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The Fisherman from Shediac

The Self-Taught Art of Paul McFadden

by Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder

Paul McFadden lives in the Shediac area of New Brunswick, Canada. He paints, carves and creates scenes from his childhood - floating buoys, lobster pots, boats, the shoreline and his father's bright red 1953 Chevrolet truck.

Like many young men of this area Paul left school early at age 16 to work along side his fisherman father.

Life on board a ship was exhilarating for a young man. The days were long and hard but the air was fresh and the sea had many faces. The images of buoys, and lobster pots, boats and the shore became deeply ingrained in Paul's subconscious.

As time went by, fishing throughout the whole east coast became leaner and it became harder to earn a living from the sea. Fish stocks had to be replenished and only limited fishing was allowed. The waters once so plentiful with fish, seemed empty and what used to be a vibrant industry, was dying.

As is so often the case, tough times puts a great stress on family life. Households break up, homes are lost and lives are disrupted. Paul did not escape these fates.

It was during a tough time in his life that Paul came upon a set of paints at a flea market. Though he didn't know it at the time, the purchase of these paints was to become the start of a new career. Paul ,who had never painted before, found that painting gave him a sense of peace and a satisfaction he had not experienced before.

He painted for his own pleasure - images of a better time - a time when the fish were plentiful... a time when he and his father would ride in the red Chevrolet. However, Paul had not even considered earning a living from his new found hobby.

Then one day while holding a moving sale, Paul decided to put a one of his paintings in the pile to be sold. Much to his surprise several people began to compete for the purchase of his work. Paul McFadden the folk artist was born.

Paul's art speaks to all of us. We all have memories that are worth preserving but not everyone can express it from the heart with the paintbrush like Paul.

Keep it up Paul. We love your work.

Paul's work has been shown at the Nova Scotia Gallery of Art and the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario, as well as the University of Moncton.

Text © Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder; Photos Reprinted with Permission

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