ONTARIO SOCIETY OF ARTISTS
Annual Meeting to be held on Tuesday March 13th, 1917
6:30pm at the Toronto Art Gallery,
Public Reference Library, College St.
The following members are seeking election as officers:
President - C. W. Jefferys.
Vice-President and Treasurer -J . E. H. MacDonald.
Secretary - R. F. Gagen.
Auditors - James Smith and R. J. Dilworth.
Executive Council - F. M. Bell-Smith, T. W. Mitchell, G. A. Reid, E. Wyly Grier, Herbert S. Palmer, Mary E. Wrinch, F. Horsman Varley,
The following are new member candidates - Frank Carmichael, Francis H. Johnston and Miss. Florence MacGillivray.
YOUR ATTENDANCE AS A VOTING MEMBER IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.
March 10, 1917
I need to finish my last canvas before I go North. I’ll focus energies away from last night and do something useful. Paint. I’m still glad I didn’t put anything in the Exhibition. That’ll show them.
I looked back through my sketches (over 300) and decided to use the one I made when I was in the east end of the Park last fall. I painted this sketch at Grand Lake when I was with Ed Godin. What I like most about this sketch is the shape of the tree. This tree was alone on the rocks and it was a windy day.
This lone tree caught my eye from the shore and I moved in to take a closer look. I landed the canoe, pulled it up and walked behind the tree. I knew I had a scene when I walked inshore about 50 feet and because of the tree shelter it was calm where I stood. But when I looked back I could see the tree struggling against the wind while its inshore mates were calm as can be. I could see hills behind Carcajou Bay and it gave a feeling of distance to the tree. It was about 3 in the afternoon when I did the sketch. It was mid-fall, still warm in the day, but in the fall afternoons the winds would kick up and the cloud would be thickened puffs racing across the sky. The cloud weren’t threatening where I was, but I’m sure these clouds would gather down the Ottawa and set up for a big thunderstorm. It felt like a chapel where I set up to paint. Indeed, I imagined I was in a chapel (or a fancy department store) looking at Tiffany stained glass. I could see in overall scene elements of grand stained glass window and I imagined that the tree itself was John the Baptist at the ready to do his baptising. I got to work on the sketch. It didn’t take me long – about 30 to 40 minutes. I had gotten pretty good at throwing out a sketch. Even though I had time that afternoon, my habit was now to paint as quickly as possible. I liked to think of it as automatic sketching – like automatic writing. I let Nature do the sketching, I was just the instrument at the time.
Back at the Shack, canvases are a different story. If you ever wish to be paralysed by second-guessing and let your mind take over your work then painting canvases is just for you. I needed time to immerse myself into a new canvas. The tedious part I like to do for preparation. Building the frame, stretching the canvas and preparing the ground. I would do this over one or two days. I needed the ground to be fully dry before I got started. Already, I’m feeling that this canvas will be on two planes. The chapel in the foreground (unseen) and the windy expanse in the background. As I sketched, I recall being sheltered from the wind and light, but the tree was not. As I was on the Lake just moments before, I knew how rough and unforqiving it was out there. Clouds, water, tree as John the Baptist, I think I’ll have a good canvas here.
Toronto World, March 10,1917
Society Page 7
The 45th Annual Exhibition of the Ontario Society of Artists private view was a most popular event and the guest were numerous than they have been for many years. The president, Mr Jeffreys, received with Mrs. Jeffreys at the entrance to the galleries, the latter looking very handsome in a rose crepe de chine gown which contrasted well with her magnificent dark hair; she also wore a flowered chiffon scarf and a corsage bouquet of yellow roses and ferns. A few of the people present were Sir Edmund Walker, Mr and Mrs E. F. B. Johnston, Hon. Frederic Nicholls…
March 9, 1917
It was the private viewing tonight. I didn’t go but I heard all about it afterwards. Curtis Williamson and Bill Beatty came back around 10pm and gave me the report of the evening.The show was set up in the Public Reference Library. The Toronto Art Museum has their gallery there. The attendance of the private viewing was surprisingly good, better than other years, Beatty reported. He figured that when Jefferys announced that the proceeds of the ticket sales were going to be going to the Patriotic Fund, this became a must attend event for the high society members. They want to be seen supporting the War effort. More importantly, in my estimation, they want to see their names in the papers. The society reporters like to make coverage of these events. Jefferys and his wife got all of the attention. Jim MacDonald was supposed to be there with his wife, but she got sick and they didn’t come.
Curtis said that Sampson’s picture of the Arts and Letters club members made quite the sensation with the attendees. The picture (still unfinished when it was unveiled at the club dinner in January) was a pleaser and there was a crowd around it all evening. If people like to see their names in the paper, even better, they like to see their faces in a portrait. Beatty said that Sampson did a pretty good job of it. I agree, but it’s not something I would paint.
In the end we had our own private party in the Studio Building. I brought up the whisky I got from Montreal and we finished it in short order.I like Bill and Curtis but not enough to share my true feelings with them. Everyday I am feeling more and more distant from everyone here in the City. Truth be told, I’m glad I didn’t go to the private viewing because I’d probably end up exchanging impolite words with someone.
I’m beginning to feel like a wild animal chased out from its refuge by an uncontrollable forest fire. They say that the forest can’t regenerate without these fires, but at a terrible cost to those who live there. Perhaps the Great War is the Great Fire of our country. Like the old trees, the few old men in power can only be replaced by the deaths of thousand of young men.
March 7, 1917
The asking prices of seven of my artist colleagues for their works in the upcoming 45th OSA Spring Exhibition opening two days from now, on March 9, 1917
My paintings are still in the Shack with no asking price. That’s fine by me but I do find it rather brazen to ask a half year’s wages for a painting during wartime.
34. Sunlight $600
Lawren Harris (Camp Borden)
58. Decorative Landscape $600
AY Jackson (Overseas)
60. The Cedar Swamp $300
69. Spring Song in the North $600
Arthur Lismer (Halifax)
84. Georgian Bay, Spring $500
88. Wilds Ducks $600
128. Squally Weather, Georgian Bay $500
March 6, 1917
The 45th Spring Exhibition of the Ontario Society of Artists is all set to open this upcoming Friday, March 9th.
I sent nothing this year. I’ll tell you the reasons why.
I had exhibited in OSA exhibitions previous years: 1913, 1914, 1915, and 1916. I had also exhibited at the Toronto C.N.E Exhibition, and most recently in Montreal. At first I was very enthusiastic to participate. To become member of the OSA was an honour. It was a validation of sort, but the honour started to wear off when I attended the socials. I felt like an uneducated fraud.
Despite the encouragement , if not outright pressure from Jim and Dr. MaCallum, I refused to budge. I had enough of the critics, especially the fierce attack by Carl Ahrens. Despite being quite satisfied by my works, I don’t feel up to the barrage, There are two things worse than having your name spelled wrong in the newspaper (“Thompson”) it’s being called a hermaphrodite or being served with a white feather.
Talk of conscription is louder than ever. Borden is in England and it’s a surety that when he returns, he’ll make the call up mandatory. Despite the white feather treatment, no one is volunteering anymore. I did have some enthusiasm at the beginning of the war, but after reading Jackon’s letter and seeing the endless reels at the Regent. I’ve determined it’s all a rotten waste.
With all that going about, sending something to the Exhibition is like fiddling while Rome is burning. I am going on to being four months in Tornto, after seven months away – my longest absence ever.
I need to leave soon and I might never return
March 2, 1917
Studio Building ,
I hope this letter finds you well. I’m sorry I haven’t written you sooner but I have been busy painting these past few weeks. I have got quite a bit done. Toronto is pretty wrapped up in the War so I try to avoid the crowds in case I meet up with unfriendly folk that want to make a show of someone that should be fighting instead of being at home. I’ll be quite happy to leave and am planning to go up in the spring as soon as possible.
I received your letter a few weeks ago. Thank you for the socks. As for Joyce, I read some his stories in the magazines. I should read his book. Can you bring it with you to Canoe Lake this spring? I can check on your cabin when I get there and will write you if there is any problem. This War is pretty rotten and it’s having a big toll on Jim MacDonald. His wife is sick and Jim looks like a shadow of himself. Jim tried to convince me to submit to the OSA Spring Exhibition but I refused because I couldn’t give the critics the satisfaction. A review like last year would make it near impossible to sell my paintings. Dr. MacCallum tried to convince me too, but in the end thought it wiser to skip because it would be easier to sell my paintings without the controversy.
The snow has been heavy this year. It’s been cold too. The coal shortage has forced many to scavenge for firewood in the ravine and there’s been many fires. A whole family died in a fire in Kensington and the City wants to tear down the shacks but it will make the problem worse.
With all the snow and cold I doubt the ice won’t be out until May and you probably won’t make it to the cabin until Victoria Day. I’ll write you when I arrive a Canoe Lake.