Painting Canadian History

Portrait of Pierre TrudeauIn May of 2016 I was commissioned by Galerie Q to paint twelve of Canada’s Prime Ministers for a series called ‘The Nation Builders.’ The former Prime Ministers to be included were: Sir John A. Macdonald, Alexander Mackenzie, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Robert Borden, William Lyon Mackenzie King, R. B. Bennett, Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien. Each portrait was to be painted with pictorial representations of each Prime Minister’s accomplishments and challenges during his time in office. The finished portraits became part of the gallery’s celebration for Canada’s sesquicentennial.

I followed a similar process for each portrait - finding appropriate images to work from, reading biographies, researching articles and then combining everything into a pleasing composition.

In painting Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the important elements of his tenure included: a second transcontinental railway, the establishment of the Royal Canadian Navy, and bringing Alberta and Saskatchewan into Confederation. To illustrate these I painted a painting within the painting showing an accurate depiction of the train and Canada’s first two naval ships, the Niobe and the Rainbow. The two new provinces are represented by their provincial flowers with vases that also reveal the provincial crests. As our ‘Sunny Way’ PM I painted him in a sun-filled room and to note his years in office, made his tie pin a stylized number fifteen and on his finger is the crest of his alma mater - the University of McGill. Portrait of Wilfrid Laurier

I followed this procedure of research, evaluation and assembly for each portrait. All the images are life sized on large canvases and can be viewed on my Facebook page. In the future the gallery hopes to take the Nation Builders series on a cross country tour.

My UWaterloo courses in Canadian history served me well in this project as did the invaluable insights into research methods.

I have two consuming interests, the literary arts and the visual arts. The academic success I achieved at UWaterloo fostered the self-confidence I needed to motivate the actions required to find great rewards in both these disciplines.

Before attending UWaterloo, I studied both fine and commercial art and graduated from Algonquin College. Since that time I have completed many portrait commissions, written a novel “The Painter’s Craft” that was accepted for publication by Bayeux Arts, won the Medli Award for most promising manuscript for my second novel and edited and contributed to multiple short story anthologies.

UWaterloo’s philosophy of education is second to none: teach students what they need to know, then test them on that knowledge - genius in its simplicity, comprehensive in its application.

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