The RPM’s Artis­tic Of­fi­cer

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Ma­gog

Alit­tle over two hun­dred artists from across the coun­try are work­ing to­gether, al­though sep­a­rately, to cre­ate a fas­ci­nat­ing work of art to cel­e­brate the Sher­brooke Canada Games, com­ing in Au­gust. Each artist will paint a spe­cially pre­pared and col­ored tile, about six­teen inches square, with a sports scene and, once they are all com­plete, the tiles will be in­stalled on

an out­door wall in Sher­brooke where, to­gether, they will cre­ate a new im­age.

Tile num­ber eigh­teen of the mo­saic is be­ing painted by some­one who is fa­mil­iar in the com­mu­nity not for his art­work but, sur­pris­ingly enough, for his po­lice work. “I liked art when I was young but I wanted a job that had more sta­bil­ity. A friend of mine was go­ing to po­lice school and that gave me the idea to try po­lice work; I saw it was for me,” said Of­fi­cer Paul Tear, the preven­tion of­fi­cer and spokesper­son of the Regie de po­lice Mem­phrem­a­gog (RPM).

Al­though Of­fi­cer Tear has been polic­ing since 1988, he be­gan prac­tic­ing art again only in the late 1990’s af­ter re­ceiv­ing a paint­ing kit from his wife for Christ­mas. “I first tried to paint a few land­scapes – they weren’t very good. Then I tried flow­ers and I was a lit­tle bet­ter at that. Then I tried a por­trait, of my Dad, and it was good, so I stuck with por­traits,” he ex­plained.

His fa­ther’s por­trait now graces the wall of Of­fi­cer Tear’s home. It’s re­mark­ably good, in­cred­i­bly so for a first por­trait, and makes it easy to un­der­stand why this artis­tic of­fi­cer has been com­mis­sioned, over the last decade, to paint al­most a dozen por­traits of re­tir­ing fel­low of­fi­cers. “I use a pho­to­graph and I draw squares on the can­vas first when I’m paint­ing a por­trait. This might be cheat­ing but I don’t care. I think it’s very im­por­tant to re­pro­duce the face ac­cu­rately,” said the po­lice­man, in­sist­ing at the same time that he “isn’t an artist”, some­thing he re­peated sev­eral times dur­ing the in­ter­view.

What’s most dif­fi­cult about paint­ing por­traits of po­lice­men is the badges. “The colour gold is very dif­fi­cult to re­pro­duce.” Last year he had to paint a re­tir­ing mo­tor­cy­cle po­lice­man in a leather jacket, some­thing he won’t do again. “Paint­ing leather is in­cred­i­ble; I spent half the time just paint­ing the jacket.” The paint­ing of leather not­with­stand­ing, Of­fi­cer Tear en­joys paint­ing th­ese por­traits and his fel­low of­fi­cers en­joy re­ceiv­ing them. “Be­cause a paint­ing is done by hand it gives it a dif­fer­ent value. I end up spend­ing a long time with one per­son, even though it’s just a pho­to­graph; it’s an in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship.”

Very ac­tive in the Ma­gog com­mu­nity, it was ac­tu­ally Of­fi­cer Tear’s com­mu­nity in­volve­ment which led to him be­ing one of an elite group of artists par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Mu­ral Mo­saic art in­stal­la­tion. “I made a paint­ing about football for the fundraiser for the ex­pan­sion of La Ruche. I’m a mem­ber of the Op­ti­mists so they sold raf­fle tick­ets of the paint­ing and we were able to give $2000 to the school. Mr. Dro­let, from the Mu­ral pro­ject, saw the paint­ing in a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle so he asked me if I would paint a tile. I don’t have much time, with work and home ren­o­va­tions, but I couldn’t miss the op­por­tu­nity to be part of that pro­ject; it is an hon­our. I was sur­prised and proud at the same time, es­pe­cially since I don’t con­sider my­self an artist.”

Paul was given his tile, pre-painted with hues of blue, green and gold, just a few weeks ago with a choice of three sug­ges­tions for im­ages to paint on the tile. “One sug­ges­tion was a paint­ing of Louis Cyr’s visit to Sher­brooke, but I only have a month to paint it and I didn’t think I had enough time for that. An­other sug­ges­tion was an im­age of ski­ing on Mt. Or­ford, so, since I’m from Ma­gog, I took that.” He can use only five pre-de­ter­mined colours to paint his win­try scene since his work will even­tu­ally be­come part of a larger im­age. He also must use a spe­cial kind of acrylic paint that will stand up to the ele­ments of the out­door set­ting. “I’m used to paint­ing with oil, which is eas­ier, be­cause it dries slowly. The acrylic paint dries very fast.”

Al­though his po­lice work is less stress­ful now that he works pri­mar­ily on preven­tion, Paul still en­joys the peace that comes with paint­ing. “My work on preven­tion is quite calm. When I go to visit peo­ple they are ex­pect­ing me.” He con­tin­ued: “When you’re paint­ing, you find your­self in a bub­ble; you must con­cen­trate and for­get all the rest. I put some mu­sic on and even for­get about eat­ing.”

When the fin­ished “Mu­ral Mo­saic”, to be lo­cated on a build­ing on Welling­ton South, is un­veiled in Au­gust, Of­fi­cer Tear will be there. “I won’t miss it, even if I take the day off. I’m very proud to be part of the mo­saic along with so many artists.” The evo­lu­tion of this work of art can be fol­lowed on the in­ter­net at mu­ral­mo­saic.com.

This Oc­to­ber, Of­fi­cer Tear will cel­e­brate twenty-five years with the Regie de po­lice Mem­phrem­a­gog. “Maybe when I fi­nally re­tire I’ll be­come an artist,” he joked, half se­ri­ously. “But, for now, I’ll con­tinue to do por­traits. It’s my spe­cialty!”

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Of­fi­cer Paul Tear, of the Regie de po­lice Mem­phrem­a­gog, is paint­ing a tile which will be­come part of a larger Mu­ral Mo­saic be­ing cre­ated to cel­e­brate the Sher­brooke Canada Games.

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