Ronald Bloore died last Friday. He was in his mid-80s, and in his lifetime he made a significant mark on the history of Canadian painting.
photo: from left to right, Claude Breeze, Eugene Knapik, Ronald Bloore
I met Ron when I was a young painting student at York University. I have to confess I was somewhat in awe. I mean, he was the white-on-white painter. He organized the exhibition Five Painters from Regina way back in 1961. Suddenly, they were The Regina Five. Ron used to say, "Canadians paint by numbers", referring to the Group of Seven, The Painters Eleven, The Regina Five. This guy was a painting giant in my mind, and he was my teacher.
In the years that followed, Bloore taught me a lot, and not the least of which was by example. He taught me to never compromise my work, ever. Ever. He taught me that by the bold and determined painterly path he cut for himself. He'd say, "Look, I'm just a simple painter...."
Years later, after University, a few of us started spending weekly afternoons painting and drawing out in the landscape. I don't remember now just how it came about that Ron joined us, but it became a regular event. We joked that we were "Sunday painters". Who knew Mr. white-on-white would enjoy drawing and painting the landscape? We'd hop in the car and drive north for a while, zig zag here and there and finally stop somewhere to draw and paint. Some of us would look for a broad vista or a huge cloud formation or an interesting tangle of trees. Ron would find a comfortable spot and start making pencil drawings of the forest floor at his feet. Always, Bloore had a unique vision, a unique way of looking at the world. One day, we were set up at the side of a road somewhere near Grimsby, drawing groves of fruit trees. Bloore had this little portable stool, and he was sitting down working on a pencil drawing. A car stopped and the driver leaned over and said, "Are you OK...do you need any help?" Bloore looked at him and said, "The only help I need, sir, is with this drawing." On those painting trips we would always bring a picnic lunch. Occasionally, Ron would bring along a bottle of Retsina. They were great days, and I really treasure them.
Bloore was a marvelous painter. I love so many of his paintings, even more so because I got to know the painter through the years. When I saw Bloore in his studio, he always seemed confident and at ease, surrounded by his latest creations. I really enjoyed those occasions a small group of us would gather there, then head out someplace for lunch, to laugh, tell some stories, and argue about the art world.
RIP Ron. We'll miss you.