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My interest in art had some roots in my aunt Valley. With an education in art in Estonia, she continued to Paris, which before the WWII was the center of art culture in Europe. She returned home from time to time. After the Soviet Union annexed Estonia, she could not return, so she went to Sweden where my family had gone as refugees, and I was born. She was visiting in our apartment when I was two or three. She then returned to Paris where she lived for the rest of her life. When my family went to Canada by 1951, it just happened that my ability to draw or paint what I saw with faithful accuracy, astounded all my teachers, and at home I was compared to Aunt Vally, some of whose art hung in the livingroom. With all the reinforcement, it was inevitable that it could go to my head that I was to become an artist, and I pursued it diligently by the time I was 10 and on towards my 20's. The following text gives some more detail and some illustrations.


  Comparisons to Aunt Vally

    When I was growing up in the suburb of Toronto, called Scarborough, it was difficult for me to avoid being compared to my Aunt Vally. Several of her paintings were on the livingroom wall and whenever family friends came to visit, my mother always told me to bring out some of my artwork to show the guests, and that was followed by references to Aunt Vally.
    There was no pressure on me to become accomplished. It appears I was naturally talented, since teachers at school marvelled at my artistic ability since I was only 6. In fact it was the teachers who drew my parents' attention to my talent. But once it was known, I was supported and celebrated at every turn. I enjoyed the celebrity at school during the years 6-10 when it came from my classmates. It made me feel special in the context of my peers especially since I was socially reserved - like many people are who are more involved in observing than participating in activities.  My celebrity as an artist resulted in my father giving me money to buy art materials at the paint store in the nearby shopping center, which had a corner with genuine art materials. I told him I needed more brushes or whatever and he gave me money for it.
1956 photo

This photo shows Aunt Vally's paintings on the livingroom wall. I am about 10 and beginning to assume the mantle of 'artist' 

    My talent at school lead to my school principal informing my mother of art classes being started in the basement of the Art Gallery of Ontario, intended for gifted young people of 10-12. Soon I was excused from classes on Friday afternoons, to take the bus and streetcar into Toronto to attend these two hour classes. This was before there were subways. It took a long time to get there, and to get back, but for a while it was all an adventure.
    The teacher, coming over from the Ontario College of Art, projected his own enthusiasm to us, and designed each class around a different aspect of art, including colour theory and art history via a tour of the Art Gallery of Ontario on the floor above. He put the art I was reading in diverse books and my own experiements, into real-world context.
    This went on until I was 12, and then I was too old. But the teacher informed me of art classes for high school students being started at the Ontario College of Art on Saturday mornings. So from ages 13-16 I now travelled on Saturday mornings during the school year to the Ontario College of Art, which is around the corner from the Art Gallery of Ontario. I did not like it as much because students were divided among the various divisions of fine arts - painting, printmaking, etc - for the entire year. While I wanted to paint, I found myself stuck with grinding lithographic stones class after class, in the printmaking class. I did get into a painting class, however, the following year.

Questioning the Validity of Calling the Theatrical Trends and Fads in Art as 'Art'

    After the classes ended, around noon, I did not want to head home immediately, and often I explored the Art Gallery of Ontario. I could not understand the Henry Moore sculptures, nor the 'Pop Art' that was in vogue at the time, but I remember being fascinated by a large number of small paintings on plywood panels made by members of the Group of Seven.
     I could never understand the silly developments in the art world, which I call 'static theatre' since that is what they are. I was well rooted in the true tradition of art, going back to the prehistoric cave paintings, which was to reproduce and celebrate reality.For example, prehistoric cave artists painted bison, horses, and reindeer to honour them. And that motive continues in realism - we draw or paint something because we admire them, celebrate them. Thus if I paint the wilderness, I express a reverence to it. As the environment became very important in our world over the years, paintings depicting the natural environment, and wildlife, became important in society. The kind of celebration of nature and wildlife embodied by the paintings of Robert Bateman could not have existed before about the 1970's. Earlier art depicting nature reflected human experience in the trends since the Victorian Age, to wilderness recreation with canoes, fishing etc. The Group of Seven captured the experience of the wilderness recreationist.  Animal art in the meantime captured the experiences of the fisheman and sportsman. It wasn't until the 1970's that nature was depicted in a naturalist ecological fashion -with the human observer simply observing, not interfering.. While the wilderness experience remains strong, the sportsman experience  weakened since the 1970's compared to the naturalist experience.
    Realism has always mirrored what a society values. In past history, going backwards in time, there has been a reverence towards Greco-Roman themes that were strong during the Renaissance, before that to scenes from the Christian Bible, before that the ancient Romans and Greeks celebrated their mythology.  I have already mentioned the celebration of the horses, bison, and reindeer that the prehistoric cave men worshipped as they were the source of their survival.

Initial and Continuing Self-Education in Art

    Having come to Canada as an immigrant at the age of 5, I didn't integrate well with other boys and girls of the mainstream society. Thus I was pleased that I had an identity as the class artist. Even before I was sent off to art classes in Toronto, my identity had been established purely from classmates reinforcing my identity as an 'artist'. So when my father went to the Main Street Library every couple of weeks - he was an avid reader, tv was very new - I went directly to the reference section with the large coffee table art books that could not be loaned out. When my father was through with collecting his books, I took out  three art books from the section of books available for loaning. He checked them out with his books, and I had three art books I could study to learn art history, art techniques, and more. It was in these library visits that I learned about landscape art, portrait and figure painting, artist anatomy, animal art, how to draw cartoons, and even commercial illustration. I was on a servious pursuit of self-education, on top of what I was learning at those art courses described above.
    In my ambition to master art, to impress everyone all the more, I tried everything shown in the books. I sketched and painted people, scenery, and birds. I explored cartooning, comic strips and commercial art. Naively I thought becoming an artist was merely a matter of education and practice. Sadly I had not considered the nature of the art world, which by then was trying to re-define art, steer it away from celebrating reality to shocking the public with disturning crap shown out of context. (More about that later.)
    By the time I took part in the art classes, I was pretty well oriented to traditional realistic art. There were very few books about 'abstract' art or the current crazy art trends. That whole scene was baffling to me. I still view these crazy trends as temporary cultural developments that will not last. For example, what happened to 'Pop Art'?

(Before the internet, and digital cameras there were few photos. These are made from photos I found.)


I didn't take photos of my art in those early years. This poor image reconstructs a typical pastel painting I did of people and birds. I also experimented with other media, from pen and ink to watercolours to oil paints.



After studying books on 'animal art' I explored introducing animals to scenes. This is a rare reproduction of one painting into which I added a deer. This is interesting because it heralds the kind of art I pursued in much better quality after the 1980's
  early landscape


One of my early paintings painted directly from nature. I parked my boat in the bay and painted this view of the marsh.

Discovering Some of the Fraud in Contemporary Art

    As I became accomplished in art, during my 20's I was forced now to look outside art itself, and how it existed in the world around me.
    My next challenge was to figure out how what I was learning fit into the current real world. At that time a great deal of fuss was being made over the Henry Moore sculpture donated to the plaza of Nathan Phillips Square (Toronto City Hall). Some critics called it the 'Bronze Chicken'. I still do. Let me tell you about Henry Moore - this British sculpture claimed he was being inspired by the soapstone sculptures of traditional Inuit peoples in the arctic. I could see that, but that actually implied the Inuit peoples did not produce art, but that it had to be a white man from civilization to imitate it before it became 'art'. I would rather have seen the art establishment commission actual Inuit artists in the arctic create large sculpures, instead of all the pretensiousness associated with artists imitating existing art traditions outside of 'civilization'. So the Henry Moore sculptures and similar pretentious art for me fell in the same category as all the 'Pop Art' and 'abstract art'. So much of it was civilized artists trying to patronize art forms already existing away from the mainstream art world - rediscovering what already existed, and presenting it as something new.
 My greatest revelation about the pretentiousness of contemporary art came when I dropped in on an exhibition of art by Toronto abstract artist Harold Town. In the middle of the gallery there was an old cracked antique rocking horse he had found somewhere.  Around the gallery walls were interpretations of the rocking horse in various impressionistic abstract fashion. I found ALL his artistic interpretations of that rocking horse boring and a joke. The rocking horse, with its peeling paint and cracked wood was the most interesting object in the entire show!! By this time, the world had seen the high realism art of Andrew Wyeth or Ken Danby and I think by this time imagees by Robert Bateman were just  coming to light. All these realists would have gone the other way -instead of using the rocking horse as a jumping off point, to produce hundreds of 'interpretations', the realist focuses on going towards the rocking horse, going inward, creating a painting that is more penetrating, more real than the rocking horse itself.
    That observation was what ultimately made me realise that art can respond to reality in two ways - reacting to it,.or converging on it. Reacting to reality with a thousand different 'interpretations', versus, taking reality and magnifying what is there via artistic technigues, This discovery eliminated the confusion that had haunted me in my later art education. I had experimented with the abstract departures of reality, and felt frustrated. I recall interpreting a scene with splashes of paint. It looked like a great semi-abstract painting. But to me it was only the beginning of a painting. After a few hours of capturing the overall character of my subject, and achieving something moving, I simply HAD to spend another hundred hours developing it into a realistic painting. I certainly could have become a successful abstract artist since it takes a tenth the time to create a wildly impressionistic semi-abstract landscape painting, than a realistic painting.
    In a sense converging on reality is positive, in that the artist WANTS to capture everything that is there. It is impossible to converge, to draw every detail, without being fascinated with reality - in much the same way a biologist studies an animal. The other approach, reacting to reality, can produce both positive and happy reactions, or negative. Harold Towne's reactions were all positive, but if the subject had been a dead fish, it could have been negative.  But just as converging on reality TENDS to be positive, reacting to reality TENDS to be negative. Thus ultimately the matter is not simply converging on reality, or reacting to reality, but of celebrating (positively) reality, versus condemning (negatively) reality. Both positivbe and negative are two sides of the same coin.
    I have surveyed and come to some conclusions about the culture of art in humankind since those early years contending with 'abstract art'.
    We must not confuse traditional art, based on celebrating something important in the real world of our experiences, with static theatre falsely called 'art' today, that ony lasts as long as society's fads and trends.
    For example, everyone knows how fashion (clothing) culture is constantly changing. Well art was being redefined in a similar way - the only different was that it was not worn on the body by put inside a house. Culture changes, but there has to be a constant. For example in the clothing fashion industry, the constant is that it has to be wearable on the human body. Fashion would make no sense if it included clothing for dogs, cats, pigs and even teapots.So what is the constant we should find in art? Perhaps that it is 'hangable' in the human environment. But what kind of environment? Apartment? Large public space? A street?  Unlike fashion, art cannot find a constant in the way it is used. That is as variable as putting fashion on a dog vs a human. Therefore we need another constant. Is it to be outrageous? Is it to be pleasant and uplifting?
    It seems that the only constant is that art is a direct reaction to reality. "This is how I react to [something]-". It can be positive or negative. To gave a place in society at large, and not just to the artist, that [something] has to be relevant. The [something] could be Christ, to which a society reacts positively thru its art. Or the [something] can be bison, to which a prehistoric hunting society reacts positively to honour the bison. Or the [something] can be the polluted environment of today to which an artist can react negatively by depicting the ugliness of pollution - dead fish, plastic islands in the oceans, etc - or the artist can react positively by depicting the disappearing pure pristine untouched wilderness. Whether a society prefers the positive (showing Christ, pristine wilderness, etc) or negatively (showing Satan, scenes of polluted landscapes) depends on what the public prefers. Both are necessary - one contrasts the other - so that if we speak of environmental art, it is wise to have the negative art shown in venues where the public looks at it and then goes home, and the positive art hung on home walls which are by nature positive sanctuaries. Thus speaking of the trends in the 1980's, it was perfectly valid for the very positive environmental art reproduced in prints to be consumed by the general public for their homes, while the start, distrubing, nagative reactions to the polluted environment remained in the theatrical art world which the public consumed only for short periods of time. There is nothing incompatable with human culture, for positive art to be purchased by the public for their home sanctuaries while still accepting the negative reactions being presented in the museums and galleries. Culture is formed by the two together. It is the case in fashion too. The fashion shows will present outlandish fashions women will not wear in daily life, while the retail clothing stores present the kinds of practical clothes the general public prefers to use in regular life.

The Group of Seven  Established the Tradition of Painting the Canadian Wilderness

 In my years of self-education, I followed the art world in the media, and I dropped into art galleries in Toronto. I especially liked dropping in at the Roberts Gallery on Yonge Street, where landscape realism prevailed.
    Canadian nature art has at its foundation the works of the artists who formed the 'Group of Seven'. At that time I believe two of them were still alive. When an exhibition of new art by one of them was mounted at the Roberts Gallery, collectors lined up and when the doors were opened rushed to claim any work on the wall, simply because any 'Group of Seven' art was now valuable.
    I saw in the Group of Seven, my way out of the morass of crazy theatrical behaviour falsely called 'art' (As I said above, it should be called 'static theatre'. For example an installation of urinals in an art gallery is not 'art', but a contrived theatrical event designed to rob stupid wealthy people of their money.)
    So I was inspired to paint landscapes of central Ontario, where my family had a cottage, in an 'impressionistic' fashion like the 'Group of Seven' had done a half century earlier.
    But, is impressionism not a reaction to a reality? Is ot really realism like painting the antique rocking horse above? This question arose in my mind also when I considered where native art belonged?  I found an easy way to answer the question.
    Consider portraying a person.  A portrait of a person by its nature has to converge, not depart, from the subject. A portrait has to get closer to the subject in order to capture the uniqueness of the person.  The same would apply to painting a portrait of a wild animal, such as a loon. The artist has to converge on the details of the loon in order that it captures the uniqueness of the loon, and the painting does not look like a generic dark waterbird.
    This same truth applies if we portray a person in a caricature. Caricatures can be made from a few lines, and still look like the person being portrayed. When native artists reduce an image of a loon to simple shapes and lines, they must still capture the reality or else it will not be identifiable as a loon. So native art simplifies the subject, without taking away from what makes the subject identifiable. Some of the best exampls can be found in the cave paintings of southern France. The images of bison, although simplified look very real.
    Thus realism is about describing the reality, trying to capture as much of its truth as possible. It does not depart from, react to, reality, journeying to another place.
    In this light, landscape paintings that reduce a scene to bands of paint, some lines, some textures, can similarly capture the essence of the reality like a caricature. Even if when squinting it may look like an abstract, it still captures the reality. The viewer who has experienced such scenes, will immediately identify the reality.
    Bearing this in mind, I discovered that all art has a foundation of good design. The human psychology reacts to colours, shapes, lines, textures etc. On top of that we can add symbolism, and narrative. Even the most high realism art has the good design underneath that affects the viewer's emotions. For realism it is important that the artistic technique that produces the emotions, has to be consistent with any further symbolism and narrative placed on top. For example, if our scene wants to produce sunny feelings, it better use the colours and symbols most commonly generating such
    To summarize, realism is about converging on the subject matter, trying hard to capture its essense, regardless of whether the painting is simplified or with exaggerated detail. (The artist has to decide what level of detail is most suited to the subject matter.)


    Portraiture was one of my earliest interests because once I was in high school, I found I could try to make some pocket money sketching portraits of schoolmates and in summer of our cottage neighbours. As a result I mastered portraiture first, and actually had a few significant oil portrait commissions in my teen years. Following the established practices, I painted my subject in from two to five sittings. Each sitting could be about two hours.
    Thus when I explored making money from my art, I mainly looked towards portrait sketching and painting. But by my mid-teen years I was able to put a few landscape paintings in a couple of places in Toronto. But mostly my display and sale of landscape paintings was at the family summer cottage, where the owner of the marina, Reg Armstrong, happily put my art on the wall of the store, and made it the subject of conversation with cottagers who visited the store. I painted small scenes from around the lake and assigned prices of around $100 (which could be about $300 in today's money). Many were sold. In addition, a portrait painting was put on show as well, and from that came several portrait commissions. This activity occurred in summers of 1961-64. I was 15-18 years old and this was a pretty good summer business.
    In general in my teenage years I had managed to have my own business, both in summer and during the school year, making pocket money with my art.




In 1964 acrylic paints were new. This was one of my early use of acrylic paints. The painting was done on site. I set up in the marsh and painted while swatting mosquitoes.

16" x 20"

This was one of the more significant oil portraits I painted in the summer of 1964. It involved five sittings and the price converted to today's money value was about $500. Most of my portraits to neighbouring cottagers were charcoal sketches.

    While my skills in painting landscapes was obviously important when I expanded into the new genre of 'wildlife art' from the 1980's onward, it is not as obvious how important my mastery of portait painting was as well. Portait painting gave me the discipliine of analyzing anatomy and developing an eye to accuracy which preadapted me to portraying animals. Humans, after all, are animals too. The following shows some examples of my mastery of oil portraits.



(right)"Reg" 1964  One of my more developed oil portraits from my teenage years shows how accomplished I was in painting portraits by my mid-teens.


(left) "Yvonne" (my cousin) 1969 This painting, done when I was about 23, shows how I had mastered portrait painting. But at that time, there was no living to be made in the art world, and I was busy trying to determine what I would like to pursue as my 'regular' career. My pursuit of art was suspended for the next number of years


(right)"Irene" 1969. This painting with the subject beside the painting, compares the painting to the subject.

    I already also learned from the library books human anatomy, and a little animal anatomy too, so that when I began to draw and paint mainly wild animals, I already had the knowledge and experience required.  Thus when I committed myself to wildlife art from the late 1970's I have both the skills for painting the animal, as well as the skills for painting landscapes. I only needed to combine the two. Earlier sections of this presentation have already showed those results. Here I will focus on the animal portraits.

Andres P��bo painted large formal portaits already in his teenage years, and was charging a good amount. He recalls that in around 1963 his charge for a major portrait painting involving 5 sittings was $350, which in today's inflated money, some 50 years later was close to $2000. Small portraits like the head and shoulders paintings above were around $65, which is close to $500 in today's money.

    This education into portrait painting made it easy for me to portray animals - to study their anatomy, capture their character, etc. This with my dual talents of portaiture and landscape painting, I was preadapted to immediately enter the world of wildlife art that presented animals in their habitats, or environments with animals in them.


However, the real world does not support artists very well. As in all fields of art, one becomes successful only when you become established and a celebrity. Most artists had some conventional profession to make a living, and pursued art in their spare time. The number of artists who were famous enough to make a living from art was small.

Andres P��bo spent almost two years after high school (1967-68) in the creative department of a major Canadian advertising agency creating advertising and several were produced and aired or published in print. That is the origins of his advertising and writing creative ability that he applied in the late 1990's in website design when the internet appeared.

    That was the reality I was facing as I was ending my high school years.
   I considered what kind of profession I could pursue to give me security. One of the obvious possibilities was commercial art. By that time I had explored comic strips. Even though I could never come to a decision, I went ahead to take the subjects in my high school years required for entry into a scientific or engineering course at university. By this time, my brother was pursuing civil engineering at the University of Toronto. My father was a chemical engineer. So that was my default reaction to preparing for the future.
    When I actually graduated from high school, I was determined to stay within the world of art, and one day decided to see if I could get a job in commericial or advertising art. Filling up a portfolio of my accumulated work, including comic strips and cartoons, I began dropping in cold to several ad agencies and asking the receptionists if there was an art director available to have a look at my portfolio.
  Just by chance, I walked into a major Canadian ad agency (F.H.Hayhurst) around lunch time. Unknown to me, this agency was booming. They were expanding. The creative director was about to have his lunch, so agreed to see me. Taking me into his office, he went through my portfolio, and was especially impressed by my comic strips. "In advertisting,":he said, "we need people who are good with both words and images" and he saw this skill in me.
    Ad agencies would normally only consider applicants with either a degree in writing, or art. Normally creative departments contain teams of writers and artists, but it was desirable if a writer could visualize, or an artist could create a narrative. This creative director saw in me someone who was almost equally capable in both. So he gave me two assignments. One assignment was to create a storyboard for a tv commercial for Mennen shaving lotion I think, and the second a print ad for I believe Heinz soup (or was it Aylmer).
    I went home and created these ads and I either dropped them off or mailed them to him.
    As I said, the company was successful and expanding. I was the first applicant for expansion of the creative department - even before the offices where prepared. So he gave me a job 'assisting both writers and artists'.
    After some months, when the new offices were finished, he gave me an official title 'junior artist-copywriter', and I was given an office to work in. I realized my strength was more in my being a writer who could visualize on paper, and so, I made a great effort in creating the storyboards of layouts for my own ideas. The regular writers had to hand their typewritten copy to their artists. But I could do it all. I stood out, and some resented it.
    I was there for two years, but while it was an okay profession, and I could have continued, becoming an advertisting genius in several years, it was not satisfying. Gradually I was exploring other opportunities. For example, I was considering architecture. Architecture calls on creativity. There was also the reality that my brother and both parents had graduated from universities.

Andres P��bo enrolled in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto in 1970, and pursued civil engineering, building science and planning division, until graduation in 1974, and then worked in various capacities in the general area and the final firm he was at, got him certified as a "Professional Engineer" Province of Ontario Canada. HIs early fondness for painting nature, plus a recession and unemployment was the stimulus to give it up to become a poor  'wildlife artist' in the wilderness of Central Ontario. (There were several invitations over the next years for him to return to engineering-planning, but he turned them down citing his need to see if he could make it as a wildlife artist.)

    So after a couple years I departed from the company with the intention of studying at the University of Toronto. Finding the first year of the U of T school of architecture repeating the art education I already had, I investigated the nearby Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. I would learn the engineering side of architecture, I told myself, and then combine it with my creative side to end up as an architect.
   Later I would discover that few buildings are designed creatively, Most building design follows standard designs and techniques - because it is cheapest - and I would not find any creativity in that direction. Thus I abandoned the plan of designing buildings, and as I completed my degree in civil engineering, I steered myself to the new field of urban plannning and design.
    After graduating I began searching for something creativet in the working world. Eventually I arrived at urban planning and design, achieving the title of "Jr. Planner-Engineer" and learning all about the world of zoning bylaws and urban planning. I became a registered 'Professional Engineer" in the Province of Ontario.


    Meanwhile, there was a significant development in the world of art. An artist named Robert Bateman was creating realistic paintings of  environments and animals. These images were published as limited edition lithographic prints and were all the rage in North America. This was a new kind of portrayal of animals and nature from a naturalist angle. All former illustrative art depicting animals were geared to sportsmen - showing bucks on hills waiting for the bullet, or a large fish waiting to be hooked. Robert Bateman's naturalist images were appealing to anyone interested in nature. It was about this time too that 'environmentalism' was growing. His images came along at the right place and time. Furthermore, Bateman aspired to traditions of realism. He had like me once investigated the 'Group of Seven' and tried impressionistic landscapes. He too, had to find a regular profession to make a living. (He became a school teacher.) and was not able to pursue art full time until he was successful.
    So I think to myself - 'that is what I always liked to do!' I saw in his work an opportunity to not just return to art, but also possibly being successful. The limited edition lithograph phenomenon was so popular that artists capable of creating the naturalist paintings with the appealing narratives could publish limited edition offset lithograhic prints and distribute them to the same outlets that were handling the Bateman prints.
    But I needed a push to embark on this new direction. That push came from the economic downturn of the early 1980's. It was a recession that saw the planning consulting firm for which I was working stumble along with limited staff. During this time, my parents having passed away, II became owner of one of the family cottage properties. From 1976 onward I used every weekend or vacation opportunity to go there and adapt it to become my studio.  I was already beginning to enter this new world of wildlife art before the 1980's. By 1983 I was creating some major paintings like the one in the photo below, which I aspired to eventually turn into a limited edition offset print.
    Essentially I began painting traditional landscapes in more detail, and fitting appropriate wildlife into the scene. I sold them at art festivals, and when I managed to have some significant images published, I began advertising those images and distributiing to framing shops, etc, who were interested in this new kind of art. (Framing shops had good business in framing up the limited edition wildlife art prints in those days.)
    Finally the company for which I worked closed down, and I was faced with two options - to find another job in the planning field, or to make my artistic pursuit fulltime. In 1985 I gave up my Toronto accomodation and began to live full time at my cottage to do it fulltime. I realized that if I didn't I would always wonder if I would have succeeded had I done so. So the attitude I had was that at least if I didn't succeed to make a living this way - albeit at a much smaller income than I was recieving as a professional engineer - I would have been happy that I tried.

Some Early Paintings from around Early 1980's before I committed to this Path full time 



This is another major painting, this one visualizing a concept that came to me from a photo in a magazine showing antler-like snow in the background mountains. This was a large painting dated to 1982


This is another painting from my early work, done I think as early as 1981. In this case, I was exploring how naure could be the source of interesting designs. Although I added a loon, it lacks the narrative with the animal that most people like.


1983  36" x 24:

This painting from 1983, is my first version of depicting an ominous winter scene on a lake, which adds to it a line of wiolves. While this sold well, I saw ways to improve the design, from adding a foreground, to tightening up the line of wolves. To see the final version of 1993, which was finally published as a limited edition, see the section of wildlife or on prints.



This is another early painting, I believe dated to around 1983. It is large and on canvas. Purchased by the Budds, it was loaned out, and the person who loaned it has kept it whether from a misunderstanding or some other reason. Contact me to resolve the issue if you know of its whereabouts.



One of my earliest paintings - from about 1980 - that explored creating a design using natural subject matter and then turning it into a narrative involving a squirrel. This was inspired by trees and squirrels in Queen's Park, Toronto

OSPREY BAY   42" x 28"  AROUND $1700

This was an ambitiouos attempt to describe a common event in Alder Bay - ospreys landing in the water and pulling up a fish. This is a very large painting as the hand indicates. As I will mention later, large paintings were difficult to sell because most people do not have the wall space for large paintings.



This painting was inspired by a log I saw beside the road I walked to reach the marina. Spring was arriving and snow was melting. Chipmunks might emerge to see if the ground was clear of snow anywhere. Since chipmunks feed off the forest floor, this use of a chipmunk might be a little contrived.


36" x 24"

My early paintings - during the later 1970's and early 1980's - did not always seek to add wildlife. This is a large painting on canvas, a study of light illuminating fall leaves on a road.



On one of my walks to the marina, I saw this fascinating scene caused by afternoon sun lighting up the lake beyond. The verticals of the trees helped make this scene of a real location into a fascinating design. This was done on canvas with acrylics.


1983  36" x 24"

This painting uses something else than an animal to create a narrative/ This is an actual scene and an actual trailer belonging to the owner of the property.


36" x 24"

This painting was inspired by a winter ski trip to the west end of the lake, I took photos to capture the scene, which I later used to create this acrylic on canvas painting.


Capturing the dance of light onto the forest floor is an example of my early experiments in capturing situations not normally painted.

Typical Small Landscapes from Before 1985 

    Since I was already accomplished in painting quick landscapes for an affordable price, and they sold well, and they were part of studying subject matter in planning more serious paintings, I did not cease creatiing them - expecially when I continued to find people around the cottage country still liked them. Here is a selection of small paintings from around 1983-4. See in later sections for small paintings done in later years.


several paintingssmallpaintings

Some typical exampes of the kinds of landscape paintings I created in the transition period - 1984-1985 - to sell to the general public in and around my cottage/studio. Some of these paintings might be from a little later. The images are of two low a resolution to see the dates on them. 


    Some of these examples above might date to a bit later than before 1985. There was never a sharp transition like there were with devoting to wildlife art. The trouble in the 1980's was that there were no digital cameras, and to take photos of art, one had to set up the art and take traditional film photos, then get them developed into prints for great expense and discovered half were off. Therefore I hardly ever photographed the quick small landscapes.  But a couple of times I lined up small paintings, and took a film photo of about 9 in one photo, just to get a record. This mosaic is created from a couple such photos. In the next stage, I was able to take digital images with a camcorder connected to a digitized connected to the Amiga computer. This allowed me to get low resolution digital images at no cost and which I could process in the computer. But sadly, I have very few photographs from before digital cameras appeared. Therefore the images shown here tend to be of better resolution and greater quantity for the years 1995 onward in the next section of this biography.
    Thus to summarize - I continued to create small landscapes when the mood struck me, even as I ventured into large landcapes on canvas, and landcapes involving wildlife. The reason was very simple - the large canvases had to be priced several times higher than the small landscapes and that constricted my market. Therefore when after 1985 I exhibited at art festivals, I made certain that half of my paintings were small landscapes. The serious large wildlife art tended to mainly demonstrate my capability, and promote sales of limited editons, and if some wealthier art enthusiast came along and bought the masterpiece, well that was a bonus. But clearly before the limited editions became popular, and after the limitied edition market declined, the small landscapes were my bread-and-butter. 


    By the summer of 1985, being unemployed because of a recession occurring in the early 1980's. and having now managed to place wildlife paintings (such as the early Under Northern Skies) into galleries, I made all the arrangements necessary to move permanently to the cottage/studio, and give up my Toronto address. Even though it might be a struggle, I realized I had to at least try, or else always wonder if I could have been able to make a living with art, instead of continuing on a path in Planning.
    My first year living in the north Kawartha wilderness was a challenging one. I had not experienced an entire winter there - I was situated about a half a kilometer from where snowplowing of roads ended. Every day, I walked to the marina and interracted with its owner, Reg Armstrong, who was also in the habit of living there through the winter, whereas cottagers only came there sporatically on weekends to run their snowmobiles.He had plenty of food in his store, and he was happy I was using up his old inventory.
    I discovered early that I didn't have enough wood for heating, and I had to adopt a habit of looking for standing deadwood, cut it down, and drag it home, where I cut it up in the evening. I burned it in the cookstove left over from my early days being a cottager. It had an oven, and I learned to make bread, since Reg lacked fresh bread, but had flour.
    The real challenge would come in the spring, when it was necessary for me to set out making contacts with art galleries and registering in art festivals where I could sell the art I had created through the winter. I already had some contacts from the previous years where I had divided my time between here and Toronto. While creating the paintings were challenging, it was actually the easy part. The difficult part was to make a living from it. The various art shows - usually weekend shows in different parts of Ontario - sold booth space in which to hang art or crafts to sell. Because at this time the wildlife art and limited edition trend was at its peak, these art shows were often oriented to wildlife. The most important one to me, as it was only 45 minutes drive away, was the Buckhorn Wildlife Art Festival. At its peak it was attracting wildlife artists from all over North America, and also wildlife art enthusiasts. I was in that festival I believe by 1986 and it became an annual habit to appear there.  But there were many other shows, some smaller, some larger, some enduring and some lasting only a few years. Between becoming known via the shows, putting art into galleries in Toronto, and marketing my limited edition, I was able to survive okay in the decade from 1985-95
to being one of political movements in the world of art experts who couldn't paint, or art sellers who could not do anything more than pursue money. It was a world in which outrageous crap could be deemed 'art' and  wealthy people conned into spending large amounts of money on it. I recall quite a few decades ago, a news item in which renovators of a small New York gallery had left a pile of bricks in the corner of the gallery, and visitors had taken it to be a work of art with a profound statement. Well I was not surprised when recently many decades later, a similar news item appeared - unfinished renovations in a gallery being assumed to be art - to give readers a chuckle.  Today any stupid thing can be called 'art' as long as it is taken out of its normal context - such as putting a pile of bricks indoors - and someone generates some profound meaning to it. I sound cynical, and yes, it was this cynicism that made me steer away from art as I approached my 20's and saw what the art world had become. As I will describe further in this autobiography, I departed art to pursue something more realistic and practical - urban -planning and engineering - until the rise of wildlife/environmental art distributed via limited edition reproduction marketing that bypassed all the institutional a-holes in the art world that sought to control how the public saw and consumed art. Thus from about 1980 for a decade or two, I was re-inspired towards art.

The above was written
in March 2016 - Andres P��bo

4: 2005-2015  <  1: up to 1984  > 2: 1985-1995

contact: A.Paabo, Box 478, Apsley, Ont., Canada

2016 (c) A. P��bo.