10 Fun Facts about Frank Johnston

Frank Johnston was a Canadian artist known for his contributions to the Group of Seven, a renowned collective of Canadian landscape painters. Born on June 19, 1888, in Toronto, Johnston began his artistic journey studying at the Central Technical School before further honing his skills at the Art Students League in New York. He became a founding member of the Group of Seven in 1920, alongside influential artists like Lawren Harris and A.Y. Jackson.

Johnston’s art often featured vibrant and expressive depictions of the Canadian wilderness. His unique style captured the rugged beauty of the landscape, portraying the essence of the country’s untamed natural surroundings. Johnston’s work evolved over the years, and he later explored various styles, including impressionism and post-impressionism.

Beyond his artistic endeavors, Frank Johnston also played a pivotal role in the development of Canadian art education. He held positions such as principal at the Ontario College of Art, leaving a lasting impact on the artistic community in Canada. Frank Johnston passed away on July 19, 1949, but his legacy lives on through his influential contributions to Canadian art and his role in shaping the Group of Seven’s artistic vision.

Frank Johnston
Frank Johnston

Let’s take a look at these 10 fun facts about Frank Johnston to know more about him.

  1. Group of Seven Pioneer: Frank Johnston was a founding member of the Group of Seven, a collective of Canadian landscape painters who played a crucial role in shaping the country’s artistic identity.
  2. Artistic Beginnings: Before fully dedicating himself to art, Johnston worked as a commercial artist and even contributed illustrations to magazines.
  3. Educational Influence: Johnston had a significant impact on art education in Canada. He served as the principal of the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University), contributing to the development of future generations of artists.
  4. War Artist: During World War I, Johnston served as an official war artist, capturing the experiences of Canadian soldiers on the front lines. This period influenced his artistic style and subject matter.
  5. Versatility in Mediums: While primarily known for his oil paintings, Johnston was versatile in his use of artistic mediums. He explored watercolors, sketches, and other forms, showcasing his adaptability as an artist.
  6. Travel Enthusiast: Inspired by a desire to capture the diverse Canadian landscape, Johnston traveled extensively throughout the country, from the Maritimes to the Rocky Mountains.
  7. Musical Talent: In addition to his visual artistry, Johnston was musically inclined. He played the violin, adding another layer to his creative pursuits.
  8. Artistic Collaboration: Johnston collaborated with his fellow Group of Seven members, contributing to the collective’s goal of creating a distinctly Canadian art. Their collaborative efforts marked a turning point in Canadian art history.
  9. Shift in Style: Over the course of his career, Johnston’s artistic style underwent changes. Initially influenced by post-impressionism, he later embraced a more naturalistic and direct approach to capturing the Canadian landscape.
  10. Legacy in Canadian Art: Frank Johnston’s contributions to Canadian art and his role in the Group of Seven have left an enduring legacy. His work continues to be celebrated, and his influence on the art scene in Canada persists to this day.

Frank Johnston, a luminary among the Group of Seven, stands as a pivotal figure in the tapestry of Canadian art. His journey from commercial artist to co-founder of the iconic artistic collective marked a transformative period in the country’s artistic evolution. Johnston’s ability to traverse mediums, from oils to watercolors, and his dedication to portraying the vast Canadian landscape showcased not only his versatility but also his deep connection to the natural beauty of his homeland. As a principal at the Ontario College of Art, he played a vital role in shaping the next generation of artists. Johnston’s legacy is woven not only into the strokes of his paintings but also into the very fabric of Canadian artistic identity, a testament to his enduring impact on the cultural landscape of the Great White North.