Gord Downie, Russell Thomas, Fort McMurray, and art

Ten days ago I couldn’t have guessed I’d have a connection to these four things. Sure, I’m a big fan of Gord and The Tragically Hip, and everyone has heard of Fort McMurray. Who the heck is Russell Thomas?

Russell works at the United Way in Fort McMurray. Russell is an excellent painter and live paints for charity fundraising. As it turns out, he does a lot of things. Thanks to the Internet, I’ve gotten to Tweet, email, and yes, even talk to him on the phone. We barely know each other, but I’m very grateful to have met him.

After hearing the news from The Tragically Hip about Gord’s cancer diagnosis, Russell decided to paint a tribute to Gord Downie during a luncheon. Tickets for the event would provide some funding for the United Way, as well as the funds raised in the auction of his painting.

Here’s where I come in. Russell found this photo I took of Gord in Prince George last year. He used it as the inspiration for his painting. Go ahead and click the inspiration link. Russell talks about getting ready to go home to Fort McMurray after the devastating fire. It’s awesome at how Russell is able to give to his community at a time when he’s in need himself.

I really like what he came up with. From a black and white photo, to this. So great. I can get pretty happy with photos I make. When I see what people can create with their own hands I get a bit jealous, and a little less smug. Thanks for that Russell, and the many other artists that actually know what they’re doing :)
Gord Downie Art

To make things even better, Russell’s painting raised $3,000 at the luncheon. Here’s a Tweet that shows the generous donor picking up the painting.

The Internet has helped to make the world a small place. I’m glad for that, and thankful that I got to meet Russell and play a small role in this story. Russell will paint commissioned work so feel free to reach out and hire him!

The first time I saw the painting I wanted to mash the two up. Nice work Russell!

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