In 1981 CANAV Books became the first (and only) publisher to support Canada’s aviation artists. Since then CANAV commissioned about 200 paintings from many artists. Its encouragement and the success of its books gradually raised awareness of aviation art in Canada, which had been almost non-existent before 1981. Through such support, and that provided by the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, budding artists now got together more, sharing ideas and meeting some of Canada’s “originals” in this game — always helpful fellows like Tom Bjarnason, Bob Bradford, Colin Clark, Pete Mossman or Bill Wheeler. A CAHS chapter meeting often was the venue for such get togethers.
Following publication of Sixty Years in 1984, CANAV donated 100+ “originals” to CF Air Command. These works became the foundation for today’s Air Force Art Collection in Winnipeg. Years later the Canadian Aviation Artists Association came into existence to foster camaraderie, art education, etc.
Famous Canadian illustrator Tom Bjarnason is a long time friend and supporter of CANAV Books. A WWII Canadian Army vet, Tom studied art soon after repatriation. He’s been prominent ever since, first as a premier illustrator for the likes of Readers Digest and Star Weekly but also in other facets of art. In its March 1998 edition, Century Home featured Tom and his studio. At the time, he recently had finished the cover art for Air Transport in Canada, so this wonderful piece was featured.
One of the highlights of his career was his commission by the Canadian Department of National Defense to travel to Germany to illustrate the activities of the Canadian Armed Forces for the Peacetime Artists Program. Many of these works are displayed in the collection of the National War Museum in Ottawa.
Legion Magazine did this nice write up of Tom.