Isolation and Landscape

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Southern Landscape
drawing, ink, work on paper, Regina Five, landscape, prairie, line drawing, low horizon, space, minimal line, perspective, shape, implied image, landscape of Southern Saskatchewan,
description

This  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  by Art McKay is of the plains.  Because McKay was from Saskatchewan and became well-known as a member of the  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)  group The Regina Five, we can assume the title Southern Landscape indicates that this was of the landscape McKay found around himself.

start quoteWords are suited to the exposition of ideas. Paintings expose themselves to anyone who responds thoughtfully.end quote
-- Arthur Fortescue McKay

What is unusual about this  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  of the prairie landscape is that it is a  lineA mark with length and direction(-s). An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. Types of line include: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, straight or ruled, curved, bent, angular, thin, thick or wide, interrupted (dotted, dashed, broken, etc.), blurred or fuzzy, controlled, freehand, parallel, hatching, meandering, and spiraling. Often it defines a space, and may create an outline or contour, define a silhouette; create patterns, or movement, and the illusion of mass or volume. It may be two-dimensional (as with pencil on paper) three-dimensional (as with wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form). (Artlex.com)  drawing. Drawings are made up of marks on a surface, and those marks can indicate line, texture, shadow, and so on. McKay has left out all of these but line. Often, the goal in creating  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)  work is to produce a convincing, realistic image of the landscape. What McKay has done, however, is far more thorough, because he has made an image of a minimal landscape with minimal detail. The use of bare lines to draw the prairies in Southern Landscape is important because it is consistent with its subject.  It matches the thing the artist is drawing. So not only does this image make a viewer think of the prairies because of the picture that is drawn, but also because of the way it is drawn.

Perhaps the most important  lineA mark with length and direction(-s). An element of art which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. Types of line include: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, straight or ruled, curved, bent, angular, thin, thick or wide, interrupted (dotted, dashed, broken, etc.), blurred or fuzzy, controlled, freehand, parallel, hatching, meandering, and spiraling. Often it defines a space, and may create an outline or contour, define a silhouette; create patterns, or movement, and the illusion of mass or volume. It may be two-dimensional (as with pencil on paper) three-dimensional (as with wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form). (Artlex.com)  in this work is the horizon line; it is not visible in the way the other lines in the piece are, but it is where the landscape ends and McKay's empty skyscape begins. It is because of the  horizon lineA level line where water or land seems to end and the sky begins. Vanishing points are usually located on this line.  (artlex.com)  that we can tell the sky is the sky, even though the artist has not "drawn" a sky at all.

additional resources Interview with Timothy Long - The Regina Five
Duration: 2:30 min
Size: 11440kb
Things to Think About
  • What might McKay be telling us by making his drawing in black and white, and not colour? What could this be telling us about McKay's experience of the prairie landscape? And why might he have chosen black lines on white (instead of white lines on black)?
Studio Activity

Draw places you've seen

Art McKay's Southern Landscape represents a place McKay knew well - the prairies.

  • Draw two places you have seen, and use lines and marks that also represent how you felt in those places.
  • Think about your lines.
  • How would the lines used to draw a carnival scene be different from the lines used to draw a factory?
  • Or how might the lines of your bedroom "feel" compared to the lines of your school?

Your own Southern Landscape

Art McKay's Southern Landscape is a  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  of black  inkLiquid or paste media containing pigment(s) and used for writing, pen and brush drawing, and printing. Writing inks, even blacks, are rarely sufficiently permanent to be used for art purposes. Black drawing ink, known as India ink in the United States, is especially made for use in permanent works. When it dries it is water resistant, enabling it to be gone over with a wash or watercolour. Also available is a water-soluble drawing ink; though otherwise permanent, it is capable of being washed away with water, and may be preferred to water-resistant ink for certain work. Chinese ink is similar to India ink, although various minor ingredients are added to enhance its brilliancy, range of tone, and working qualities. Most colored drawing inks are not permanent; those made with permanent pigments are usually labeled with names of pigment ingredients rather than the names of hues. Printing ink is actually more closely related to paints than to the pen and brush inks. (Artlex.com)  on a white surface.

  • What colours will you use?
  • How does adding colour change the image?
  • Will you choose colour to draw the lines, or will you instead add colour to the shapes created by the lines?
References

Dillow, Nancy.  Regina 25 years, 1953-1978.  Exhibition catalogue.  MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 1978.

Freeman, Adele.  ‘Gallery Reviews.’  Toronto Globe and Mail, March 10, 1979.

Groves, Naomi Jackson.  ‘Five Painters from Regina.’  Canadian Art, March-April 1962, p. 101.

Howard, Dr. David, Dr. Alex Kelly, Tim Long.  Arthur F. McKay, A Critical Retrospective.  Exhibition catalogue.  MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, 2006.

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