Painting Progression III: Jean Sibelius Square Park, Toronto

June 9, 2020

When one reads about the long life of Jean Sibelius and how he had such a strong affinity for nature, for Autumn and Winter in particular, and was, after all, a Finn, whose country embraces the colder months, it seemed fitting to depict Sibelius Square in November.  His biographer wrote this:

“. . . Even by Nordic standards, Sibelius responded with exceptional intensity to the moods of nature and the changes in the seasons: he scanned the skies with his binoculars for the geese flying over the lake ice, listened to the screech of the cranes, and heard the cries of the curlew echo over the marshy grounds just below Ainola [his home, named after his wife]. He savoured the spring blossoms every bit as much as he did autumnal scents and colours. . . “

The distinctive, late 19th c. Toronto architecture of the area known as The Annex is unabashedly Victorian, boasting ‘some of the largest collection of Victorian houses in North America.’

‘During this period Toronto also developed some unique styles of housing. The bay-and-gable house was a simple and cost effective design that also aped the elegance of Victorian mansions. Built of the abundant red brick, the design was also well suited to the narrow lots of Toronto.’ [wikipedia: The Architecture of Toronto]

In The Annex, however, there was an elegance reserved only for those who could afford it. ‘Built by the city’s wealthy and mostly found in the neighbourhood they are named after, these houses contain diverse and eclectic elements borrowed from dozens of different styles. These houses are built of a mix of brick and sandstone, turrets, domes, and other ornamentation abound.’ [ibid.]

In this painting, some decisions had to be made as to whether it was going to be about the houses surrounding The Jean Sibelius Square Park, or about the monument dedicated to the composer, or about the overall mood of late Autumn and how it informs the architecture, the park and what Sibelius himself loved about November.

9 Responses to “Painting Progression III: Jean Sibelius Square Park, Toronto”

  1. Thank you Lois, for taking the time and commenting. Like you, I assumed the Finnish National Anthem was Sibelius–in fact, I thought it was the tune for ‘Be Still My Soul’. But when double checking (I was so sure, I almost didn’t double check), Wikipedia provided this: “. . . “Maamme” (Finnish: [ˈmɑːmːe]) or “Vårt land” (Finland Swedish: [ˈvoːrt ˈlɑnːd]; both meaning “Our Land”) is Finland’s national anthem. The music was composed by the German immigrant Fredrik Pacius, with original Swedish words by Johan Ludvig Runeberg, and with this music it was performed for the first time on 13 May 1848 . . . “. So there we both are–corrected (smile).
    Thank you, Lois, for your encouraging words and posting this. I love your ‘bird in the fir tree’ drawing–it is precious and ephemeral.


  2. Lois said

    I think Siebelius wrote the Finnish National Anthem which is a beautiful song. Your paintings are lovely and delicate

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Art Snehal said

    Thank you friend, I appreciate your encouraging comments 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How kind of you, Snehal. We are all enjoying your lovely bird paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Art Snehal said

    That’s amazing, Lance! Thanks for sharing about architecture and work in progress photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ….so appreciated Lemony, thank you!


  7. Lemony said

    Really lovely, Lance. So delighted to see and read about the process and learn about the architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ….because the painting is rectangular, when I attempt to increase the width to insert into the blog, it distorts everything because it goes beyond the limitations of the available space. I’m going to try it again for my next post and see what happens. Thank you for the feedback, Barry.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barry Comer said

    Lance, these are very cool, but wish I could see closer. Any idea how we can do that?

    Liked by 1 person

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