The Group of Seven

Canadian National Artists

Who Were Canada's Group of Seven?

In the early decades of the 20th century, seven artists formed a collective with the mission to paint the Canadian wilderness. Now considered to be Canada’s first art movement, the paintings of the Group of Seven have become permanent fixtures of the Canadian imagination.

United by the belief that a distinctly Canadian art movement could best be created through direct encounters with nature, the artwork of this collective usually depicts scenes in which the landscape appears to be untouched by human influences. The color schemes and stylistic features that characterize their paintings marked a clear break from the European artistic tradition.

The founding members of the Group of Seven, officially formed in 1920, were Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945), Lawren Harris (1885–1970), A.Y. Jackson (1882–1974), Frank Johnston (1888–1949), Arthur Lismer (1885–1969), J.E.H. MacDonald (1873–1932), and Frederick Varley (1881–1969).

Toronto origins

The original seven members first met in Toronto, where many of them worked at a design firm. After World War One – during which time Jackson and Varley worked as official war artists – they reconnected and started traveling through Ontario and sketching the province’s landscapes, working together to strengthen their techniques and interpretations of the wilderness. Around 1919, they started to officially call themselves the Group of Seven, and in 1920, they held their first exhibition as a collective.

Reviews of the exhibition were mixed, and the Group faced resistance and criticism to their attempts to depict the Canadian wilderness. Although it’s hard to believe now, as the country’s diverse landscapes are today celebrated, there was a time when these terrains were not considered worthy of being painted. Through the 1920s, however, as these artists developed new ways of depicting the beauty of the wilderness, the popularity of the Group of Seven continued to grow.

Today, the Group of Seven remain among Canada’s most well-known and beloved artists, with their work having pioneered not only the first nationalistic art movement in the country but also having greatly influenced the development of a distinctly Canadian identity.

Source:  Culture Trip


All Virtual Artful Explorers events are one session (10 am -12:30 pm EST) held on Saturdays. For participants wanting to challenge themselves sketching more of a particular locality or theme, you are welcome to do the EXTENSION SKETCH PROJECT below:

Group of Seven Sketch Project
(a) Neys Provincial Park
(b) Jackson Lookout
(c) Lake Superior
(d) Winter Road
(e) North Shore

*Please post your finished sketches to the Artful Explorers Facebook site. Be sure to add event title, your name, and the date.

Note: Artful Explorers are invited to follow the Facebook Page to stay up to date with events and announcements and to post their artworks to the Facebook Group, Instagram and Twitter using #ArtfulExplorers


Facilitators of Artful Explorers:
  • Theresa Smith
  • Elizabeth Birkby
  • Lynda Greeley (Mama Bear)
  • Cecilia Evasco (Maricel)
  • Dina Schlesinger
  • Michael Skelly
  • Sherli  Looli
  • Carole Moon
  • Emily Moon
  • Georgia John
Web site design by 
Cecilia Evasco
Artful Explorers for February 25, 2023

Libraries of the World

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