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Item Name: Painting
Title: Emma Lake #2
Maker: Reta Cowley
Year: 1963
Country: Canadian
Materials: watercolour on paper
Measurements: overall: 56.5 cm x 76.8 cm
ID Number: PC83.1.8

Extended Label Info: Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Reta Cowley earned a reputation as one of Canada’s top watercolourists due to her ability to capture a unique quality of light and colour on the Prairies combined with her distinct technical approach. Using her astute powers of observation, Cowley would paint on-location as she was most concerned with capturing an immediate, momentary sense of the landscape. This is evident in Emma Lake #2 where delicate washes – almost detached from the one another float across the surface and create a coherent scene. Cowley’s work reflects the modernist movement prominent in Saskatchewan at the time, under the influence of the Regina Five’s artists such as Art MacKay, Ronald Bloore and Ted Godwin. As such, Cowley’s work is often abstract, completed in a patchwork style that often incorporates the white simplicity of her paper. Reta Cowley (1910-2004) was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan but grew up near Truax and in Yorkton. She attended the Saskatoon Normal School and graduated with a teacher’s certificate in 1930. Cowley studied art under significant Canadian artists such as Augustus Kenderine at Emma Lake, Walter Phillips at the Banff School of Fine Arts and Eli Bornstein at the University of Saskatchewan. She had more than two dozen solo exhibitions of her watercolor landscapes and portraits with her style being compared to that of David Milne. In 1990, Cowley received the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s Lifetime Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.