Thomas DeVany Forrestall (1936– ) was born in Middleton, Nova Scotia. He studied at the Fine Arts department at Mount Allison University under Lawren P. Harris and Alex Colville between 1954 and 1958. Receiving one of the first Canada Council grants for independent study, Forrestall travelled throughout Europe, returning to take the post of assistant curator at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Forrestall is often associated with the regional “Atlantic Realism” style, a loose agglomeration that includes his teacher Alex Colville and his friends Christopher and Mary Pratt. As with Colville and the Pratts, Forrestall’s work is broadly categorized as “Magic Realism”, with a naturalistic style informed by his immediate surroundings and incorporating symbolic iconography and surreal motifs. He is notable for his use of watercolour, egg tempera, and to a lesser extent, acrylic; often rendered on irregularly shaped supports. Forrestall is often compared with contemporaneous American Realists such as Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) and Edward Hopper (1882-1967). Often building tonalities through fine cross-hatching, like Colville, Forrestall’s paintings shimmer with luminous colour but are distinct from his peers in its softer outlines and looser, more gestural brushwork.
Forrestall’s work featured prominently in histories of Canadian art, notably in the book “High Realism in Canada” (1974) by Paul Duval. There are two published monographs of his oeuvre: “Shaped by This Land (1974)” and “Returning the Favour: Vision For Vision” (1992). Major collections of his work are held by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Beaverbrook Gallery, the Mackenzie Art Gallery and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.