Franklin Carmichael

About Franklin Carmichael

Franklin Carmichael

Group of Seven member Franklin Carmichael (1890-1945) grew up in Orillia, Ontario.  As a teenager he worked in his father’s shop as a carriage striper.  In 1911, he apprenticed at the commercial art firm Grip Limited in Toronto, where he met J.E.H. MacDonald and other members of the Group. He continued with evening studies at the Ontario College of Art and Toronto Technical School. From 1913 to 1914 he studied in Antwerp, Belgium at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts.

On his return, Carmichael began painting on weekends with Tom Thomson, J.E.H MacDonald and Arthur Lismer. Although he also used oil paints, he is notable among the Group of Seven members for his use of watercolour in depicting the Canadian landscape. During the fall of 1914, he moved into the Studio Building where he shared a space with Thomson over the winter. He was part of the Group from the beginning and exhibited with them consistently from 1920 to 1932.

Carmichael joined the Sampson-Matthews firm in 1922, probably as head designer under the art directorship of J.E. Sampson. Among his projects at Sampson-Matthews, Carmichael worked on the illustration and design of a number of promotional brochures as well as advertisements for newspapers and magazines.

In 1925, he made his first trip with Group members when he went to the north shore of Lake Superior with Lawren Harris and A.Y. Jackson. It was Carmichael's first experience in the north and he would return to Lake Superior in 1926 and 1928. 

In the 1930's Carmichael explored themes of industry in northern Ontario, particularly the mining regions and in 1933 he was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters. In 1932 he left commercial art to become head of the Graphic Design and Commercial Art Department at the Ontario College of Art.

In addition to his landscapes in watercolour and oil, Carmichael produced etchings, linocuts and wood engravings.  


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