Tour Homer Watson's Original Paint Studio
Come and visit Homer Watson’s original paint studio. On the walls hang original pieces from all eras of his career.
From time to time we will rotates the pieces in this room to highlight different themes of Homer’s work.
Interested in an interpretive tour? Connect with the Gallery at 519.748.4377 and ask for extension 233
Homer Watson’s winter landscape paintings
November 2019 – January 2020
The decade of the 1920’s marked a period of extreme social and political change within Canada. In 1923, 68-year-old Homer Watson bought his first automobile. He realized that times were changing and he needed to adapt. With this new means of transportation, the painter spent his days travelling down the roads of the village of Doon, stopping whenever he saw inspiration for a painting. The landscapes he drew inspiration from remained the same but his style was changing.
In his early years, Homer Watson’s landscape paintings depicted sunny days of the warmer months. As he matured, the his landscapes were still predominately of spring and summer days, but the skies changed dramatically. Bright blue skies were replaced by dark clouds and stormy weather as in his painting The Floodgate (1900). This period is commonly referred to as Watson’s Middle Period. As he embarked on the twilight years of his life Homer Watson became fascinated with the idea of capturing the seasonal transitions, especially the transition from autumn to winter. This eventually led to Watson‘s series of winter landscape paintings, which he began to paint in 1923. This subject matter continued to be his area of focus until his death in 1936. Four of these paintings are currently on display at Homer Watson House & Gallery in the Homer Watson studio; The First Snow (1923), Autumn Moonrise (1930), Rising Moon Over Winter Landscape (1930) and Untitiled (Winter Landscape Doon) (1930).
Watson’s transition into depicting the season of winter may have been a way for Watson to confront his own mortality. In contrast to his middle period landscapes, there are no storms on the horizon in these winter landscapes, instead there is a calmness and serenity, a warmth reflecting from the moon.
Beyond the changing seasonal theme, Watson’s painting style also changed dramatically. Homer Watson’s early period style was heavily influenced by three schools of art: the Romanticism movement (1800-1850), Barbizon School of landscape painting (1830- 1870) and the Hudson River School of landscape painting (1830-1870). In his late period, Watson wanted to capture the feeling of the landscape rather than the literal depiction, moving away from realism altogether. He described this as his take on modernism. These late period paintings were often painted on a smaller scale than his early and middle period works and would be completed outside in landscape instead of inside his studio.
In this period, Homer Watson’s fame as a Canadian painter had waned. Though Watson was still making a living off the sales of his paintings, his works were not as in-demand as they were during the height of his career in the 1880’s to early 1900’s. With the changes of the decade, a group of younger, more modern landscape artists eclipsed Watson in the Canadian art world. They were known as The Group of Seven.
The theme of change was also evident in Homer Watson’s personal life. His health began to decline and in 1923 he was almost completely deaf. By 1927 Watson would have the first of a series of heart attacks and in 1929 he would suffer financial loss, losing his life savings in the stock market crash. Despite these tragedies, he continued to paint the Doon landscapes until his death, capturing the beauty he found on those quiet winter days.
Nichole Martin, Curatorial and Collections Assistant