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Franklin Carmichael G7 RCA

Franklin Carmichael (1890-1945) G7

Frank Carmichael Frank Carmichael was born in Orillia, and was the youngest member of the original Group of Seven.

Frank apprenticed to his father's carriage-making business in Orillia but was not satisfied with this career. In 1911, he was employed at Grip Printing and Publishing, Toronto, as an apprentice for $2.50 per week. Following in the footsteps of Varley, Lismer, Johnston and Thomson, Carmichael also went to work for the Rous and Mann Printing House, Toronto.

At the same time, he began classes at the Ontario College of Art. In 1913, feeling the need for more advanced training in technique, he went to the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. On his return to Canada, Carmichael was greatly influenced by Tom Thomson, while they shared space in the Studio Building in 1914.

While working with the men who were to form the Group of Seven, Carmichael was included on weekend sketch trips and showed great progress. However, a short time later he married and soon had to devote much of his time and energy to supporting his family.

It was not until the major excursions of 1923-24 that Carmichael once again traveled North with members of the Group. Between times, he would travel to his home town of Orillia to sketch on weekends and maybe take a week in the autumn for relaxing, camping and sketching.

Although he was one of the original members, he is perhaps more closely associated with the artists who joined in later years-Fitzgerald, Casson and Holgate. Carmichael was always on the fringe of the Group, probably due to the difference in age and possibly because he worked full time as a commercial artist. Most members of the Group seemed to have the attitude that teaching art was an honourable vocation, but they attached a stigma to working in the commercial field. This seems rather ironic considering almost all members started out in this area. Later in his career, Frank taught at the Ontario College of Art, where he had studied.

Whether working as a teacher or commercial artist, Carmichael loved to spend spare time playing music. As an amateur musician, he played the flute, cello and bassoon. He was a brilliant craftsman who prided himself on technique, but he was also a rhythmic, musical painter. His earlier works almost resemble tapestries, with their flat juxtapositions of colour. As he developed as an artist, he began to emphasize deep, three-dimensional space.

Perhaps Carmichael's greatest contribution to the Group was in reviving the neglected art of watercolour painting. He was also a founding member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, of which he was president from 1932 to 1934.

Franklin Carmichael G7 RCA: Rain Clouds -  1925
Rain Clouds - 1925
10 x 12 in.   Oil on board   

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