Touching scene with veteran inspires Victoria artist to paint Remembrance Day series

Victoria-based artist Paul Archer poses with one of his striking images of a veteran. Completing such paintings has become a November tradition. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Paul Archer, a Victoria-based artist, tries to paint one Remembrance Day piece each year in November. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)Victoria-based artist Paul Archer poses with one of his striking images of a veteran. Completing such paintings has become a November tradition. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff) Paul Archer, a Victoria-based artist, tries to paint one Remembrance Day piece each year in November. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
One of four paintings featuring veterans Paul Archer has done. This one pictures a young girl embracing her father, who has just returned from Afghanistan. (Archer Airbrushing/Facebook)One of four paintings featuring veterans Paul Archer has done. This one pictures a young girl embracing her father, who has just returned from Afghanistan. (Archer Airbrushing/Facebook)
Archer said his veterans series began when he saw a veteran salute a piece of his work during a Remembrance Day ceremony. (Archer Airbrushing/Facebook)Archer said his veterans series began when he saw a veteran salute a piece of his work during a Remembrance Day ceremony. (Archer Airbrushing/Facebook)

Paul Archer was in the middle of a live TV interview when he saw an emotional moment nearby that changed him.

Archer, a Victoria artist specializing in airbrush work, had painted a portrait of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was gunned down in 2014 at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The portrait was laid at the Victoria cenotaph as part of a Remembrance Day ceremony.

Archer said he had tears in his eye while painting this veteran. (Archer Airbrushing/Facebook)

“At the end of the ceremony, an old war vet walks up to the painting and he took off his poppy, laid it in front of the painting and then stood back and saluted it with tears in his eyes,” said Archer. “And that just brought me up and over … I started to mist.”

Archer, whose artwork graces the front of this special section on page A9, has been painting scenes of veterans every November for the past four years as a way of giving back.

READ ALSO: George Floyd mural appears on Victoria street

Last November, Archer donated four of his paintings to the Royal Canadian Legion in Langford. Two depicted veterans in their uniforms; one was of the ‘last kiss’ between a soldier leaving on a train and a woman dressed in a Canadian Forces uniform; and another of a young child embracing her father just home from Afghanistan.

“I think it stems back from that one war vet, whoever he was, that happened to just lay down his poppy, step back and salute – that just told a million stories right there,” said Archer.

In addition to the Remembrance Day pieces, Archer has also undertaken a homeless series that features several veterans.

READ ALSO: Victoria artist commemorates Discovery Island wolf Takaya with mural

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch #91 in Langford, Premier John Horgan and Archer stand with the Last Kiss painting. (Archer Airbrushing/Facebook)

“When I see a homeless war vet, it just absolutely sinks my heart,” he said. “[These paintings] are heavy reminders for our generations.”

The first study looking at veteran homelessness in Canada found that an estimated 2,250 veterans use homeless shelters each year across the country.

According to the same study, almost three per cent of annual shelter users were identified as veterans.

Archer said he wants people to remember the sacrifices these veterans made when looking at his paintings.

“I guess my ultimate is for people to actually be affected emotionally by my work, whether it’s happy or scared and creepy or whether it’s love or painful,” he said. “I want to get to that point where my artwork has emotions to it.”

While this Remembrance Day will look different from those in the past, Archer said he’s hoping to continue on the tradition of painting a veteran each November.


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Courage RememberedRemembrance Dayveterans homelessness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after cancellations on Friday due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich police seek suspect after woman nearly robbed while getting out of vehicle

Incident occurred before 7 a.m. Feb. 17 in parking lot off Cordova Bay Road

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Gabriel Swift, 23, is one of three Victoria filmmakers chosen to receive $20,000 Telus Storyhive grants to produce Local Heroes documentaries. (Courtesy of Gabriel Swift)
Three Victoria filmmakers producing ‘local heroes’ documentaries with $20,000 grants

Telus Storyhive providing $20,000 to 40 Western Canada productions

Goldstream Food Bank president Gayle Ireland is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Community Volunteer of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Two-week stint at Goldstream Food Bank turns into 35 years of volunteer service

Goldstream Food Bank’s Gayle Ireland is the 2021 Community Volunteer of the Year

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read