When a New Brunswick artist put his brush to canvas to create a portrait of his idol Gord Downie after the musician died of cancer, he never imagined his work would end up on pages published by one of Canada’s most renowned self-help authors Robin Sharma.
“The fact that my work could inspire him is crazy,” said Jim Middleton of Fredericton.
Middleton’s painting of Downie appears in the pages of Sharma’s new book, The Everyday Hero Manifesto which Shama said he wrote during the pandemic.
“To be able to showcase in some way Jim Middleton’s art – it is a joy for me,” said Sharma, adding that he is also a big fan of Downie.
The serendipitous moment came, said Middleton, while he was working away in his corner space at a Fredericton market.
“You are talking about someone who got laid off a year ago in the pandemic from being in sales,” said Middleton. He said he had thrown himself into his art trying to build a new career.
“When I saw Jim’s painting of Gord I was just transfixed,” said Ben Schmidt who also shares a passion for Downie’s music.
Schmidt offered to buy the original painting of the Canadian icon. “He couldn’t sell that and I said ‘would you do another one?’ and he said ‘absolutely,” Schmidt recalled.
But it had to be done in only three days said Schmidt.
Middleton, who had only started painting about a year prior, rose to the challenge.
While rushing to get it done, the artist said, never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that Schmidt was planning to give the painting to Sharma, his Maritime-born mentor, at a conference in Toronto.
“Art can remind us of what is beautiful and the piece that Ben Schmidt sent to me as a gift really did that for me,” said Sharma.
The author said that very painting, hanging across from his writing room, would also become part of the inspiration for a chapter in his new book dedicated to Canada’s music legend.
“Jim really captured the sparkle in his eye. He capture the swagger but he also captured the poetry,” Sharma said.
Middleton said he only found out that Sharma was the owner of the painting when his publisher called to ask permission to use the image in the book.
“The fact that Robin put me in a book that is going to get in front of the eyes of millions of people is a gift that I could never repay.”
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