INVIDIATTA email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-09-04 published
Artist and portraitist refused to compromise
Works in his trademark use of colour hang in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital and in private collections
By Carol COOPER Special to The Globe and Mail Thursday, September 4, 2003 - Page R9
When the director of the University of Toronto's Hart House Gallery needed a portrait of Hart House warden Dr. Jean LENGELLÉ, she called artist Gerald SCOTT.
"In this case, Gerry was a perfect fit for Jean, because Jean wanted something that was not staid and traditional, which is certainly Gerry," said the director, Judi SCHWARTZ.
"He [Dr. LENGELLÉ] liked the patterning approach that Gerry took, and the two of them got along very well."
Mr. SCOTT painted the 1977 LENGELLÉ portrait and countless others in the manner of his friend and mentor, Group of Seven artist Fred VARLEY.
"Gerry placed colours together that you wouldn't think of, and when you stand back from the painting, you get the effect of the work, and when you get closer to it, you start to notice the colours," Ms. SCHWARTZ said of the LENGELLÉ portrait.
One of the foremost Canadian portrait painters, whose works hung in the inaugural exhibition of Toronto's prominent Greenwich Gallery along with those of Michael Snow, Graham Coughtry and William Ronald and are found in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital and numerous private collections, Mr. SCOTT died of cancer at the age of 76. Along with Dr. LENGELLÉ, Mr. SCOTT's subjects included a Bermudan prime minister and a Baroness Rothschild. One of six children, whose father worked as a building engineer and car salesman, Gerald William SCOTT was born in Saint John. Although his birth certificate reads September 30, 1926, Mr. SCOTT always said it was wrong and he was born in 1925. To help support his family during the Depression, Mr. SCOTT danced on the city's docks, missing school to do so. After service in the Canadian army during the Second World War, he returned to Toronto where his family had settled.
There he met and married the Italian countess Josephine Maria INVIDIATTA. An English teacher who recognized her husband's gifts, she taught Mr. SCOTT to read. Thereafter, he read incessantly, devouring all types of material. Countess INVIDIATTA also encouraged Mr. SCOTT to attend the Ontario College of Art, now named the Ontario College of Art and Design.
Graduating from the college in 1949, Mr. SCOTT won the Reeves Award for all-round technical proficiency in drawing and painting. After a short career in advertising and turning down an opportunity to do a cover for Time magazine, he focused on fine art.
Mr. SCOTT taught at his alma mater part-time from 1952 to 1958 and full-time for a period beginning in 1963. And he participated in shows at both The Roberts Gallery and The Greenwich Gallery, later renamed The Isaacs Gallery.
While other artistic styles, such as abstract expressionism came and went, Mr. SCOTT continued with portraiture. "He didn't want to compromise his style," said his son Paul SCOTT. "He didn't follow trends."
Lacking the time to develop a body of work for a show, and with a self-effacing temperament which disliked the gallery scene, by the mid-eighties Mr. SCOTT no longer exhibited his work, sticking to commissions and teaching, and writing plays and poetry.
Teaching took up much of Mr. SCOTT's time, and he was known as a good one. For 25 years, he taught at the Three Schools of Art and later at the Forest Hill Art Club, both in Toronto.
"He was an inspirational teacher," said Michael GERRY, a student of Mr. SCOTT for six years and now an instructor at Central Technical High School in Toronto.
"He was one of the few people around who understands the vocabulary. He really knew his lessons. Not only was he skillful, he was thoughtful, unusually thoughtful. Colour and temperature were his specialty."
Said his friend and fellow artist Telford FENTON, "He had wonderful use of colour. It spoke to you."
A deliberate, patient and methodical instructor, popular with Rosedale matrons, Mr. SCOTT taught his students to observe colour. "He could see colour everywhere," said Joan CONOVER, who served as a portrait model for Mr. SCOTT. 'They're [the colours] there, Joanie,' he would say to me. 'All you have to do is stop looking. Close your eyes and then open them, very quickly. Close them, open them again, and you'll get a brief glimpse [of the colours].'"
Mr. SCOTT also demonstrated painting for his students. "Most teachers would not demonstrate," said another SCOTT student Roger BABCOCK. " His demonstrations were like a Polaroid picture. They would form before your eyes."
When students complained of lack of subjects, Mr. SCOTT told them how he stayed up nights painting works of his hand.
As he taught, Mr. SCOTT discussed the Bible, religion or politics. But he would not discuss his war experiences, according to Ms. CONOVER. "It made his stomach hurt," she said.
Mr. SCOTT used his right thumb for certain strokes, and was highly critical of his work, only signing it with persuasion.
Good Friends since the fifties with Mr. FENTON, the pair was known as the Laurel and Hardy of the art world.
Once, they sold the same painting to three different clients, eventually making good to all three. Another time while sailing, Mr. SCOTT's boat crashed into the dock of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. Always charming Mr. SCOTT ended up in the club's bar, along with those of his party, treated to a round of drinks.
Mr. SCOTT continued working until he suffered a heart attack three years ago.
He died on July 13 and leaves his partner Joyce, two ex-wives, children Paul, Sarah, Hannah, Rebecca, Aaron, Amelia Jordan, Jarod and Dana, and five grandchildren. His first wife, Josephine, and a son, Simon, predeceased him.
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