CANAV’s great pal and supporter, artist Tom Bjarnason, has left us. Over the decades, Tom created the world-class cover art for our books Sixty Years, Air Transport in Canada, and De Havilland in Canada. He also painted a lovely piece for The Canadair North Star — the British Midland Airways Argonaut.
Tom was all things wonderful, a genuine friend and a solid Canadian if ever there was one. His CV is a wonder to behold, one of his more recent honours having been bestowed by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.
This item about Tom comes from the Windsor Star of August 26.
Illustrator known for military art dies at age 84
By Star Staff, The Windsor Star, August 26, 2009
When Joanna Corless remembers her uncle, Tom Bjarnason, she thinks of a trench coat, cowboy boots that almost reached his knees and a really big hat. “That was how he was, he didn’t care how he looked,” she said. Bjarnason, an artist known for his military art, died of pneumonia on Aug. 18 at the age of 84.
Bjarnason worked as an illustrator for Readers Digest, Star Weekly and Air Transport in Canada. Many of his pieces involved planes. “He always loved planes, as far back as I can remember,” said Corless, 72. “He wanted to go into the air force, because he wore glasses or something to do with his eyes, they wouldn’t take him.”
Bjarnason, a Second World War vet, was born in Winnipeg and moved to Windsor to study art in Detroit. He later moved to Toronto, and ended up travelling the world. But he always came back to visit. “My most memorable parts of his visits would be how he would laugh,” Corless, who lives in Woodslee, said. “He just made everything so funny. We would laugh and laugh. It was great.”
His last major projects were sculptures, which he made with old junk yard scraps like computer parts. “Undeniably, he had a great talent,” Corless said.
See Legion Magazine for a nice profile of Tom, including some great samples of his work.