M. EMILY CARR
Private Collection, Ontario
Carr painted wooded landscapes in oil on regular excursions from her studio in Victoria. Working on manila paper, which was inexpensive and transportable, Carr created sketches like Forest Clearing in oil paints diluted with gasoline to the consistency of watercolour. She also invented a folding drawing board which simplified the handling of her materials. Happy with the results of this method, she remarked that she was “unafraid to slash away because the material scarcely counts. You can just paint and there’s no loss with failures. I try to do one almost every day.”
Carr perfected this technique by 1934, her sketches also brightening in colour considerably. Sketches were finished in one sitting while perched on a camp chair and were not touched up afterward. Forest Clearing exemplifies these exercises, with its tall and wispy trees watching over the clearing and its optimistic colours suggesting that regeneration is near and inevitable. Every inch of the sketch is activated; something for which Carr strove throughout the later 1930s.
After 1937, her reputation as a painter in eastern Canada steadily increased as a result of her participation in 14 solo shows prior to her death in 1945. Final significant sketching trips were undertaken in 1938 and 1942 when Carr’s health was already failing. Forest Clearing thus dates from the height of the artist’s achievements in painting.