Deb McDougall is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Heffley Creek Community Recreation Association. She was the driving force that put the wheels in motion to make some amazing changes to the Heffley Creek Community Hall. All thanks to the impressive work of artist Jeff Jones.
Jones is a mixed media artist who resides in Ontario. However, thanks to McDougall’s insistence he recently spent a full week driving across Canada with his art equipment and faithful canine companion Timmie, to paint several historical murals on the outside of the Heffley Creek Community Hall, which is just north of Kamloops, B.C.
“We wanted to create an historic mural of the area and it’s finally happening,” said McDougall with a big smile on her face as this reporter arrived to interview the artist.
The artist’s work is incredibly impressive, and wraps completely around the building on the south and the east wall.
The mural goes from ground to rooftop, from left to right, showing a First Nations village in the foothills of the valley, then depicts the original lumber mill of the area, with logs piled up ready for shipping. Jones was working on adding a stagecoach with horses on the next section, and there would also bea cattle ranch with fencing and cows in a field.
While Jones worked he explained what he visualized for the mural, and amazingly it just flowed from his hands into the brush. He was quick at his work, and knew exactly how to transfer what he saw in his mind onto the giant brick walls of the community hall. The transformation was stunning.
The artist commented that the day before it had rained, which made it impossible for him to paint outside. So, “on a whim”, hge went into the hall and with McDougal’s permission started “a small mural” on one of the walls.
“Then I got carried away with the mural and I worked to like five in the morning and did the whole wall on the one side,” said Jones as he showed this reporter his handiwork, “Pretty big ay?”
The “pretty big” indoor mural features clouds over mountains, plenty of sky and gigantic stone block walls – the overall impression is that you are standing in a fortress on a mountain top lookout.
McDougall says she is more than ecstatic with the results, and continually commented, “isn’t it the absolute best.”
We asked the artist, who is from Ontario, how he came into the profession of painting murals on buildings?
“I’ve been travelling and working for five years now, except for last year,” said Jones, “Because of COVID I was pretty much stuck, but I’m back travelling around on the road again with my dog Timmie. I went across Canada and I ended up picking up a paintbrush after not having touched one in something like 23 years. I started painting again, and I just like the road.
Jones says he only started doing large murals about five years ago, but about 30 years ago he did murals on bedroom walls.
“I did tattooing, sandblasting, pencil sketches, canvass painting, awl painting, glass etching, paint parties, and I did a paint party last Wednesday at Heffley Hall.”
How did Deb McDougall come to contacting him?
“I had a job in Kamloops and before I go into a different town I go onto American Place and I put my portfolios up. and next thing I have 20 jobs by the time I get there. I’ve been living off Marketplace and Facebook for the last eight to 15 years. When I came here I put a post up that I was here and I got six new jobs to do, I also got a school to do, and Vancouver wants me to go there as well. I’ll be doing this until I run out of work – although it doesn’t seem like I’ll ever run out of work.”
Jones says he used to be known as a ‘starving artist’, but now there are not many people doing what he does, so there is ample work out there.
“This lady Deb has been so good,” said Jones, “She’s provided accommodation, transportation, and has even put her own money out to help get this project done. I’ve never seen anybody so dedicated in all my life as that lady – she was even going to drive to Ontario to get me – she was just so determined.”
After he finishes his murals in B.C., it will be off for a week in Alberta to create another mural and seven tattoos, then back to Ontario.
“I like travelling, but my Dad is sick, so I’ll stay working for quite some time in the area where he lives instead of being gone all the time.”
“I’ll be back on the road again at some point in the future, it’s what I do. I was never an angel,” said Jones, “I’ve probably broken every rule there is, I used to do drugs, and I’ve been in jail.
“But kids now, they kind of look up to me with having long hair and being a tattoo artist. What I do know is I take my path – and now I do drug and alcohol addictions speeches for kids. I do bullying talks and I give 20 per cent of my shop to different foundations such as bullying in school, suicide awareness, drugs and alcohol.
“My message to kids is there is nothing wrong with making mistakes, it’s what you do with your mistakes that matter. It’s like I’m now taking my past and showing you that you can turn around.
“When I came out on the road I gave up drinking, I gave up everything, and I just picked up a paintbrush. There is not a high or a drunk that can compare to this. Being able to create through my art feeds my soul and there is nothing better.”
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