Mayberry Fine Art presents Islands – Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods has a shoreline of 25,000 miles — 65,000 miles if you count the space where the basin’s thousands of islands, large and minuscule, meet the water.
Only a body of water of this magnitude, with a history just as long as it is wide, could support the scope of Islands – Lake of the Woods, an artistic undertaking years in the making by veteran Canadian painter Randolph Parker and longtime friend Bill Mayberry of Mayberry Fine Art.
The Islands – Lake of the Woods exhibit comprises 220 paintings Parker created following a series of expeditions he embarked upon with Mayberry beginning in 2014. Together, the pair travelled 2,600 kilometres by boat through Lake of the Woods, capturing sketches and notes that would become the Island Series in acrylic on canvas and panel.
“The work began in the northern section of the lake,” Parker said. “But we thought to do the lake justice, we have to do the entire lake. The regions change as you motor around. That extended the project from one year to five years.”
The project’s catalyst, though unknown at the time, was Mayberry’s quest to find the island pictured in the famous Canadian painting Sunset, Lake of the Woods by Walter Joseph Phillips.
During a 2005 outing with artist Robert Genn, Mayberry found the island by chance while photographing his friend painting en plein air. The camera’s viewfinder allowed for a new perspective. What kept Mayberry from discovering the island sooner was an artistic liberty Phillips had taken during the painting process. Phillips had positioned the sunset behind the island, whereas in reality, the sun set from a different direction.
The urge to record similar islands in a visual and physical way for others to experience, and potentially explore on their own, drove Mayberry and Parker to take on this project.
The geographic co-ordinates of each island or slice of shoreline seen in Parker’s 220 paintings are detailed in the 230-page Islands – Lake of the Woods art book, and on the back of each piece. As well, each painting is assigned a letter and number that corresponds to an index map of the lake at the end of the book.
Like Phillips did with Sunset, Lake of the Woods, Parker strived to paint the best composition of each island scene, while staying true to what he saw.
“When you see something that has a potentially good composition if you spend a little more time and you investigate more, you usually come up with the composition,” Parker said. “Sometimes you see it, and it’s all happening right at that minute.”
Gallery director Shaun Mayberry explained that the painting’s locations are accurate, though the sense of mood and emotion is something that emerged, at times, through Parker’s artistic process.
“I can add the richness of details and lighten the luminosity so you can see the density of the forest,” Parker said.
Lake of the Woods’ landscape wasn’t unfamiliar to Parker when he began this venture. He grew up in Huntsville, Ont. — an 18-hour drive from Kenora, Ont., yet no less part of the Canadian Shield, with its abundance of coniferous trees and cool lakes.
“When coming to the Lake of the Woods, it felt like home,” Parker said.
Islands — Lake of the Woods runs until Dec. 24 at the Mayberry galleries. Roughly 190 paintings are on display at the flagship gallery at 212 McDermot Ave. in the Exchange District. The Tuxedo Park Shopping Centre location, at 2025 Corydon Ave. (Unit 138) is home to 30 more works. The paintings are available for purchase.
The 230-page Islands – Lake of the Woods art book can be purchased at both Mayberry galleries, and online (www.mayberryfineart.com). Peter Mansbridge provided the book’s foreword and Mayberry wrote the introduction. Historian and writer Greg Humeniuk also contributed to its contents.
Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.