Friday, October 22, 2010

Ex CFLer adds colour to art world

By Jennifer Smith - Kelowna Capital News

Published: October 21, 2010 6:00 PM

Pro-football player, Stampede wrestler, teacher, corporate chemical exec—and painter?

If it sounds unlikely, you haven’t met Ron Finch.

The Edmonton native got his start as a painter after injuring himself playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the early 1970s. Stuck spending a significant time in hospital he needed something to do. “What are you going to do all day in the hospital? Watch the soaps,” he said during an interview at his Upper Mission residence about how it all began.

His early paintings were watercolours—largely scenery—but he kept trying new things. When he and his wife moved to Kelowna two years ago and bought a house with walls too big for watercolour paper to fill, she suggested it was time he tried acrylics.

The move offered more versatility as the paint can be mixed with water, but gives texture and the deep colour of an oil painting. Listening to Finch tell his story one can see how versatility would appeal.

As a pro-football player, the father of three was knocked out of contention for a full career in his second year of playing, forcing him to reposition himself early—though it didn’t come easily.

He fought to work his way back into the sport while teaching high school, building his muscle mass up with hours of work in the gym. The gym is where Stampede Wrestling found him, offering him more money than he could have made in a season of football to simply wrestle on weekends. And while he never made it to the status of the infamous Harts, or other well-known wrestling characters, he did earn quite the nickname when a group of his students discovered their teacher was one of the weekend warriors and showed up ringside chanting “Mad Dog.”

The thought of Mad Dog battling the likes of Abdullah the Butcher, then pulling out the paintbrush on his time off is perhaps even more incongruous than the football star pinned in the hospital with a first-timer watercolour set, but the way Finch tells it, it all seems quite natural.

This think-outside-the-box mentality shows up the second one flips through his canvasses and collection of framed watercolours. He’s only been doing abstracts in the last few months, for example, but between the watercolour training, his unique sense of colour and attachment to nature the result is very striking with large swaths of black offsetting everything from punchy pink to deep emerald greens and blues.

His first Kelowna exhibit was on October 24 at the Minstrel CafĂ©, with 30 per cent of the sales being donated to The Alexandra Gardener Women & Children Safe Centre.

Ron Finch Canadain Artist Kelowna, Canada, BC 250-826-8446 Send Email