RFM MCINNIS

"The figure has always been considered by me to be my most serious work. Through it I do my most important research in the elements and principles of design, painting techniques, and advancing my personal vision and creativity. Because we live in Canada, which is one big landscape country, painting the local scene will always be important. But I believe it is through painting the human figure that the greatest challenges lay."
ARTIST'S STATEMENT
 
Robert Francis Michael (RFM) McInnis
Born March 11, 1942, Saint John, New Brunswick
Diploma in Fine and Applied Arts, (1961), Saint John Vocational School, Saint John, N.B. Teachers Fred Ross and D. Edwin Campbell
Newspaper Reporter and Photographer, Telegraph Journal and Evening Times Globe, Saint John, N.B. (1961-1962)
Royal Canadian Air Force photographer, (1962-1966)
Graphic Illustrator, Department of Transport, Ottawa, Ont. (1966-1967)
Went by train to Vancouver, B.C. as “Centennial Project”, (1967)
Head of the Art Department and Artist in Residence, Prince George College, Prince George, B.C. (1968-1971)
Moved to Powell River, B.C. to paint, (1971)
At age 30, moved to Toronto to begin art career in earnest, (1973)
 
From the above, it will be seen that my twin interests in Art and Photography have always been intertwined, both as hobbies and as career moves. My art interests have generally leaned towards the figurative and landscape painting; where-as my photography has been toward historical interests, railways and prairie grain elevators.
 
My real art career began in Toronto in 1973. Perceiving Toronto to be the centre of Canadian art, I seized the opportunity to jump in sink or swim, into the art world I had always dreamed of. I’ve never looked back. Poverty level living and being frugal were always the result of finding a way with my art alone. I began to stress the figure in my painting as a main theme. Along the way I met many people who believed in my work. They supported me by buying these early figurative pieces. Toronto was my baptism by fire. Many of the Toronto experiences later paid off by positioning me as a serious Canadian painter.
 
Calgary was next. It was the year before the “Boom” began in earnest in the city (1978). Having made myself known in Toronto, establishing gallery representation there, I felt safe in pulling up stakes and moving west again. The prairies had always appealed to me; flat, dry, dusty, ochre land, grain elevators, and trains. These would become my new subject matter.
 
When I arrived in Calgary, the office towers were just beginning to rise. They needed landscape paintings for their office walls. Corporate art committees from these offices were beginning to buy. Suddenly the boom was in full swing and I was at the right place at the right time with my bold, brushy landscapes. Then, within four years the boom ended as quickly as it had started. But by now I was well established in Alberta too.
 
A three years return to Ottawa (1983 to 1986) brought me back to familiar eastern landscape, as well as establishing firm contacts and gallery representation in the National Capital. My systematic plan was to make myself known nationally by living regionally. Short periods in Montreal, Quebec City and my native New Brunswick resulted in gallery representation in these regions. But I longed for the western prairies.
 
Edmonton became home for the next seven years (1986 to 1993). Here, I continued the “Women in Interiors” series I had begun in Toronto and had continued in Calgary and Ottawa. I also painted the more northern portion of Alberta. But trees did not appeal any more here then they did in British Columbia or Ontario. Involvement in art and historical interest outside the studio soon began to overwhelm my time.
 
A year’s sojourn to the picturesque Compte Charlevoix region of Quebec (Les Eboulements, 1991) intervened, and it was here I attempted to bring profound change to my approach to painting. I was seeking more depth and involvement in my work, and less outside interference. Here I was living in rural, cultural and linguistic isolation, away from friends and influences, ideal for a period of internal reflection. Upon return to Edmonton I quickly realized it was time again to move on. My excitement for the city had waned. I was craving the tonal ochres of the southern prairie and what they could mean to my new personal vision, a place where I could apply “the lessons of Quebec”.
 
During a trip south to the Fort Macleod region of Alberta, (1993), a small homestead property, that was listed for sale, was investigated. The views from the windows offered great potential as painting material, as did the flat, yellow land in all directions. Views of grain elevators to the north (Cayley) and to the south (Nanton); flat, rural farmland to the east; the Porcupine Hills to the southwest; and a clear view of the Rocky Mountains to the west, made the decision for me. In less than a month, Edmonton was left behind.
 
Because of the appeal of the scenery, few figures were painted in the first years on this property. Models were at a premium away from the major centres. However, figurative works were continued at every opportunity. Having Fred Ross and Ted Campbell as teachers, steeped in the Maritime tradition of figurative painting as they were, much of this Cultural Interpretation of growing up “Maritime” had rubbed off on me. I carried it with me no matter where I lived in Canada. The figure has always been considered by me to be my most serious work. Through it I do my most important research in the elements and principles of design, painting techniques, and advancing my personal vision and creativity. Because we live in Canada, which is one big landscape country, painting the local scene will always be important. But I believe it is through painting the human figure that the greatest challenges lay.