Painting a road to mental health

1000 Yard Stare is a depiction of the Vietnam War.

1000 Yard Stare is a depiction of the Vietnam War.

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

Local submariner MS Allan Gauthier is charting a course to mental fitness through his art.

When he is not on the job as a Weapons Engineering Technician with HMCS Victoria, he is in his studio with pencil or brush in hand.

Art, he says, has helped him stay resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic and to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

“Even before the pandemic began, everything on the news seemed to be negative and there were so may people saying hateful things. The one thing I can control in my life is my art work and the pandemic gave me an opportunity to refocus on myself and take time to do what I enjoy doing.”

The 45-year-old has no formal art training past high school art class in his hometown of Sudbury, ON.

“My parents like to tell people I was painting before I learned to sign my name,” he says. “As a child I was able to draw complicated objects and shapes with ease.”

A gallery of work

His paintings have landed at art shows, museums, and galleries, and he has even done commissioned work. 

Within his workplace, he has painted the torpedo tubes in HMCS Chicoutimi with Indigenous-inspired artwork depicting bears. He received favourable comments from submarine mates and praise from foreign dignitaries who visit the submarine. 

“It was meant to add something to our vessel that is unique, inspirational, and something you will always remember,” he says. “You won’t find this artwork on any submarine in the world and I enjoyed painting and coming up with the design.”

Another of his recent projects was the creation of a morale patch to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Victoria-class submarines.

1000 yard stare, a painting that brings him much pride, is a depiction of the Vietnam War. It took him nearly a decade to complete.

“The title describes combatants who have become emotionally detached from the horrors around them on the battle field. PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] is the real enemy of war.”

His art also reflects his strong spiritual beliefs and dedication to meditation.

A water colour painting entitled Buddha’s Compassion and another entitled Blue and Red Taoist were created for some balance and positivity in the midst of COVID-19 isolation at home.

“The Taoist painting is a labour of love and depicts a red and blue flower. The design is to express the Toa and I-ching in an intricate and new way.”

Proud to serve

MS Gauthier served 14 years with the Canadian Armed Forces, but not always as a submariner.

He joined the military in 2005 where he served two years in the Canadian Army as a Combat Engineer. The start to his military career was cut short two years later after he suffered a severe ankle injury and was medically released.

MS Allan Gauthier

MS Allan Gauthier

After finding work as a heavy equipment mechanic apprentice, his industry was harshly impacted by the 2008 economic downturn and he returned to the military. This time he joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a Naval Electronics Technician, which later became a Weapons Engineering Technician.

He has served on board HMCS Ottawa, HMCS Protecteur, HMCS Algonquin, and HMCS Chicoutimi along with Orca-Class Patrol Vessels.

“What the military has provided me most is a good and stable career path. I feel very fortunate to have a job when many others don’t and yes representing my country, making myself and my country proud, is a great legacy to have.”

MS Gauthier said he hopes those who look at his art work realize it is a reflection of this beliefs.


Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.