Doris Jean McCarthy Canadian, 1910-2010


Canadian artist Doris McCarthy was an avid explorer throughout her career. She described how “I have been across Canada to paint many times… to the Yukon and Western Arctic, to Newfoundland and the Maritimes, to Alberta and the eastern High Arctic” (1). She first visited Newfoundland to paint in the mid-1970s, and in 1991 she temporarily relocated to St. John’s. Many of her late-career works depict little red and white buildings perched on the rocky coast of the North Atlantic.


McCarthy developed a keen eye for light and colour while studying with Lawren Harris, JEH MacDonald, and other Group of Seven painters in the late 1920s. Her paintings of bright arctic landscapes, mountain valleys, and remote coastal towns are in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg; and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; among other public and private institutions.

In Newfoundland (2005), flat planes of blue, green, and white are layered over one another to create a landscape that slopes down toward the viewer. The hazy white clouds and blue sky mirror the boats on the water, creating a playful visual rhythm. McCarthy often divided her canvases into three parts: sky, landscape, and water. She was interested in creating a visual harmony in her works, writing that “unless the shapes are well balanced, rhythmic in their relationships, and interesting, I should not go on” (2).

  1. Doris McCarthy, Doris McCarthy: My Life (Toronto: Second Story Press, 2006), 237.
  2. McCarthy, Doris McCarthy, 209.