Emily Carr

One of my favorite woman artists is Canadian born Emily Carr (1871-1945). Miss Carr studied in San Fransisco from 1889-95, then traveling to England she became involved with the St. Ives group & Hubert von Herkomer's private school.

In 1910, she lived in France where the work of the Fauves influenced her work. She returned to Victoria, where she almost gave up on her painting.

I'm so glad she didn't!

In 1930, Miss Carr's contact with The Group of Seven rekindled her interest in art. During the 30's she sketched and painted the lives of Native Americans, as well as Canadian Native Culture.

Besides being somewhat of a pioneer in going abroad at this time, Miss Carr also traveled by, steamship, train, canoe, and fishing boat to visit inhabited and abandoned villages in the northern part of Vancouver Island, on the Skeena River and the Queen Charlotte islands. In 1933, unable to to withstand the journeys she discovered something that would enable her to keep getting out into the woods to paint. As she put it; " Then one day, plop! into my very mouth, like a great sugar-plum for sweetness, dropped the caravan. There it sat, grey and lumbering like an elephant by the roadside-'For Sale.' " She bought the trailer and named it "the Elephant". During the spring & autumn, she would have it hauled to nearby seaside & wooded areas, along with 4 griffons, a monkey & a white rat. While living out of the trailer for months, she developed a technique of diluting oil paint with gasoline & white house paint, and painted on cheap manila paper.

What a pioneer!

The British Colombia Archives holds 13,000 catalogued items of Carr-related material, notebooks, sketches, watercolors and paintings, including failures.

She wrote in one of her journals: "A picture is an expressed thought for the soul." Just before her death, while living in a nursing home, she received news from the University of British Columbia that they were conferring the degree of Doctor of Letter on her. She was so excited she wanted to shout out to the staff that had treated her like a "half wit" ; "I'm nearly a Doctor, the University are making me one so there!"

Unfortunately she died three days after receiving this news. The honors came later.
 Emily Carr was not only a prolific visual artist, she was also an accomplished writer.
Although she isn't well known in the US, she is a Canadian treasure.

Title: Forest, British Columbia
130.0 x 86.8 cm

The Lilith Gallery, Emily Carr- The Art History Archive
Smithsonian Magazine January 1999
Picture of young Emily Carr,  The Elephant, & The Forest  from the Smithsonian Magazine article.
My apologies for the taped together picture, the article is in one of my sketch books, and this is about the best I could get it.