Keyword: sketchbooks

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Two women and a bird

Robert’s sketchbooks include, along with studies and ideas for paintings, more relaxed drawings of friends. He is able to draw faces using very few contour lines, suggesting forms through delicate cross-hatching. The women seem to have been caught almost by

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Sketchbook Page (study for Woman with a Suitcase)

This sketchbook page, with its multiple studies and notes, reflects Robert’s new focus on creating a series on a common theme, planning small sluices of a subject in many images rather than trying to express all his ideas in one image. The text

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Copy of Mythological Scene

As Robert searches for ideas, he copies two images from art history that demonstrate how he was equally drawn to mythology and autobiography. The top image, Mythological Scene, by Renaissance artist Piero di Cosimo, is reset in Nova Scotia with a

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Two Studies for Escape

Two sketchbook drawings show the development of an idea. In the first drawing, the car is positioned half-way between two figures and a telephone booth. The car is lit from above by the streetlight and casts a triangle-shaped shadow. In the second

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Knife Eye Window

A page of drawings possibly inspired by the shocking opening scene of the surrealist film, Un Chien Andalou, in which a woman’s eye is cut in half with a razor. The madman who wields the razor is played by the

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Stages of Dying

Robert used his sketchbooks to generate ideas for paintings. His ideas came from different sources. Here he makes notes from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book, On Death and Dying. Kubler-Ross’s notion that patients and their families pass through 5 stages of dying

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Studies for Into the Light and Cloud

Robert’s sketchbooks reveal how he worked on several ideas at the same time. He often placed studies for different works side by side, as if considering how one picture extends, contrasts or complements another. This page, from the “Accident” series,

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Study for Chemotherapy and Christ

Beside two studies for his drawing, Chemotherapy and Christ, Robert has jotted down two lists of ideas for future paintings, as well as a list of chapters for his book, Illness & Healing. The finished book dispenses with these chapter divisions so

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Studies for Phone Booth and Pagan Martyr

Robert places a figure inside and outside a simple rectangular box to suggest ideas of entrapment. The Study for Phone Booth uses symmetrical elements: the booth is placed in the centre of the composition with the two sides of the box serving

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Study for Mother and Son and Hospital Exterior

In the top sketch, Robert recreates a moment from his 1986 cancer treatment at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Toronto. His mother Isabel accompanied him on this trip. Below this, Robert returns to the exterior view of the VG hospital in