ALFRED JOSEPH CASSON, O.S.A., P.R.C.A.
Private Collection, British Columbia
Bark Lake is located in the Madawaska area south of Algonquin Park which A.J. Casson visited in the late 1940s in search of subject matter. At that time, he was employed as an art director in the commercial art firm of Sampson-Matthews, and since the time available for sketching trips was limited, he could not go too far afield. Madawaska was near enough, and Casson painted the region many times (including Lake Kamaniskeg, and the area around Barry’s Bay), especially in autumn. Autumn appealed to the artist, for with the changing colours of the season, distinct landscape forms visually separate themselves one from the other like a sequence of staggered stage flats, an effect that Casson emphasized in this sketch of Bark Lake. Here the yellow band of trees on the far shore stands in front of a reddish hill on the left, behind which rises a higher mauve-coloured hill. This band of colour across the middle of the picture holds the eye, while the zig-zag of the water in the foreground adds dynamism to the composition. Typical of the Madawaska pictures, Casson was interested in the effects of light, and has painted a pattern of dark clouds and grey sky with thin veils of rain falling in the distance. The artist effectively conveys the unstable weather conditions characteristic of the fall season in this northern Ontario location.