Teachers Lesson Plans

Canadian Painting in the Thirties

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How does each artist approach the landscape?

For both these artists contact with nature was essential for creating works of art.

For David Milne, it was the process of art and not the subject of a painting that was important to him. Milne wanted to capture on canvas his own vivid sensations the instant he looked at something. It was the force of the impression that concerned him, and that he felt had to be captured immediately.

Ollie Matson's House Is Just a Square Red Cloud shows Milne's individual way of painting. The texture of the paint is thick, applied quickly to give the work a feeling of a sketch. Milne captures the forms of the clouds, the edges of the trees and hills behind the house with lines that also define the volumes. Colour is reduced to a few tints: a few spots of red on the house and post on the left, a little olive green in the small tree nearby, and some blue in the V-shaped white clouds in the sky.

Carr also worked quickly and spontaneously. The subject of the painting however was important to her. As Carr once said, she was interested in " express(ing) the God, in all life, in all growth". Unlike Milne her paint is thin, almost transparent and loosely applied in broad sweeps of quivering brush strokes.

In this work Carr captures the sensations she felt in front of nature: the joy, the sense of freedom, the tremendous space and the spiritual belief that God is present in all life. Like Milne, Carr has greatly simplified her composition. The lines carry the eye upward to the swirling clouds, where life seems to radiate beyond the frame. In the upper most centre of the painting, the clouds open to reveal an inner glow of golden light.