“Getting Ready” includes aspects of Newfoundland, with the coastal scenery, and also includes the “games” element with hockey, skating, and snowshoeing being portrayed through snowshoes, skates, and hockey sticks, and even ice fishing through the person catching the trout in the background. The central “action” of the painting involves clearing the ice and preparing to play. This is what the title, “Getting Ready” means. It is about the work that needs to be done before we play, and this painting pays tribute, not only to those who participate in the sports, but to all those who help organize such events as the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games.
I hope everyone who sees “Getting Ready”, and/or the ornament created from it, feels the joy that came from creating it, the anticipation displayed in preparing to play, the nostalgia that comes from memories of playing such games, and the respect for the work that goes into preparing for any organized events that occur in the community, from the game of shinny on the harbour, to international sporting events..
About the Artist
Reilly is a former teacher; plasterer & painter; hockey, soccer, drama coach; and general volunteer who has been sidelined due to chronic back pain and fortunately, he can still paint, because it is therapeutic and without the ability to paint he would be lost completely. Through his current physical limitations, Reilly is happy being able to continue with his painting. He finds the process to be very therapeutic.
Reilly Fitzgerald was born in St. John’s on Sept. 13, 1967. Ten days later, he and his mother boarded a plane and flew to meet his father in Wabush, in Labrador West where his father worked in the iron-ore mines; however, Reilly was back in a hospital in St. John’s just ten months later for the first of what would eventually be eleven surgeries performed on his right hand and arm by the time he was fourteen. Years later Reilly’s doctors would learn that the operations meant to improve Reilly’s condition, actually caused it to worsen. This is something that Reilly has never been bitter about, and he believes that because of his surgeries, the medical system learned about the particulars of the condition so that in future the same mistake won’t be made with others.
Reilly was born right-hand dominant and from the time he could hold a pencil or crayon he showed an above average ability to draw and paint. Reilly’s artistic talent may have been natural, however through the years Reilly has also received formal instruction in fine art. While in high school, during his grade eleven and twelve years, Reilly earned his Honours Diploma in Fine Art through a correspondence program even before he obtained his high school diploma.
While attending Memorial University in St. John’s, Reilly took advantage of whatever art education the St. John’s campus had to offer at the time. He attended extra-curricular oil painting classes, and completed the only two art-related courses offered on campus. Reilly received a mark of 93% in the course. Eventually Reilly would use the knowledge he’d gained to teach private art lessons, and volunteer, teaching art classes at schools throughout Conception Bay North. This in turn helped him realize, at a later point in his life than most people, when he was married with children, that he was meant to teach. This guided him to complete his university education, get his teaching degree, apply for jobs anywhere and everywhere in the province, accept a full-time position as an English teacher, and move his family from Spaniard’s Bay to Clarenville, which he now considers home.
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Photography by Paul Tilley.