Doris McCarthy travelled far, throughout Canada and abroad, from her early years as an art student to her later years as a senior artist. She always returned to her homes, studios and favourite locations to paint in Ontario.
We are pleased to present two recent arrivals, the very rare watercolour of her home, Fool’s Paradise, and an oil panel of the Georgian Bay view from her studio window looking out towards Juke’s Island. Together with the Dagmar Hills and Haliburton, they represent four very special places and times in McCarthy’s life.
McCarthy built her home and studio in the mid 1940s on land she had purchased from a farmer on the Scarborough Bluffs overlooking Lake Ontario. Noting the somewhat isolated location, lack of city water, steeply inclined and often muddy dirt road, her mother referred to it as “that fool’s paradise of yours” , and the name stuck. Towards the end of her life, realizing the unique qualities of FP, as she often called it, she gifted it to the Ontario Heritage Trust for an artist-in-residence program, now successfully underway.
In this iconic and rare watercolour McCarthy painted her beloved home and studio, capturing the majesty of the land and the simple welcoming structure of the building.
In the late 50’s McCarthy and two other artists bought a point of land jutting out into Georgian Bay. Each summer, in the studio that they built, she scaled up her sketching trip studies into large paintings. But no summer would go by without McCarthy spending some time exploring her Georgian Bay home for its sculpted rock and rain filled crevices, its light and its views.
Holy Point looking out towards Juke’s Island was perhaps Doris’s favourite spot on the property and never failed to provide her with ever changing possibilities, as in this work with its sweeping view and expressively painted foreground of golden grasses and iron-rich rocks of the shield.
In the fall, McCarthy, along with her peers and friends, made frequent sketching trips around Ontario. The opportunity for changing light and variable weather conditions in the Haliburton Highlands never failed to capture McCarthy’s imagination. In this beautiful oil painting McCarthy employs one of her hallmark strategies creating a richly animated foreground. Evoking the water’s rhythms, she took full advantage of the shoreline with its washed up driftwood, fallen leaves and masses of colour.
Another favourite location in the fall, closer to home, was the Dagmar Hills north of Whitby, where she took advantage of the bright crimson Sumac trees, rolling hills and snaking country roads as subject for this stunning painting.
She exhibited the work from this period of experimentation with a more vivid, Fauvist palette at the Art Gallery of Hamilton in the winter of 1949.