Live painting at Romeo's

May 3rd is just another day on the calendar for most people.  For about 80,000 of us, this is a date that will live in infamy, for the fiery wrath it wrought in Fort McMurray.

I was doing a live painting at a grand reopening celebration at Romeo's Flooring and Stone on the two year anniversary of the Fort McMurray fire.  They are now in a beautiful new location on MacAlpine Crescent.  Julieta Ranger had reached out asking if I would be interested in doing a painting of a wolf as part of their come-and-go customer appreciation event.  Because she is such a warm and wonderful person, and a great community supporter, I was thrilled to accept her invitation.

Nestled in their magnificent showroom, I painted while guests visited and checked out the entire facility.  It was lovely to meet the staff of Romeo's and provide a little artistic attraction for the honoured visitors over the course of about 3 hours.

I heard Jo-Anne arrive at some point, though I'm not sure that she immediately noticed me.  Eventually, she glanced over.

"Fancy meeting you here, and on today of all days," she said.

Exactly two years earlier (May 3, 2016) we were doing a painting workshop at the Mark Amy Treatment Centre near Anzac; Jo-Anne was the Executive Director at the time. That workshop came to abrupt halt when we found out what was happening back in Fort McMurray. We all tried to make it back to our homes and families. Most of us didn't make it; the historic fire had grown too fast and had blocked our road home. We ended up hunkering down in the centre for the night. It was also evacuated the following day as the fire started heading east, toward us.

Jo-Anne, now Director of Community Development and Impact with United Way, was a calming force on that crazy day two years ago.  It was nice to see her yesterday under much more pleasant circumstances.


It was quite a challenge approaching such a large canvas in a live painting situation.  I decided to fill in the background first using deep red, yellow and orange.  My plan was to have that mostly done by the time guests began arriving, at which time I would start in on the actual wolf.


I didn't have time to chronicle my progress, as I knew that I had to keep painting if I was going to get close to completion by the time the event was winding down.  However, Sara Danielson of Romeo's apparently took pictures throughout the night and happily shared them with me.  I was quite unsure of how it was looking until I got up, walked away, and looked back.  It was actually pretty good.


Just before I left I did a quick little interview with Julieta to ask a few questions about it was like having a live painting done as part of their event and why they picked the wolf.



My thanks to Julieta, Kelly, Sara and all the staff of Romeo's Flooring and Stone.  Congratulations on a beautiful new location.  It was my honour and joy to contribute in a small way to your celebration.

If you would like to hire me to do a live painting done as part of your next special event, don't hesitate to reach out and ask.  I've done dozens of these over the last three years in locations throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan.  My email is russell.thomas@birdsongconnections.com

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