Snow Flurries, North Shore of Lake Superior, 1930
watercolour and gouache over charcoal on wove paper
51.5 x 69 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 37159)
By the mid-1920s Carmichael recognized that the watercolour medium stood on unequal grounds in any comparison with the predominant oils in Canadian art exhibitions. As one of three founding artists to establish the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour in 1926, Carmichael was an earnest contributor to the Society's exhibitions and produced in this medium some of the most breathtaking works of the era. Of most significance are the first of his large watercolours based on Lake Superior subjects and produced in studio. Ranging in size from 17" x 21" through 20" x 28", these watercolours include the dramatic "Snow Flurries, North Shore of, Lake Superior", 1930 (no. 28), a work that effectively conveys the artist's profound fascination with light and his desire to transport the viewer to another place and time. This work, perhaps more than any other in the exhibition, shows Carmichael's use of the sky as a metaphor for the otherworldly. Here are the beginnings of his emphasis on far distances of space where bands and shafts of light unite land and sky, matter and space. We find these qualities also incorporated in Carmichael's later studio oil paintings, such as "Snow Clouds", 1938 (no. 29).