Newfoundland artist, Reilly Fitzgerald, paints for therapeutic reasons.
“I’ve always been very active,” says Reilly. “Between 2007 and 2010, I went from being an over-active volunteer, writer, high school educator, father and husband, to no longer being able to perform these things effectively. But I could still paint.”
Reilly has a congenital defect known as an AV fistula malformation, which affects the use of his right hand and arm. After eleven surgeries by age fourteen, Reilly became ambidextrous and left hand dominant.
“Painting helps me deal with my chronic pain and gives my life purpose.”
Reilly likes the challenge of painting a variety of subjects in different ways to express his creativity.
“I have created large bas-relief pieces made of scrap wood, cut, carved, and painted,” says Reilly. “This includes a large 12 by 8 foot piece titled Canadian Treasure which I created for the Town of Clarenville, NL, as part of the Canada 150 celebrations.”
He also made two smaller iceberg-and-whales pieces: Connected for the pediatric clinic of the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander, and Cohesion donated to the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St John’s.
For his “wood grain paintings”, Reilly paints directly on wooden panels, using the natural wood grain to determine the images. He’s also used tongue and groove board reclaimed from demolished houses, and repurposed them as platforms on which to paint.
“But, I have to say my favourite thing to paint is my home: my town, Clarenville, my province, NL, and my country, in that order, whether it’s the house next door, the birds in the town’s protected sanctuary, or historic locations or events. I have a pride in creating my unique vision of these things.”
One of Reilly’s significant paintings, “Hell Stirs, Heaven Waits” (2020) is a depiction of the Ocean Ranger disaster.
“It’s a painting that pays homage to my province’s historic and often tumultuous relationship with the sea.”
Involved in a variety of projects over the years, Reilly has won awards and achieved formal recognition for his art. He illustrated the children’s book, Lucy Grey by Bruce Stagg, as well as the cover of Bruce’s book, Lend Me Your Ears. He has created posters, logos, produced three-dimensional installations, and much more.
The place to see Reilly Fitzgerald’s work in person is in the Clarenville area. A permanent display of about 50 or so pieces have been at the Eastlink Events Centre since 2013.
Reilly gives most of his artwork to his daughter, Kaeleigh, who sells the originals and giclee prints through her business, Eagle Photo Studio. His work is also available printed on backpacks, jewellery, ornaments, calendars and more.
He has also kindly created a library of over 60 Colouring Sheets* based on his original artworks. “Feel free to download and use these images for personal projects or educational use,” says Reilly. Here’s one of our favourites.
(*Please respect international copyright laws and do not misuse his intellectual property in mass production for financial gain.)
View more artwork and read biography details on his Facebook page at Reilly Fitzgerald, Artist.