Robert Achtemichuk

What I see becomes a sort of visual illumination, like a match struck unexpectedly in the dark, a gift, lighting my path into wonder -Virginia Woolf

Orienteering Homer Watson’s painting sites

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This idea will expand the content that I use in my work. I still like painting the night skies with urban landscape and will continue to do so.

I have learned that Doon, formerly Oregon, Homer Watson’s hometown, was inhabited by less that 1000 people in his time and now is a sprawling suburb near Conestogo College. The woods he walked and the places he visited along the Grand River and in Doon are mostly private property now, except for Cressman Woods and Homer Watson Park. This makes accessing most areas he wondered through, difficult. So a river journey with a canoe is in my mind. If there is anyone who knows of a stand of older pines in the region along the Grand River, let me know where especially if they are on both sides and at nearly the same place on the river.

I knew that I would enjoy traipsing in the woods, looking for sites. One thing that has surprised me, as this project unfolded is that I would learn to use the colour green. And what colours would I mix to get this or that green effect? I think of Melissa Doherty’s paintings of trees. I am hunting for the basswood stands in those woods as basswood seems to be one of Homer’s favourite tree subject.

Thank you to everyone who is sharing information with me. I thank the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery and the Homer Watson House and Gallery for access to their collection, as I try to figure out where the painting sites are. To help with this process I visited the KPL and looked at maps from 1857 to 1968. It is very interesting seeing Kenzie Creek be dammed to become Mill Pond, to become Willow Lake, to become Schneider River within a park. And off topic, though in current local news, way back, there was an electric train serving Bloomingdale, Kitchener, Hespeler and Cambridge.

Part of this project will look at the history and present nature of our region from two artists’ perspectives, Homer Watson’s and mine. Stay tuned for information on portraits of local trees that is also part of this orienteering project. I am pleased to be supported with a grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund.
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Author: Robert Achtemichuk

Born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan with a fine arts degree from the University of Manitoba and further studies in France and Mexico. Was the Executive Director of Open Studio, the Waterloo Regional Arts Council and the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery. Recently received artist grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Waterloo Regional Arts Fund to develop and exhibit new paintings that were shown extensively. Received the Award of Excellence from the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in 2012 and in 2015 received the Machteld Faas Xander Visual Arts Award, KW Arts Awards. Appreciate support from Ontario Arts Council in 2018-2019.

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