Earth Science and Art

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Manitou Beach
Manitou Beach Saskatchewan, watercolour painting, mineral spa, vacation destination, health cures, mineral water cures, groundwater springs, taking the waters, healing waters, glacial retreat, meltwater outlet, mineral salts, 1920s tourists, Luthi, resort town in Saskatchewan, Great Spirit, healing power of water, Danceland, art as historical memory, Manitou Beach, history of Saskatchewan, resort town Saskatchewan, relief of suffering
description

Manitou Beach is one of several of Luthi’s works in the permanent  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  of the MacKenzie Art Gallery. It depicts a scene from the resort town of Manitou Beach, a popular destination for people seeking cures from various ailments.
 
The specific gravity of the water in Little Manitou Lake rivals that of the Dead Sea, meaning that while in it, you can float on your back and read a newspaper, if you like. The water also contains minerals that seem to provide relief to people suffering from rheumatism, arthritis and skin ailments, similar to waters found in other locations around the world such as Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) in the Czech Republic.

Lake Manitou was created during the retreat of the last glaciers that carved out the prairie landscape, about 11,000 years ago. In the case of this lake, the retreating  glacierAn immense field or stream of ice, formed in the region of perpetual snow, and moving slowly down a mountain slope or valley, as in the Alps, or over an extended area, as in Greenland. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  left no outlet for the meltwater. The lake has been fed mostly by  groundwaterWater located beneath the ground. To find out more about groundwater, go to: Freshwater Website: http://www.ec.gc.ca/Water/en/nature/grdwtr/e_gdwtr.htm Atlas of Canada showing Groundwater sites: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/freshwater/distribution/groundwater Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundwater   springs, and as the water has evaporated the concentration of salts has become higher over time. Aboriginal people soon discovered the lake’s unique qualities, and named it after the  Great SpiritThe Great Spirit is a conception of a supreme being prevalent among Native American and First Nations cultures.  in recognition of the water’s healing powers.

Manitou Beach became popular with tourists in the 1920s and continues to draw people from around the world. In this undated  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. (Artlex.com)  Luthi views the little resort town nestled in the valley from its crest, looking down at the long, narrow lake that makes this place a popular destination.

We see the greenery on the hillside leading down to the community, with Danceland, a major tourist attraction in the lower left. Other buildings are also shown, but they are the only evidence that throngs of people travel to the community. Rather than show us the jumble and bustle of human activity on a summer day, Luthi presents us with a pleasant prospect overlooking Manitou Beach.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • What is your reaction when viewing Manitou Beach for the first time? Does the scene make you want to visit the place? Why, or why not?
  • Look for information about other locations around the world with salty and/or healing waters. These could include the Dead Sea, the Great Salt Lake in Utah, Carlsbad, and the place that has given its name to the spa culture, Spa, in Belgium.
Online Activity
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The words Colour Theory sound rather dull! But knowing how colour works, and how it can be used effectively, will make your artwork even more terrific.

Monochromatic means working with one  colourProduced by light of various wavelengths, and when light strikes an object and reflects back to the eyes. Colour is an element of art with three properties: (1) hue or tint, the colour name, e.g., red, yellow, blue, etc.: (2) intensity, the purity and strength of a colour, e.g., bright red or dull red; and (3) value, the lightness or darkness of a colour. When the spectrum is organized as a color wheel, the colours are divided into groups called primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colours; analogous and complementary, and also as warm and cool colours. Colours can be objectively described as saturated, clear, cool, warm, deep, subdued, grayed, tawny, mat, glossy, monochrome, multicolored, particolored, variegated, or polychromed. Some words used to describe colours are more subjective (subject to personal opinion or taste), such as: exciting, sweet, saccharine, brash, garish, ugly, beautiful, cute, fashionable, pretty, and sublime. Sometimes people speak of colours when they are actually refering to pigments, what they are made of (various natural or synthetic substances), their relative permanence, etc. (Artlex.com)  or black and white, but we can create a wide variety of artworks with this limited use of colour.

Create a  designA plan, or to plan. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity. Also [applied design], the production of attractive and well crafted functional objects. Subcategories of the design arts include: architecture, bonsai, fashion design, furniture design, graphic design, ikebana, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, stagecraft, textile design, and Web page design. (Artlex.com)  in each of the three frames below (Red, Yellow, Blue) using the “paintbrush" tool.  You can choose from a  setThe hardening process of paint, plaster of Paris, concrete, resin, an adhesive, or any other material which must harden before working with it further. (Artlex.com)  of  monochromaticColour scheme using one hue and all its tints and shades for a unifying effect.  colours in the colour  paletteA slab of wood, metal, marble, ceramic, plastic, glass, or paper, sometimes with a hole for the thumb, which an artist can hold while painting and on which the artist mixes paint. Anything from ice trays to disposable paper or Styrofoam plates might be used as a palette. A pane of glass with a white piece of paper attached to its underside makes a fine palette. It's especially versatile because the color of the paper back can be made to match a painting's ground, making colors easier to choose. The term "palette" may also refer to the range of colors used in a particular painting or by a particular artist. (artlex.com)  beneath the drawing window.  You will find five colour varieties for each colour, as well as the colour black.

Try using one  toneA quality of a colour, arising from its saturation (purity and impurity), intensity (brilliance and dimness), luminosity (brightness and dullness), and temperature (warm and cool); or to create such a quality in a colour. To tone down is to make a colour less vivid, harsh, or violent; moderate. To tone up is to make one become brighter or more vigorous. Tonality can refer to the general effect in painting of light, colour, and shade, or the relative range of these qualities in colour schemes. (Artlex.com)  as a dominant feature and the others in varying amounts. 

Studio Activity

field picture Study and create a landscape

Luthi’s work is described by art critic Jack Anderson as presenting an “arcadian vision” in which the landscape is presented as domesticated rather than wild. Farmers go about their work and crops are neatly stacked; fields evenly ploughed. The scenes look almost too perfect.  (From Ernest Luthi at the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.)

This idealized view of Saskatchewan was and still is highly popular. Luthi has chosen to show the landscape as inviting; nature in harmony with humankind. In many of his works, the skies and lakes are bright blue, and the trees sparkle with colour, while winter pictures are reminiscent of familiar Christmas cards.

How do artists create a landscape painting?

Luthi made his landscape paintings in a similar way to that of other artists. He took photographs, perhaps like this one, and made sketches of the location and used magazine images as references. In this way,  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. (Artlex.com) Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (Artlex.com)  paintings generally become a mix of “fact and fiction” (Anderson, Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.) The artist can use his/her imagination to enhance, change colours, or add objects and action. 


landscape

Creating space in the painting: Foreground, middleground and background

  • Look outside. Do you notice that there is a difference between objects that are far away, and those which are nearer and close up?  Besides the difference in size, do colours appear to be softer and lines less sharp in the background?

Try out different ways to create space in landscape

Which  styleA way of doing something. Use of materials, methods of working, design qualities and choice of subject matter reflect the style of the individual, culture, movement, or time period.  do you prefer?

  • Now paint the same scene with bright flat colours just like the Fauvists.
  • Which do you prefer, and why?
Science Behind the Art

By:  Jack Mollard, J.D. Mollard and Associates Limited

Ernest Luthi’s Manitou Beach:  An 11,500-year geological and cultural history

Lake Manitou About 18,000 years ago, Canada’s continental ice sheet started melting back from its maximum advance into northern Montana, and by 11,500 years ago the ice front had retreated north to around Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  It was about this time that glacial meltwaters, dammed by a wall of  glacierAn immense field or stream of ice, formed in the region of perpetual snow, and moving slowly down a mountain slope or valley, as in the Alps, or over an extended area, as in Greenland. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  ice, created a large temporary ice-marginal lake, called glacial Lake Saskatoon.  Its rising lake waters spilled over a divide and drained east toward what is now Manitou Lake.  What we see in Luthi’s  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. (Artlex.com)  is the east end of Manitou Beach on that glacial Lake Saskatoon  spillwayA sluiceway or passage for superfluous water in a reservoir, to prevent too great pressure on the dam. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  channel.  Some geologists believe that the valley occupied now by Manitou Lake may have been eroded initially by glacial meltwaters flowing in a tunnel under the ice margin, creating a closed lake basin with no outlet.  For more than 10,000 years Manitou Lake has been fed almost entirely by  groundwaterWater located beneath the ground. To find out more about groundwater, go to: Freshwater Website: http://www.ec.gc.ca/Water/en/nature/grdwtr/e_gdwtr.htm Atlas of Canada showing Groundwater sites: http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/freshwater/distribution/groundwater Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundwater   springs having a high content of dissolved salts:  magnesium, calcium and potassium sulphates, magnesium bicarbonate and sodium chloride (ordinary table salt).  The concentrating effect of lake water evaporation over time has left a very salty lake, so buoyant that swimmers can float while reading a daily newspaper.

Canada’s Aboriginal people soon discovered the healing powers of Manitou Lake waters.  They came from all around, and often from great distances, to soak away their aches and pains.  Manitou Lake, named after the Great Spirit, was for them a healing place and a place of peace.  Over the years, warring  indigenousNative; produced, growing, or living, naturally in a country or climate; not exotic; not imported. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  tribes came to Manitou Lake to heal and to worship along its shores.  It is said that there has never been a tribal battle fought at Manitou Lake.  Early in the 20th century, white settlers in the surrounding area discovered the healing and recreational qualities of Manitou Lake waters, and began developing a spa resort, referred to as the Carlsbad of America after the famous European spa in the Czech Republic.  In the late 1920s and early 1930s the population of Manitou Beach would grow from 200 to several thousand during a summer weekend.  Trainloads of vacationers arrived from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Before the Great Depression began in 1929, Manitou Beach developers had constructed hotels (the Tourist Hotel, on the right in the painting), several bath houses, two huge heated indoor swimming pools (White’s Pool in the centre of the painting), three dance halls with live bands including internationally-famous Danceland (on the left in the painting), which was built on four inches of horsehair so that its floor could move up and down with the movement of the dancing.  It was here in the early 1930s that Ernest Luthi rode his bicycle 115 km over dirt and gravel roads to come here to Manitou Beach to paint this beautiful picture landscape.

References

Anderson, Jack.  ‘Ernest Luthi.’  Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.  Retrieved from the Internet on June 13, 2008 from:  http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/luthi_ernest_1906-83.html

Archer, John H.  Saskatchewan: A History.  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan:  Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980.

Grant, R. Murray.  ’An Appreciation.’  Kramer News, Regina, 1984.

Newman, Marketa.  Biographical Dictionary of Saskatchewan Artists: Men Artists.  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan:  Fifth House Publishers, 1994.

Philips, Carol A.  Ernest Luthi: 1906-1983.  Exhibition catalogue.  MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1984.

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