David Milne Essay, Research Paper
On November 4, 1998, I visited The McMichael Canadian Art Collection on Islington Avenue, in Kleinburg, Ontario where I saw the temporary art exhibit In the Wilds: Canoeing and Canadian Art. The McMichael Gallery is also home to a permanent collection of works by Tom Thompson, The Group of Seven, First Nation Inuit and other Canadian contemporary artists. Some of the artists exhibiting at the in the Wilds display there were David Milne, C.W. Jefferys, Alexander Musgrove, Charles Comfort, L.L. FitzGerald, Paul Cane, Cornelius Krieghoff, Frances Anne Hopkins, Frederick Verner and Emily Carr. The theme of the exhibit was canoeing and nature. One of the many painters work that I enjoyed that day was Canadian artist David Milne and especially his painting Dark Waters of the Bay. David Brown Milne was born near Paisley, Ontario in 1882. He moved to New York City in 1904 to study with the Art Students League and work part time as a commercial artist. He painted for himself on Sundays only and was influenced by Monet, Matisse and C zanne. In 1917, he moved to the village of Boston Corners in New York State to devote himself to painting. He enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1918 and served in World War 1 as an official War Artist in England and France during 1919. His love of nature developed and he possibly learned to canoe at Dart s Camp, Dart s Lake, New York in 1921 when his wife ran a tea room for the summer and he worked as a part-time handyman. After the war, he went back to upstate New York to live and paint in Lake Placid. He returned to Canada in 1929 after his marriage broke up. That summer was spent tenting and canoeing on Lake Temagami in Ontario. He moved to Palgrave and then Six Mile Lake in Muskoka and lived there alone for 6 years from 1933 to 1939 in a tiny, isolated tar-paper shack with only his canoe for transportation to get to his painting places and supplies. He also lived in Toronto and Uxbridge. In 1939 he re-married and had a son, born in 1941. David Milne died in Bancroft, Ontario in 1953. He was a contemporary of the Group of Seven but only gained recognition as a great artist late in his life. David Milne worked in oils, watercolour and dry paint to capture landscapes. He chose oil on canvas as his medium for his painting Dark Water of The Bay , done in 1933. This painting is a realistic picture of the bay and his canoe. It is on the lines of realistic and abstract, but it is realistic because you are able to make out what each element is in the painting: the bay, the land, the canoe, the logs and the trees. He painted this piece while he lived at Six Mile Lake, Muskoka. His only means of transportation was his canoe. He used it to travel to buy supplies and take him to his painting places. He painted his canoe against the dark water of the bay with shoals encircling it.
The piece of artwork called Dark Water of The Bay appealed to me most because it reminded me of my cottage in Pointe Au Baril on Georgian Bay. At my cottage, we usually canoe to places like those in the painting and have picnics. Georgian Bay is very dark bluey-black coloured just like the Six Mile Lake in the painting and it also is made up of curved rocks and wind shaped trees just like those of Muskoka. I also enjoy Milne s simple way of painting. There is not a lot of detail to each object, but you can still see the texture and different shapes which makes this painting unique from the others. The most important elements of design Milne used were colour and line. He didn t use colour in the sense of lots of colours, but he used dark and light colour only. He liked to use tints of a few colours like beige, grey and black. He used a dry brush technique with a limited range of colours to get his own style. He made the land grey so the light coloured logs stand out in front and seem brighter. He also used opposite colours like red and green to make the land (red) contrast with the canoe (green) and the leaves on the trees (green) against the red land stand out. He painted the bay black to make it pop out against the rest of the lightness in the picture. There are small blobs of colour for the canoe, land and logs, but for the bay there is a solid black colour which stands out from everything else too. David Milne also enjoys lines. He used black to outline shapes of logs and driftwood and other objects in the landscape including the canoe. His shapes in his paintings are very simple. There is not much detail to them, but you can still identify what they are. David Milne was known as a painter s painter. His work was admired by his contemporaries but was not a commercial success until late in his life. He wanted people to be touched by his work, not make money.