“Umbrellas aka The Cake Shoppe”

Umbrellas (aka The Cake Shoppe); undated; watercolour on paper; 56×37.5 cm

In the late 1960s Tinning explored his new neighbourhood looking for inspiration and experimenting with various genre, styles and media. This undated work likely from the late 1960s  is in the immediate area of his new studio/residence in “The Linton” on Sherbrooke Street West in Montreal.  It is a view looking across Cote des Neiges Road to a confectionary store a few doors north of Sherbrooke. Tinning’s studio window looked directly down on this street and “The Cake Shoppe” at 3415 Cote des Neiges (on the east side of the street) was a popular place for Montrealers to buy tasty desserts during the 1960s. This impressionistic style is a departure from Tinning’s figurative realism and displays originality and versatility with his much favoured watercolour medium.

Jamaica Scenes 1950s

Tinning recounts his maternal grandmother’s (Nanny) story from colonial Jamaica: “One night, before she met my Grandfather she dreamt of a tall man, with a crooked nose, dressed in a scarlet coat. They were at a ball and, after dancing, they went out on the piazza where he proposed to her. The dream was so vivid that she remembered it well. A few nights later she was at a party. She had brought her music and was singing “Kathleen Mavourneen” when the guests of honor arrived. At the song’s end she turned around and there was the man of her dreams, crooked nose and all! She felt rather faint…” She was revived with smelling salts from a Victorian cut glass bottle  which she retained and which Tinning inherited and treasured throughout his life.  He also visited  Jamaica three times during the 1950s – as evident from the paintings below.

“Nanny’s” Smelling Salts Bottle from Jamaica

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Montreal

From two pages of notes found in Tinning’s estate: “As a token of my expertise (and an excuse for my temerity) I was consulted on the following list as an artist-not a decorator:
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel (Montreal):
– the mural ceilings of the Maritime Bar
– the stage and decor for The Cafe at night (2 times)
– the Venetian foyer murals between the Maritime Bar and The Cafe
– the decoration of the Oval Dining Room”

Maritime Bar Ceiling 1950s; Photo courtesy of The McCord Museum, Montreal

The Ritz Café Stage 1950s; Photo courtesy of The McCord Museum, Montreal

Tinning seated in the Venetian Foyer 1950s; Photo courtesy of The McCord Museum, Montreal

From: “No Ordinary Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton’s First Seventy-Five Years” by A. Waller; Montreal, Vehicule Press, 1989; Page 160

Geometric Abstract 1951

Tinning lived in Montreal during a period of artistic ferment in French-Canada (“Les Automatistes” and the “Refus Global”). Encouraged by this freedom of expression Tinning turned to Geometric Abstraction. Like music that conveys emotions without a real observable form this genre was a natural evolution of Tinning’s artistic development as it combined his love of art and music.

Geometric Abstract 1951; watercolour on art board; 72.5×54 cm

Okanagan Valley 1948

In August 1948 Tinning travelled to British Columbia to visit his family in the Okanagan Valley. His mother lived in the village of Naramata (near Penticton) and his brother owned a fruit orchard in the area. Tinning drew these pencil sketches in a 5” x7” sketchbook. Shown above is a view From Bob’s Orchard, Penticton BC. At right is a Stump on an Okanagan Mt 1948. Below left is a view of the typical mountainside terrain with steep gullies and sandy slopes and at lower right is a barge being loaded with freight cars of fruit in rail transit to Kelowna and thence to Vancouver.  The sketchbook also includes drawings of the uniquely shaped Occidental Fruit Company storage sheds in the Kelowna railyards.