Bo Cooper - Daring Greatly
Melissa Campbell was the amazing volunteer coordinator who took care of me when I arrived. She knew exactly where she wanted me to set up, in a cool spot surrounded by benches and beautifully lit. It was perfect.
I usually have the canvas sketched out before I arrive at a live painting event, but it had been a rather busy day of painting and I ran out of time. So, as soon as the easel was up, I was busy sketching out the image of Bo that had grabbed my attention. After a wonderful bowl of Anzac-made stew, I started painting at 6 pm.
There were so many things I loved about this experience, but that fact that so many young people came by to watch tops the list. A rotating group of kids would quietly sit for awhile and just observe what I was doing.
"You're cheating," said one kid. "You're copying from a picture."
"I'm not copying," I retorted. "I'm interpreting."
I loved the fact they asked questions and made comments. Most importantly, I'm glad they took the time to watch the painting come together.
It was great to see many old friends who had come out to Anzac to support Bo including a huge contingent from the Fort McMurray Fire Department, Mayor Melissa, and MLA Tany Yao. It was also a highlight to get a hug from Pauline Gauthier, long-time electoral officer in our region.
"I had no idea you had this talent," she said, shaking her head. Pauline and I go way back. She helped prepared the amazing meal at the very first public fundraiser I attended in Fort McMurray in 1996 for the Fish and Game Association.
As the minute hand crept up on the nine o'clock hour, I furiously finished up some last details. I motioned for Alexandria Pitchers, the daughter of a fire fighter, to come forward.
"I want you to add the final spot of white to the nose," I said. "Can you do that for me?"
She nodded her head, came forward and put that white dab in exactly the right place.
A part of me wanted to inscribe the Man in the Arena speech from Teddy Roosevelt into the piece, but I couldn't figure out a way to do it with the time I had remaining. So, instead, I titled the painting "Daring Greatly" because that is what Bo and everyone who is surrounding and supporting him are doing.
I close out this post with that amazing speech from over 100 years ago, as it reflects so much about why this community is rising up in this magical way for this brave young man who is battling for his life.