After settling into his new Vancouver surroundings, Peter worked in commercial art while at the same time continuing to freelance on the side, and pursue his dream of a solo career. He approached Alex Fraser* who liked his work and was willing to show it in his Granville Street gallery. Fraser offered him words of advice about what to do to make his art more accessible, and seemed to know just how to promote his work in an effective and professional way.
*An account of Peter's career cannot be given without mention of Alex Fraser, who played a key role in his artistic success, from its beginnings in 1948, and on into the 1980's. Alex had come from England in 1940 to establish an art business in Vancouver. His galleries, first at 5669 Granville Street, and then at 2027 West 41st Avenue, were the main venue for the sale of Peter's paintings, and he was most grateful for the support and guidance Fraser showed him over the years. Peter recognized a high degree of professionalism and artistry in his dealings with him and with his buying public. For 33 years a fall show of "Paintings by Peter Ewart" was an annual event at the Alex Fraser Galleries, and in 1979 Fraser celebrated 60 years in the art business. Fraser died in 1983 at the age of 82.
Rocky Mountain High 1947
"I watched Peter paint the original watercolour in his studio at 440 East 12th Avenue in 1948. He did it as an exercise on a small piece of thin poster paper from a slide in a small viewer (a scene he had snapped west of Banff). I think the main peak shown was then Castle Mountain, which was later renamed Mt. Eisenhower. At the time it was just a break for him from his advertising assignments, but I liked it so much when he was done, he gave it to me. I have treasured it ever since, though it is now getting a bit discoloured, flaky and crumbly, as I found it when I took it from its frame for scanning." (Bill Nickel, brother-in-law)
Watercolour by Peter Ewart
Linda, born November 1950
McLean became Peter's new employer. He gave him a much freer hand in his poster designs than had Scroggie in Montreal, and Peter produced a dozen posters which were accepted for printing. The unsigned lithographs were issued by Grant-Mann and Bullman Brothers of Vancouver. Then, for four years he worked as an apprentice in the employ of the Smith Lithograph Company. While there, he befriended another employee, Kalman Opre, a young Hungarian man newly arrived in Canada and just beginning as a commercial artist. The following is an excerpt from Kal's journal, which contains accounts of his and Peter's work and activities around that time.