Studio Sunday: Tom Thomson

A photo of Tom Thomson working at the Grip studio in Toronto


Today let’s take a look inside Tom Thomson’s studio! Thomson was a member of the Group of Seven, a collective of Canadian painters who were active in the early 20th century.


Thomson got his start working with some of the other members of the group at the Grip, a design studio in Toronto, Ontario. In the above photo, the artist is pictured creating some of his graphic design work at a desk in this studio. A few of his fellow designers who would also go on to become painters are pictured in the background.


It’s interesting to see what a graphic design studio looked like at the turn of the 20th century! While today we might picture graphic design studios as minimalist, white-walled spaces with sleek tablets and computer monitors, this design studio looks just a little bit messy – every desk is covered in papers, possible drafts for designs and paintings.


During the early 1900’s the artist spent a great deal of time working together with his contemporaries and sharing ideas for paintings. After becoming a full-time painter, Thomson moved first into a studio building that was shared with several other artists, and then, for the last few years of his career, into a shed located behind the studio building. In the photograph below the shed looks pretty run-down, and very in keeping with an image of an eccentric, reclusive painter.


Because the Group of Seven were known best for their landscape paintings, many of Thomson’s works were created en plein air as well. It’s likely that the artist spent the most time in his studio during the chilly winter months, when, as pictured below, the ground around his studio was covered in snow. The shed has been preserved and was moved to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection as a shrine to the work of Thomson and the Group of Seven. 

A photo of th exterior of Tom Thomson's studio shack

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Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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