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!!!