In late September 2022, seven talented Canadian landscape painters travelled north to Ontario’s Algoma District for what would become a remarkable artistic triumph. Under the leadership of internationally acclaimed nature and conservation photographer Gary McGuffin, southern Ontario-based painters Peter Adams, James Aitken, Mark Berens, Jonathan Houghton, Paul Nabuurs, Andrew Peycha, and Peter Taylor explored the gorgeous Montreal River region from McGuffin’s ‘Four Way Lodge’, an iconic retreat ideal for contemplative, creative, kindred spirits.
Canada’s famed Group of Seven made similar treks into the Algoma wilderness between 1919 and 1923, a place where one can feel an intense, mystical connection to its eternal spirit that inspired ‘Solemn Land’ and other iconic Canadian landscape works.
The artists’ output during this wonderful six-day 2022 retreat is captured in the pages that follow. Each of the six ‘Algoma’ title letters and the accompanying banner line are created from seven individual plein air (‘in the open air’) pieces. Plein air painting allows its artists to leave their studios behind and immerse themselves in Nature – a landscape impressionist painting hallmark for over two centuries.
Aaron Alessandrini took his Solemn Land cover design inspirations from these beautiful pieces and the accompanying Gary McGuffin images that captured the artists and their work in real time as a stunning Algoma autumn cascaded around them. In subtle tribute to the artists’ collective talents, Aaron chose ‘Cosmic Latte’ for his background cover colour. In 2003, a team of astronomers determined that this shade represented the light emitted across the entire universe.