The RPM’s Artistic Officer
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!”
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.