We spot the small dragon perched on a large pillar at the end of a steep driveway. There’s something about the way it seems to smile while cradling its newly hatched baby that inspires us to investigate. Moira answers the door and explains the pillar was built because the wall on either side of it was falling apart. What about the dragon? She smiles and answers with a laugh: “Why not?”
She invites the videographer and I to see her backyard. It features a pond with a dragon’s arm holding a pot and pouring a cup of tea.“It’s whimsical,” she states matter-of-factly. “I enjoy it.”
Inside Moira’s home are walls filled with her original paintings. The bold acrylics look realistic. Until you notice the scene of the harbour features a llama on a boat, and the parade includes a crow in the marching band. “It’s fun,” she says, “taking reality and giving it a little twist!”
After retiring from a 40 year career as a commercial artist, Moira realized she had to give her drawing skills a little tweak. Like athlete, artists have to practice too. So she decided to start a daunting artistic exercise regime – do a drawing a day for a year.
She emailed a couple of friends and committed to send them a drawing a day – and they agreed to hold her to it.
Moira achieved her goal and filled a sketchbook with 365 pictures of things she encountered during her day. Her drawing skills did improve, but what she didn’t expect was how much fun it would be and how her mailing list would expand through word of mouth. “They were strangers once. They’re not strangers anymore.”
Now people around the world receive Moira’s daily drawing. It’s a community united by a Canadian artist’s random images. “Sometimes I’ll set things up the day before, but then in the morning I’ll go nope – that’s not the one.”
When she follows that gut feeling, she often receives emails from people expressing their gratitude. It’s usually because of drawings of dogs that look like pets that have recently passed away.
There was also a scene Moira created showing students waiting at a bus stop with a tiger. It inspired one woman to reveal that her friend’s daughter had died at a bus stop and her favourite animal was a tiger. Moira says the woman’s reaction was hard to explain but “completely good.” After four years and more than 1,500 daily drawings, the artist no longer tries to understand the “weird” connections that happen with her work, but is grateful to help people a little to overcome grief.
So it’s no surprise that when the wall at the end of her driveway started falling apart, Moira repaired it with a little twist.
Adam Sawatsky finds stories like this for the ‘Sawatsky Sign-Off’ at the end of the 6pm news on CTV Vancouver Island.