Artist putting Amherst’s history in charcoal

Darrell Cole
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Craig completing sketches of Fathers of Confederation

An Amherst area artist is celebrating the town's 125th birthday with portraits of the town's Fathers of Confederation.

Ryan Craig is completing charcoal and graphite portraits of the Amherst area’s four Fathers of Confederation as part of the Amherst 125 celebrations. He has already completed his sketches of Sir Charles Tupper, R.B. Dickey and Jonathan McCuly. He’s presently working on E.B. Chandler’s portrait.

AMHERST – Using charcoal and graphite, Ryan Craig has a penchant for taking photos and making them jump off the page at you.

The 21-year-old Upper Nappan resident has taken several old photographs of the Amherst area’s four Fathers of Confederation and sketched their portraits as part of a project he has been working on to celebrate Amherst’s 125th birthday.

“I thought it would be a great idea to draw their portraits as part of the Amherst 125 celebrations,” said Craig, as he worked on a sketch of E.B. Chandler. “When you think about it, these four men figured so prominently in the early years of our community that they should be recognized this year.”

Craig started with Sir Charles Tupper, completing most of the portrait while nursing a broken hand suffered in a skateboarding accident, while R.B. Dickey and Jonathan McCully were next.

He saved Chandler to last because he was having a hard time finding photos of the fourth Father of Confederation.

“I could only find a couple of photos of him. There were lots of Tupper and Dickey, but all my research only turned up two photos of Chandler,” said Craig.

The detail of the portraits is very intricate, especially around the eyes of Dickey and McCully’s beard.

Craig said he’s not a history buff, but wanted to learn something about Amherst’s Four Fathers of Confederation. He said people see the names of Tupper, McCully, Dickey and Chandler on buildings and know they were Fathers of Confederation, but not really know who they were.

“We have buildings named after the Four Fathers of Confederation, but most people in Amherst probably don’t know who they were and what they did, I know I didn’t,” said Craig. “I learned quite a bit about each of them as I was sketching their portrait.”

Craig said he plans to make prints of the portraits and sell them at various Amherst 125 celebrations. He hopes to hear from the organizing committee about how it can use the portraits to celebrate Amherst’s birthday.

Craig, whose mother Brenda Barker and aunt Norma Jean Watts are also artists, is self-taught. He started to sketch while sitting at the table next to his mother while she worked on her own art projects.

He’s hoping to someday enter the Fine Arts program at Mount Allison or go to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in Halifax.

Craig’s progress on the project can be followed on Facebook at Art by Ryan Craig.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Nova Scotia College of Art, Fine Arts, Design University

Geographic location: Amherst, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Don Cormier
    March 26, 2014 - 19:50

    Hi Rusty I was at your Dad's and he showed me the drawings on his computer. For sure, you did a great job on them. They reminded me of the detail of the engravings on our paper money. Don