TERRY FENTON PAINTINGS


ATTENDANCE, Near Rosetown, Sask., 2011. Oil  on panel, 24 x 39 in.

 

 

Grassland and grassland, mile after mile. There were straight roads here, and little farming towns with grain elevators. All this was marvelously welcome to me. "Why do I love it so much?" I said... "Is it because it isn't scenery?  --Alice Munro

The wide-open spaces of Saskatchewan seem the antithesis of what Alice Munro's character called "scenery". They're not hemmed in by trees and interrupted by "views." They're "everywhere all-at-once.

The Saskatchewan prairies are the big part of Canada that the Group of Seven didn't paint. "Bury me not on the lone prairie," lamented A. Y. Jackson. "I could do nothing with the place." Because of their apparent lack of scenery, the open prairies haven't been much painted by anyone. Even painters who've flourished in Saskatchewan have preferred the river valleys in the plains or the aspen parkland and boreal forest to the north and east. While I admire and have absorbed much from them, I'm drawn south and west to the grasslands -- partly because I was born and raised in Regina, but also because the color and light there is so luminous. Because the solutions found by painters from the past don't work well in the wide-open spaces, I look for new ones.

It has been said that due to their familiarity with wide horizons Saskatchewan natives make good seamen. Maybe so. In any event, when I'm in Victoria for that very reason I look to the sea.

A word about materials: Many of these paintings are painted with oil paint on paper: high quality rag watercolour paper. This medium is by no means new, having been used by artists as accomplished as Corot and Vuillard. Their paintings, not protected by glass, have stood the test of time both physically and aesthetically.

-- Terry Fenton

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