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.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


 

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

Just Posted

Police are investigating after a man was killed at a home on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police investigating early-morning murder in Duncan

One arrested after man killed at Cowichan Lake Road home

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Firefighters from three departments battled a house fire south of Nanaimo for more than nine hours Sunday. (Photo courtesy Martin Leduc)
Home in Cedar destroyed by fire

Firefighters from three fire departments battle blaze fanned by strong winds Sunday

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in fatal Chemainus hit-and-run

Investigation expected to be lengthy and involved

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Public to avoid the wooded areas around Queneesh Elementary

The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre has reopened with 45 shelter spots for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria. (Courtesy of Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre)
Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre shelter in Victoria reopens with spots for 45 people

Arena is an interim step until long-term housing is found

Visitors relax at the natural hot springs located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. (tofinohiking.com photo)
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park boardwalk project on track

“The walk down the two-kilometre boardwalk to the springs itself is by far one of the most incredible experiences.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Most Read