Discovering the BC Coast - Circa 1950
"The mountains and forests of British Columbia are so gigantic that man seems puny, and his slight inroads are comparatively insignificant. If, as I believe, the function of the artist is to express his reactions to his environment, he cannot but record the overwhelming preponderance of Nature, and omit his human element. Trees 200 feet high and mountains ranging from five to fifteen thousand feet so outscale man and his works that one hardly notices his presence."
- Weston, Undated Note
Weston found his British art training too constraining for British Columbia’s unique coast. He once told a friend, "it took a while to realize that you couldn’t paint Vancouver harbour to look like the mouth of the Thames."(2) The fierce Canadian land demanded more from its artists.
He had to free himself from the old training and develop a style that expressed the character of his new country.(3) "I made up my mind to study and know these things [the trees, mountains and shoreline] and to me the best way was by drawing and painting them constantly."(4)
Weston wanted his audience to be able to recognize the forms in his work and felt that paintings should represent what can be seen.(5) He thought "good art should be universal and unique. It must be founded on experiences common to many."(6) But he didn’t want to represent people on the canvas. "You wouldn’t want to put people into the paintings," he once said. "You’d spoil the whole thing."(7)
The new environment sparked Weston’s lifelong investigation of the landscape, one that didn’t include people, only wilderness. He savored the "silence and the solitude"(8) of each tree and mountain peak with every brush stroke and pencil sketch.