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 Herbert Joshua Ariss  (1918 - )

About: Herbert Joshua Ariss


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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada      Known for: mixed-media painting, sculpture, illustration, graphics

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Guelph, Ontario in 1916, Herbert Ariss became a painter in both abstract and realist styles and was also a sculptor, graphic artist, and educator.  One of his mixed-media abstract works is a white relief that gives the effect of textured snow, and is made of styrofoam and plaster coated in white gesso.

He was the youngest of six children, and the family was supported by his father, who was a millwright.  When he was age four, the family moved to Toronto, where the father took a job in a casket company and then started his own company.  Herbert attended Howard Park Public School, and began drawing at an early age.  From the time he was in the seventh grade, his drawings were cited by teachers as good examples for other students.  In 1931, he started doing cartoons, and four years later, caught in economic depression, his father's business failed.

In 1937, Herbert Ariss entered Western Tech, where he studied with L.A.C. Panton, who headed the art department.  He later credited him with principles of art he never forgot, including techniques of working from the nude model.  On Sundays, he continued drawing from the nude at the studio of S.G. Moyer.

He studied for one year at the Ontario College of Art in 1939 in evening classes, and supported himself with a day job of stamping out buttons, earning five dollars a week.  In 1940, he took a job in the Drafting Department of Turnbull Elevators and then joined another company as a design assistant on billboards.  In 1942, he was drafted into the Army and assigned to the Engineering Corps.  Two years after that he was shipped to England as a topographical survey artist.  Injured in a training accident, he was hospitalized and during his recovery used his art training in the Canadian Army Educational Service.  As part of this work, he gave tours of the National Gallery in Toronto, and also had his cartoons published in the Army journal, Rolling Home.

In 1947, he began teaching school at the H.B. Beal Technical School in London, Ontario, and on weekends he demonstrated his art at the Doon School of Fine Art. From 1952 to 1956, he taught summer school at Doon.

He married Margot Phillips in 1950; they had two sons and lived in London, Ontario.

Ariss did some mural commission work for Huron and Erie Co. Ltd and for John Laball Ltd. From 1960 to 1961, he studied in England and Spain, having received a Senor Canada Council grant.  During this trip, he was much influenced by the work of Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore.  Shortly after his return, in January 1961, he was in a serious automobile accident, which led to eight months of recuperation.

In 1964, he became Head of the Art Department at H.B. Beal School, staying there until retirement in 1977.  He continued to fill mural commissions including for the Ontario Government.  In 1980, he received the Mayor's Honor Award in Ontario, Canada for outstanding contribution to the Arts.
Memberships included the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, the Canadian Group of Painters, the Ontario Society of Artists, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Canadian Society of Graphic Artists.

Sources include:

London Regional Art and Historical Museums,

Ontario Government Archives,

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