Robert Duncan Christie

About the Artist

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in 1946, Robert Duncan Christie was educated at the University of Saskatchewan, receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1967, and a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1970. In addition, Christie was involved with the Emma Lake Artists' Workshops from 1969 into the 1980s. It was the 1979 workshop, led by the American artist Darryl Hughto, which had a decisive influence on Christie’s approach to applying paint to canvas.

Prior to 1979 Christie had begun  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (  small sketches on paper. When he tried to transfer the sweeping gestural strokes, that worked so well on paper on a small scale, to a large canvas, the transfer didn’t work. Christie tried different methods to establish the  compositionArrangements of elements in a work of art.  he desired, including using overhead projectors and slides, but found that this sacrificed directness and spontaneity. At Emma Lake in the summer of 1979 Christie tried Hughto’s method of laying down washes of both  gouacheA heavy, opaque watercolor paint, sometimes called body color, producing a less wet-appearing and more strongly colored picture than ordinary watercolor. Also, any painting produced with gouache.  (  and watercolour. Hughto also suggested that Christie add  gessoPlaster or a fine plaster-like material made of gypsum, which is also called whiting, used for sculptures. An especially versatile medium in reliefs, gesso can be either a material cast in a mold or a material of a mold, a material to be modeled, or carved, or attached to something else. When used for molds into which molten metal is poured, it must be hardened with sand as a grog. Gesso may also refer to such a gypsum material mixed with an animal-hide glue and used as a ground for painting. For this latter use, it is usually applied to the surface of a wood panel or sculpture to become the surface on which an artist paints. It was used by Gothic and Renaissance panel painters, and is still used today. Oxgall (or another wetting agent) can be employed to eliminate pin-holes in gesso surfaces by mixing it into the gesso before the gesso is applied. Like all other dusts, airborne gesso is hazardous to breathe — every user should wear an appropriate dust mask. Also see slip and stucco.  (  to the  acrylicSynthetic paints, with pigments dispersed in a synthetic vehicle made from polymerized acrylic acid esters, the most important of which is polymethyl methacrylate. First used by artists in the late 1940s, their use has come to rival that of oil paints because of their versatility. They can be used on nearly any surface, in transparent washes or heavy impasto, with matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finishes. Acrylic paints dry quickly, do not yellow, are easily removed with mineral spirits or turpentine, and can clean up with soap and water.(  paint he was using, to give it opacity.  “It was only when Christie looked at his Emma Lake works some months later that he realized the potential for this type of paint application on large canvas.” (Parke-Taylor, 1981)

Christie worked as Gallery Supervisor and a lecturer for the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. He later became co-owner of Art Placement, a  commercialPertaining to making money, i.e., creating art in order to sell it, rather than creating art for purely aesthetic purposes.  gallery, framing and art supply shop in Saskatoon. Christie’s artwork is represented in both public and private collections throughout Canada.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning