Winnipeg seems to be the most likely place I’ll call home. Having lived in Winnipeg almost 10 years at the time of this new web-site and being in my 73th year, almost 60 of which have been devoted to doing art, I’m not likely to want to move another time or to another place. Winnipeg, small city that it is, offers everything my needs require.
The rest of Canada served me well as I built an art career, desiring only not to have a job to support my passion for painting. This, I accomplished as of age 30 when my first marriage ended and I moved to Toronto to “jump in”, as I’ve so often described it, realizing the freedom I now had. Up ’til then, everything I did was to lead to the type of life I desired, beginning with choosing art school at age 16, in my native Saint John, New Brunswick.
Even my first jobs were art related. The first at Jack’s Mens Wear where I worked week-ends painting sale posters. Then at Calp’s department store where I worked in the ad department after school. Upon early graduation in 1961, with a diploma in Fine and Applied Arts from Saint John Vocational School, I got a job at the Telegraph Journal and Evening Times Globe as a news reporter. I liked to write and I wanted a job that was not the usual. This led to an already developing interest in photography which in turn led to joining the Royal Canadian Air Force as a means to becoming a photographer.
For four years, I was assigned to the air force Photographic Establishment in Ottawa after having gone through basic training at RCAF Station St. Jean, Québec (class 6206), then to RCAF Station Camp Borden for photo training. An interim period was spent at RCAF Station Centralia, Ontario, working in the darkroom. I was seeing the Canada I set out to see and I wanted to paint it all.
There in Ottawa, I discovered the Group of Seven and saw in their work what I needed to develop my own personal vision of Canada. Not only landscape, but a certain “formalism” I recognized. But the RCAF did not transfer me to Western Canadian bases, and, upon leaving the air force, I found a job at the Department of Transport doing canal and airport brochures... one step closer to “art”.
I still wanted to go West. Everyone was heading east to visit Expo ’67 in Montréal.
I sold everything and moved my family to Vancouver.
That was the first of many moves. A photo job in Vancouver sufficed until I took up a position as Head of the Art Department and Artist in Residence at Prince George College for the next three years. My wife got a job in Powell River on the Sunshine Coast where we next moved and I painted. The marriage ended there and realizing my independence, went to Toronto which I perceived to be “the Art Centre of Canada. I found no centre, but I was living the singular life of a painter - one rooming house at a time. I picked up a girlfriend along the way and we shared costs, making her writing and my painting more viable. After five years we decided to move to Calgary. I didn’t particularly like Calgary, but the sun and beauty of Alberta appealed. I painted the land, the mountains, the prairie, and hired models to continue what I started in Toronto, Women in Interiors.
A new life began when I met Françoise, fell in love instantly, and moved to Montreal to be with her. I didn’t speak French and her two children did not speak English, so off we went to Ottawa where we could all function in our own language. They, “les enfants”, eventually found their way back to Québec and Françoise and I moved to Edmonton where we lived in Old Strathcona for seven years before finding a 12 acre homestead property in Southern Alberta near Connemara. From here I painted for the next 12 years. Françoise was a weaver, spinner, quilter and had her own studio. We spent one year (1991), the interim year between Edmonton and Connemara, in Les Éboulements, Québec as a sort of sabbatical as I was seeking new challenges for my work. Françoise learned weaving there.
From rural Connemara, the need for a city and the availability of models led us to Winnipeg, a city we often passed through or stayed at night during our many trips back and forth crossing Canada for exhibitions. Winnipeg was small enough. It was also big enough. And we found the ideal studio space for the both of us in a small three unit building. This is our home.