George Paginton, Canadian Landscape Painter
Born December 23,
1901, Minety, England
George Paginton was born into unfortunate circumstances. At age 3 he found himself in a workhouse and was subsequently given over to an orphanage. Finally at age 10 he was shipped to Canada as farm labour. In Canada he remained on the farm until he was 18 years old, when he moved to Toronto to begin a new life.
The early lack of love, family and sense of not being wanted haunted him all his life.
Earning his own way, he attended the Ontario College of Art Summer School at Port Hope. There he studied under J.W. Beatty, Frederik Haines, and Frederick Challener.
He began doing artwork in the commercial art field, first working at Photo Engravers and in 1927 he was hired in the art department of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper. There he demonstrated his ability to grasp situations, draw quickly and provide almost instantaneous dramatizations of newsworthy events. (Photography was not used as widely as it is today.) Often these depictions revolved around disasters such as a sinking ship or an exploding aircraft. The Star also sent him on painting assignments across the country. These assignments plus personal forays into nature helped to develop his own approach to landscape painting. This side of his life was kept quite separate from his commercial work. As a plein air impressionist painter his work was individual, bold, demonstrating a masterful use of colour.
His first exhibition was in 1930 at the New Toronto Library, along with Frederick Banting. Only 2 shows followed both at the Robert Simpson Company in 1933 and 1936. Both shows were received with positive reviews. They suggested "Paginton was an artist of no particular school, painting in his own way looking at what he observes." The 1936 review referred to his paintings as "colour symphonies" and him as a "weilder of an inspired brush."
Paginton continued to paint but only on his terms. In 1941 he took over the abandoned studio of J.W. Beatty and subsequently built his own home and studio on the shores of Lake Ontario.
The bulk of his work was in small format, painted quickly on site before the light could change significantly. Rarely were works blown up into studio paintings. As the early reviews suggested, his paintings became assured, with bold brush strokes revealing his particular ability to deal with colour.
Upon his retirement from the newspaper he traveled little preferring to find his subject matter close to home, in his overgrown garden, along the shoreline and in the expanse of Lake Ontario.
In 1985 he suffered a debilitating stroke. This left him partially paralyzed and totally blind until his death in 1988.