Terry Tomalty: Capturing Canadiana with Brushstrokes
With a flick of his wrist, Montreal artist Terry Tomalty preserves significant Canadian events in bold brushstrokes of colour. Known for documenting NHL hockey scenes, including the Montreal Canadiens’ participation in the Heritage Classic Game in in Edmonton, the golden goal by Sidney Crosby in last year’s Olympics and a timeless painting of the Ottawa Senators in action against their arch-rivals the Montreal Canadians (see top right), he is also one of few artists who painted the Quebec Referendum Rally in 1985 (and gained recognition nationally on CBC.) In one particular instance during his extreme popularity in the 1980s, visitors lined up for three days outside the Continental Gallery in Montreal for the opening of his show. It was sold out within minutes. Some had trekked from as far west as Vancouver to see it.
Self-taught, he uses the tools of his trade to capture Quebec street scenes and botanical images as well as the grandiose architecture of church and synagogue interiors. “I paint the things around me — everyday life, kids, rinks, parades and rallies,” said Tomalty. “I was the only artist that painted the referendum rally. I paint life as I see it. I have never been to art school.”
Tomalty characterizes himself as a “painter of events” and prior to his full-time dedication to art, he worked in advertising. Twenty years ago he held positions at J. Walter Thompson as art director, vice-president and senior art director, designing advertise- ments for a large international clientele.
He learned to draw from copying comic book characters as a kid, from Superman to Batman. “From the time I was a child, I was always drawing and painting,” he added. “School had no interest for me and I left at age 16 and became an apprentice in an art studio.”
Tomalty was born in Verdun (just outside of Montreal) in 1935 to a strong Irish family. He played hockey for the Montreal Royals in his youth and continued to visit the arena to watch his own children play. Still a spectator, it is now his grandchildren on the ice. “When I was younger, my motivation was my family,” he said. I have five kids and I just worked my ass off. I still do.”
While Tomalty’s work ethic has not changed, he says he has grown as an artist during the span of his 50 year career and claims he is painting better than ever. His work is exhibited in galleries across the country and in both major corporate and private collections. To many, he is a national treasure who has captured the true spirit of our nation’s infatuation with the beloved game played on ice. Recently, Tomalty depicted Sidney Crosby as he scored “The Golden Goal” at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. The painting expresses the hysteria from the sea of red cheering in the stands, personifying Canadian pride at its fullest.
Tomalty is also successful at illustrating another important aspect of Canadian hockey culture — the bond between father and son — the passing down of skill and knowledge of the sport. He achieves this by sometimes painting his father in the stands, applauding the Canadiens to victory. “I paint my dad sometimes because he loved hockey and the stories he told about life, I think he passed this love on to me,” said Tomalty.
Visit www.TerryTomalty.com for additional information.