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PART OF THE International Women ISSUE

A visual tribute to the life of Tom Thomson, one of Canada’s most celebrated painters.

Artist Ruth MacLean’s unique collage technique showcased in a book for children brings new interpretation to, and appreciation of, the life and work of celebrated Canadian artist Tom Thomson.

Eulalie’s Journey to Algonquin with Tom Thomson
By Catherine Wilson and Ruth MacLean
Published by Ailsapress

Tom Thomson is one of Canada’s most celebrated painters. He helped to form Canada’s national identity with his paintings of the native wilderness of Algonquin Park in Ontario. Last year was the centenary of his death. He was only 39 when he died in mysterious circumstances on Canoe Lake. The new book is a collaboration of words and images by Catherine Wilson and Ruth MacLean. The story is for the older reader (8-13 years) and is told from the point of view of Tom Thomson’s dog, Eulalie. It provides a lyrical insight into the life of Tom Thomson, especially of the last five years of his life. Canadian artist Ruth MacLean has used her unique collage technique to create the illustrations, which, for the most part, are based on actual paintings of Tom Thomson. She writes of her work as follows:

West Wind

I like working with the simplicity of paper, scissors and glue. This is something that we do from kindergarten days. It is childlike, yet masterful in the hands of an artist like Matisse. One draws with the scissors. A cut has all the energy and nuances of a line. Tearing the paper makes a different and unpredictable edge. Colours and textures of paper create relationships and contrasts.

Wildflowers

For each picture I gathered papers together, like a palette. I selected Tom’s paintings from Algonquin Park that would fit into the story. Cathy’s original discovery of a “dog” shape in the rocks below the iconic pine tree in his painting “West Wind” spurred the idea of putting figures into Tom’s paintings. I call his paintings my “references”, as I loosely interpreted them, simplifying and translating them into pieces and shapes of paper. Some, like my rendition of “Three Trout” or “Wildflowers” [pictured here], were like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Bit by bit the picture appeared, only recognizable at the end. It was fun and challenging to work with Tom’s landscapes, and it increased my great appreciation of this amazing painter’s eye and ability.

Three Trout


Printed and distributed in Canada, Eulalie’s Journey to Algonquin by Catherine Wilson and Ruth MacLean is published later in 2018 by Ailsapress. All images used here are taken from the book.

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