Cunanan Page 2

Great Canadian Art & Artists

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

What painter has dared to tackle the toughest light challenge of all - backlight - and carry it off as successfully as Art has done here, in this phenomenally marvellous scene of two Canada Geese landing in a pond, at dawn!

What work, by Lawren Harris or Emily Carr has ever captured the glory of this totally Canadian moment; it is dawn; the air is brisk and damp; mist is burning off below a rushing waterfall; two loudly cackling Canada Geese come in to land exactly where they wonderfully dramatize the scene?

How many Canadians, who have awakened early, while canoeing in a wilderness park, have thrown back their tent flap at dawn, have seen this scene and wished they could enshrine it forever in their memory, only to see it gone in minutes, the mist burned off, the geese departed, the sun high, the magic evaporated?

But Art has preserved the magic - as precious a memory for the wilderness expedition traveller, as the Sistine Chapel ceiling, is to Catholics - forever in this matchless work of art.

Landing at Dawn, Art Cunanan 1988
Orig. wc - Size - 13.5" x 21"
Found - Port Credit, ON

Please! Show me one Robert Bateman that can match this light, action, atmosphere...

Art started by painting in oils, but soon switched to do watercolours exclusively. He found that watercolour best captured the world he saw. And far from restricting these to the usual small watercolour formats, he often makes very large scenic paintings.

Art Cunanan, far from producing endless copies of calendar art, like some artists, creates each painting as a treat; a feast for the eye, for the ear, for the memory, preserving superlative images of Canadian heritage.

Not content to just capture a favourite scene, he sets out to capture a special moment, in three dimensions: colour, sound, mood.

He could have just painted the scene the way it appears to the eye, for most of us, most of the time. OK, fine, but nothing special.

That is not Art's way. He wants something more and that is usually "magic hour," a quality of light and atmosphere which transforms the ordinary - fine for a calendar - into the extraordinary - and a proud position in the dining room or living room of a thrilled Canadian residence.

Art has captured an essential element of what Canada is, and the family knows it, and thank him for it by hanging his art in a special sanctuary of their home because of it.

What greater praise for a Canadian painter can there be?

Art Cunanan CSPW 2 - (1948-)

1 2 3 4 5 6
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

What painter has been able to imbue every painting he/she ever does with the "magic light" that only a few rarely manage to capture?

Art's ability to repeatedly infuse his pictures with mood is nothing if not amazing; it reduces the art of AY Jackson to merely a succession of pictures with pretty paint.

No one can accuse AY of painting pictures with "mood" or an "emotional moment" or "passing weather drama."

His art is decorative and nice - OK, very nice.

But Art's paintings transcend "niceness;" they are also dramatic and emotionally engaging, and always about the magic of light.

The Sentinel of Rattray Marsh, Art Cunanan 1988
Orig. wc - Size - 14" x 21.5"
Found - Port Credit, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure


One can hear the saucy redwings' call from atop a cattail in the distance; a frog is cronking nearby; a cicada is starting its loud buzzing trail in the tree nearby.

For the black spruce it will be their last year; drowned out from rising water due to a nearby beaver dam, they will fall from fatigue in the first winter storm; or from a woodsman's axe.

Art captures a last portrait of a scene which will never be the same again.

Edge of the Marsh, Art Cunanan 1988
Orig. wc - Size - 14" x 19"
Found - Port Credit, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Both a giant and masterful display of Art Cunanan's palette; how many artists would dare set out to paint a watercolour this huge?

And who could ever have guessed that water can have so many colours, and not a false hue among them?

And there, disturbed in their sanctuary by the encroaching artist, fly off two madly cawing crows.

The Bend in the River, Art Cunanan 1988
Orig. wc - Size - 21.5" x 28.5"
Found - Port Credit, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fine portrait of grasses determined to fight clear of a first overburden of snow, which is already patchily melting from the rays of the sun.

Pearls of ice pull down the largest blades in spite of every protest. The first layer of ice has formed on the pond; it will not be denied.

A glorious weather drama captured by Art Cunanan in his inimitable style.

First Snow in the Marsh, Art Cunanan 1988
Orig. wc - Size - 14.5" x 21.5"
Found - Port Credit, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Standing tall in the shallows of a freshwater marsh is the Great Blue Heron, keeping a wary eye on Art as he tries to get it all in before the moment passes.

These rare marshes, which one bordered the southern Great Lakes, are now few and far between, and are rapidly disappearing as the shorelines get concreted over, houses and malls take their place, and as industry pours an ever increasing flood of destructive chemicals into steams that poison the waters.

Sentinel in the Marsh, Art Cunanan 1988
Orig. wc - Size - 14.5" x 21.5"
Found - Port Credit, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A flash of red maples captured forever by Art.

The Red Maples, Art Cunanan 1988
Orig. wc - Size - 14.5" x 21.5"
Found - Port Credit, ON
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005