Doris McCarthy sought out the waters edge and the many possibilities for subjects for her painting throughout her career. In the early years she and other artists travelled often to the Gaspé region of Quebec . It was relatively untouched by the industrial world in the early 30’s and McCarthy took full advantage of the fisherman’s villages, the life and tools of the trade as in Fisherman’s Shack.
Whenever McCarthy could she travelled to foreign destinations. One of her favourite places to paint was Ireland , particularly in the spring. Though the frequent rain storms were a challenge she embraced the resulting changes in the landscape, the colour, pattern and light. In White Sands at Morar she was able to capture shoreline details as well as the immenseness of the landscape.
Pattern and abstraction had become a preoccupation for McCarthy in the mid 60’s. In 1959 she and several other artists pooled their resources to buy a property on Georgian Bay where she built a summer studio and focused her attentions on the rugged beauty of the Georgian Bay shoreline and expansive water views. Wave Movement #8 came towards the end of her hard edge period and signaled the work of the 70’s and particularly the icefloes and icebergs.
McCarthy continued to travel extensively following her retirement from teaching. As always drawn to the water, in 1991 at the age of 81, she chose to take a trip to one of the few places in the world she had not yet been, the Antarctic. The more mountainous terrain than the Canadian Arctic was a revelation to McCarthy. In the painting, Antarctica from the Heights, she took full advantage of the high, long vistas to capture the craggy and everchanging landscape. And, of course, indulge in the abstraction of the ice floes.