Natural Affinities: Lawren Harris and Rockwell Kent

As a Canadian artist deeply connected to the rugged beauty of my homeland, I find myself inexorably drawn to the works of Lawren Harris and Rockwell Kent. The artistry of these two painters has had a profound influence on my own creative journey, inspiring and shaping my unique painting style. Harris’s ability to distill the essence of Canadian landscapes into mystical abstractions resonates with my soul, while Kent’s romantic realism kindles a sense of longing for untouched wilderness. While they may have worked in different styles and contexts, their works share striking similarities, revealing natural affinities between the two painters. In this blog post, we will delve into the artistic journeys of Harris and Kent, examining their contrasting styles and analyzing the common threads that bind their masterpieces.

Art has the extraordinary power to capture the essence of the world and transport viewers to different realms. In the realm of landscape painting, Lawren Harris and Rockwell Kent stand as giants, each leaving an indelible mark on the art world.

Lawren Harris: Mystical Abstractions

Lawren Harris, a prominent member of the Group of Seven, was renowned for his abstract and spiritual interpretations of the Canadian landscape. His paintings often depicted rugged mountains, icy glaciers, and vast stretches of untouched wilderness. Harris possessed an uncanny ability to distill nature’s raw power and transform it into something ethereal.

Harris’s works, such as “North Shore, Lake Superior” and “Mount Lefroy,” showcased his affinity for simplicity and abstraction. He employed bold lines, geometric shapes, and a restricted color palette to capture the essence of the subject matter. The resulting images exuded a sense of serenity and mysticism, evoking a profound emotional response from viewers.

Lawren Harris and Rockwell Kent

North Shore, Lake Superior – Lawren Harris 1926

Rockwell Kent: Realism with a Romantic Touch

Rockwell Kent, on the other hand, was an American artist whose paintings encompassed both realistic and romantic elements. His artistic journey led him to various locales, including Alaska, Greenland, and Newfoundland, which greatly influenced his subject matter. Kent’s works portrayed expansive landscapes, seascapes, and the human figure against majestic natural backdrops.

Kent’s paintings, such as “Moonlight, Winter” and “Monhegan Night,” captivated audiences with their meticulous attention to detail. His command over light and shadow, combined with a rich color palette, brought his scenes to life. Kent’s romantic sensibilities infused his work with a touch of nostalgia, inviting viewers to contemplate the vastness and beauty of the natural world.

Lawren Harris and Rockwell Kent

Moonlight Winter – Rockwell Kent 1940

Natural Affinities and Common Threads

Despite the differences in their styles and geographical influences, Lawren Harris and Rockwell Kent’s works reveal surprising commonalities, suggesting a natural affinity between the two painters.

Both artists shared a deep reverence for nature and sought to capture its sublime qualities. Harris and Kent depicted landscapes that inspired awe and contemplation, inviting viewers to connect with the grandeur of the natural world. Their paintings transported viewers to remote and untouched locations, offering a respite from the modern world’s hustle and bustle. They both also embraced a sense of spirituality in their work. Harris’s abstract compositions and Kent’s romanticized scenes transcended the physical realm, hinting at something greater and more profound. Whether through Harris’s simplified shapes or Kent’s ethereal lighting, both artists infused their works with a spiritual dimension, elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Harris and Kent possessed a keen eye for composition. Harris’s bold lines and geometric forms provided structure and harmony to his landscapes, while Kent’s meticulous attention to detail created balanced and visually captivating scenes. Both artists had an innate ability to arrange elements within the frame, leading the viewer’s eye and creating a sense of visual poetry.

Lawren Harris and Rockwell Kent

Where Icebergs Roam Free – Brandy Saturley 2016

Lawren Harris and Rockwell Kent, despite their unique styles and influences, shared a remarkable bond through their artistic explorations of the natural world. Harris’s mystical abstractions and Kent’s romantic realism offer distinct but complementary perspectives on the power and beauty of nature. Their works elevate the landscape to a spiritual experience, where nature becomes a source of awe and contemplation. Through their mastery of composition, use of color, and ability to capture the sublime, Harris and Kent have left an indelible mark on the art world. Their legacies continue to inspire artists, like myself, to seek the inherent beauty and spirituality in the natural world and share it with audiences worldwide.

A Journey through Five Significant Paintings by Brandy Saturley.

Art has the incredible power to captivate and inspire us, evoking emotions, and deep contemplation. Brandy Saturley, a contemporary Canadian artist, has created a series of thought-provoking paintings that invite us into her world. In this blog post, we will explore the significance and impact of five remarkable works by Saturley: “Let Your Backbone Rise,” “With Hearts on Our Sleeves,” “Goalie’s Mask: red, white & Dryden,” “Ukraine Strong,” and “Canadiens Gothic.” Each painting conveys a unique narrative, inviting viewers to reflect on themes of identity, resilience, passion, and cultural pride. Here are Five Significant Paintings, by Brandy Saturley.

“Let Your Backbone Rise” is a mesmerizing piece that symbolizes strength, courage, and determination. Saturley’s use of bold colors and dynamic brushstrokes creates a powerful visual impact, reflecting the unwavering spirit within us all. The painting reminds us to embrace our inner resilience, to stand tall even in the face of adversity. Saturley’s portrayal of the human figure with an upright backbone serves as a metaphor for personal growth and self-belief. “Let Your Backbone Rise” encourages viewers to tap into their own inner strength and conquer the challenges that life presents.

Five Significant Paintings

In “With Hearts on Our Sleeves,” Saturley delves into the complexities of human emotion and vulnerability. The painting captures a sense of raw honesty and authenticity, depicting figures with exposed hearts on their sleeves. This evocative imagery serves as a reminder of the power and beauty found in embracing our emotions fully. Saturley’s work prompts us to appreciate the courage it takes to be vulnerable and encourages us to connect with our own emotions and those of others. “With Hearts on Our Sleeves” speaks to the universal desire for genuine connections and the importance of empathy in our daily lives.

Five Significant Paintings

Five Significant Paintings: The Goalie’s Mask Painting

“Goalie’s Mask: red, white & Dryden” pays tribute to the iconic goaltender Ken Dryden, immortalizing him in art. The painting captures the intensity and focus of a goalie, with vibrant red and white hues symbolizing the national pride associated with the sport. Through this piece, Saturley celebrates not only Dryden’s athletic prowess but also the cultural significance of hockey in Canadian identity. By combining elements of portraiture and sports imagery, “Goalie’s Mask” underscores the passion and dedication that unite communities across Canada, reminding us of the shared love and pride associated with our national sport.

Five Significant Paintings

“Ukraine Strong” is a visually stunning work that explores the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people. Saturley’s use of vibrant blue and yellow hues, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, symbolizes unity and national pride. The painting serves as a homage to the struggles and triumphs of the Ukrainian community, acknowledging their resilience in the face of adversity. Saturley’s representation of a traditional Ukrainian headdress, known as a “vinok,” further emphasizes the connection to Ukrainian culture and heritage. “Ukraine Strong” invites viewers to reflect on the power of cultural identity and the enduring spirit of a nation.

Ukrainian Painting Saturley

Painting draws inspiration from Grant Wood’s famous “American Gothic”

In “Canadiens Gothic,” Saturley merges the worlds of art and hockey once again, paying homage to the Montreal Canadiens, an iconic team in the National Hockey League. The painting draws inspiration from Grant Wood’s famous “American Gothic,” replacing the stoic farmers with hockey enthusiasts, proudly donning hockey jersey and bunny hug. The painting is a hockey heritage homage to the rich history and cultural significance of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. This artwork symbolizes the deep-rooted connection between the team and its passionate fans, highlighting the role of hockey as a unifying force in Canadian culture. The Montreal Canadiens hold a storied legacy, boasting a record 24 Stanley Cup championships, making them one of the most successful franchises in NHL history. By merging art and sports, Saturley captures the essence of the Canadiens’ enduring popularity and the unwavering loyalty of their fanbase. The painting invites viewers to reflect on the historical significance of the team and its impact on the collective identity of Montreal and the broader hockey community. “Canadiens Gothic” stands as a testament to the power of sports in bringing people together, fostering a sense of belonging, and celebrating the heritage that intertwines the love of the game with a deep-rooted sense of pride and camaraderie.

Five Significant Paintings

Saturley recently spoke to Canadian Art Today about the significance of her paintings about Canada created over the past decade.

Ultimately, I am a Self-Portrait Artist

I never set-out on this journey of painting looking to become a famous self-portrait artist. Self-portraits have always been a popular form of art, allowing artists to express themselves and create a visual representation of their inner thoughts and feelings. Three artists who have become particularly well-known for their self-portraits are Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo. Each of these artists has created a unique and recognizable style of self-portrait that speaks to their individual personalities and experiences.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a Dutch painter, who is considered one of the greatest artists in European history. Born in 1606, he painted over 40 self-portraits during his lifetime, which is an astonishing number compared to most other artists of his time. One of his most famous self-portraits is the painting “Self-Portrait with Two Circles” from 1665-1669. In this portrait, Rembrandt is shown wearing a fur-trimmed coat and a large hat, with his head tilted slightly to the side. The two circles in the background have been interpreted in many different ways, with some saying they represent the artist’s eyes, while others believe they are a symbol of his artistic skill.

self-portrait artist

Self-Portrait with Two Circles by Rembrandt van Rijn

His self-portraits are not only an insight into his own personality, but also a reflection of the society and culture in which he lived.

One of the things that makes Rembrandt’s self-portraits so unique is his ability to capture the inner essence of his subjects. His portraits are not just a reflection of his physical appearance, but also his emotions and psychological state. He was known for using dramatic lighting and shadow to create a sense of depth and intensity in his work. His self-portraits are not only an insight into his own personality, but also a reflection of the society and culture in which he lived.

Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter, who is known for his bold and colorful paintings. Born in 1853, he painted around 43 self-portraits during his lifetime. One of his most famous self-portraits is “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear” from 1889. In this portrait, Van Gogh is shown with a bandage over his ear, which he famously cut off in a fit of madness. The painting is notable for its use of bright, contrasting colors, and the intense gaze of the artist.

self-portrait artist

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, Vincent Van Gogh

His self-portraits are not only a reflection of his own personality, but also a celebration of the natural world and the beauty of everyday life.

Van Gogh’s self-portraits are characterized by his use of bold brushstrokes and vivid colors. His paintings often convey a sense of emotion and raw energy, reflecting the inner turmoil and passion of the artist. He was known for his use of thick impasto, which gives his paintings a tactile quality and a sense of depth. His self-portraits are not only a reflection of his own personality, but also a celebration of the natural world and the beauty of everyday life.

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter, who is known for her bold and colorful self-portraits. Born in 1907, she painted around 55 self-portraits during her lifetime. One of her most famous self-portraits is “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” from 1940. In this portrait, Kahlo is shown wearing a necklace of thorns and a dead hummingbird, which is a symbol of death in Mexican culture. The painting is notable for its use of vibrant colors and intricate details, and the intense gaze of the artist.

self-portrait artist

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, Frida Kahlo

Her self-portraits are not only a reflection of her own personality, but also a celebration of Mexican culture and traditions.

Kahlo’s self-portraits are characterized by her use of bright colors, intricate patterns, and symbolic imagery. Her paintings often convey a sense of pain and suffering, reflecting the physical and emotional struggles she faced throughout her life. She was known for her use of surreal and dreamlike imagery, which added a sense of mystery and complexity to her work. Her self-portraits are not only a reflection of her own personality, but also a celebration of Mexican culture and traditions.

If you are an artist, you absolutely are creating autobiography in your work. Your work is a record of your time on Earth and how all those experiences you have filter through your artist lens and pour out onto the canvas. For some painters this includes painting your self-portrait over a number of years, as your artist voice develops and evolves. Every year I paint a self-portrait, examining my place in the world and commenting on my journey as an artist. Perhaps through painting myself at different times in my life it is a record of my time in this world as an Artist. I paint myself into these paintings because I suppose I am looking for myself in the world.

Self-Portrait Artist

Dochka Rising, 2023 self-portrait of the Canadian Artist, Brandy Saturley

My self-portraits are not only a reflection of my personality, but also a celebration my Ukrainian Canadian culture and perspective on the collective Canadian consciousness.

In this most recent portrait, ‘Dochka Rising’ I have placed myself in the foreground, I am looking up casting my gaze upwards. My face is dressed in shadows casting stripes across my face and hair. On the lower portion of hair you see symbols and pattern from weaving my Ukrainian great-grandmother made, passed down to me by my mother. At this time in my life my parents are aging fast and things are changing daily. My mother who was my earliest mentor in art and life, is now requiring our care. I am feeling the need to take time and connect more deeply to my cultural roots, which includes Ukrainian, British and Canadian.  As I begin inheriting pieces from my Ukrainian great-grandmother I am discovering my family heritage; woven with arts, crafts, symbols and stories. As my career and work as a Canadian Artist continues to ascend, the depth of my work grows with renewed excitement and explorations of my Canadian consciousness.

In conclusion, self-portraits have been created by many artists throughout history and have been used as a means of self-expression and self-reflection. Many artists have used self-portraits to explore their own identities, emotions, and inner thoughts, and to communicate these ideas to others through their art. Self-portrait artists may also use their works to document their physical appearance over time or to make a statement about the human condition.

Canadian pop art painting showing toque and plaid shirt

See more self-portrait paintings by Brandy Saturley and her comments on Canadian painter, Lawren Harris.

Celebrating the Contributions of Women Painters

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8th to recognize the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievements and reflect on the progress that still needs to be made towards gender equality. One area where women have historically faced barriers is in the world of art, where male artists have often been more celebrated and recognized. However, there have been many talented women painters throughout history who have made significant contributions to the world of art. In this post, we will highlight some of the women painters we should know about.

Women Painters to know

Let Your Backbone Rise, Acrylic painting, 2016 Brandy Saturley

  1. Frida Kahlo – Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist known for her self-portraits and surrealism. Her work explored themes of identity, gender, and class, and she is regarded as one of Mexico’s greatest painters.
  2. Mary Cassatt – Mary Cassatt was an American painter known for her depictions of the lives of women and children. She was one of the few female Impressionists and her work often depicted intimate moments of everyday life.
  3. Artemisia Gentileschi – Artemisia Gentileschi was an Italian Baroque painter who is best known for her depictions of strong and powerful women from mythology and the Bible. Her work challenged the male-dominated art world of the time.
  4. Georgia O’Keeffe – Georgia O’Keeffe was an American painter known for her vibrant depictions of flowers, landscapes, and bones. Her work was often considered feminist for its focus on women’s bodies and sexuality.
  5. Yayoi Kusama – Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist known for her polka-dot and infinity room installations. Her work explores themes of identity, femininity, and the relationship between the individual and the universe.
  6. Leonora Carrington – Leonora Carrington was a British-born Mexican artist known for her surrealist paintings and sculptures. Her work often featured hybrid creatures and explored themes of transformation and the unconscious.
  7. Berthe Morisot – Berthe Morisot was a French Impressionist painter and one of the few female members of the Impressionist movement. Her work often depicted scenes of domestic life and women’s daily routines.
  8. Alice Neel – Alice Neel was an American painter known for her portraits, particularly of people living in poverty and those from marginalized communities. Her work challenged the norms of portraiture and the portrayal of the human form.
  9. Tamara de Lempicka – Tamara de Lempicka was a Polish Art Deco painter known for her portraits of wealthy and glamorous women. Her work was often sexually suggestive and challenged traditional notions of femininity.
  10. Prudence Heward was a Canadian figure painter, known for using acidic colour, a sculptural treatment, and giving an intense brooding quality to her subjects. One of the Beaver Hall Group of painters, she was also a charter member of the Canadian Group of Painters, the Contemporary Arts Society and the Federation of Canadian Artists.

Personally, the portraiture and landscape paintings of O’Keeffe, Lempicka and Heward have made significant impressions on my work as an artist, including this homage to the famous painting, ‘Saint Moritz’ by Lempicka.

Women Painters to know

Saint Kanata, Acrylic painting, 48 x 36 x 1.5 in, 2011, Brandy Saturley

These are just a few of the many talented women painters who have made significant contributions to the world of art. On International Women’s Day, let us celebrate the achievements of women artists throughout history and continue to support and uplift the voices of women in the arts.