Art In Action: Franklin Carmichael Canadian Landscapes


Lakeland Arts Association

Scrub Oaks and Maples by Franklin Carmichael.

The United States can boast of the Hudson River Artists, and their work was stunning. But did you know there was also a famous group of artists who resided in Canada that produced work on a par, and sometimes superior to The Hudson River group? Calling themselves the Group of Seven, these artists captured the magnificence of Northern Ontario Canada with brilliance and flair.

Of Scottish ancestry, Franklin Carmichael, one of the lead artists in the Group of Seven, was born in Orillia, Ontario. His childhood was spent in this small town almost due north of Toronto and located between Lake Huron and Lake Ontario. Orillia was located on the shores of Lake Simcoe. Carmichael developed an early interest in art and when he was 20 years old he made his way to the Ontario College of Art in the bustling city of Toronto. He was fortunate to have mentors in established artists William Cruickshank and also George Reid. While at college he also studied with Gustav Hahn at the Toronto Technical School. One can still see touches of technical illustration in his art. This skill landed him a position as an apprentice at an advertising agency. It was here that Carmichael met other artists who would one day form a coalition and call themselves, The Group of Seven.

These friends, like Carmichael, all yearned to become respected professional artists and not lowly illustrators, thus they studied and worked together. Their work began to show marked similarities yet each was developing a unique style. They used their free weekends to travel together to northern areas of beauty and sketched, painted, and created landscapes.

Carmichael traveled to Belgium to study painting, but the war broke out and he returned to Canada. He gained proficiency in both oil and watercolor work and constantly referred back to his childhood memories along with frequent trips into the north woods scenery that always thrilled him with the raw beauty. He married in 1915 and by 1924 was gaining recognition and focused almost exclusively in watercolor work. His career developed and he became a member, then President of the Group of Seven. The next step in his career was teaching. He taught at the Ontario College of Art until 1945 and became Head of the Commercial Art department. He passed away unexpectedly at only age 55 in the fall of 1945.

To see a full portfolio of work by Carmichael, click on the Art History Archive – Canadian Art. You will see the deep and brilliant color achieved by Carmichael, unusual for many who struggle with the medium of watercolor. As we learn more about The Group of Seven next week, you can notice the resemblance to work by Carmichael.

Upcoming and Current Events:

  • Watercolor program by Gabrielle Stephenson June 26, 7 p.m. at LAA gallery.
  • Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery. Free admission to see a smattering of work by Darla McCammon.
  • Lakeland Art Association’s current exhibit: Wamsley and Shoemaker. Other arts and craft items are also available. 302 E. Winona Avenue, Warsaw. Website.
  • Honeywell themed competition open in Wabash Indiana June 8 through July 24. This prestigious event always has wonderful entries. All work entered revolves around a water theme.
  • LAA Art Fair, Fairgrounds, August 26-27.

Web site for this column author:, email her at [email protected], or call (574) 527-4044. Some older columns are available for your pleasure on the web site.



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