Photo Caption: The artists at work behind Joe: Jayden Stockall, Logan Sangster, and Hannah Myers (Grade 6 students).
By Karen Bradley
Some time ago, renowned local artist Joe Purcell (aka Joe Black) shared two paintings with the Porter’s Lake Elementary School. The paintings disappeared during moving, until Paul O’Toole, the new Fine Arts Integration specialist for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education accidentally stumbled upon them. O’Toole was so amazed by the paintings that he made sure they were soon hung in the school hallway where the children could see them and be inspired by them.
O’Toole soon discovered there was a third painting connected to the first two, one that Joe had not finished. And so, an idea was born: to have the children finish the painting, under Joe’s supervision, of course.
Monday November 18, 2019 was the day Joe came to school.
I spoke with Joe at the school while several students worked away behind us finishing the third painting. He told me that in his work, he wanted his paintings to reflect the way he saw the world, and that he sought subjects that would make him happy and fulfilled. He hoped his paintings of wild animals and birds, and scenes from the Acadian village, would echo the stories of life that he saw.
“I’m exploring inner space. As Acadians, we were hunted, you know. I want the children to know that art is a way of being free and expressing who you are. But if you are going to do it, do it well with the right knowledge. I’ve watched art teachers teach pointillism as dots of colour, but it’s important that the contrasting colours are used. If blue dots, you need orange. If red, you need green dots.”
The three paintings in the hall will remind students at Porters’ Lake Elementary School of Joe’s two messages about art: Art is about both freedom and technique. And the combination of freedom with technique can make the world a more beautiful place, as Joe has done throughout his career.