About a month ago, I had this crazy idea.
Pandemic Halloween seemed almost like a canary in a coal mine, festively speaking. After I took my own children out on a pre-planned route to visit select neighbours who had prepared goodie bags for them, I looked down my street and realized that I had never seen it look so dark. Not a single house had a light on, let alone a candle in a pumpkin. It was like someone threw a thick blanket over the street, and it was eerie.
At that point, it seemed highly unlikely that Christmas would be saved from the chopping block. So how could I use what I do best (paint) to help populations who would be most affected by all of the shutdowns caused by Covid?
The Paint-A-Thon was actually the first idea that sprung to mind. I was inspired by Kevin's Longest Morning, a North Bay tradition started by a radio host who goes on a 24 hour long annual broadcast in support of Rotary 4 Kids. While painting for 24 hours in a row seemed like it could result in a mess of a painting, painting from open to close in a busy mall to draw attention to the Joy Project seemed doable. Just to make it spicier, I decided to do it for three days in a row.
So just what is the Joy Project? Every year, the Children's Aid Society partners up families and children in the community with sponsors who ensure that the children have a gift to open, and that the families receive something that they may be in need of. As of the time of writing, there are still many babies, children, teenagers, and families who still need to be matched.
You can read more about the Joy Project through this link.
To draw attention to this very worthy initiative, I'll be parked in the front entrance of the Northgate Shopping Centre, with my easel and two large-scale oil paintings that I'll be working on. Beside me will be some volunteers from the Joy Project, as well as a Christmas tree filled with ornaments. The ornaments will have a child or family's wishes written on it, so that willing shoppers can partner themselves.
To say I'm nervous is an understatement. Teaching painting is one thing, especially because I typically gear my lessons to beginners. But actually creating large-scale pieces in oils in front of an audience is another thing altogether. The time involved is also a little daunting; I often paint for only 4-6 hours per day, and spend the rest of the time working on marketing, correspondence, and taking care of rental properties.
When I'm finished, I'll be donating the profits from the sale of one of the paintings entirely to the Children's Aid Society.
A few weeks ago, I had an informal poll on my Facebook Page, inviting people to vote on which reference photo I'd turn into a painting. As time wore on, I realized it would actually make sense to have both in play, since I'll be painting them in oil. Working in oil is an entirely different game than acrylics; oils take at least 24 hours to dry fully, so there may have otherwise been moments where I'd hit a brick wall and be unable to progress until the paint dried. Having two on the go just made more sense.
I have secured both photographers' permission to use these photos as paintings.
The top choice was Morning at Camp, by photographer Kyle McDougall:
It was really close, but I must admit, I'm potentially more excited to paint the Great Grey Owl by photographer Jonathan Huyer of Huyer Perspectives:
How Can You Help?
If you're local, pop by the mall from November 25-27th, open to close, and choose a family or child to sponsor. Even just getting one item on the child's wishlist is wonderful. If going to the mall makes you uncomfortable at this time, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be matched.
If you're from out of town, please contact your local Children's Aid Society to connect with any of the projects that they are running.
When: November 25th-27th, open to close (10am-8pm)
Where: Northgate Shopping Centre, front entrance
Who: Myself and Children's Aid Society
More information: Facebook Event
Come Say Hi!
If you have any questions at all, or just want to swing by to say hello, come on down! I'm always happy to talk about my practice, or to assist you with yours.