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'The Artists of Georgian Bay by Andrea Hillo, is a shining tribute to the artists of the region. It is a book that embraces a diversity of artistic approaches, while celebrating the notion of home grown art at its finest anywhere.'
Michael Dumas

The Artists of Georgian Bay
41 Contemporary Artists, Wild with Passion

Designed & Published by Andrea Hillo
Edited by Leonard Pizzey
Foreword by Glen Loates

Honorary Artist George McLean

Cover by Arnold Nogy

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Glen Loates, Storms End. 20"x 27", Pastel on Paper.

What a drab world it would be if we all saw things from a single perspective. This book is a carefully selected collection of many visual perceptions of the artists' experiences. The art thus reveals the most direct account of what he or she saw and felt when travelling the Georgian Bay region of Ontario.

When I first travelled to Georgian Bay with my parents in 1954, I discovered its beauty and unsurpassed wilderness. Its Canadian shield granite rock cliffs, eastern white pines, birch, oak and poplar trees, wonderful sunsets, lakes, and abundant flowers, birds and other animal life greatly inspired me. Living in North York at the time, north of Toronto, it was the beginning of my introduction to the area that overwhelmed me. Being a young artist of 9 years old, from this point on, I always looked forward to times when I could travel to Georgian Bay and the North Country.

As a teenager, I spent four summers on Manitoulin Island, the largest lake island in the world, with my friend Dr. Ron Tasker and his family. Ron's wife Mary would make wonderful meals for us while we went bird banding using the fine mist nets set up at the West End of the island on the Tasker property. Ron had been doing this for many years. What a wonderful opportunity it was for me to see and handle the birds up close. It gave me the chance to make watercolour notes of the eyes, mouth parts, and feet. Also, I had made detailed studies of the wings, underside, and tails of the warblers, finches, hawks, and the occasional owl. It is so important for an artist like myself who paints birds to get accurate information like this for the finished paintings not available from bird skins loaned to me from the museums. Also, the rare calypso orchid, painted trilliums, lady slippers, and other plants and flowers growing close by gave me the chance to paint them from life too.

In August of 2022, while visiting my longtime friend Arnold Nogy at his cottage in Honey Harbour,  I made a watercolour pencil study of the splendid sunset that evening, along with a study of granite rocks covered with juniper and moss trying to survive this rugged, harsh environment - a true testament that this part of Ontario is really a wonderous place. Our natural legacy is not an indestructible, inexhaustible resource to be exploited but, indeed, a treasure to be protected and preserved. My journeys in this area have taken me over the years to Parry Sound, French River Provincial Park, Killarney, the Blue Mountains, and many other places. Canada's northern forests and lakes are the most intensively beautiful landscapes in the world and are there for all to enjoy.


Duncan Neganigwane Pheasant -

Traveling To Manitoulin. 18"x 24", Acrylic on Canvas.

Born in 1960, Duncan is an artist from the M’Chigeeng First Nation, an Ojibwe First Nation band government in the Manitoulin District of Ontario. 

He started painting in high school, using colours and techniques inspired by Norval Morrisseau and other Woodland style artists. His grandfather, Ambrose Pheasant, told stories that had a great influence on his artwork. 

Duncan uses his images to interpret Ojibwe legends and stories that surround the history of his ancestors and Manitoulin Island. Legends which inspire his work are inscribed on the back of each original painting and a printed copy of the legend is included with his artwork.

Duncan was one of two Indigenous artists in all of Canada chosen by Canada Post to be represented on the exterior and in the interior of Canadian post offices. Two of his paintings were chosen to be enlarged, 'We are the Land' on the exterior wall and 'Eagle Migizi' hung in the main lobby of the post office in Little Current, Ontario. 

Duncan is represented by Perivale Gallery in Spring Bay, Manitoulin Island.

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Bobcat and Sparrow, 2017. 14"x 28", Egg Tempera and Casein on Composition Board. Private Collection.

George Elson McLean - George McLean is, undoubtedly, one of Canada’s greatest artists. His approach to his artwork, as with everything else in his life, is one of integrity, dedication, and vision. Rather than bowing to art world trends and -isms, McLean has perfected his technique in rendering visible the natural world in a powerful and unsentimental way.

McLean may argue that he hasn’t perfected his technique, as he holds himself to rigorous standards. Despite his uncanny ability to depict the woodlands of Grey Bruce and the wildlife that inhabits it, McLean devotes as much time as possible in his studio creating preparatory drawings, sketches, and finally his incomparable finished paintings created with casein or gouache. He doesn’t take anything for granted and continues to finesse his craft, achieving incredible works that have no peer.

Growing up in the Parkdale neighbourhood in Toronto, one might wonder how a city boy came to be one of the world’s best wildlife artists. It was through visits to relatives in the country, and exposure to the collections at the Royal Ontario Museum, that first caught his attention. And he has dedicated himself to that ever since. For a half century McLean, and his wife Helen, have lived in Grey County, close to Georgian Bay, in a century stone farmhouse that they rescued, set upon a 40-acre hardwood forest. His daily walks and the wildlife he encountered there became the source of ongoing inspiration for him. George once said that he depicted the wilds that the Group of Seven walked upon – and he does that in beautiful and unique ways. Whether or not it is noticing a grouse hiding her nest in the bushes, or bear cubs playing amongst the trees, or the marks left on the snow after an owl captures a field mouse for her dinner, his work makes us stop, look, and notice the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

Through McLean’s work, which comes from the position of true authenticity, people are able to see up close the beauty, majesty and honesty of the existence of Ontario wildlife – something that many people are never able to experience in real life. As such, especially during these challenging environmental times, his work becomes an important documentation for future generations to learn about the natural environment and its inhabitants.

And perhaps as important, people who have the opportunity to view his work get to experience the work of a true master artist. Had we a system such as in Japan, I have no doubt that George McLean would receive the designation of “Living National Treasure.” Since the time he was a boy, he has devoted himself to the depiction of wildlife. Taught by the then preeminent masters, he has continued that tradition in mentoring the next generation of wildlife artists. His process is meticulous in every way and his completed works are a labour of love and devotion to capturing the truth.

By Virginia Eichhorn

Co-author of George McLean - The Living Landscape art book. 

Introduction by Leonard Pizzey

For the artists whose images grace this book, the landscape of Georgian Bay is much more than a visual experience. It is an uplifting, challenging, emotionally charged environment, characterized by wide expanses of ice polished rock, shimmering, constantly moving water, brooding skies, wind-sculpted trees and tenaciously thriving junipers. It is an extraordinary place of islands and coves and narrow passages that delight recreational mariners, canoeists and kayakers: one of only a few, easily accessible landscapes in Canada where the power of nature to shape the primal materials of the planet can be so viscerally and humblingly savoured. It is a landscape that excites the senses and soothes the spirit. It is also home to a wide variety of creatures that bring life to the ancient forms of islands and shoreline forests. These, too, touch the minds and hearts of artists, who, in depicting them in their natural setting, strive to remind us that nature stands apart from our temporal cares and stresses.

Creating visual art is a solitary pursuit. Its practitioners are driven by an ineffable but unceasing passion to transform what they see, and what they feel, to images on canvas or paper. Yet it is also a communal activity, stimulating emotions, memories and quiet joy unique for the viewer. 

Landscape painting is a relatively new genre in the plethora of artistic expression. Its origins date back to the Renaissance. Before nature became a subject to be celebrated in works of art, landscape was depicted in the background of scenes dominated by human portraiture. Earlier religious art was intended to tell Biblical stories to people who could not read.
As society became more secular, and freedom of thought flourished, so too did an appreciation of humanity's humble place amid the powerful forces of nature and the beauty they created. Among its greatest exemplars were English painters John Constable (1776-1837) whose depictions of bucolic scenes are considered to be some of the greatest ever painted, and JMW Turner (1775-1851) whose impressionist studies of light, colour, churning skies and turbulent, often violent seas, were imbued with 'the sublime', a quality that inspires awe and wonder. Later artists such as Claude Monet, transformed landscapes into impressionistic paintings that celebrate colour more than form. Vincent Van Gogh is revered for his ability to depict deep emotions in bold brushstrokes of sky and light.

Canada, too has its own tradition of landscape artists, most famously the Group of Seven who found their inspiration in Canada's rugged topography and dramatically changing seasons.

These pages celebrate works by talented artists who complement that Canadian tradition, striving to capture the essence of Georgian Bay: the palpable energy of its winds, waves and ever-changing skies, its variegated greens and blues and tawny hues, its thriving wildlife. Each seeks a unique artistic identity, but each challenges viewers to share strong emotions of joy and wonder, and uplifting perceptions of beauty. As the famous Victorian art critic John Ruskin put it: "Fine art is that in which the hand, the head and the heart go together."

Art is a calling for those who create it, but it finds its purpose when it is shared and appreciated. The images included here are beautiful in their own right, but the energy and talent they express can only be truly appreciated when they are viewed up close. If you are stirred by the style and skill of these artists, you will reap a great reward by seeking out their works, either by visiting their studios or by browsing in the numerous galleries that grace the Georgian Bay region.

By Leonard Pizzey

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The Front Cover by Arnold Nogy

Shadows (Female Kestrel). 24"x 19", Watercolour on Paper.

Special thanks to Arnold Nogy for providing this beautiful painting for the front cover.
His help with introducing numerous artists that fill these pages and hours spent on the project is truly appreciated. 
Thank you Arnold.

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