A painter's eye

Brodie Thomas
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Burgeo man paints mural, despite visual impairment

The Burgeo Fish Market underwent a bit of sprucing up this summer at the hands of painter Travis Durnford.

The 29-year-old artist added a mural of a resettled community to the building. Mr. Durnford has been painting almost his entire life. He paints despite the fact that he is legally blind, with no vision in his left eye and very little in his right.

Mr. Durnford said the mural he did on the market was the largest piece he has ever attempted. It measures eight feet by 19 feet.

The image is of the now-resettled community of Pushthrough in Hermitage Bay. Ruby Leonard, co-owner of the Burgeo Fish Market, said her husband is originally from the community and had wanted to do a mural on the business for some time.

“I said, ‘It would be nice if you could get Travis to do it.’ Personally, I don’t think you could have found anyone to do a better job,” she said.

Mr. Durnford also did a painting of the business’ name with two large fish on either side of the words.

The surface for the mural presented some challenges. The building has vertical siding, and the grooves between each piece made it difficult for Mr. Durnford to get the proportions right.

He said he started by sketching with pencil and then adding the detail with paint.

“I couldn’t get the detail like I wish I could’ve had on the boat. It was a challenge,” he said.

A lifelong resident of Burgeo, Mr. Durnford attended College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville to study visual arts in 2001.

“I must say I learned a fair a bit about proportion and how to make things look realistic with shading, filling and colours,” he said of his schooling.

Before school, his great-uncle Mark Durnford, who lives in Nova Scotia, showed him a lot of what he know knows today.

“I encouraged him to do the things that he himself can understand best,” said Mark. “What he can see and feel - as the years came along and he grew to the point where he started to be a fairly good artist at drawing and sketching, I realized there was a lot more talent there,” he said.

Mr. Durnford’s uncle still gives critiques of his work through email.

Mr. Durnford does commission pieces when he has time. He said local customers have been bringing him requests such as images of their favourite pets.

Mr. Durnford isn’t really promoting himself as an artist at the moment, but he said requests for paintings keep coming in. Nevertheless, some residents were surprised when they saw him working on the mural.

“I was very amazed at how many people didn’t know about my artwork. This one here caught everybody’s attention,” he said.


Organizations: College of the North Atlantic

Geographic location: Burgeo, Hermitage Bay, Stephenville Nova Scotia

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