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Item Name: Painting
Title: Group of Trees-Odessa Beach
Maker: Jean Bell
Year: n.d.
Country: Canadian
Materials: oil on cardboard
Measurements: overall: 27 cm x 32 cm
ID Number: PC84.1
Legal Status: PERMANENT COLLECTION


Extended Label Info: This relatively small oil painting on cardboard is an intimate glimpse of a grove of trees on the prairie. Jean Bell used an impressionistic, energetic brushstroke and observant use of colour to capture the sense of trees on a summer afternoon. The title suggests that she travelled south of Regina to a small lake near Odessa, Saskatchewan to find a landscape that interested her aesthetically. Composition, the decision of what to portray and how to depict that subject matter, is an important choice for an artist, and can convey information about the artist’s thoughts. During the 19th and early 20th century, landscape painters in the United States and Canada were influenced by the European philosophy of Romanticism, the search for ideal forms and the experience of the divine in nature. Romantic Painters strove to create art that would convey a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty of nature, and often using compositions, palettes, and subjects to evoke strong emotions in the viewer. Though Bell’s composition in this painting—a grove of trees—may seem relatively ordinary, but her choice to travel far from the city, and away from cultivated or industrial land to find her subject matter, shows her interest in a beauty that is found outside of human construction, and in the Romantic “unspoiled” nature. Isobel Jean Bell (nee Donald) (1882 – 1970) was born in Ontario and moved to Regina in 1924 with her family and husband Edward Wallace Guy (E.W.G.) Bell, a bank manager. She was active in Regina’s early arts culture as a member of the Local Council of Women (now Regina Council of Women) chairing the arts and letters committee (1940 to 1943) and as a founding member of the Regina Federation of Artists guild, exhibiting her printmaking and painting work regularly with both the Women’s Art Association and the Regina Arts & Crafts Society. This early history was explored in a group exhibition held at the Mendel Art Gallery (now Remai Modern), entitled “Mashel Teitelbaum and Saskatchewan Art in the 1940s” (1991).