March 10, 1917 West Wind

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.

March 10, 1917 Toronto Globe – Many Fine Paintings at O.S.A. Exhbition

Toronto Globe

March 10, 1917


More notable for the average of good and progressive work than for outstanding examples by anyone artist is the forty-fifth annual exhibition of the Ontario Society of Artists, which was opened in the Reference Library last evening. The President, Mr. C.W. Jeffreys, has an interesting series of illustrations, some in color and some in black and white. “An Election in the Forties,” “George Brown Addressing a Meeting of Farmers,” and other historic subjects are depicted.

J.W. Beatty has four canvases, one a portrait, but the most interesting of all being splendid wood scene, with the gray-green trunk of a great beech tree caught out of the forest dimness by a ray of light from the outer world. Some of its smaller neighbors are colored too, by the ray of sunshine.

Timely Subjects.

A tattoo at Camp Borden is the very timely subject of a night-time study, with flaming torches and white tent-cones, by F.M. Bell-Smith, who has also several London street scenes and a picture of Mount Temple. G.A. Reid also has crystallized the spirit of the day in a colorful indoor scene, with women at work on Red Cross supplies. Delicate and appealing too, is Mr. Reid’s “Spring” picturing the tender springtime haze in a grove of sapling birch and poplars. Mrs. Reid has three canvases, including two of her lovely flower pieces. “Little Sisters of the Sun,” a cluster of brown-eyed Susans are very happy in their copper bowl.

A glowingly lovely nude by Frederick S. Challenger is seated o a mossy rock, with a shell in her hand and her toes dipping into the blue swell of the sea. His studies of western life and of a misty woodland scene, with boys bathing in a “swimming hole,” are also very satisfying.

Harry Britton’s three canvases show consistently good work, and a new departure in the two portraits, both of which are very fine. The splendid orange and purple and green sails and the blue water of his “Harbor of St. Ives” provide a feast of colour. Mrs. Britton has a delightful small piece called “The Road to the Sugar Camp.”

Many Exhibitors.

There are many pictures worthy of attention and among them two colorful canvases by Miss L.O. Adams, “Across Country,” a dipping foreground and beyond a red-roofed farmhouse the tree-stunted fields of a distant slope; and “Spring’s Promise” a blossoming orchard.

“In the Evening Light,” by W.M. Cutts is an interesting canvas, and Mrs. Cutts has a large canvas showing a narrow, rocky bay with a bit of gray beach swept by the green tide of the ocean. Through a dip in the headland, threaded by a narrow path, one glimpses the blue sea beyond.

There are a number of very interesting winter scenes, among them being “Open Creek, Winter,” by W.A. Drake, full of light and color; a number of fine things by Manly MacDonald; “The Cedar Swamp,” by A.Y. Jackson who has also some very interesting studies, made abroad; and “Silent Valley,” by Francis H. Johnston. In the latter the snow falls away in blue and purpling shadow to make way for a clear-rimmed, brown-green stream to flow through. Mr. Johnston has a lot of very original and interesting work both in oils and among the decorative drawings shown in the room with black and white work, illustrations and the like.

Some Fine Portraits

E. Wyly Grier has an excellent portrait of the Speaker of the Legislature and also a charcoal study of Mr. Geo. Hilliard. Miss Marion Long has a number of portrait studies, one of the most string being “The Gold Fish Bowl,” showing a girl in a window seat, with the light falling on her white dress and green sweater, as she gazes into a bowl of goldfish.

Miss Kathleem Munn has a very fine nude, and a canvas with cows, called “Evening Glow.”

Robt. F. Gagen has a number of studies in both oil and water color, “White Head” being the most important. This shows a rocky headland and waves breaking against the rocks under a gray sky, with a dim sun.

A decorative landscape by Lawren Harris is very effective. Estelle M. Kerr has a number of sunlit canvases that are happily handled, one of these being “The Fortune Teller,” wherein a group of women on a lawn are shaded by a Japanese umbrella. Arthur Lismer’s “Georgian Bay, Spring,” shows an intensity of blue with a flowering shrub blowing out from the shore against this clear color.

Clouds and Sky

“Wild Ducks” is a very fine thing by J.E.H. MacDonald, large and open and very satisfying, as are a number of this artist’s other studies, particularly “In November,” with blue-black wintry clouds against a glowing sky, and beneath this long, purple-brown furrows and three pine trees against the sky.

“Gone,” a glowing little study in pastel is one of C. M. Manly’s best. Miss F. H. McGillivray has a couple of strong pieces of work. Herbert Palmer also has some fine things, notably “On the Hill Top,” showing a spotted Holstein cow cropping the deep and lusciously, goldenly green grass. “The Clu,” by J. Ernest Sampson, is full of firelight and familiar faces to the members of the Arts and Letters Club, and the likenesses are so very good that the faces are recognizable to many.

There are many fine things by Varley F. Horsman. Mary E. Wrinch has some beautiful things and Owen Staples one large fine water-color.

The room with works in black and white has perfectly delightful things by W.R. Stark, some of Dudley Ward’s famous “Dingbats,” some lovely charcoals by Marion Long and most interesting tone stude by Hubert J. Beynon, as well as etchings by Dorothy Stevens, including a fine portrait of Mrs. Jan Hambourg.

Other artists who show interesting work are Franklin Brownell, F.H. Brigden, Florence Carlyle, John W. Cotton, Geo. Chavignaud, Frank Carmichael, Alice and Berthe des Clayes, T.G. Green, Clara S. Hagarty, Andre Lapine, Thomas W. Mitchel, Maide Parlow, Percy J. Robinson, Matilda Samuel and others. Notably missing was artist, Tom Thomson, who, as we have been told, has made some fine canvases but has refused to exhibit.

There are also some fine sculptures by Frederick Coates, Emmanuel Hahn, Henri Herbert, Frances Loring, Marcel Olis and Margaret Scobie.


March 10, 1917 Toronto World Society Report

Toronto World, March 10,1917


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 Private Viewing

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.