. Jackson are Canadian icons and were both founding members of the Group of Seven; artists who celebrated the landscape as their main inspiration.

These booklets are a pleasure to read. They are written with great personality and in a refreshing no-nonsense style. I wish I could reproduce them in their entirety for you to enjoy. Here’s an excerpt from the watercolour booklet by Lismer:

What Makes a Painter?
If you would make good sketches in water colours, you must be something like a child, full of courage, born of ignorance perhaps, uninhibited and unafraid of difficulties, but like a child, working with gusto.

The spirit of adventure, right materials, a keen eye, and a roving disposition are worth more than theories and data and all the knowledge of what has gone before.”