Sunday, October 31, 2010

Inspired By Emily Carr (oil on canvas 10 x 12 in.)

28 October finds me in Ottawa viewing "Winds of Heaven", a film by Michael Ostroff about the life and art of Emily Carr and the diminishing of the forests and the native peoples of the west coast of British Columbia.

The film resonated with the Emily Carr I'm familiar with, and the reader of her journals and letters expressed all of her strength of character, humour,  and frustration with those who wouldn't understand. The wealth of archival photos and old motion picture clips brought to life the time and place, especially the felling of the giants of the forest and native villages bristling with totem poles. 

The voice that played Emily Carr read my very favorite passage from her journals - the process of sitting and waiting quietly and patiently in the forest for all the details to come together into shapes and movements - for the forest to speak to the painter.

Here is an image from my archives... On a sunny day in late September 2007 I sat on the forest floor in "Mediola Woods" to paint this old growth forest of Red Maple and Hemlock which is one of Ottawa's best kept secrets - overlooked by all but those who live nearby. Being an urban forest, it is unique in species composition - both for the plants that it has, and those which are noticeably absent. In the spring we visited the vernal pools and I had wanted to paint Mediola in bloom, but missed the moment. So I returned in the autumn, finding this tall spire of a stump forming a dark fulcrum, for the other movements of colour and texture.


  1. Wonderful, Aleta. I love Emily Carr, too, partly because I'm from the west coast of BC, mostly because her paintings and writings speak so well to the children of the west coast.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. In eastern Ontario our forests, once nearly as grand as those of the west coast, were diminished a long time ago, both by the hurling down of the Pines for lumber, and by the burning of the bodies of the other species to make potash to sell to England as a first crop, to the permanent diminishment of the land's productivity.


What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?