ART & DEATH – THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF CANADIAN PAINTER TOM THOMSON

I love a good murder mystery.  But you never think artists are involved in such mysteries.  Artists are too busy doing their art in solitude.  So I bought an out of print book at the Strand bookstore in Union Square New York.  This artist, Tom Thomson’s paintings were mesmerizing!!!  “The Best of Tom Thomson” by Joan Murray (1986) is the book I bought and I never read the book and just looked at the pictures.  I do that a lot.   Then I decided to read about him as a possible blog post.  Well it turns out Tom Thomson’s story ends with his mysterious death that has never been solved even with the coroner’s report of accidental drowning. His death has been researched for decades and many conspiracy theories have been written about.  So WHO IS TOM THOMSON?


This is a story of a talented artist who could never believe in his talent. 

ITS A STORY OF A TORTURED MIND OF DOUBT.  

He would refer to himself as the “Bum Artist “.  When visitors came to see his work in his studio he would welcome them with “Come in and see my junk”.

Tom Thomson did acquire iconic status as a wilderness painter in Canada even before his tragic death in 1917. 

 He is considered the most influential painter of the 20th Century.  It was Thomson’s style that inspired the creation of the GROUP OF SEVEN “ wilderness landscape painters in 1920.  

His best known paintings are “THE WEST WIND” and “THE JACK PINE ” shown below.

THE WEST WIND oil on canvas


 THE JACK PINE    1916-17 oil on canvas

Tom Thomson has been called the Van Gogh of Canada.  He was tall, dark and handsome always far too shy and humble. And his death came much too soon at the age of 39. 

My next post on Tom Thomson’s death and how it continues to be a mystery centuries after will delve into the many theories.   

Resources:  www.wikipedia.com.     http://Www.canadianmysteries.ca

MORE SHALL BE REVEALED. 

THE SLAVE PORTRAIT PAINTER “PRINCE DEMAH BARNES “

I love history and art.  But I had never heard this amazing story of a slave who became a professional portrait painter in 18th century America.  I found the story on OUT OF THE ARCHIVES – a blog exploring the Archives at the Hingham Heritage Museum.  
Henry Barnes was a distiller and manufacturer of pearl ash.  He and Christian were members of Marlborough’s financial elite and in the early 1770’s owned 3 slaves.  Prince was the son of their slave Daphney.   I’m not sure when Prince’s artistic talent became known but eventually he was supported by Christian Barnes who seeing his genius had Henry purchase Prince with a view towards improving his genius in painting “. 

PORTRAIT OF CHRISTIAN BARNES BY PRINCE DEMAH BARNES 


In a letter by Christian she writes:

“Prince is here and I am sitting to him for my picture.”

A month later in November 1769 Prince is purchased by Henry Barnes with the intention to educate and improve his talent. 

HENRY BARNES BY PRINCE DEMAH BARNES 


In 1770 Christian Barnes wrote:

Prince is “a most surprising instance of the force of natural genius for without the least instruction or improvement he has taken several faces which are thought to be very well done. He has taken a copy of my picture which I think has more resemblance than Coping’s. [sic].   She is referring to the famous 18th century portrait painter John Singleton Copley. 

So Prince is the first African-American professional artist in America!   For approximately 10 years he had a career as an artist.  When the Revolution came the Barnes fled and Prince enlisted in the Massachusetts militia as a free man. He was now called Prince Demah (removing “Barnes “).  He died from either smallpox or another disease on March 1778. In his will he left all he had to his mother Daphney. 

PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM DUGUID BY PRINCE DEMAH 


An amazing artist story. Never judge a person by the color of their skin but by the content of their character!!!





FROM THE DEPTHS OF WITHDRAWAL…MY LATEST PAINTING 

In the past few weeks my painting has morphed into an abstract landscape that is a new style from my impressionist one. 

The truth is that in the last 4 months I’ve been withdrawing from a very powerful antidepressant after being on it for 16 years.  Last year I realized how it was making me worse and I am not depressed anymore.  So powerful is this drug that my brain has zapping which feels like electrical shocks are piercing the cells. I’m dizzy, have brain fog and my legs cramped so badly I couldn’t walk for 3 weeks.  But now the real me is emerging.  I can finally feel myself coming out. 

So I actually did this painting in withdrawal. And I also did the previous painting in withdrawal.  And the experience was a struggle to focus my vision (blurred vision was a part of withdrawal).  But here it is.  I believe the real me is finally emerging. 

                           STAGE ONE 

        

                                                 STAGE TWO




THIS IS THE FINISHED PAINTING!!!

THE MIND OF AN ARTIST – NICHOLAS ROERICH AND THE SEARCH FOR UTOPIA OF SHAMBALAH






I became aware of the Russian artist in 2005.   His paintings were hypnotic and colorful.  Modernist for the time of early 20th Century.   I posted many of them on my Flickr site as images that I admired in their strength and power. 

But his story was more intriguing than I could ever imagine.  His artistry included more than painting.  He was an architect, a theatre set and costume designer for the Russian ballet including the infamous Sergei Diaghilev in 1898.  He also studied law and history.  His painting “The Messenger” 1897 earned him the title of artist securing him a place in the history of Russian art. 

But it was an article on the website Atlas Obscura titled “Why the Soviets Sponsored a Doomed Expedition to a Hollow earth  Kingdom “.   How a search for the hidden land of Shambahala turned into a geopolitical power play.  By Dimitra Nikolaidou. 

I learned that Roerich was a believer in mysticism and upon arriving in America joined the Theosophy Society.  He became famous in his mystical theories and had many important political followers who participated in his teachings in New York City during the 1920s.  He and his wife Helena and his 2 sons were eventually sponsored by the U.S. to search for the underground city of Shambahala in Asia in 1923.  That expedition would take 5 years and the Roerichs would be followed by Soviet spies as well as British and Mongolian spies in what became the “Great Chase”.  


Shambahala was believed to have special weapons that would make the finders able to survive apocalyptic future. 

I am not going to give a spoiler alert but Roerich ventured again in 1934 to find the hidden city.  Check out Atlas obscura for more.  Here are the incredible spiritual paintings that are actually at the Nicholas Roerich Museum (his home) on West 107 th Street NYC. 



I’VE BEEN NOMINATED FOR THE BLOGGER RECOGNITION AWARD!!

After a month of chronic arthritis in my leg and not being able to walk I was debating if I could ever think positively again.  Forget being creative.  Of course my ADHD brain went into “I’m a failure “.  

   

Then Friday I received a comment from one of my incredible blogger followers Mitch Teemley of The Power of Story saying he nominated me for The Blogger Recognition Award!  

Check out Mitch Teemley’s blog.   https://mitchteemley.com

Amazing because a year ago I didn’t have any idea how to do a blog.  I just lost my art website because I couldn’t afford the monthly fees and it was old and needed sprucing up.  I wanted to try doing a new one with WordPress but ended up with a blog for some unknown reason.  Go figure.  So I decided to play with it and tell my story of how I came out of a 30 year artist block where I stopped doing any form of creative work until I turned 50. 

The rest is history.  I spent my school years with untreated ADHD and learning disabilities so I never understood what grammar was.  I was confused by prepositions and what the heck is a verb anyway.  I never went to college because I couldn’t take tests.  I was successful in art in High School but was afraid to pursue it.  The rest of my life was trying to make money as an ineffective secretary.  Hiding from the world and living a life unlived.  

In 2002 at the age of 50 I finally was diagnosed and treated for ADHD.  I returned to becoming the artist I was meant to be.  I am blessed to have been successful by taking risks to bring out my art.  I began selling paintings.  Doing many shows in NYC from 2010.  I lost the secretary job in 2009 and burned all my office suits that made me look like Hillary Clinton.  

Since then I have created a business “Fearless Creativity Art for Arts Sake”.  I engage people who think they have no talent that they do.  Art will save people from worry.  It saved me during my childhood trauma. 

And all this is a result of my spiritual practice. My faith is stronger then any adversary. I trust God and help others.

TIPS FROM MY BLOGGING EXPERIENCE OF THE PAST YEAR:

  1. Just have FUN.  Authenticity to share my life story of becoming the artist I was meant to be was the motivation. 
  2. Don’t try to be famous.  It was not important that the Internet world would discover my talented writing.  
  3. Forgive yourself if you fall off the writing cliff.  I would miss weeks of posting and thought I could never start again.  But I forgave my inconsistency and found that my followers didn’t judge me. 

     

    NOW I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING BLOGS FOR INSPIRING ME:

    1. Certainline.wordpress.com – the art of drawing 
    2. VisualAtelier.wordpress.com – art, design,photography 
    3. Cedricramey.wordpress.com – art, travel, fashion, lifestyle 
    4. Oneblessedfool.wordpress.com – faith, freedom, imagination 
    5. Pmuink.com – Daily Doodle 
    6. Orchidslantern.wordpress.com – art and stories of life 
    7. Michaelehrhardt.wordpress.com – original art 
    8. Impliedspaces.wordpress.com – digital art 
    9. Saidsimply.wordpress.com – thoughts of life & stuff 
    10. Ambiguousbrush.wordpress.com – wonderful drawings 
    11. Storyofthefootloose.com – a talented pen writing well 
    12. Littlefears.co.uk – short stories & art
    13. Fugitivedreamblog.wordpress.com – inspiring muses of the past 
    14. Izzyink.co.wordpress.com –  a journey into the world of illustration 
    15. Histolines.wordpress.com – history 

    Blogger Recognition Award Rules

     • Thank the blogger/s who nominated you and provide a link to their blog

     • Write a post about it the Blogger Recognition Award

     • Briefly tell how your blog started

     • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers

     • Select 15 bloggers to give this award to. 

    THANKS MITCH!!!

    A PAINTING JOURNAL 

    A painting I am working on in my escape into landscapes theme. 


    The original acrylic on canvas

        The iPad experiments

    PRAYER FOR OUR COUNTRY 


    Our God and God of our ancestors, we ask Your blessings upon our country, and upon the leaders of our nation and of our communities. 

    Inspire all who lead and serve to conduct their affairs honorably. May peace and security, happiness and prosperity, right and freedom abide among us. 

    Unite the inhabitants of our country, of all backgrounds and creeds so that we may banish hatred and bigotry, safeguard our noblest ideals, and pressure those institutions which nurture liberty. 

    May this land under Your Providence be an influence for good throughout the world, helping to unite all peoples in peace and freedom, and bringing closer to fulfillment the visions of Your prophets:

    “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. “

    “For the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness calm and confidence forever. “

    Amen.

    Louis Ginsberg (adapted)




    THE BIRTH OF AN ARTIST 

    My emergence into art. 

    1954 –  I’m 3 years old – lying in bed 

    Fever rising pencil in my hand staring at the blank white night table 

    In a semiconscious slo-mo movement of hand/pencil reaching to the target night table 

    My hazy inspired moment- A SCRIBBLE!!  WOW!!

    More visions follow – circles, flowers, suns, moons and stars

    People- cats and dogs 

    Each stroke is more and more exciting 

    101 fever –  oh look the night table is growing bigger more to do…YES

    My world created…so special…so mine 

    I have discovered my life long friend the pencil but need new white dresser

    Eyes heavy now must sleep 

    Next morning on the dresser covered in my imagination there’s paper and crayons 

    Thanks mom!!!