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Tom Thomson's Early Spring - 1917 His Last Spring...

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Tom’s motivation to “record” this particular observation – colours of the hills and the cloud structure. It was a beautiful spring day in 1917 - the last spring of his life. A gentle easterly breeze was blowing but the warm spring sun felt great on his back. The sounds of spring like the drumming of the ruffed grouse and the honking of geese, were filling the air. The next day Tom would be storm stayed. How do I know this? CSI - Creative Scene Investigation.

There are no shadows as hints in this painting. That it itself is a hint that Tom must be painting near midday as otherwise the shadows would be more likely to be longer and thus more probable to appear in Tom’s art. Another fact to back this up is that there are no yellow or orange hues to the painting so that he was not working either in the early morning or late afternoon. The sun was not in the painting and there is no evidence of sun glint. Both of these would require Tom to be looking southward and since they are not present, the only other options are a view ranging from northeast to north to northwest. In most cases, one can start with the premise that the plein air artist is NOT looking southward and progress from there. Looking at the shadowed sides of the subject matter does not reveal any colours and also tends to blind a plein air artist.

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