IT ALL BEGAN IN TORONTO by RFM McInnis
— PART ONE —
Although I consider myself a Painter of the Figure, (“women in various stages of dress and undress”), I have probably painted more landscapes due to the fact that I not only live IN Canada but have LIVED all over Canada because of that landscape. Early on in my career, I discovered the Group of Seven, (1962) and not only was impressed by the boldness of their work, but emulated them in my methods by going out to paint, doing 8”x10” oil sketches at every opportunity. In the early days, I was a photographer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed at Rockcliffe (Ottawa). In Rockcliffe Park, on weekends, I found my tree’d subject matter and the earliest of these were Group of
Seven-like. My first exhibited paintings (Beaverbrook Gallery…1961-1966) were of the larger versions of these oil sketches painted in exaggerated boldness based on studies of Oriental Art (Japanese/ Zen-like calligraphic brush work) a couple of years earlier while in art school (1957-61). I saw a resemblance and applied it in my work. It’s still there for those who have eyes to see it.
After the RCAF and a stint at Department of Transport as illustrator of canals and airport brochures, (1966/7), my Canadian Centennial project was to move my family West and to “paint all of Canada”. This, I have done. We sold everything and took the train to Vancouver.
Of course, I still had to make a living. A photo job came up and I took it. The next year, I found a position as Artist in Residence and Head of the Art Department at Prince George College. (1968-1971). Then my wife got a job in Powell River (Westview) B.C. and we moved there, the Sunshine Coast. For the first time, I painted while my wife worked.
I painted a lot in Pubs which caused friction in my marriage and which quickly ended. I was age 30. Realizing the freedom suddenly thrust upon me, I decided on Toronto as “the centre of Canadian Art” and took the train there over New Year’s 1973.
I found no “centre” but I was happily painting from the many rooming houses I lived in in the Annex, over the next five years. That’s when I began painting the figure, the series I now call “women in various stages of dress and undress”. It all began in Toronto.
Main Image Details: RFM McInnis and AY Jackson, Ottawa, March 1965