Doris McCarthy – Canadian Landscape Artist July 10, 2019

Canadian painter, Doris McCarthy was best known for her Canadian landscape paintings. Her paintings are noteworthy for their vitality, boldness and skillful explorations of hard-edged angles and forms. McCarthy’s work is now featured in many permanent collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

The Early Years

After graduating with honors from the Ontario College of Art in 1930, she followed the lead of many of the Group of Seven painters, and got a job at Toronto’s Grip advertising agency. Two years later, she took a job at the Central Tech School, where she taught painting for the next 40 years.


In 1939, McCarthy built a home near the Scarborough Bluffs, overlooking Lake Ontario. The property now functions as an artist’s residency, the Doris McCarthy Artist-in-Residence Centre.

By the 1950s, McCarthy had developed a reputation as one of Canada’s premier landscape artists. She claimed to have been influenced by Lawren Harris and other Group of Seven artists. Not by their paintings, however, but by their methods, that is, “going out into nature and painting what was there”.

More than a painter

McCarthy continued her education until late in life, and received her BA degree from the University of Toronto in 1989. She also authored three autobiographies: A Fool in Paradise(1990), The Good Wine (1991) and Ninety Years Wise (2004).

In 2004, the Doris McCarthy Gallery opened on the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. For her centennial birthday, in 2010, the Doris McCarthy Gallery and the University of Toronto Art Centre held a retrospective of her work.  Roughing It in the Bush: The Landscapes of Doris McCarthy, which featured 70 works, some never before exhibited publicly.

Like Doris McCarthy, much of my focus is painting abstract landscape art. My method, however, is a little different than hers. Unlike her practice of painting pleinair (ie., outdoors), I generally take photos during my excursions, and rework them in my studio. Have a look…

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