George Paginton was born in Britain but spent his life in Canada. At the age of eleven he was sent to Lindsay, Ontario – it was regular practice in Britain to send destitute children to farms in Canada and the Commonwealth. Fortunately for Paginton, his upbringing was a happy one. At the age of eighteen, he left the farm in Lindsay for Toronto where he spent a term at the Port Hope Summer School run by J. W. Beatty for the Ontario College of Art. By 1927, Paginton had become proficient enough to obtain his lifetime job as an artist for the Toronto Star. By then, his interest in painting landscape was already well developed.
Paginton is an heir to the Group of Seven. The artist developed a very direct, freewheeling technique of landscape painting that allowed him to finish his small panels and sixteen by twenty inch canvases in a single sitting. The bright intensity and freedom of technique marking many of Paginton’s canvases suggest a sense of celebration, a release from his weekday job, and an opportunity to speak his own voice. Members of the Group of Seven respected George Paginton for his enthusiasm and honest talent. He became familiar with a number of the Group members and for a time, shared space in the Studio Building where many of them worked. At A.Y. Jackson’s funeral, both Paginton and A.J. Casson were among the pallbearers.
Paginton painted in a number of Canadian locations, but by far his favorite subject was Quebec’s lle d’Orleans, which he discovered in 1927. He painted the landscape in all seasons and affectionately recorded the rustic homes, barns, and churches for more than thirty years. It was his cardinal motif, despite his attachment to Quebec City and the north shore of the St. Lawrence.
Excerpts from Paul Duval’s essay for George Paginton: lle d’Orleans