My passion for art started as a young child in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My father was talented as an artist and started his own sign-painting business. I soaked up whatever I could in mastering my craft from his talents.
I remember sitting on my Dad’s lap with my hand cradled in his as “we” drew a squirrel on a branch. My dad continued tutoring me for a few years until I turned six. He told me if I carried on with drawing and painting that would be entirely up to me, so off I went and ended up coming to Windsor after finishing high school.
I was able to stay at my Aunt Marie’s home in Wheatley to enable my study of Graphic Design at St. Clair College. Hitch hiking between my aunt’s home and Windsor turned out to be very undependable. Back in Nova Scotia, I thought the proximity between Wheatley and Windsor was a lot closer.
I was ready to call it quits after getting through my first year. Fortunately, I met up with a group of commuters that shared the drive for the next three years to complete my training.
After graduating with my diploma, I found a job at an ad agency, and then on to the Windsor Star. I learned to be fast in the advertising department at the Star. My day was filled developing creative ads for local retailers and helping them market their product.
I had a freelance company after business hours and decided to go full time with it. Partners Design was formed with a good friend, Phil McLeod, near Walker Road.
Work availability lessened as more business people created their ads on their own computers in the ’90s. It was time to take a new direction. I learned all I could about the new concept of “branding.”
I developed my own branding process. Right around that same time my wife Rose and I moved from Windsor to Leamington. We now lived on a large lot right on the shores of Lake Erie.
It brought back my desire to paint again. I joined the Leamington Arts Centre and displayed my work at their gallery. I participated in various events like Art at the Marina and participated in art studio tours. Later I had an art studio built onto our home and once a year I even held my own art event in my yard.
During this time, I started painting on bigger pieces of watercolour paper. I was the only one in Southwestern Ontario creating watercolours, using this larger format and a decorative cut edge around the 300 pound art paper.
At this time, I began blogging about branding. I received many branding opportunities from Tanzania, Prague and other places in the United States and Canada.
I later teamed up with a friend from San Diego to form The Brand Academy. We trained graphic designers to be brand consultants. I even published three books of branding tips. Years later, I still receive calls internationally to advise interested parties how to brand their businesses.
In 2010, we experienced trying times with the tornado that tore our beautiful treed property into a wide open golf course.
In 2015, we decided to downsize and moved to Kingsville. Around this time, Rose suggested I donate a number of my paintings to the new Erie Shores Hospice in Leamington. We took a tour there recently and it was a rewarding walk down memory lane, seeing all my earlier paintings gracing the walls in this special place.
Once we moved to Kingsville I still needed to direct our creative energy into a new direction. We opened our shop, Sissy & Roché Fine Arts, in the East Kingsville Plaza. Several of my paintings hang on the walls there. I invite artists to exhibit their work too.
Having a gallery and gift shop is satisfying and enjoyable, but teaching my craft to those who are eager to learn is particularly fulfilling. I have a variety of classes scheduled so that my students feel comfortable with a smaller class during COVID.
Recently, I’ve developed Parkinson’s disease. I find it curious that while I’m concentrating on painting, my symptoms diminish. I truly believe staying creative with drawing and painting helps raise the bar against mental health issues and other health concerns.
My easel is set up in the window at Sissy & Roché. Whenever I’m not teaching, I am free to explore my world of creativity.
I am an active member of the Arts Society of Kingsville. Presently, I have invited members of this organization of like-minded people to put up displays of their works of art every two weeks over a number of months.
Rose and I invite you to come into the gallery. We can have 10 people inside with masks on during this time. COVID-19 protocols are strictly followed. Please come over, watch me painting, say hello.
Sissy & Roché’s Fine Arts is located at 313 Main Street East in Kingsville.
Our phone number is 519-800-8293.
~ All photos provided by Rose Roach