Birthday List Love #3: Four Female Canadian Artists

Following a desire to learn more about female artists - and Canadian artists in general, these four have captured my interest lately.

Their use of shapes and colour appeals to me and with the exception of Maud Lewis, their work is of a style and era that appeals to me overall which makes them all the more interesting in my eyes.

Each one really warrants her own post and study, but for now, I offer you this cursory introduction.


Maud Lewis

Maud Lewis was a Canadian folk artist from Nova Scotia, “Canada’s own Grandma Moses.” Despite having to overcome some pretty severe physical circumstances, she produced paintings that evoke a joyful simplicity and nostalgia. Maybe that’s why I like them.

Covered Bridge with Three Sleighs, by Maud Lewis, circa 1965

If you have 10 minutes, a 1976 short film called Maud Lewis: A World Without Shadows offers insight into her life and outlook (via Canada’s National Film Board website).

Her story inspires and is a great reminder that fodder for art can be found right in our own back yard!


3 Women from the Beaver Hall Group:

Prudence Heward, Anne Savage and Lilias Torrance Newton

The next three women on my list were part of a Canadian group of modernist painters from Montreal formed in the 1920s, called the Beaver Hall Group. I've been reading a lot about the group these past several weeks and may dedicate a post to it in its entirety later, but in the meantime I'd like to highlight the three women below whose work caught my attention.

Prudence Heward

When I saw a photo of Heward's Sisters of Rural Quebec it immediately reminded me of another favourite female artist of mine, Tamara de Lempicka, so of course I was hooked. Many of her pieces involve bold and expressive figures coupled with rich colours. The Art Canada Institute offers a good glimpse at her work here, this is one of my favourites:

Rollande, by Prudence Heward, 1929

Anne Savage

I just finished reading a most delightful biography of Anne Savage (Anne Savage: the story of a Canadian painter, 1977) that complements what I'm learning about her in more academically inclined books. An “innovator in art education”, she taught art in Montreal for 26 years all the while breaking new ground with her own work. She seems like someone I would have liked to have met.

The Plough is one of her most-known pieces (link also includes a good bio) and I am absolutely smitten by Lake Wonish (for Don) that she painted shortly after her brother died in WWI. Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me find an image of the latter online, but I will make up for it by offering you a soothing yet striking piece called Country Scene:

Country Scene, by Anne Savage, 1920

Lilias Torrance Newton

Having a penchant for painting portraits it's no surprise that I like Lilias Torrance Newton's work. She was mainly a portraitist, with a modern bent. If I had to compare her work to Heward's and Savage's I'd say that it has a more muted quality, but it's by no means less expressive. In 1957 Torrance Newton painted portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the first known Canadian commissioned to make a portrait of either subject.

Though there are more colourful portraits of hers out there, this particular one, Louis Muhlstock, caught my eye. I find it captivating.

Louis Muhlstock, by Lilias Torrance Newton, circa 1937


There is much, much more to discover about these four artists and there are many more female and Canadian artists to discover above and beyond this list.

What I’ve offered here is but a name and a few links to perhaps whet your appetite - and mine.


Did you miss out on previous Birthday List Love posts? No worries, voici:

Birthday List Love #1: Favourite Recipes

Birthday List Love #2: Personal Finance Books by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Stay tuned for List #4!