Robert Hyndman

March 1, 2002 by Jennifer Morse

Wing Commander D.J. Williams. Robert Hyndman’s paintings depict the men and machines of the air force.

Robert Hyndman has been a professional artist for more than 65 years. Born in Edmonton in 1915, he began his career after graduating from the Toronto Central Technical School where he studied under two men who went on to become official war artists in World War II: Charles Goldhammer and Carl Schaefer. Like so many of his peers, Hyndman graduated and headed to Europe where he worked as a freelance illustrator and continued his studies at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, England.

After joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in June 1940, he learned to fly and then served as a flight instructor at Uplands Airport in Ottawa from 1941-­43. In July 1943, Hyndman returned to England where he flew Spitfires over the English Channel. “I was terrified each of the 150 missions I flew over the English Channel. I was 25. I did not really understand why I was there. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live to get back to my painting.”

In September 1944, Hyndman’s passion for art was rewarded when he was appointed an official war artist. He loved painting people, and so portraits became the strength and bulk of his war art collection. Hyndman is mesmerized by the endless variety of human form and countenance. “You have got to feel the movement of the person,” he explained in an interview with Legion Magazine.

The artist’s work feels quick and intense with lots of contrast. Light splashes on his portraits and rich oils are spotlighted and move in from the shadow. Ironically, one of his old instructors–Carl Schaefer–became the subject of one of his many portraits.

Dive Bombing V-1 (Rocket) Sites.

After the war, he moved into a successful career painting portraits and murals. And for eight consecutive summers–starting in 1964–he taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts.

Hyndman still teaches two days a week at the Ottawa School of Art and paints from his home and studio in Old Chelsea, Que.

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Many of the Canadian War Museum’s ­holdings are ­available in reproduction at affordable prices. For more information, contact Image Reproduction Services, Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa, ON K1R 0C2; tel: 1-819-776-8686; fax: 1-819-776-8623; e-mail:

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