Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Colville House

Yesterday, we visited the Colville House in Sackville, New Brunswick. The former home of reknown Canadian artist, Alex Colville. Along with his wife Rhoda, it is here where they raised their four children while he was a Fine Art professor at Mount Allison University (1946-63). They lived here from the mid 1940's until 1973. It's during this period that his artistic career flourished. His work has been refered to as Magic Realism and he paints in a pointillist technique. More than any other contemporary artist, Colville is considered Canada's Painter Laureate. This is the first summer the house has been open to the public.

The collective bank of imagery he created greatly inspired me be become a painter. Up until 2002, I was very much an Alex Colville devotee. Almost all of my paintings comprised of a figure in a natural setting relating to an ordinary moment of observation. In 2003, when two commercial galleries started to represent my work, a gradual shift occured and I turned to Still Life studies instead. Several of those earlier paintings still resonate within me as some of my best pieces.

Over the years, I've written to him on several occasions; including congratulatory wishes after viewing his retrospective exhibitions at the Musée-des-beaux-arts de Montréal in 1994, and at the National Gallery in Ottawa in 2000. He's always graciously sent me a hand written letter in reply. I finally got to meet him in person in 2002 at the Owen's Art Gallery during an opening reception for one of his shows. I was so surprised that he remembered me from the instant I introduced myself. One of those surreal moments.

Alex Colville most recently celebrated his 88th birthday on August 24. He now resides in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and is still as active as ever. His most recent painting can be viewed on the Mira Godard Gallery web site. Some of his orginial serigraph prints are available through the Fog Forest Gallery. From this Google link you can see many of his paintings.

Happy belated Birthday Mr. Colville!


  1. As I am not Canadian, I've never heard of Colville before, but he and I have the same birthday, so I must look him up. Thanks for the information.

  2. Hello, I accidentally stumbled upon your blog and browsed through all of it.
    I was always facinated by hyper-realism, but most hyper-realistic works which I've seen were done with pencils, this is the first time I've seen it with acrylic (except for Dali perhaps?) and it's mind blowing!
    Your colours are so vivid, and you paint light with such skill that it amazes me.
    Actually, I have never been fond of still-life paintings. Have always found them mighty dull. But your work is perhaps the second I've seen which has truly captured and interested me, (the first being Dali, but most of his paintings, even still lives, weren't strictly realistic).

    I used to draw a lot, until I started taking anti-depressants which cured my depression but left me without inspiration or want to paint.
    I HAVE done a few drawings in the last year, but very few. Maybe someday I'll return to it.
    Although I have *never* used colour. I've tried a few times, but didn't get the knack of it. A thing which frustrated me very much - since I love colour.

    So lately I've turned to photography, as an artistic outlet.

    Well, I've chattered long enough - I would give you a link to my blog, but it's in Hebrew, so you won't be able to make much of it. But I will give you a link to my flickr account, which you are very welcome to browse if it interests you!

    Leore Joanne.

  3. Thanks Deborah for your visit, and Happy Birthday to you too!

  4. Hi Leore,
    I could not figure out how to create an account on Flickr to leave you a comment. I kept going in circles. Nonetheless, your photography is outstanding. Very artsy and spontaneous. Your drawing skills of the student head and Salvador Dali is equally impressive. You definitely have a great eye and have a lot of natural talent.
    Thanks for the comment. It's always rewarding when someone else finds meaning in my art. I started out as an amateur photographer before I becoming a painter BTW.

  5. An amazing artist...looks like a beautiful home.

  6. Your paintings leave me awestruck. Particularly love the May 17 Alfa Romeo, and your VW on Brushspace!

    I'm enjoying my recent discovery of your blog so much that I want to share it with everybody - to that end I am passing along the Brillante award; you can read more about it on my site (Sept. 6 post) and pass it along it you choose -



  7. Hi Alvin! Thanks for the comment the other day. It's always so great to have other like-minded people understand what it's like to be moved and inspired by history, artists, and all that great stuff. You really have visited some spectacular historical and artistic landmarks! I definitely know the choked-up feeling you got after seeing Rockwell's work. It's exactly how I felt when I saw the Wyeths' work, it being my first time. I still haven't seen "Christina's World" in person, but when I do, I know it will be an emotional experience. The power of art is an amazing thing, and it's a blessing for us artists to be a part of its world. Thanks again for the support and for sharing your experiences - all the places you mentioned are now on my to-do list of places I've got to see for myself!!