Artist-Info - Dorothy Knowles - Assiniboia Gallery

Dorothy Knowles



Dorothy Knowles was born in Unity, Saskatchewan in 1927. She grew up on a farm overlooking a prairie valley and initially had no plans to become a painter, studying biology at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon between 1944 and 1948. At the time of her graduation, a friend persuaded her to enroll in a six-week summer course given by the University of Saskatchewan at Emma Lake. The course was led by Reta Cowley from Saskatoon and James Frederick Finley from the Ontario College of Art. Under their guidance, young Dorothy found a proclivity for art.

Upon her return to Saskatoon, she continued to study painting under Eli Bornstein and Nicholas Bjelejac at the University of Saskatchewan between 1948 and 1952. While taking a summer class at the Banff School in 1952, she decided to study art in England, eventually enrolling in the Goldsmith School of Art in London. She was influenced by the National Gallery, where she particularly admired the works of Piero di Cosimo, Piero della Francesca, Veronese, Ucello, and Renoir.

In the 1960s, she attended workshops by the American painter Herman Cherry (1961), the critic Clement Greenberg (1962), Kenneth Noland (1963), Jules Olitski (1964), Lawrence Alloway (1965), and Michael Steiner (1969). All of these had varying degrees of influence on her work, changing her style from a heavy impasto favoured by Greenberg to a more fluid technique preferred by Noland. Most importantly, she discovered the importance of working directly from nature. Thus, weather permitted, she worked out of doors, at times producing finished paintings, at times sketches and photographs which she used in the studio.

Dorothy was once asked what five factors she believed were vital for a good life. She responded, “I guess my five have been painting, painting, painting, painting, and painting.” (quote source:

Selected Media
- Press -
Arabella Magazine, Spring 2013
“Reviews,” Galleries West Magazine, December 2011
“Reviews,” Galleries West Magazine, December 2008
“At 79, Watercolour Artist Keeps Finding New Ways to Paint,” Edmonton Journal, January 26, 2007
“Visual Hearts: William Perehudoff and Dorothy Knowles,” Galleries West Magazine, August 2003
“Qu’Appelle: Tale of Two Valleys,” Border Crossings, November 2002
“Clem’s Cache,” Art in America, November 2001
“Celebrating a Full Garden of Delights—Anniversary Exhibit for Gifted Painter Dorothy Knowles,” Edmonton Journal, October 17, 2000
“Knowles’ Landscape Unique in Diversity,” StarPhoenix, May 20, 2000

- Publications -
Landmarks: The Art of Dorothy Knowles by Terry Fenton, Saskatchewan Publisher's Group, 2008
Carte Blanche: Volume 2, Painting by The Magenta Foundation, Toronto 2008
Canadian Who's Who by Elizabeth Lumley, 2005
Canadian Art: Beginnings to 2000 by Ann Newlands, Firefly Books, 2000

Selected Public and Corporate Collections
Art Gallery of Alberta
Art Gallery of Hamilton
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Art Gallery of Ontario
Art Gallery of Peterborough
Art Gallery of Windsor
Bank of Commerce
Bank of Montreal
Bell Canada
Boston Museum
Canada Council Art Bank
Canadian Greenshields
Claridge Collection
Concordia University, Montreal
Confederation Art Center, Charlottetown
Department of External Affairs, Government of Canada
Dominion Foundries and Steel Ltd.
Dupont Canada Inc.
Glenbow Museum, Calgary
Gulf Canada
Imperial Oil
Kenderdine Gallery, University of Saskatchewan
Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery
MacKenzie Art Gallery
Maclean Hunter
Mendel Art Gallery
Musee d’Art Contemporain, Montreal
Nabisco Inc.
Nova Corporation
Pemberton Collection
Rideau Hall
Royal Bank
Saskatchewan Arts Board
Shell Canada
Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada
Toronto Dominion Bank
University of Alberta
University of Calgary
University of Regina
University of Saskatchewan
Vancouver Art Gallery
Willistead Art Gallery of Windsor
Winnipeg Art Gallery