Ontario artist puts Canadian curlers in the paint

Curling championships are nice. So is having your image rendered in a painting by the artist's loving hand.

Ontario artist Ron Ford has put brush to canvas to capture the likes of Jennifer Jones, Brad Jacobs, Rachel Homan and and Dawn McEwen. The retired accountant - who began painting just two years ago - had been dabbling in landscapes before being captivated by the challenge of capturing a human subject's face.

Working off photographs and internet images, Ford has painted a varied group of celebrities. From John Candy, to Jennifer Lawrence, to Clint Eastwood and Elvis Presley.

That Ford would turn to curlers as subjects seems natural.

“I just gravitated towards doing some of the curlers because I am a curler," the 61 year old Cumberland, Ontario resident said. “I love curling.”

With the excitement of Canada's double gold performance at the Sochi Games earlier this year, Ford had his inspiration to begin painting the determined faces of well-known curlers.

“I thought that’d be nice to paint the two winning skips," he said. "So I painted both of those. When Rachel Homan went to the final at The Worlds, I did that."

He had three portraits completed but no public space to display them. Naturally, his thoughts turned to the place where he has curled twice a week for the past eight years.

"Just for fun, I put all three up at The Cumberland Curling Club," he said.

Curling clubs are well-known for the adornments on their walls, but those are usually restricted to photos, vintage brooms, sweaters and the like. Ford's paintings must have popped like a poorly thrown out turn and they garnered some attention from an Olympic gold medallist's mother and father.

“At some point, Dawn McEwen’s parents were curling there in a bonspiel and they saw them," Ford explained. "They asked me to paint a picture of Dawn."

Which he did. For "the fun of it," he also painted one of McEwen's husband, Mike, and sold both of those to Dawn's parents. Ford has completed another one of McEwen, that he will donate to the Cumberland club, to be displayed alongside one of her Olympic jerseys and a broom. (Scroll down to see Ford's portraits of McEwen and Homan)

While his portraits of McEwen are spoken for, his paintings of Jacobs, Jones and Homan are seeking homes. Ford has already asked The Soo Curlers' Association if they'd like the Jacobs portrait - no charge - and he says they've expressed interest.

“They said they’d be happy to hang it at their club. So, if I drive out that way, I may just take it out there and give it to them," he said. "I’m not in it for the money. This a retirement thing. I enjoy it.”

He has a message for Jones, too. “If she wanted it, I’d give it to her," he said of the painting. "The same with Rachel Homan."

Ford, still a novice at portraiture, picked up the brush at the age of 59, when a friend suggested they take a course for the fun of it. Although Ford's grandfather was an artist, he claims he never got the bug himself until he started with that course in the Fall of 2012.

As he's stated, he's not in it to make money from curlers who want their images preserved for posterity in a unique way. However, if there are modest commissions out there to be had, he wouldn't turn them down.

“I suppose if it catches on and people sort of say ‘hey, can you paint me?’ Well, I guess I would do it and charge a few dollars.”

What makes Ford most proud is successfully portraying the personality of the curler in competition.

“I spend a lot of time when I do them, capturing the look. The face. I want people to say ‘oh, that’s Rachel Homan. You’ve got her look. That stare, when she’s coming out of the hack.’ That’s what I want.”