Launched in July 2014, the People of Canada Portrait Project is off to a good start. We have received photos from a diverse group of Canadians, as diverse in their cultural roots as they are in their life pursuits. This is the second painting I have created using one of the submitted photos as reference. ‘Welcome All Souls’ is a portrait of two Canadian sisters who immigrated to Canada at a young age, from Trinidad.
They provided the photo for reference and I created the background Canadian landscape based on their story. As immigrants to Canada, they have experienced great challenges in adopting a new country and integrating into a new community. In return, they have shared their culture with Canada, adding to our country’s diversity. I chose a west coast Canadian landscape for the background as this is the place they have called home. The Arbutus tree is a vividly coloured tree, native to the west coast, with a very hard wood and the ability to grow on rock and mold itself to any shape to fit it’s environment, and continue to thrive in its own very beautiful way. I believe that the Arbutus best reflects the journey of a Canadian immigrant. Often, you will see initials carved into the bark of these trees, or messages for those hiking. Carved into the bark of the tree in the painting is the title, ‘Welcome All Souls’. The title speaks of Canada welcoming immigrants and other cultures, but it also speaks of other cultures welcoming us. I did in fact see a piece of wood nailed to a tree in a grove on one of my west coast hikes and it read, ‘Welcome All Souls’ – it made me feel safe in venturing forward into uncharted territory, as I hope it does for all.
Photos below used as reference in creating this portrait. The photo of Onami and Keiko was provided by Onami. The photos of the arbutus and ‘welcome all souls’ sign were taken on my west coast hikes through East Sooke park on Vancouver Island.
I am looking for photos of Canadians. As an artist I understand how much courage it takes to put yourself out there in the spotlight, and sometimes under the microscope. I am asking you to take a courageous leap and share your story with me, and the world. Submit your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to have your portrait painted. All submitted photos will be exhibited with the resulting portraits in a major solo exhibition slated for 2017.
Clockwise from top right: Arbutus growing around rock at East Sooke Park, sign on tree, carved initials on Arbutus (photos: Brandy Saturley) portrait photo provided by Onami.
The resulting portrait – ‘Welcome All Souls’ – 36×36 acrylic on canvas, 2014, Brandy Saturley