Lawren Harris Painting Techniques

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Lawren S. Harris was a Canadian painter born in Brantford, Ontario, in October 1885 who painted town scenes like houses--especially houses in the poor area of Toronto. He is also famous for painting industrial subjects such as gas storage tanks or landscapes, which was his greatest contribution to Canadian art. He is one of the artists of the Group of Seven, which was a group of artists who set out to create distinct Canadian art.

General Style

Harris’ painting style was smooth, didn’t use details and didn’t use a lot of colors, which made his paintings very simple. The colors that he used were blue, white and brown with a little bit of yellow. His subjects were usually mountains, lakes, clouds and sometimes trees. His landscape paintings do not have flowers, animals or people.

Mountains

Unlike paintings by other artists that had many details from snow to trees and curves, the mountains that Harris painted such as the Rocky Mountains had big curves with no details. The only detail he included in his paintings of mountains was snow, and this was usually just by covering the shape of the mountain in white paint and a little shading. In his later work, the mountains were almost geometric and unrealistic, but looked three-dimensional.

Lakes

Lawren Harris’ paintings of lakes were usually surrounded by snow-capped mountains and clouds. His paintings of lakes lacked details such as ripples in the water, but his paintings--including that of Lake Superior--look real and beautiful. The only thing that Harris included in his paintings of lakes was the reflections of light, mountains and clouds, but the simplicity of this is what made his paintings interesting.

Clouds

Clouds in unusual shapes were almost always included in Harris’ landscape paintings. They were seen around the mountains as well as in the reflection of the water in lakes. These clouds are always different in each of his paintings. Sometimes the clouds would cover the entire background and sometimes the clouds were painted to cover only part of the background, but in large shapes.

Trees

The trees in Harris’ paintings looked like sculptures and were very unrealistic. What made his paintings of trees distinct is that they were painted using only one or two colors and had no leaves or branches. The only thing that was included was the tree trunk that sometimes branched out at the end. Sometimes he would paint trees with branches, but covered in snow. The lack of details in the tree is characteristic of his simplistic style.

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