An ode to Tom Thomson and his artistic wizardry

Deborah J Reed

Deborah J. Reed recently fulfilled a lifelong project of writing and illustrating a children’s book.

Reed said Ontario Wizard was her COVID project. 

It also allowed her to honour Group of Seven painter, Tom Thomson.

She said the book is “a rhyming tribute to Thomson’s unique contribution to Ontarians’ love for their stunningly beautiful province.”

For the former English teacher, the project was a culmination of her love of writing, painting and Thomson.

She said she’s “long been captured by the mystique and talent that was Tom Thomson, and am grateful that my childhood art teachers made sure that he was as big a part of discussion as was The Group of Seven.” 

She said Ontario Wizard was also her way to collaborate remotely online with two other creative forces: acclaimed Ontario-based landscape painter Robert McAffee and popular local artist, Jackie Wells. 

“Both talents generously agreed to contribute images to this book, and both have been profoundly influenced by Tom Thomson, and by the rich heritage of past and current Ontario landscape painters,” Reed said.

She said that she also generated 10 new illustrations for the book’s narrative.

She added its shiny picture pages are perfect for sharing with families or schoolchildren, and the accompanying poem “resonates with respect and affection for the solitary paddler who took his oil paints deep into the remote back country, and somehow, like a ‘wizard,’ was able to dab together his almost supernatural colours to represent how he interpreted the particular magic of our Ontario wilderness.”

Copies of Ontario Wizard, which Reed self-published, are available at Haliburton’s Rails End Gallery & Arts Centre, and at Master’s Book Store.


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