Tom Thomson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Thomson) was an influential Canadian artist of the early 20th century. I discovered Tom in art school and strongly connected to his style, process and what I believe was his connection to wild lands. In the early 20th century, he would regularly go out into theĀ  Algonquin Park in central Ontario, Canada and paint “oil sketches”. I would consider these oil sketches to be plein air paintings although this was a popular term for using oil medium in the field at this time. In fact, I believe that Thomson to be one of the first North Americans to paint plein air of wild lands. While more famous landscape painters of the 19th century such as Moran and Bierstadt (American), painted wild places, it seemed more for the historical expedition purposes than coming from their own individual inspiration. Thomson was truly inspired to be in these places and like myself may have been just as happy not painting. Yet, as I was telling someone the other day, when in these visually stunning places, I cannot stop myself from painting. It is going to happen.

Thomson died a mysterious death early into his art career while canoeing alone which has created speculative theJackpineories and even a movie of what happened. I am saddened by him not being able to create more and see recognition for his work yet I also realize that being in wild places does have its risks and rewards in an inverse relationship. The many dangers of being in wild places creates a strong sense and appreciation of being alive! I believed Thomson was living his life as he wanted with both the risks and rewards.

Algonquin_Park