Discover the best places in Ontario to sketch, paint, sculpt, carve and photograph wilderness and wildlife images.
Developed in part under Ontario's popular Arts in the Wild program, an alliance of 23 arts organizations and tourism operators, this guide for the creative spirit is organized according to the province's major travel regions.
The authors discuss each region's art history, provide detailed information on unique courses and workshops available to artists, list galleries and studio tours, and profile a few of each region's most interesting professional and amateur artists. Also included is a special look at Ontario's Native art and artists. The guide is richly illustrated, with color photographs of scenic locations throughout Ontario and pictures of artists in their studios.
The result is an inspiring "where-to" book for any visual artist with a love of nature.
Rob Stimpson is a professional photographer who specializes in outdoor lifestyle images and nature photography workshops. He is a member of Ontario's Arts in the Wild program and has traveled the world, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, documenting all manner of flora and fauna. He lives on Lake of Bays, near Algonquin Provincial Park.
Craig Thompson is an accomplished writer and television producer whose credits include the Outdoor Life Network's Grey Wolf Wilderness Adventures, CBC's Cottage Country and Let It Snow, and the Food Network's The Manic Organic. He lives in Stratford, Ontario.
The story of An Artist's and Photographer's Guide to Wild Ontario begins even before recorded time. Thousands of years ago when only the First Nations people inhabited this part of the world, the phases of the moon, the passing of the seasons, and the cycle of birth, life and death were the only measurements of the concept we now call "time."
Those first inhabitants viewed themselves as an integral part of the cycle of nature. They feared, revered and worshiped the power of Mother Earth and they gave thanks to the Great Spirit for their survival.
In many cases, their appreciation took the form of artwork -- rock carvings known as petroglyphs, and rock paintings also known as pictographs. These early masterpieces survive to this day in their natural settings, and their spiritual symbols still inspire the modern native art that hangs in galleries and museums in Canada and around the world.
The mystery of native culture helped fuel the creativity of European-trained artists who came here to document and interpret the exploits and adventures of explorers, fur traders, missionaries and entrepreneurs set on taming this wild landscape.
Paul Kane, hailed as one of the founding fathers of Canadian art, travelled with the Hudson's Bay Company west across Canada from Toronto, producing hundreds of sketches and paintings that depicted unspoiled wilderness and native customs. In the mid1800s, an era before photography, these were the first glimpses the general public had of our country's rugged and magnificent scenery.
Frances Anne Hopkins, who accompanied her husband on Hudson's Bay Company expeditions in the 1870s, is another important figure in Canadian art history. Her paintings of places like the French River and Lake Superior were among the first to capture the emotion and raw beauty of Ontario's northern landscape.
There were, of course, many other painters who in their own way helped shape a truly Canadian art movement. This country was not England, France or Italy, and the schools of art prominent in Europe promoted styles that suited tame and pastoral settings, not the raw and wild energy of Canada.
The artists who later would form the Group of Seven decided they would capture that energy in a way no one had dared before. Affected by events of the First World War and Canada's new-found national pride, they painted scenes from Algonquin Park, Georgian Bay, the Ottawa Valley and Lake Superior. Their bold use of colour, lavish brush strokes and emotional interpretation of the landscape shocked the traditional art world, whose staunch defenders criticized this new style as "mush" and a passing fancy.
Much to their surprise, this style took root, and the work of artists like Tom Thomson, A.Y. Jackson, A.J. Casson, Franklin Carmichael, Fred Varley, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lismer and J.E.H. MacDonald became world renowned.
Many of these artists were also graphic designers, so they had a good sense of colour. They were experts in the art of communicating through eye-catching visuals and they knew how to use those visuals to market and sell -- in this case the Ontario landscapes. They were also teachers who passed along their style to a whole new generation of disciples. To this day, many landscape painters across Ontario still point to the Group of Seven as their leading source of inspiration.
The Group of Seven created more than a truly Canadian art movement. They imprinted on our collective consciousness the desire to experience the great landscapes ourselves.
The sculpted and rugged shorelines of Lake Superior shrouded in mist, mystery and native legends ... the ancient pine forests of Temagami traversed by spectacular lakes and river systems ... the polished rocky islands of Georgian Bay with their pink granite and lonely pines ... the glacially shaped terrain of the Canadian Shield with its bottomless lakes and never-ending forests that transform in texture and colour with the changing of the seasons... these are the images that define Ontario. These are the landscapes that still inspire the artists of today.
The communities of artists, the galleries, workshops and studio tours scattered all over this vast province also owe their existence to the pioneers of Canadian landscape art.
Ontario is a huge territory. In the course of preparing this book, we travelled almost 10,000 km (6,000 miles), further than the distance across Canada. There are still parts of the province we weren't able to reach.
An Artist's and Photographer's Guide to Wild Ontario is not meant to be a comprehensive survey of Ontario's artistic resources. It is designed to be a guide for the creative spirit, a resource whose purpose is to create inspiration for those who wish to discover the wonderful and varied landscapes of Ontario for themselves.
Landscapes of Ontario: Unique Places to Make Your Own, by Anne Marshall
1. ALGONQUIN PARK AND COTTAGE COUNTRY
2. FRENCH RIVER AND SUDBURY
3. LAKE SUPERIOR
Superior: The Haunted Shore
Ontario's Wild Frontier
Garden of the Great Spirit
6. BRUCE PENINSULA
Ontario's Exotic Wilderness
The Karma of Killarney
8. KAWARTHAS AND EASTERN ONTARIO
Land of Bright and Shining Waters
9. NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION
By Royal Prerogative: The Canvas of the National Capital Region
10 GREATER TORONTO AREA
McMichael Canadian Art Collection: An Icon of Canadian Art