Art that comes from the soul is highest of truths – words that Pierre “A.J.” Sabourin has embraced as part of his long career in artistry.
At the invitation of Bert Anderson, Sabourin came from Killarney, Ontario to Watino to do a series of landscape paintings, many of them along the Smoky River valley. Sabourin surveyed the area and found many spots inspiring.
“How can you not be inspired by this valley? I’ve always liked the prairies and valleys and I’ve always had a kindred spirit for farming,” says Sabourin.
He used an outdoor spot to do his painting, but later moved everything to Watino’s community hall where his works will be on display permanently.
Sabourin used what is known as the Impasto style, which is Italian for “thick paste,” which is an abstract form of painting, to give the effect of shadow.
“It’s a very free form of expressing yourself,” he adds.
These paintings will not be sold, but limited edition prints will be for sale during a premiere event in Eaglesham in March 2017. He also plans to sell magnets and greeting cards based on these paintings.
Anderson invited Sabourin to Watino in September, given the fall colours that were in play.
“I wanted him to capture the beauty of our area,” says Anderson. “We don’t have to go far to show what this valley is all about.”
Sabourin’s resume puts him in the league of the great masters. For instance, he studied fine arts at the University of Ottawa, where artists for Expo 67 taught him.
“I got a really great education because so many people mentored me,” says Sabourin.
Later, he attended the National Drawing and Print Council at the University of Calgary.
“They’re the ones who really opened the doors for me,” he adds.
He also studied stone sculpture, especially the Greek and Roman styles.
Sabourin apprenticed with Ferenc Sezles in Hungary, which opened him to landscaping artistry.
Another master, Paul Schleusner in Munich, Germany, influenced him in the Nordic painting style of snow, rain and other outdoor scenery.
But perhaps his greatest contribution to artistry is due to his involvement with the Group of Seven. Within the Group of Seven, spirituality plays a prominent role, especially when it comes to nature and the outdoors.
“I follow those traditions. You can become one with nature – and use that power to create,” says Sabourin. See below for a brief explanation of the Group of Seven.
Which brings us back to the phrase at the beginning of this story – art that comes from the soul is highest of truths.
“This is the best of who you are. You can apply this to anything in life. It’s about believing in yourself.”
Besides painting for himself and private collectors, Sabourin also teaches children to paint.
Fear can be a real issue for them, so he tells them stories about the struggles he had when developing his style and technique. He will also them how to paint, to build their confidence and he offers accolades and support, so that their artistic talents can flourish.
“You can do no wrong in art,” adds Sabourin.
He also teaches life skills programs to children, including those with autism and FASD. Painting helps them to communicate with the rest of the world and one teacher has praised him for helping a special needs student to communicate through this medium.
For more information, go to his website at pierreajsabourin.wordpress.com, or check his Facebook page and he’s also on Twitter. Alternatively, call him at (705) 287-1039, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GROUP OF SEVEN
The Group of Seven, also known as the Algonquin School, was a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933, originally consisting of Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945), Lawren Harris (1885–1970), A. Y. Jackson (1882–1974), Frank Johnston (1888–1949), Arthur Lismer (1885–1969), J. E. H. MacDonald (1873–1932), and Frederick Varley (1881–1969).
Later, A. J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join in 1926; Edwin Holgate (1892–1977) became a member in 1930; and LeMoine FitzGerald (1890–1956) joined in 1932.
Two artists commonly associated with the group are Tom Thomson (1877–1917) and Emily Carr (1871–1945).
Although he died before its official formation, Thomson had a significant influence on the group. In his essay “The Story of the Group of Seven”, Harris wrote that Thomson was “a part of the movement before we pinned a label on it”; Thomson’s paintings The West Wind and The Jack Pine are two of the group’s most iconic pieces.
Emily Carr was also closely associated with the Group of Seven, though was never an official member.
Believing that a distinct Canadian art could be developed through direct contact with nature, the Group of Seven is best known for its paintings inspired by the Canadian landscape, and initiated the first major Canadian national art movement. The Group was succeeded by the Canadian Group of Painters in the 1933, which included members from the Beaver Hall Group who had a history of showing with the Group of Seven internationally.