CANADIAN PRAIRIE WATERCOLOUR LANDSCAPES

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SASKATCHEWAN

DOROTHY KNOWLES, Storm, 1989

DOROTHY ELSIE KNOWLES, b. 1927, Unity, Saskatchewan. Dorothy Knowles is one of Canada's supreme landscape painters. Initially trained as a laboratory technician, she studied art in the late '40s and early '50s at night school and summer school in Saskatoon and Emma Lake and briefly, thereafter, in London, England. A turning pointing her career came at an Emma Lake Artists Workshop in 1962 when she was encouraged by the American critic, Clement Greenberg, to pursue painting from nature regardless of the contemporary predominance of abstraction. Her paintings on canvas are firmly grounded in the British watercolour tradition -- probably picked up via the Saskatoon art community. In fact, her early large canvases using thin washes of reduced colour over complex underdrawing, were essentially enlarged watercolours. This method of painting from nature came to have an enormous influence on younger painters across Western Canada, acquired in part through Knowles' frequent presence as both participant and leader at Emma Lake Artists Workshops. She has continued to paint prolifically in watercolour throughout her career -- working in a variety of different manners. Storm is a classic Knowles. In essence it's an English-derived wash drawing in the tradition of Kenderdine, but Knowles' colour is more varied than his, her drawing more vigorous and forceful: description, suggestion, and a kind of abstract calligraphy interact with varied washes.


TERRY FENTON