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From Field to Studio: The art of Paul Kane - page 26 / 36





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PKI Teaching Guide

Page 26 of 36

Kane returned from his western journey with more than 500 sketches, many of which would serve as the basis for the large oil-on-canvas works he was planning. Eventually, he would produce more than 100 of these large paintings.

Including the works Kane made during his 1845 exploration of the Great Lakes, he produced some 700 field and studio works. Many of them ended up in the collection of George William Allan, mayor of Toronto in 1855, and Kane’s most generous patron.

But after Kane’s death in 1871, his widow, Harriet Clench Kane, asked for the return of some sketches as a reminder for the family. George Allan agreed, and in the 1880s many sketches were returned.

This collection stayed largely intact and in the family until 1957, when Paul Kane’s grandson sold some 220 field works to H.J. Lutcher Stark, from Orange, Texas. They were offered to various Canadian cultural institutions but were turned down, although the asking price was not believed to have been particularly high.

Many of the field works that Lutcher Stark bought were done in oil and watercolour. Not only are many of these paintings more vibrant than Kane’s studio works, but also they have the accuracy and ethnographic significance common to his field work.

Now take a look at some of Kane’s works that reside at the Stark Foundation’s museum in Orange, Texas.

Proceed to Activity 8d. – Browse Collection

8d. - Activity - Browse Collection

This activity is a simulation of visiting the Stark Museum in Orange, Texas. There are 16 of the over 200 artworks represented here.

Classroom Activities:


Look at the samples from the Stark Collection. This need not take a long time, but

students should consider the freshness and immediacy of these works. Discuss the value of art collections as representative of a particular cultural identity (e.g., Saskatchewan or Canadian identity). Explore the role of the art patron throughout Western European art history

  • (e.

    g, the church, royalty, individual commissions).

    • 2.

      After the samples of Kane’s field work are viewed by the class, discuss the value of on-

site field sketches and preliminary drawings or paintings to the artistic process. Remind students that many artists do not create field sketches but may use other means of recording their impressions and ideas. Discuss the use of sketchbooks and their role as reference material for completed artworks. Encourage students to maintain their own visual journals of ideas, sketches, and other images for future work.


Ask students to go into the natural environment (weather permitting) and create first-

hand impressions of what they see through sketching, drawing, painting, or photography. Pay

attention to the light, colours and shapes in the environment and try to represent these as accurately as possible. Have students present these sketches and/or photos back to the classroom and present them to their fellow students. Discuss which ones might be carried forward to another state of completion and discuss how this might change the original

From Field to Studio: The art of Paul Kane

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