In June, I completed the third chapter of my Four Seasons Mural at the Bulkley Lodge. Its completion was my final act before departing Smithers. I literally closed up my paint, washed my hands and jumped on my bike down the highway. My momentum from this departure continues yet.
The mural was a two year long project. The fourth season, waits as a possibility in the future. For the moment, finishing Fall, felt like a momentous conclusion.
Sitting in front of the mural with an inquisitive friend, the depth to which this mural had become part of my life became clear. Jarrett: "That guy looks a little like you Russell".
It was only then that it hit me. It now seems proposterous that I didn't realize it while I painted, but i can see now how mural not only depicted the Bulkley Vailley, but had become a reflection of my life in it. My partner, the kids, our home, our apple tree, our cat, all play themselves out in 5 x 15 foot splendour.
The idea behind the mural was to bring colour and light to the living area of the seniors. You should have seen the wall paper that my mural covered up! Floral blandness in the extreme. The seniors who live in this area of the home suffer from dementia. They have minimal intellectual capacities and for this reason seldom leave their building, let alone the town. Most of them spent their lives in the valley, partaking in the flow of the seasons and community. The goal was to create an immersive mural to enrich the space where many will spend their remaining years.
The underlying personal catalyst behind beginning the mural was a way to address fear. I had asked myself that New Years: "What do I fear?" One answer was death, aging and, symbolically, seniors homes! What better way for an artist to confront such a fear than to paint a mural in a seniors home.
The two year experience was profound.
Eric, one of the residents and I got along particularly well. Eric, helped me on a regular basis-- holding my brushes or simply greeting me with his indefatigable smile. Barely able to say more than a word or two, where others would be down and defeated by their condition, Eric was always there to help and to smile. The simple beauty of his intention was a powerful example. You don't need fancy words, web pages, or even paintings to inspire.
You just need a smile.