Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Emily Carr

Emily Carr, Self Portrait, 1938-39, (source)

Emily Carr, Indian Church, 1929, (source)

Emily Carr, Loggers' Culls, 1935, (source)

Emily Carr is one of Canada's best known female artists, She is almost included in the Group of Seven, but not quite, her style is similar, and her subject matter is more west coast- almost exclusively west coast actually. She is famous for her paintings of Haida Gwaii, the islands off the west coast of Canada, in British Columbia. When I lived in B.C, I took her work for granted. The feeling of awe that those evergreen forests inspire is so obvious to anyone who visits them- let alone anyone who visits them regularly, it's a given that they would tower and become the center point of any image- making the sky and land swirl around them.  But now that I'm away form those forests, I see the paintings as what they are- a reminder of the awesomeness, the sacredness of that area.

Emily Carr was staunchly against logging these old growth forests, and she admired the people of Haida Gwaii for the way they lived in nature, and respected the landscape around them. Her paintings are a call for everyone to see the special quality of that place, and to be reminded of how important they are. I love the way she makes her central figures stand out by employing a slightly skewed perspective in the rest of the image, and her confidant use of colour. I think it's useful to look at her work occasionally, just to remind myself of it. Like any well known artist, it's easy to take for granted the greatness of it, without looking at it to see why it's great, and it's the analyzing that makes you a better artist or an observer, that actually does the work itself justice.

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