The View From Behind the Mountain by RFM McInnis
The view we had from our senior’s residence overlooked Mount Royal and the city of Montréal from the North. It was a grand panoramic view.
Painting it daily and seasonally would be the kind of challenge I would required at this late stage of my career.
Having moved to Montréal in early 2019, after years in Western Canada, I had no idea what I would be painting nor how I would be painting it.
With this grand view right outside our 10th floor window, the question was answered for me. I would not have to travel to find scenery, I no longer drive. Nor did that kind of landscape appealed to me. I was more interested in strengthening the design elements of my work and simplifying it. Subject matter was of less importance. This view from behind Mont Royal gave me what I required to pursue my current interests of “breaking down the landscape to more abstraction”
While Monet had his parliament buildings, cathedral fronts and haystacks in London and France; and in the south of France Cezanne had his Mont Ste Victoire and Japanese artist Hiroshigi had his 100 views of Mount Fugi in Japan, I had Mount Royal!
With this scene I experienced what Monet must have felt about his Cathedral Fronts, Hay Stacks, and his London Fog: a series of the same subject painted over and over again in different moods, cloud conditions, colours, times of day, seasons of the year, weather conditions, day and night, and everything in between.
To paint it, I sat in my comfortable office chair in the front room window drawing and painting. Ultimately, I did some 40 oil sketches and an equal number of ink drawings and pencil sketches. A seniors’ residence is not the most conducive place in which to try large canvases so I limited myself to small panels, none larger than 12”x12”, and most, 9”x12” and smaller.
I started in May 2019 when my wife Françoise and I first moved into this brand new tower. Pale silvery green leaves were just budding. After that, it was a long green summer. Autumn came and I was anxious for yellow. But it was a Montréal winter I wanted most: white snow simplifies all. Flat! Simple! the bare essence of the scene! My view made the city flat, almost prairie-like in white.
With several paintings of winter under my belt, I had achieved what I set out to do. I had painted what I “felt” and less of what I saw. This was a key component to all my art. Then I declared the series “finished”. And so it was.
0n New Years Day 2020, I painted the last of “The Views”.