When Jock Macdonald began teaching at the Vancouver School of Design and Applied Art he became close friends with Frederick Varley. Varley was not only head of the school’s painting department but also a member of the Group of Seven. It was Varley who originally inspired Macdonald to begin using oil paint. Varley’s influence on Macdonald’s work is evident in Black Tusk where the intense colours are similar to those Varley used at the time. Macdonald’s strong diagonal lines in this composition encourage the viewer’s eye to move around the canvas.