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!

41st Birthweek Bonanza Day 2: 7 Websites for Lifelong Learners and Creative Types


I LOVE to learn about new things and I LOVE to create, so what better than a list of websites that cater to lifelong learners and creative types?

There are many, many online spaces out there just waiting to be discovered and savoured, I know. For now, I offer you seven that I am currently enjoying.


1. Open Culture

Open Culture “brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community.” There is soooo much out there for those of us who love learning. This site offers links to 250 free art books from the Getty Museum, 875 free online courses, 635 free movies including documentaries, classics, silent films, and more.

With a rich and FREE resource like that available at your fingertips, what are you waiting for? Go git some learnin' in ya!

2. Brain Pickings

I don't even know how to start describing this site chock-full of thought-provoking, engaging information so I'll just copy & paste a blurb from their About page:

“Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.”

Interested in hearing a 20-year-old Hunter S. Thompson's advice on finding your life's purpose? Or maybe you prefer Einstein's take on the secret to learning anything, or John Steinbeck's words of wisdom to his teenage son when he confessed to his father of falling in love (they made me cry). If you dig this kind of stuff, Brain Pickings is the place for you.

3. Scoutie Girl

I'm biased because I've been a contributor to Scoutie Girl for nearly two years now (shameless plug: you can see my articles here), but it's a great site offering articles that touch on many aspects of a creative – or simply a well lived – life. With how-to's, book reviews, inspiration, essays and more, there's plenty of good stuff here for you to explore. But don't take my word for it, please, check it out for yourself!

4. Abbey of the Arts

Abbey of the Arts is a relatively new online space for me and I've yet to explore it fully. Its focus on “integrating contemplative practice, creative expression and compassionate service” appeals to me. I'm intrigued by the mystical and contemplative aspects of making art and this seems like a good place for me to start exploring them.

Selfishly, I include this site here as much for me as I do for you. May we discover it together.

5. Apartment Therapy

I believe that the spaces in which we live can support the person we want to be or become. Whether you're creating a tabletop vignette, choosing colours for your walls or simply deciding where to put what, setting up a home is a creative act.

The home profiles and articles I see on Apartment Therapy make me want to hang up my art, buy fresh flowers and surround myself with things that bring me joy on a daily basis. Full of inspiration and colour, this site has become a favourite source of ideas and eye candy.

6. Artsy

This new-to-me site fell on my metaphorical lap as I was writing this post and wow, what a site. From their About page:

“Artsy’s mission is to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. We are an online platform for discovering, learning about, and collecting art. ... Artsy hopes to foster new generations of art lovers, museum-goers, collectors, and patrons.”

I'm a little overstimulated right now having just been introduced to this treasure of a resource, so I will simply leave you with links to a) their Education site (HELLO lifelong learner!), b) their Art Genome Project (an “ongoing study of the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art” that appeals to that part of my brain that thrives on making connections), and c) their main site, offering a portal into their entire collection.

I may need a moment to myself to recover from this one.



7. Art Biz Blog

As you can tell by its name, this website is geared towards those exploring art as a business. If you're trying to shift your art practice from being a hobby to being a business, Art Biz Blog is a valuable resource. Whether it's inspiration you're looking for, practical, no-nonsense advice or thought-provoking questions about art and the business of art, Alyson B. Stanfield, Art Biz Coach, offers it. I enjoy her “no-excuse” approach and if that's your thing too, you'll probably get a lot out of her offerings.

As a side note, Alyson's book, I'd rather be in the studio!, is also a good resource and companion to what's on her website.


That's it for today! I hope you enjoy exploring these sites as much as I do. More good things to come on Day 3...

ps - Miss Day 1? Here it is.