Directed by Graeme Lynch (Relic Hunter, Beverly Hills 90210, Road to Avonlea), Winslow Homer: An American Original is a rich and intense drama infused with lively symphonic music and the poetry of Walt Whitman. The headstrong artist has arrived in the quiet New England countryside to bury the ghosts of the Civil War, but his serenity is interrupted by two teenagers who work their way into his life. The most famous American painter of his day, Winslow Homer had a distinctive eye and captured the mood of rural and seaside America in a career that spanned the Civil War and stretched into the 20th century. Homer was a very private person who kept to himself. He often put up signs reading, "Snakes, snakes and mice" to keep away unwanted visitors and some say that his favourite phrase was, "Mind your own business." But the world did take notice, and in 1998 Microsoft's Bill Gates paid over 30 million dollars for Homer's "Lost on the Grand Banks," making it the most expensive American painting ever sold.
Created and produced by David Devine and Richard Mozer from a screenplay by Heather Conkie (The Composers Specials, The Inventors Specials, Degas and The Dancer) Winslow Homer: An American Original was shot in southern Ontario, in the rural farmland near Toronto. Largely self-taught, Homer became a master of etchings, oils and watercolours. He was responsible for changing the way Americans saw watercolour, elevating it from an amateur form to a serious art. His realistic style was at odds with the artistic conventions of his time, as was his choice of subjects: barefoot boys, farm girls, working men, ordinary soldiers; conveying with poignancy the world of the average American.
Each of The Artists Specials revolves around a life-altering encounter between a famous artist and a child, both of whom are at a personal or professional crossroads. Through the course of each story, not only do the artist and the child learn more about themselves and each other, one helps the other to overcome a series of difficulties and, ultimately, to succeed So well-crafted, thoughtful and intelligent are these hourlong specials that parents are likely to enjoy them just as much as their kids. Although the programs seek to teach younger viewers that even the greatest artists faced major stumbling blocks on the road to success, adults will find many of their own quandries reflected in the artists dilemmas. -- The Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1999