Canadian Landscape Artist
About Rob MacArthur
Art has been an essential part of my being for as long as I can remember, and is deeply rooted in my lifelong connection with the natural world. A zoologist by training, I spent my professional life as a university professor, a career path that left little time for artistic pursuits. On those occasions when I did find the opportunity to paint or do photography, the experiences were both humbling and deeply gratifying, providing creative outlets that I have been privileged to continue into retirement.
The son of a bush pilot, I had the good fortune growing up to see and travel Canada's northern boreal landscapes. My field studies of wildlife also immersed me in the natural beauty of wild places, be they beaver ponds in boreal forest, spruce bogs, alpine meadows, or prairie marshes. For several years I have owned a cottage in northwestern Ontario and much of my artwork is inspired by the scenery nearby. Living as I do in Winnipeg, Manitoba, also provides me access to the expansive skies and brilliant winter light of the Canadian prairies.
Bold, expressive colours and direct, freely applied brush or knife work excite me most, and I have long-admired the works of late 19th- early 20th-century impressionists and post-impressionists. Among Canadian painters, the strongest influence has been Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. As a youth living in Dawson City, Yukon in the early 1960s, I was fortunate to hear an informal presentation given by A.Y. Jackson to my high school class during one of his last fall sketching trips to the Canadian north. My only recollection of that talk was his effusive charm and heartfelt passion for painting the Canadian landscape, and the take-away message that painting was a wonderful pastime everyone should try. As if to underscore his point, the following morning found A.Y. perched on a boulder at the edge of town, hunched over his sketch box, totally absorbed in the plein air experience.
I am a self-taught artist and though I have always painted in oils, in recent years I have transitioned to the painting knife as my tool of choice. Because I generally work with pure, undiluted paint straight from the tube, there is a three-dimensional, sculpted quality to knife painting that I find harmonizes perfectly with the rugged wilderness landscapes I often paint.
Proceeds from the sale of my artwork are directed to local charities and to environmental organizations committed to the conservation of Canada’s wildlife species at risk and in this age of accelerating climate change, to the protection of the Planet’s biodiversity and natural ecosystems upon which all of us depend.