Local artist commissioned for parting gift to CCFL
By Ryan Melanson,
Deciding on an appropriate departing gift for RAdm Craig Baines wasn’t an easy job, according to Fleet Commander Chief of Staff Cdr Nancy Setchell.
First, he said he didn’t want any special gift. When pressed, he started asking for mementos from his office, like a favourite mounted plaque from his office.
“And I had to say ‘Sir, you’re not really allowed to take that,” she joked.
Eventually, they settled on a professionally-produced print of a Halifax-class Frigate, but soon realized the only prints available were taken of ships before the completion of their HCM-FELEX upgrades.
“For someone who is handing over a completely modernized fleet and all the work that went into that, it wouldn’t be appropriate,” Cdr Setchell said.
For a solution to the problem, she got creative, and reached out to local artist Richard Rudnicki, who has previously done work for the RCN as one of six artists commissioned for the Naval Centennial Paintings in 2010, as well as other military and historical pieces.
Rudnicki’s original painting, based on an image captured by FIS Halifax Image Tech Cpl Anthony Chand, features HMCS Montreal at sea during Exercise Spartan Warrior in the fall of 2016.
Rudnicki said he enjoys painting warships and has done so before with pieces focused on both the Battle of the Atlantic and the 1991 Gulf War deployment. For this painting, he said choosing the correct photo as a reference was very important.
“It makes all the difference depending on what reference material I have. Colour is everything, for both photographers and artists, so I was sent about three dozen photographs and one of them in particular jumped out at me. The photo has a good angle, with a great sky and water in the foreground. I cropped the horizon lower to get the silhouette of the top of the ship and added in a bow wave, so I did change it up a little bit.”
Rudnicki attended the Change of Command ceremony and was on hand with Cpl Chand to see the painting unveiled and presented to RAdm Baines, who thanked them both for making the piece of artwork possible.
“It looked great all framed up and a lot of people approached me after the ceremony and said they were excited about the painting, and that it does capture the look and feel of a ship being at sea, which was my hope. I was happy to be a part of it.”
Rudnicki is also the Artist in Residence at the Army Museum at the Halifax Citadel, and is currently working on a graphic novel project based on a fictional story involving HMCS Sackville and the Battle of the Atlantic.