I recently had the pleasure of creating a painting to commemorate the graduation of a Queen’s University student from the engineering program there. He is the son of some dear friends and his mother commissioned me to paint something that would remind him of his time at Queen’s since it was so full of happy memories for him. Because I am very familiar with Queen’s (as a former employee and as a parent of a Queen’s student), it was a challenge I felt I might be able to take on. The program in engineering at Queen’s is rich with tradition and ritual, so there was no lack of substance to work with. I was provided (somewhat sneakily, so he wouldn’t know) with access to many of his and his friends’ photos, and was formulating some ideas of what I might do creatively, but was stumbling a bit with how to put it all together so it wouldn’t just be a jumble of images. Naturally, I wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing and unified.
And then I did a photo shoot of my own, one image stood out, and it all came together. The painting’s structure is formed from the door leading into Clark Hall pub, the place where the engineering students have their Ritual Fridays. Reflected in the door’s glass is our student, leaving. He is facing the building, covered with the ubiquitous ivy, many of his classes would have been in, which is not really near the door at all. He is wearing the jacket all the engineering students wear, which traditionally comes in gold but (like their skin) is then dyed with a very specific purple. (Hence the colours of the painting.) The engineering iron ring also appears in the painting, along with some other small reminders of happy times.
Please click on the image below to see the painting in its various stages of completion. I was so happy to do this and to hear that he liked it! My congratulations to him, and I hope all of you who see this and know the traditions will enjoy it. For those of you who don’t, this door just has a great message on it. Click here for a still shot of the finished painting.