My Visual Self Revealed: Original Paintings and Stories from Newfoundland by Elijah Lloyd Pretty

In his book of paintings and stories depicting life on the rugged coasts of Newfoundland, Elijah Lloyd Pretty shows eastern Canada in its best form. Bull moose and beaver dams, schooners and wharves, pond hockey under the northern lights— it doesn’t get any more Canadian. But Pretty’s Newfoundland offers a closer look into the expansive, diverse, often-quirky world of the Maritimes.

Denis Elijah Lloyd Pretty was born in 1944 in Chapel Arm, Trinity Bay. Rural Newfoundland, with its small-town communities and north-eastern landscapes, would become the focal point of Pretty’s work, an authentic portrayal of life in the Maritimes with all of its charm, peculiarities, and tragedies. His book, titled “My Visual Self Revealed” presents over 60 scenes of snowy mountains, rugged coasts, and children at play, accompanied by anecdotes, stories, and childhood recollections.

As Pretty’s son advises in the Foreword, “boil the kettle, grab yourself a slice of ‘lassy bread, pull up a chair, sit down, and get ready to lose yourself in the beauty, history, traditions and culture of our unique, rugged little corner of this wonderful world.”

From an early age, art was important to Lloyd. In 1956, his father bought a Marconi-brand with a round screen, which proved to be a pivotal moment in his life as an artist.

"When television first came to Chapel Arm, I used to watch a fifteen-minute program called /Jon Gnagy: Learn to Draw/. It came on every evening around 7 p.m. and I never missed a single episode. Every night before the show I'd be sitting in front of the television with my pencil and paper, ready to draw everything Jon drew. One Christmas I asked my mother for the drawing kit that was advertised on the show but she never said a word about it. That day we all got up and opened our gifts. I got a sweater and a few small items for school. When I realized that I didn't get the drawing kit, it was a challenge not to act disappointed. I was sitting off the side when Mom came down the hall carrying another gift. When I opened it and saw the kit, I nearly died on the spot. To this day, it's still the best gift I ever got."

For Pretty, art was more than a pastime. “Since I spent all of my spare time drawing, it was one thing I could do well and I was admired for it. People would always ask me to draw things for them and every Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day, the teacher would get me to draw something on the blackboard.”

Pretty’s portrayals of Newfoundland and the accompanying stories tell of a happy childhood.

"As a boy growing up in the bay, your only worries were why the trout weren't biting or if your can of worms went missing"

Pretty recalls the activities that kept him occupied as a child: skipping rocks at the wharf, sledding or “randying” down snowy hills, troutin’, and copying pans.

"Growing up in a small community around the coves of Newfoundland, we were blessed with a fun and enjoyable childhood. Looking back on those times as an adult is one of the main reasons why I created so many paintings set in the past when I was a small boy"

The infamous steam engine, ironically named the “Newfie Bullet” for its slow pace, which Pretty once rode to reach his favourite trouting spots, brought him beyond Newfoundland’s borders. As a young man, he worked on oil tankers in the Great Lakes, where he “developed a healthy respect for the sea as well as the sailors who lost their lives on its often-cruel expanse.” This respect for the sea can be seen in his depictions of boats: canoes in calm waters, schooners braving the waves, brigs shipwrecked by the hostile forces of the sea.

Pretty went on to build a successful career as an artist, selling out solo shows in Montreal, Halifax, and Stephenville, Newfoundland, where he ultimately settled. 

On January 30, 2020, Elijah Lloyd Pretty passed on at the age of 75 after a battle with prostate cancer. His artistic mark lives on in his paintings, which rendered the history, character, and life of Newfoundland into oil and acrylic on canvas. This book is the only retrospective of his work.

Lloyd (1944—2020) was born in Chapel Arm, Newfoundland to a large family. His father, Clarence, worked at a distant lumber camp and wasn’t always home, so the task of providing guidance and teaching often fell to his mother, Lucy. Even at an early age, art was a major part of Lloyd’s life. As an adult living in Montreal, Lloyd continued to hone his craft, resulting in many new creative ventures. His art career took flight when a gallery offered him a small show in Montreal and then in Halifax. With every solo show selling out, he quickly became a sought-after realist. In addition to teaching art classes independently and at the College of the North Atlantic, his work has sold all over the world, appearing in private and corporate collections.

  • Publisher : Crossfield Publishing (This book was first printed in June 2018. It was reprinted with minor text changes in Sept 2018.)
  • Language : English, English
  • Paperback : 128 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1775149625
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1775149620

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: Thanks! 

Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang is a journalist and poet completing his undergraduate studies at McGill University. His features and profiles have appeared in Portland Monthly Magazine, the Bull and Bear Magazine, the Startup, and UX Collective. His poetry and poetry reviews have appeared in the Scrivener Creative Review, the Ormsby Review, and BC Book look. He's currently working on a middle-grade fantasy novel based on his Taiwanese heritage.