Saturday, 13 June 2015


We recently travelled to Canada’s national capital, Ottawa. I make a point of mentioning that it was Canada’s national capital that I visited as many readers of this blog are not from Canada. Pretty much the sole purpose of my getting in the car and travelling  a distance of some 550 odd kilometers over a period of some seven hours, over sometimes bumpy roads, and making our way through road construction, was to view the ongoing Alex Colville exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada.

Incidentally, for those of you planning to visit Canada, and explore by car, you should be aware that we have but two seasons, 6 months of winter and 6 months of road repair/construction. During the road repair/construction season add an extra hour to your travelling time.

Back to Alex Colville; the exhibition was amazing. I lost count of the pieces on display, but there must have been in excess of 100 paintings, prints, and drawings, many that I’d never seen before. I was particularly drawn to the exhibition wanting to view both the working drawings for his paintings, as well as his very early art school drawings. We seldom, if ever, have the opportunity to view the artist’s working drawings, and various works on paper. For the most part artists don’t put much store in their drawings and sketches, often viewing them as lesser works of art and storing them away in folders. In the case of Alex Colville it was determined early on in his career that his major works were of significance, ground breaking, and that at some point in time his work would not only be collectable, but would find a home in Canada’s major art museums. With this in mind an effort was made to archive just about every drawing that he ever made.

It was quite amazing to view the original paintings. Interesting to note that Colville rarely painted shadows, creating the impression that his subjects were floating and three dimensional. As for his drawings, crude, exploratory, making use of geometric lines for placement on the canvas. His art school drawings were nothing out of the ordinary providing hope for students that might take in the exhibition. In other words Colville provides evidence that becoming an artist is part of a long process that requires commitment, and hard work.

The National gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada also houses a huge collection of paintings and sketches by Canada’s Group of Seven Painters, contemporary art exhibitions, travelling exhibitions, as well as chronicling Canada’s art history. 

While in Ottawa we also took in the Nature Museum. Well worth a visit should you ever choose to visit Ottawa. Set aside several days to take in both the National Gallery of Canada and the Nature Museum. We spent most of a day at the National Gallery, 
and didn’t have time to take in the third floor.

When you arrive in Ottawa, find somewhere to park your car, and use the public transportation. Driving in Ottawa is a bit hectic. Everyone seems to be in a big rush and on street parking is at a premium. Besides,Ottawa has an excellent public transit system. And, don’t be surprised to find that everything, food, services, and accommodation are quite expensive, at least they were from my point of view.  Our hotel room for example cost almost $250.00/day.

The trip home to Midland was long, but made enjoyable by travelling through Algonquin Provincial Park, where we were fortunate to view several moose and enjoy the scenery highlighted by its many lakes and majestic forest.

Whitefish Lake - Algonquin Park   Watercolour Sketch

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