Reflecting on service with art

Artist Eva Campbell

Artist Eva Campbell’s paintings that feature Canadian Forces members are on display at Xchanges Gallery on Government Street. Read the full story on page 2.

Eva Campbell says her first brush with the military was as a child while living in Jamaica, when she inelegantly painted toy soldiers with her brother.

Through the tutorage of African and Caribbean artists, and four years at the University of Victoria, the fledging artist’s skill eventually turned from clumsy to masterful.

While her canvas is usually reserved to tell the stories of women with her cultural background, she recently used her talent to create portraits of Canadian service men and women.

The two-year journey to produce the 18 paintings, dubbed Reflections on Service, began after meeting her Uncle, a police officer in Barbados. She asked him to sit for her, and her first “service” painting was born.

 “When I returned to Victoria after that trip I decided I wanted to paint military personnel in Canada,” she says. 

She began her series of paintings in 2009 with Cpl William Salikin, an infantryman who had served in Afghanistan and came to Victoria to collect his sacrifice medal. “I saw a picture of him in the newspaper and I asked the reporter to connect us so I could ask if could paint him,” she says.

He agreed, and the project began in her Fairfield studio.

“The colour of the uniform helps me determine the colour of the background. Then it’s all about detail and going back and forth with my brush. I think of the light source, shadows and details.”

Pilot Capt Jameel Janjua was painted next and Campbell decided for the rest of the paintings she would paint two pieces of each member – one of the individual, and one with them showing the technology and gear used for their work.

Campbell became well known at Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) when she painted two portraits of LS Patrick Moulden who had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. She also painted a large oil painting of a non-specific clearance diver and donated it to the mess as a thank you gift.

“Eva was so dedicated and wanted to ensure the painting was accurate,” says training chief, CPO2 (Ret’d) Mark Oliver. “She wanted the clearance divers to perceive it correctly, so she kept bringing it back with changes, and put so much time and effort into it to make sure we were happy with it. She is a fabulous artist and so true to being accurate and honest.”

One service woman to be portrayed in paint was Cdr Trish Roberts. After connecting with Eva through a mutual acquaintance, she offered photos of herself at the Vimy Ridge Memorial and at the consecration of the Queen’s Colours in Halifax on Citadel Hill in 2009 with her daughters Alice and Molly.

“She captured the enormity of what the memorial means to Canadians, and in the second painting I thought she captured the girls’ expressions perfectly. I think it’s really amazing to see someone who wasn’t born in Canada really embrace the Canadian Forces. She understands the significance of the Canadian Forces to Canada. Although she is intrigued by our uniforms and what they represent, she portrays beautifully the humans who wear them.”

Campbell is the visual art teacher at Victoria’s Lester B. Pearson College. Reflections on Service is on exhibit at Xchanges Gallery on 2333 Government Street until Nov. 25.

She is looking for more military members to paint, in particular sailors on ships and Canadian Scottish Regiment pipers.

Anyone interested in being painted can contact her at 250-858-0499 or and see her full collection of work at  

Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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.