This project focuses on documenting, through art, the trials and tribulations of Canadian soldiers.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

IMP Art 2

While I continue to paint on IMP boxes I'm reminded about why I started. When I was in Afghanistan I had plenty of paper but it was really tough to paint on with all the dust and wind. Sperwan Ghar is very windy and when out on a patrol, I decided to sketch one of the soldiers. The IMP box was handy and I found it was easier to paint and draw on in those conditions. It was also something I could give to the soldier (which I did). I kept doing more and even today I find it an easy (and relevant) medium. My goal to share my art with soldiers and regiment hasn't changed, and by far this is the most popular medium. Every soldier gets it.

Brian McKenna, Afghanistan

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


 I started working on IMP boxes a while back. This was something I started back in Sperwan Ghar in Afghanistan. They're great to draw and paint on although you had better take the meal out eventually otherwise your art will spoil. So far, these have been the favorite of my soldier friends and they sell quickly.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Part of my commitment to my regiment's 150th celebration was to create and donate a painting to each mess. This one below is Cora and, of course, it goes to the Jr Rank's mess. The idea behind this was to create a modern bomber girl in the style of Vargas. I picked model Cora Deitz because she has that timeless look to her.

I'm also adding the video of me creating the piece. As you can imagine it took me a while..

For a Friend

Not a lot to say except I miss Maj Louis Beglaw ever time I step foot in my armouries. A great guy with a big smile and a very capable hand at leadership. We don't replace people like this, we just miss them.

Friday, September 13, 2013

And Not to Yield

Painting for your own family is always tricky. On one hand you really want to make them proud and on the flip side you're a bit worried you're going to give them too much insight into what you're really like. Painting for you regiment is the same way. You spend a great deal of time creating and maintaining a persona and the last thing you want to do is have people looking at your painting, pausing and then looking at you with bewilderment. Now to be clear, I don't have either of these issues with my family or regiment. They all think I'm a bit odd and I'm pretty sure I couldn't surprise then short of running around naked and barking.... no wait, they've seen that to.

I committed to do a painting for each of the messes in my regiment as part of it's 150th anniversary. This painting below is for the Senior NCO's Mess and is a mix of collage, acrylic and found objects. As I was painting and assembling it, I had a very clear picture of what I was trying to accomplish and after putting it up on the wall in the mess, I was pretty happy with the finished results. And even though I can't surprise anybody in either of my families any more, they can surprise me. Each person's interpretation is slightly different and yet they're all pretty much on point with the over-all theme. And in some cases, they've seen even more than I intended which is a great sign that the piece works and the people looking at it understand the subject matter better than I do. In short, everybody seemed to get it. Or they're just being nice to me, which is also something that families do.

"And Not to Yield" 2013

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Old dog, new tricks

I'm not old enough to be set in my ways but I am looking forward to a time in my not-to-distant-future when I'll become grumpy and say things like "back in my day...". Until then I'm open to new ideas and new methods of painting. A photographer friend of mine, Carlos Taylhardat is the Chief Head Shooter at and he's been pushing me to try painting on digital prints. This week I caved and had some prints put on to a heavy, cold-pressed water color paper, devoid of color. To this I add watercolors and texture with pen. The end result is a hyper-real watercolor/illustration. I'm going to try a couple of these as it takes a bit of getting use to.

Pt John Howard based on photo by Louie Palu

I'm still not sure if I like it. I'm a bit of a traditionalist and this always got me into trouble at Emily Carr. There it was clear that process was a means to an end and its the end results that matter. Process and technique are the very systems of making art but that process should not hinder your ability to create. It should in fact expand it! It wasn't the idea of trying a new painting processes that bothered me as much as the idea of painting onto an existing photograph. Seems like cheating, which has nothing to do with art, because art in itself is all about coping, interpreting, adjusting and mimicking. I think this has roots back with my grade-school teach who, after I turned in a drawing for a project, taped it to the chalk-board with a big 'F' on it as a warning to other students who 'traced' their subject matter. Truth is I free-handed Mr Donald Duck but that big red 'F' left an impression on me: don't trace or photocopy because its cheating. I know this is ridiculous but I can't begin to count the number of times after that incident fellow students asked me if I traced the art work I was working on.

As with all things in life, the finished work has to stand on its own merits. Now where is my tracing paper...