Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pure Maple Syrup

14 x 11", acrylic on gessoed birch panel 
painting #246, 2017

Canada is celebrating it's sesquicentennial this year, also known as the 150th anniversary of Confederation. I felt an obligation to do a painting as my way to acknowledge how fortunate I am to be living in such a wonderful country. I did the photo study for the painting during one of our last snowfall earlier this spring. The can is sitting on the top of a wooden rail of a small footbridge located fittingly in Mapleton Park, here in Moncton, NB. The out of focus diagonal dark stripe in the background is of a small stream.

The sap from Maple trees to make the syrup was first collected and used by the indigenous peoples living in northeastern North America, and the practice was adopted by European settlers, who gradually refined production methods. The Canadian province of Quebec is by far the largest producer, responsible for 70% of the world's output. Vermont is the largest producer in the United States, generating about 6% of the global supply. (ref. Wikipedia).

For this painting, I was inspired by Andy Warhol's serigraphs of Campbell Soup and used this rather generic Maple Syrup Can that has been around as long as I can remember. These are available nationally through Wal-Mart. While I was doing this painting back in April, my son Jean-Luc pointed out that he had just seen a video of a Montreal street artist named WhatisAdam who had done some Pop Art, Andy Warhol-esque like artwork of the same can but parodied it to "Pure Maple Sizzurp"....Simply Brilliant! (click HERE to view). This summer I also saw the same can used as a maple scented candle holder for purchase in a local pharmacy. 

The syrup from this can is from Decacer, a distributor located near the Québec-New Brunswick border in Déglis, Québec. With this syrup, we made Maple Taffy. With the help of a candy thermometer, you boil the syrup until it reaches a temperature of 112 °C (234 °F). You then spread it over fresh snow. When the taffy starts to harden, you roll it up like a lollipop with a Popsicle GOOD! 

This painting will be part of a two-person show this fall being held at the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB. 

Harvest by Yvon Gallant and Alvin Richard
October 12 - November 8, 2017
Opening reception - Thursday October 12, 6:30- 8:00 pm

Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street
Sackville, NB, Canada
(506) 536-9000
to acquire this painting, please contact the gallery

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Standing on a Clue

14 x 11", acrylic on gessoed mounted hardboard ( cradle board)
painting #248, 2017 

During the spring of 2016, my wife and I spent two weeks in Europe visiting Belgium, the Netherlands and Oslo Norway. We flew to Brussels where we spent our first 3 days. We were a bit apprehensive about visiting the city just six weeks after the terrorist bombings. Some sections of the airport were still closed off. Things got off to a rocky start. Just four hours after our arrival, my backpack was stolen in the locked luggage room of the lobby of the hotel/ hostel where we were staying . The whole incident was caught on video by the hotel security camera. It was an outside job. The only things I did not lose was wallet, camera, passport and my day itinerary. After filing a police report we had to come to terms with what had happened and move on. We would have to rely on the kindness of others in order to move forward. I have to say the the police officers we met had a lot of empathy and were very sympathetic and kind to us. We spent a whole day just buying the essentials which included a backpack, clothing, battery charger, reprinting documents etc.... We had purchased bus tour tickets in order to visit the Hergé Museum which is located in Louvain-la-Neuve, 32 km from Brussels. The evening before our day trip we received and e-mail from the agency that they were going to have to cancel the trip since we were the only two who had made reservations. To compensate, the agency offered us a complimentary tour of a Belgium chocolate factory. Apart from those incidents, it was an AMAZING trip. We got to visit 32 museums and countless attractions and monuments. 

We did get to visit the Belgian Centre of Comic Strip Art in Brussels. The museum is housed in a beautiful 1905 Art Nouveau building that was designed by architect Victor Horta. It originally served as a textile department store. The building was restored and re-opened as a museum in 1989. It mainly pays homage to Belgian, but also Flemish and French comic strip artists such as Hergé (Tintin), Jije (Spirou), Edgar D. Jacob (Blake & Mortimer), André Franquin (Spirou), Morris (Lucky Luke), Jean Roba (Boule & Bill) and Peyo (The Smurfs). 

In my composition, the Tintin figuring was purchased at the Tintin Store in Brussels. Tintin is a young reporter and adventurer, but is often portrayed playing detective, solving crimes and mysteries. Under the magnifying glass, a finger print appears on the Clue board game.

Le Musée de la Civilisation is Québec City is currently hosting an Hergé exhibition which I am planning to visit next month. The installation closes on October 22, 2017.

Earlier this year I was invited by Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal to submit some artwork for a Photorealism group exhibition. I am delighted to announced that two paintings were selected for this prestigious show that will run from September 30 - October 10, 2017. 

Details of participating artists to follow and if an opening reception is held. I will be updating this post when the information becomes available.

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8
Tel: 514.933.4406

-painting has been reserved

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

French Kisses, an homage to Robert Doisneau

16 x 12", acrylic on gessoed birch panel
painting #247, 2017 

I initially got this large Hershey's Kisses for my wife while picking up a Valentine's Day card at the store. When I got home, I opened the box and marvelled at it like an "Objet de désire". I decided to put it in my prop box for a future painting and ended up getting her a heart box of Russell Stover chocolates instead. 

The title inspired the narrative for this painting. The composition came to me when I uncovered this 1993 Robert Doisneau calendar that had been stored away some 23 years ago. Since my wife Suzanne and I were married on February 14, I arranged the pages so that "Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville"(Kiss at Town Hall), was on the appropriate month. 

Robert Doisneau (1912-1994) was a French photographer who became reknown for his street photography and as a photojournalist. "Baiser de l'Hôtel de ville" first appeared in LIFE magazine on June 12, 1950. The couple kissing in the photo was only made public in 1992 and identified as Françoise Delbart, 20, and Jacques Carteaud, 23, both aspiring actors at the time. The story behind "Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville" is well documented on his Wikipedia page - click HERE

During our six week vacation in Europe this spring, we were fortunate enough to attend "Bistro, de Baudelaire à Picasso", the inaugural artistic exhibition held at La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, France. The exhibit was comprised of about 100 works that included paintings, photography, drawings, literature and cinema. Dating from the 18th century to today, the show explored how artists from various movements were influenced by Café bars. A full wall was dedicated to the amazing photography of Robert Doisneau.

Earlier this year I was invited by Galerie de Bellefeuille in Montreal to submit some artwork for a Photorealism group exhibition. I am delighted to announced that two paintings were selected for this prestigious show that will run from September 30 - October 10, 2017. 

Details of participating artists to follow and if an opening reception is held. I will be updating this post when the information becomes available.

Galerie de Bellefeuille
1367 avenue Greene
Montreal, Quebec H3Z 2A8
Tel: 514.933.4406

-painting has been reserved

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bonne Maman

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 7 x 5''
painting #246, 2017

This small painting was a hospitality gift for my friend Françoise and her husband Michel who generously offered to pick us up at the airport in Lyon, France and welcomed us into their home for a two night stay in Annonay. On May 8, my wife Suzanne and I would embarked on the ''Puy Way" (GR 65) part of the greater network of trails of the Camino leading to Santiago the Compostella. The moderately difficult hiking trek from Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France is 720 km in length, with an elevation reaching 1300m in the Aubrac region of the Massif Central. The whole journey should have taken us about 26-28 days to complete. Françoise did join us for the first day and hiked with us until noon before we said our goodbyes. 

Everything was going well until day 8, then Suzanne started to have pain in her left knee. By the end of day 9, the pain would turn into an injury. I continued solo for an additional day, while Suzanne took a shuttle bus in order to rejoin me in Figeac. After 3 days of rest, she saw very little improvement. So with heavy hearts, we decided to leave the trail and remain in Europe for another month as tourists. Not having to carry an 18 lbs backpack or tackling mountainous terrain permitted her to slowly recover. It would take 18 days for her to walk without a limp. I was able to hike 270 km during our 10 days on the GR-65. With this said, I feel I have unfinished business. I will be returning to Figeac by myself to complete the Puy Way hiking trek to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port next year.

After visiting the tourist information center in Figeac, a very kind lady helped us map out a new itinerary. We travelled by bus or train visiting Cahors, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Bayonne and St-Jean-de-Luz in France. We then crossed the Spanish border and made our way to San Sebastian and Bilbao. From there we boarded a plane to Barcelona where we stayed for 3 days, then flew to Rome for an additional 3 days before returning home. We swam in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, visited 21 museums plus countless historical landmarks and churches. Some of the museums included the following: 

  • Musée des Augustins and the Bemberg Foundation in Toulouse
  • inaugural art exhibition held at La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux 
  • the jaw-dropping Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao 
  • Fine Art Museums of Bordeaux and Bilbao 
  • Picasso Museum and the Antonio Gaudi masterful architecture in Barcelona 
  • Vatican Museums with the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City 
  • Galleria Nazionale d'arte Moderna in Rome 
  • but my hands down favourite was the Museu Europeu d'art Modern in Barcelone, dedicated to figurative contemporary realism 

The whole trip was a wonderful whirlwind. 

Bonne Maman means "Good Mother" in English. Symbolically, the image is in memory of my mother Emma, and the painting will remain in the country of her ancestors. Since her passing in 2006, during our travels, we often see her name or it will just come up in casual conversation with others, a reminder that she is watching over us. This trip was no exception. This always brings me comfort and a validation that I should live out my dreams.

-private collection France 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Crush bottle on crushed Crush cans

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 24 x 16"
painting #244, 2017

This painting is my largest to date and took a whole two months to complete. The idea and concept had been on the back-burner for a few years. While the Crush soda pop cans are readily available and are sold in rainbow pack which includes these three flavours + Mugs Root Beer, the bottle was a challenge to find and even more so to paint. I ended up acquiring the bottle last summer from the most gigantic estate sale imaginable in Summerside, PEI. They had thousands of vintage pop bottles, mason jars and other bottles. I did end up buying several which will certainly appear in future paintings. 

Orange Crush soft drink was invented by American chemist Neil C. Ward and was introduced and marketed in 1911 as Ward's Orange Crush.  The shape of this particular bottle was designed by industrial designer Jim Nash in 1955. Click on this LINK for a great article on the bottle design. 

It is difficult to estimate the age of this bottle, since the province of Prince Edward Island only lifted a ban and started to sell soft drinks in cans in 2008. Prior to this, carbonated beverages were only sold in refillable, money-back bottles. With Canada adopting the metric system in the 1970's, this bottle was certainly produced afterward.

I am pleased to announce that this painting will be part of a two-person show this fall being held at the Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, NB. 

Harvest by Yvon Gallant and Alvin Richard
October 12 - November 8, 2017
Opening reception - Thursday October 12, 6:30- 8:00 pm

Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street
Sackville, NB, Canada
(506) 536-9000
to acquire this painting, please contact the gallery

Friday, March 31, 2017

Inclusion in the book, INGENIOUS


Last summer, I was contacted by Carol Elder, a photo researcher who was working on a book written by the current Governor General of Canada, his Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston and Tom Jenkins. She was requesting my consent to publish a photo of my painting " Edward R. McDonald's Crossword Game'' for an article about Mr. McDonald's inclusion that is entitled, "Wood-tile Crossword". Just in time to celebrate Canada's 150th Birthday, "INGENIOUS" is a richly illustrated volume of brilliant Canadian innovations whose widespread adoption has made the world a better place. The book appeared in my mailbox today directly from the publisher, Signal- McClelland & Stewart / a division of Penguin Random House Company. I am very honoured to been asked to contribute to such a publication.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Thomas Edison lights up the Electric Company

5 x 7", acrylic on gessoed hardboard
painting #243, 2017

Thomas Edison (1847–1931) was born in Milan Ohio from a Canadian born father and an American mother. He received very little formal education and was home schooled as a child. He acquired knowledge through self-study and reading. Often considered America's greatest inventor, he held 1,093 US patents to his name. He developed and innovated a wide range of products from the phonograph, the motion picture camera and was influential in developing the first economically viable way to distribute light, heat, and power from a central station.

Early experiments of the electric light bulb dates back as far as 1802 when Humphry Davy invented the first electric light. While it produced light for a brief period, it was much too bright for practical use.

Thomas Edison is credited for inventing the first commercial light bulb. In 1878, he formed the Edison Electric Light Company (later General Electric), the world's first industrial research lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey. There, he began serious research into developing a practical incandescent lamp. In 1880, he discovered a carbonized bamboo filament that could last over 1200 hours. Soon afterwards, he started manufacturing and marketing this new product that would impact the world for the betterment of humanity.

The "Electric Company" on the Monopoly Game Board refers to the Atlantic City Electric Co. that was incorporated in 1924.

The commonality they both share, the incandescent electric light bulb was invented 100 miles from the "Electric Company", both located in New Jersey.

About 5 years ago, a hot new decorated trend appeared with reproduction of nostalgic vintage looking globes featuring long separated or criss-cross filaments, a nod to it's inventor, Thomas Alva Edison.

To acquire about this painting, please contact:
Ober Anderson Gallery
101A West Argonne Drive, 
Kirkwood, Missouri
(St Louis, MO)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lindbergh again flies the Air Mail

14 x 11", Acrylic on gessoed mounted birch panel
Painting #242, 2016-17

Commemorating the upcoming 90th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh historical solo transatlantic flight in the "Spirit of St. Louis" from New York City to Paris, May 20-21, 1927.

                With "The Spirit of St Louis" at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC. Easter 2012.  

Prior to his exploit, Lindbergh was an aircraft pilot during the early years of the US Air Mail. He provided service for the newly designated route between St. Louis, Mo and Chicago, Ill. with intermediate stops in Springfield and Peoria. Ill.

During a three city celebration tour of the US following his achievement with stops in Washington, DC, New York City and St. Louis, many honours were bestowed upon him. In Washington, DC, on June 11, 1927, the Postmaster General presented Lindbergh with the first special airmail stamp which was also the first time a stamp had been issued in honour of a man still living.

The top letter in my composition- postmarked St Louis, on June 18, 1927, also bears a special ink stamp in celebration of his crowning achievement on the same day the city would honour him.

Although Lindbergh never returned to service as a regular U.S. Air Mail pilot, he used the immense fame that his exploits had brought him to help promote the use of the U.S. Airmail Service, who's catch phrase was ''AIRMAIL SAVES TIMES''. Lindbergh would return to his former route of St.Louis to Chicago in a CAM-2 for two days so that he could pilot a series of special flights (northbound on February 20; southbound on February 21) on which tens of thousands of self-addressed souvenir covers sent in from all over the nation and the world were flown, back stamped, and then returned to their senders as a further means to promote awareness and the use of the Air Mail Service. Souvenir covers and other artefacts associated with or carried on flights piloted by Lindbergh are still actively collected under the general designation of "Lindberghiana." The bottom letter postmarked with a lucky horseshoe -''Lindbergh Again Flies the Airmail'' was one among those thousands he carried and that I was so grateful to acquire.

I've attached the Lindbergh Stamp in mint condition and both letters to the back of the painting, as a special token for a any prospect collector.

Five years ago I did a similar painting for a group exhibition entitled "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" held at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, Ca. Click HERE for further documentation on this painting. 

It becomes a full-circle moment to have this painting exhibited in St. Louis, Mo, the city where Lindbergh lived while he orchestrated his dream. Without the eight St Louis men who financed the project that included building the custom design monoplane, none of it would have been possible. "The Spirit of St. Louis" was named in honour of his supporters.
To acquire this painting, please contact:

Ober Anderson Gallery
101A West Argonne Drive, 
Kirkwood, Missouri
(St Louis, MO)
tel- (314) 821-6241

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Storm Brewing in a Teacup on Downton Abbey

12 x 16'', acrylic on gessoed hardboard
painting #241, 2016

Last month I received an invitation from the Fog Forest Gallery to submit a painting for a group exhibition that would give the viewer some respite in the wake of the current political uncertainty looming with the upcoming presidential elections in the US and the series of violence / terrorist attacks in the past year alone that seems to be on the uprise and constantly in the news. The exhibition is entitled ''Art for a World Gone Mad'' and runs from September 22 to October 15, 2016.

In my still life painting, entitled “ Storm Brewing in a Tea Cup on Downton Abbey”, I chose to document aspects of the critically acclaimed British television series and draw a parallel by allowing us to appreciate  how much the world has indeed changed in the past century for the betterment of humanity in most instances.  

Downton Abbey chronicles the life of the aristocratic Crawley family and exposes the lavish lifestyle of a disappearing elite class and the relationships they entertain with their many servants. But all is not so rosy at the Yorkshire castle. The main story line centers around the heir and descendants of the Earl of Grantham with their on-going struggles to financially sustain the domain as they meet the challenges of the modern world. Although the series is fictional, it does become quite credible as it follows the timeline in the UK during a very turbulent period in their history between 1912 and 1925.  Some of the events that filters through the script written by the show's creator Julian Fellowes include the sinking of the Titanic (1912), the ravages of World War I, 1914-1918 (17 million casualties, 20 million wounded), the 1918 flu pandemic, aka- Spanish flu (in excess of 50 million deaths), women's suffrage in 1918 (right to vote) and the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921).

The themes and drama that are explored in the six seasons are still pertinent today as they were back then and these include: social classes, snobbery, secrecy, sibling rivalries, woman rights/equality, political revolts, conflicts, infidelity, betrayals, feuds, murder, conspiracies, loyalty, blackmail, sabotage, bullying, scandals, racism, refugees, war and love.

The world in which we currently live in is fast paced and in a state of constant evolution. Much can be said about violence in its many forms, but many historians suggest that we are actually living in the most peaceful period of the past 500 years.  Advancements in human rights, technology and medicine alone makes the world a much better place than a century ago. 

The world economy, religious beliefs, the oil industry, control and power does rule the planet at this point and time. Terrorism, drugs, gun control, poverty, corruption, unemployment, politics of fear and division, global warming are some of the current issues we are faced with in 2016.  It's easy to get overwhelmed with the state of the world when we are constantly being bombarded by the media to a point where we become desensitized in order to cope.  While it is easy to reflect on the past when life appeared simpler, except it is not always true.  But one shouldn't lose hope because there is still a whole lot of goodness in the world today. 

As a painter, a great deal of my artwork does document aspect of popular and mass culture.  I do try to put a positive spin in the imagery. I've occasionally done paintings reflecting the economy or political climate by using a Monopoly Game board as a prop, which in turn becomes a form of symbolism.  I am not turning a blind-eye on all that is happening in the world today. We live in a world where we have to adapt in order to strive and move forward. We also need to take time for ourselves by taking care of our body, mind and spirit. I believe in the laws of Karma / the Golden Rule and try to do good, show gratitude, compassion and respect towards others.

With “Storm Brewing in a Tea  Cup on Downton Abbey”,  I've place a tea cup on top of a book that holds imagery detailing the work achieved behind the scenes with set decoration, costume and hair design, in recreating authenticity while filming the series at Highclere Castle.  The book was written by Emma Rowley and published by St. Martin's Press (2013).  The tea cup and saucer done in a Moroccan pattern is by Grace's Teaware. The setting is my own backyard. King Cole Tea is steeped locally by Barbour's in Sussex, NB. It has been widely renown as the favourite tea of Maritimers for the past century. 

I've actually watched the whole series of Downton Abbey twice. The first time, I binge watched the first four seasons on Netflix then tuned in on PBS for the remaining last two seasons. Then, I replayed the five seasons again on Netflix while I started this painting. I was hooked after watching just one episode. A combination of brilliant writing, a stellar cast and stunning cinematography helped create one of the most beloved and widely watched television dramas in the world. It's a serial where happiness is fleeting for most characters. The daily ritual of drinking tea is often the only constant they can rely on. Even while in the trenches of WWI, Thomas Barrow is serving tea to Matthew Crawley steeped from a cooking pot over a campfire. I leave you with words of wisdom from the matriarch of the Crawley family, Lady Grantham, brilliantly played by Maggie Smith.
''Just the ticket.  Nanny always said, Sweet tea is the thing for frayed nerves''
from Season 1, episode 3.

To acquire about this painting, please contact: 
Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB
(506) 536-9000 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

12 once Pepsi-Cola Bottles

14 x 11'', acrylic on gessoed hardboard mounted (4 cm deep)
painting #240, 2016

Pepsi-Cola was introduced in 1893 as ''Brad's Drink'' named after it's inventor Caleb Bradham, in New Bern, North Carolina.  Very much like Coca-Cola which preceded Pepsi by 7 years, it was conceived by a pharmacist as a energy drink and a digestive aid. From it's ingredients pepsin and the kola nut, it was later rename Pepsi-Cola in 1898.

The rivalry between Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola has probably existed from the time they started to mass produce the carbonated sodas. In 1936, Pepsi-Cola introduced the 12 once bottle and sold the soft drink for a nickel, the same price as the 6.5 once bottle of Coca-Cola. During this period, it would double its sales. The Pepsi Challenge was introduced in 1975. A blind taste test where people off the street were invited to drink samples of Pepsi and Coke in unmarked cups. This marketing coup targeted people who had never tried Pepsi before. Pepsi also went all out with commercial adds targeting the ''New Generation'' teaming up with mega star singers like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Britney Spears, Pink, Beyoncé and many more. 

Putting taste aside, the two colas have taken different routes in marketing their soft drinks from a visual aspect. Coca-Cola has stood by their iconic contour bottle and font for the past century, while Pepsi keeps re-inventing itself with the changing time.

The same can't be said about tie-in products produced by the two rivals during this same period. Demand for Coca-Cola collectables is in a different league and are still very sought after. 

Based on a Best Global brand rankings in 2014 by Interbrand, Coca-Cola was the world's 3rd most valuable brand, behind Apple and Google. Pepsi is ranked a respectable 24th. Coca-Cola outsells Pepsi in most markets for the exception of countries like India, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Eastern Canada (minus New Brunswick) and in Appalachia, North Dakota, Utah and the city of Buffalo in the USA. 

During the fall of 2012, I found these two bottles on a Kijiji listing from a vendor living in Fredericton, NB. The carton which was not in the best condition, was acquired from a US vendor on eBay during the following months. I was able to make it look better in the painting. While they are not dated, according to the above graphic, they carton is probably dated from the 1950's. During my youth, I can clearly remember these bottles being in use during the 1960's. The graphics used here was conceive during the same period when Pop Art was emerging, using primary colours in a most brilliant way. 

Personally, I do not favour one cola over the other. They each have their own unique taste and I enjoy both in moderation. Imagery like this become a unique vehicle for documenting popular culture by bridging the gap of past and present. 

The above photo was taken during the 1950's in Cap-Lumière, NB. 
My late father Raymond stands in front of a small convenience store.  

To acquire about this painting which will become 
available on August 12, 2016, please contact: 
Fog Forest Gallery
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB
(506) 536-9000 


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fredericton Collects

My painting, ''Car Jam'' is currently on exhibition in The Story Behind It at Government House in Fredericton, NB.

The Fredericton Art Club presents The Story Behind It, an exhibit of selected works from the collections of members, at Government House (Gallery inside the New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor General's House) located at 51 Woodstock Road. The exhibit features paintings, photographs, pottery and other treasures. The exhibit will run, and be open to the public, weekdays and by appointment when possible from June 16 until July 31, 2016.

The Fredericton Art Club is in its 80th year. The club brings art and the community together by advocating visual literacy, promoting art education, and the appreciation of art.

Very thankful to the owner of the painting for submitting it into the show. The Government House Gallery was certainly on my wish list of places to exhibit at least once during my lifetime. 

Car Jam, 16 x 12'', acrylic on hardboard
painting #211,  2012 
Private collection 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Good things comes in threes

 East Coast Living Magazine - Summer 2016

In less than one month my artwork has made the front page and/ or has been featured on the cover of three publications. As the French would say, ''Jamais deux sans trois''. This latest probably pulls at my heart strings more than anything that has ever been published on my artwork even if the focus is not on myself as the artist. 

Whenever I complete a painting and send it off to a gallery, one can only hope that it will be adopted in a household where it will be appreciated and loved. This story features gallery patrons whom have been collecting my artwork since 2004. To my knowledge, they own at least nine of my paintings that includes two commission pieces. I've never met them in person or had any contacts since the commissions were done through the gallery as the liaison. However, I do feel a connection with them since they've embraced my art in the best possible way and own some of my favourite pieces.  

The Toronto based couple and their children have been spending parts of their summers on Prince Edward Island for more than 20 years and are currently the focus with a feature article in the 2016 Summer edition of East Coast Living Magazine which invites the reader to peak inside their newly renovated summer cottage. The two paintings featured below are among those that appear on the cover and on page 41. I read the article with a flutter in my heart and a lump in my throat. 

The magazine is available through their website at and at many newsstands throughout the Atlantic provinces. 


Monday, June 13, 2016

Commission piece

Title- Edward R. McDonald's Crossword Game
11,25 x 24'', acrylic on gessoed hardboard
painting # 239, 2016

Board games are versatile props which I have used many time in my still life paintings, especially Monopoly. Scrabble on the other hand had eluded me up until now. Opportunity recently came knocking at my door to produce a narrative painting based on the possible new found origin of the game that even pre-dates the first version of Scrabble. The game was invented in 1938 by architect Alfred Mosher Butts. It was initially called Criss-Crosswords based on a previous variation of a game he also invented named Lexiko. The definitive version of the game and current name was modified by James Brunot in 1948. In 1952, the Selchow and Righter company bought the rights and started mass producing the game. It has been translated in 29 languages and approximately 150,000,000 units as been sold worldwide. 

In January, I received an invitation by the Chamber of Commerce of the sea side town of Shediac, NB to produced a painting based on an earlier version of the crossword game that was invented by one of it's town's former mayor, Edward R. McDonald. What was once part of New Brunswick trivia took a more serious turn once the US patent was recently uncovered dating back to July 6, 1926 and predates the Criss-Croswords by 12 years. A Canadian patent was also issued for the same game on December 7, 1926. While the rules differ somewhat, what they share is the grid checker board, and the lettered tiles with number values (for the exception of vowels) using the same fonts as today's Scrabble board game. The initial project is the brainchild of Pierre Cormier, a member of the Chamber of Commerce and is responsible for taking steps in uncovering the patent that was found by an Ottawa patent lawyer in the recesses of the Smithsonian , the world's largest museum and research centre. 

The painting was initially conceived for a box cover illustration with the intent of manufacturing Mr. McDonald's Crossword Game in light of the 90th anniversary of his invention. It remains unknown if the game was ever marketed and sold beyond a prototype made which his daughter Elizabeth Carvell, 89 recalls her father playing with a neighbour when she was a child. My involvement with the project was only to produce the painting. Since my initial meeting with the Chamber of Commerce the scope of the project has taken a different approach in honouring one of it's most outstanding citizen. As of now, the propose re-edition of the game has been put on hold for the time being and the image will be used for promotional purposes.  

I took part of a press conference held in the historical Webster House in Shediac this past June 8. My speech was to elaborate on the narrative behind my conceived imagery. John Chew, co-president of the North American Scrabble Players Association announced that Hasbro, the current owner of the Scrabble Game will be supplying a large number of games to the town to demonstrate their support for their initiative. Many Scrabble related activities were revealed for the up-coming summer season. The town will form the first certified Scrabble Club in the Atlantic provinces, and will be hosting an International Scrabble Tournament from September 30 to October 2 with Mr Chew presiding over the event. On September 17, Shediac will also host a roaring 1920's Gatsby themed night in conjunction with Scrabble related activities, highlighting the flapper fashion period recently popularised during the later seasons of Downton Abbey.

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 Biographical notes-

Edward Richard McDonald (born- Shediac, NB 1870, died- Shediac, NB, 1952) defines the word renaissance man as an adventurer, lawyer, politician, writer, inventor and family man. In his youth, as the son of a captain, he travelled extensively by sea for three years, serving before the mast on large sailing ships and during which he visited many ports around the world. An experience which he considered gave him training and a greater conception of life. Upon his return, he studied law and was admitted to the Bar of New Brunswick, but his career was not confined solely to that field in earlier years. He travelled to Florida where he engaged in the real estate market for one year. He then made his way to Leadville, Colorado where he was employed in the gold mines for a couple of years before heading north of the border to Alberta where he was involve in ranching. He then became a gold mining prospector for a year in Porcupine, Ontario. After all of these endeavours, he resumes his law practise in New Brunswick and acquired a province wide reputation as a lawyer, being regarded as among the ablest appearing in the criminal courts and other branches of the law, embracing all the courts from the lowest to the highest. 

He was also a very active politician on the local and provincial scene. He served as mayor for four years as well as an alderman on the Shediac Town council for two decades. In addition, he also served as town clerk for many year and councillor for the Shediac Parish at Westmorland Municipality Council for sixteen years.  In 1935, he was elected as one of the members of the Legislative Assembly for Westmorland County serving a four year term during which he played a prominent role in the debates of the House and serves in several committees. 

He was one of the first person in the province to own and operate an automobile and the first in Shediac. He purchased his first vehicle in 1903, sporting license plate # 111. His love of the sea also made him an avid sailor and yachtsman. 

In 1908, he co-wrote a science fiction novel, The Mad Scientist: A Tale of the Future with Raymond Alfred Léger under the pen name Raymond McDonald. 

Upon his passing in 1950, he left to mourn his wife, the former Annie Gertrude Ryan, a son E. Ronald McDonald and three daughters, Gertrude Capreol, Mildred McLellan and Elizabeth Carvell.  He is the great grandfather of Todd McLellan, the current NHL coach of the Edmonton Oilers and Chris Williams, an animator, screenwriter and director working at Walt Disney Animation Studios. In 2015, he won an Academy Award for co-directing the best animated feature Big Hero 6. 


For the composition I was given a copy of the US patent, a re-printed photo of Mr. McDonald when he was elected mayor, another picture appearing in his vintage automobile, a book on the history of Shediac and some printed documents. After meeting with members of the Chamber of Commerce and visiting city hall which has several paintings documenting the history of Shediac, I did some research and decided to incorporate a few more items in order to create a more cohesive composition. 

The patent itself was drawn by Fetherstonhaugh & Co. It serves at the most important artefact and the base of the composition upon which objects are layered on top. The patent agency was founded by lawyer and agent Frederick Barnard Fetherstonhaugh in 1890. The other commonality that Edward McDonald shared with Frederick Fetherstonhaugh apart from them both practising of form of law, was that he was also an automobile enthusiasts.  He was well known for having the first electrical car in Canada,which he help design and also bore his name. The 1893 automobile could reach a top speed of 15 mph and the 270 lbs batteries lasted for 5 hours. 

On eBay I was able to acquire a pair of early 20th century 12 K gold filled spectacles, which I was told he wore. Also a collectible postmarked first official flight letter pertaining to the Air Mail service when Shediac was designated part of the Pan American Northern Route which flew over the Atlantic Ocean during the summer months using a Boeing B314 Yankee Clipper plane, which could land on water. This service route included Port Washington (Long Island, New York),  Shediac (Canada), Botwood (Newfoundland), Foynes (Ireland) and Southhampton (England). The inaugural trip occurred on June 24, 1939. This specific letter was postmarked July 1, 1939 to Quillin's Stamp Shop in Washington, DC. and was flown from Shediac to New York with final destination in Washington, DC. The Air Mail service has historical significance and did contribute greatly to the town of Shediac, it's economy and it’s status as one of the Atlantic link to the US and Europe until the service ceased it's operations by the end of World War II. 

The US Patent Office is currently located in Alexandria, Virginia (near Arlington). In 1926, when the Crossword Game patent was issued, the office would have been located at 8th and F Streets, NW in Washington, DC which now houses the National Portrait Gallery which I was very fortunate to visit back at Easter 2012. 

At first, I didn’t know how I would incorporate the First Official Flight letter (1939) since it precedes McDonald’s game (1926) by more than a decade.  When the Criss-Crosswords was patented in 1938, one can imagine that word of this game might have reached Mr. McDonald's ears by the following year. Being a lawyer, he might have sent a letter to the US Patent office in Washington in order to discuss possible infringement on his patent and concept. It helps to create a link even if it's only an assumption from my part pertaining to this period in time.

The score pad in yellow is also known as a legal pad, which bodes well since Edward McDonald was in the legal business. I wrote both his and wife's name has the honorary players for this match. I was able to acquire two sets of lettered tiles which are sold at Michael's and painted them all by hand in black and white for use for my study and the prototype. I also incorporated a monogram using a drawing of a tile letter R found on top of the patent itself which I re-positioned and a painted black lettered M tile which rest on the edge of his picture. I borrowed a wooded letter stand from a Scrabble game in order to display the tiles which spells ''crossword'' but also to make a reference to beloved game which also bear's its name in their title, Scrabble, the Crossword Game. We've had a French and English edition in our home for at least 25 years, which at the time was manufactured by Irwin.   

My painting and prototype of 
Edward McDonald's Crossword Game

In the wake of the press conference held of June 8, an initial article was published on May 28, 2016 in the Moncton's Times & Transcript and affiliate newspapers (Saint John's Telegraph's Journal and The Fredericton's Daily Gleaner). My painting of the crossword game was featured on the front page of the Moncton edition. Journalist James Foster who covered the story later contacted me to conduct an interview for a related story which also surveys my own artistic career thus far. 

Media coverage in print 

I wish to thank the Shediac Chamber of Commerce for bestowing upon me this unique opportunity and visibility. Also for giving me carte blanche in order to create a narrative painting which focuses on paying homage to one of it's most honourable citizen. Mr. McDonald had left a legacy to the town of Shediac which remained dormant for almost a whole century. The town can finally boost the title of being the Scrabble Capitol of Canada in addition of already holding the title of The Lobster Capitol of the World.  

Ron Cormier, president of the Shediac Chamber of Commerce
playing the role of Edward R. McDonald and Sophie Doiron-Belliveau 
in 1920's period costume after the press conference at Webster House,
 June 8, 2016. 

Left to right:
Pierre Cormier, Shediac Chamber of Commerce member and project initiator
John Chew, co-president of the North American Scrabble Players Association
Ron Cormier, president of the Shediac Chamber of Commerce
Louis Babineau, Shediac Co-op

The 15 ft long Shediac sign in fiberglass coated
Crossword letters will be on display this summer
alongside the World Largest Lobster in Shediac, NB