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Artist / Maker : Thomas, Roy
Title : Learning to Paint
Date (Execution) : 1984
Geographical Origin : Ontario, Canada
Cultural Group : Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)
Style / Period : Western Modern 1900-1950
Medium / Material  : Serigraph
Support / Technique : paper
Object Type : screen prints
Visual Description : First Nations design with stylized large bird (upper left), human figure painting, and large fish (bottom right).
Accession # : U990.14.1067
Width (cm) : 55.60
Height (cm) : 50.50
Depth (cm) : 0.00
Mandatory Credit : Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Grant, Purchased from the Collection of Vincent Rickard
Artist Statement : "Roy feels that an artist cannot be taught how to paint, but that an artist has a special gift which he can develop. An artist paints what he has learned about the world. In "Learning to Paint", the artist is depicted as the young man who has one foot on the fish and the other foot on the mountain. As a young artist he has a difficult time to learn. He can't paint much yet, just the physical side of life - only what he can see around him. This novice stage is represented by the side of the mountain with fewer trees. Gradually the artist learns to paint feelings and the life-energies he has encountered. This more knowledgeable stage of learning to paint is represented by more trees on the other side of the mountain. The top of the mountain is like a cycle of life. As the artist learns how to live and how to paint, he sees water as a helping force (represented by the fish). The artist feels "the urge to paint", a difficult feeling to paint. Roy says this "urge to paint" is universal, and has represented it as dots and birds inside the fish. Roy chose birds because they too are universal." (statement provided by Pacific Editions; transcribed by a conversation with Roy Thomas)