Art from the fire

About 18 staff members of the Mark Amy Treatment Centre were set up at a series of tables surrounding the common area of the facility located just south of Anzac at 1 pm on Tuesday, May 3rd.  They had mostly finished sketching out their portrait of Chief Dan George when Cheryl Tang sent me the following photo.

This was at 1:09 pm.

We kept drawing - I always paint along with my workshop participants - most of us seriously wondering what was happening back in town.

This was at 1:22 pm.

It was around this time that we saw that Thickwood was under a mandatory evacuation order.  I pulled Jo-Anne Packham aside and said that I think we need to send everyone home that had homes affected.  I was mainly concerned for them and had no real idea of the scope and scale of what was happening.

Affected staff grabbed their car keys and headed back to town.  I gathered up all the painting supplies, made a couple of trips back and forth to the car, then began the trip back to town.

Friday, May 6

Settled in Calgary with family, I needed to tear myself from the constant stream of information about the fire, so I pulled out the canvas with the sketch of Chief Dan George and began adding colour.  My sister-in-law Kathryn sat and watched for part of it, asking lots of great questions.

I finished it up first thing this morning.

As it feels so much that this painting is part of the #ymmfire event, I will be auctioning it off to the highest bidder, between now and the time we are able to return to the community.  The proceeds of the sale will go to the campaign, raising funds through The United Way of Fort McMurray that will help rebuild the social infrastructure in our community.

I will be doing a second portrait of Chief Dan George when the amazing and generous staff of the Mark Amy Treatment Centre are back together and we can finish the workshop we started before the fire.  That painting will be given to them.  They offered me shelter, food and a much need hug just when I needed it.

If you are interested in placing a bid on this portrait, please post your generous offer on my Russell Thomas Art Facebook page.  It is pinned to the top of the page.


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