JD Hawk

January 19, 2022

Métis artist's commissioned painting a full circle moment

Métis artist JD Hawk enjoys kayaking when he's not in the studio oil painting.

Being contacted by CancerCare Manitoba several months ago to commission an oil painting for their recently retired CEO, Annitta Stenning, was honour enough for Métis artist JD Hawk. But when meeting with Stenning to discuss the project, Hawk was delighted to discover that the former CEO admired the work of another Métis artist, Armand J. Paquette - who happens to be Hawk's uncle.

"We were talking about different artists, and she saw that I have some Métis regalia in my home, and she talked about that, and she talked about some of the artists that she's liked over the years, her and her husband, and they mentioned Armand Paquette," Hawk said.

Paquette, a 91-year-old Manitoba artist, is known for his series of paintings and sculptures depicting the North End he experienced in his childhood. Some of his work is featured at Mayberry Fine Art Gallery in Winnipeg.

Hawk has been painting landscapes and portraits for years.

This particular commission was a huge honour for Hawk, as it will be the first time one of his paintings will hang alongside his famous uncle's paintings in a private collection.

"It was very exciting to know that deep down I finally made it as an artist, that I am getting these commissions," Hawk said.

"I'm still on a bit of a high just knowing that my artwork is now going to be seen with my uncle's artwork. That I can say I've made it. That we have this artistic talent in the family, and it's continued, and I'm really happy about that, so it's kind of a real neat feeling."

In 2020, Hawk painted a portrait of his uncle, local Métis artist Armand J. Paquette.

In 2020, Hawk put paint to canvas in a portrait of his uncle.

"Back in 1973, he did a few caricatures of me being a little 'mischievous,'" Hawk wrote on his website. "Little did he know that one day I would grow up and paint his portrait."

One of Hawk's latest series, Our Little Snowman & his Penguins, follows a little snowman
named Charlie on adventures with his mischievous friends.

Hawk's love for art started when he was a little kid.

"Like most kids back in the '70s, you didn't really have a lot of TV to watch, or to do, so you do a lot of colouring and drawing. My mom knows that I did quite well in it, so she was always very encouraging," he said.

Some of Charlie's adventures include heading to the moon, ice skating, ice fishing, and jousting.

During an elementary school field trip to the Manitoba Museum, known at the time as the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, Hawk and his classmates learned about the different types of rocks. His mother went to the store after hearing about her son's interest in soapstone.

"She bought a bunch of 50 cent soaps in a bag and let me carve little carvings out of soap. So that's how the carving started," he said.

Our Little Snowman & his Penguins prints are completed in digital painting.

From there, Hawk continued to draw, colour, and paint.

"In high school," he said, "I tried doing acrylic paints, and I noticed that I adapted to those quite easily. At that time I started doing caricatures of people. Little paintings at school, which were displayed in the hallway."

Prints from the series, including greeting cards, are available on Hawk's online art studio.

As an adult, Hawk took a two-month oil painting course through the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

"It wasn't so much of how to draw, it was more how to use oils, which is a fully different medium from acrylics or from watercolour, and including soapstone carving," he said. "I started doing portraits in oil, and it skyrocketed from there."

To check out the full Our Little Snowman & his Penguins series,
visit https://jdhawkartstudio.com/our-little-snowman-his-penguins.

Over the past couple of years, Hawk has been taking his art to the next level. In 2019 he launched his online studio, JD Hawk's Art Studio, which explores Canadian landscapes and portraits through oil paintings, India ink paintings, digital art, coloured pencil art, and stone carvings.

"I'm now getting commissions from all over the world, which was super exciting for me. So there's stuff in South Africa, in England, in the U.K., and of course all over the States and all over Canada, which is quite an honour, quite a thrill," he said.

Portrait of Métis canoeist Mike Ranta.

One of Hawk's favourite things to do is paint portraits.

"I find so fascinating that everybody has two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth, but we all look so different, and so I've always loved painting portraits," he said.

"As far as my other artwork, whether it's the ink paintings or the oil paints of the animals, I dream about all these great big goals and expectations, but in reality, I just really enjoy sitting behind the easel with a paintbrush. If people enjoy it, awesome, if they don't, that's OK too. I'm just really enjoying my life right now being able to do this, and share with those that appreciate it. So I'm not setting too many big goals for myself, because I don't want it to become a chore. I just want to enjoy what I'm doing, and I am."

Hawk's art connects him to his Métis heritage.

JD Hawk is a pseudonym he uses for his artwork. Both this name and his art connect him to his Métis heritage.

"I've always been very outdoorsy, I've always loved the outdoors," he said. "I've always felt connected to a hawk. Whenever I was camping, even as a young child, I would see hawks."

Much of his work centres on the outdoors, from wildlife to landscapes.

A lot of Hawk's work is focused on his connection to the outdoors.

"Whether I'm painting the bisons, or birds, or landscapes, or even sailboats out on the ocean in B.C. Just the whole outdoor thing, just being connected with and feeling comfortable with being outside. It makes me feel good that I haven't lost that whole connection to the earth," he said.

Hawk's love for art started when he was a little kid.

While the 51-year-old is proud to be Métis, growing up in Winnipeg's West End, his adopted father kept him away from Hawk's mother's part of the family, who lived in the North End, leading Hawk to suppress his heritage.

"As a young kid, you don't know better, and when you hear the racist remarks towards the native people, you really want to suppress it, you don't want to tell anybody. So as I was growing up in my early adulthood, I wanted to explore it more," he said. "Of course I didn't really know too much because I didn't know who my biological father was. I didn't have any contact with him, until I was in my 40s, and that's when I found him and we connected, and by that time my mother had already passed on, so I had no more information from her."

Hawk explores Canadian landscapes and portraits through oil paintings, India ink paintings,
digital art, coloured pencil art, and stone carvings.

Hawk started to fully realize his Métis heritage when he got to know both his mother's and biological father's sides of the family.

"He's very active, in not just the Métis community, but the First Nations communities in B.C., he's actually quite well known," Hawk said of his biological father. "So it allowed me to embrace it and not just deal with it in my head, and so I've embraced it, and I feel free now, I feel whole."

He launched his online studio, JD Hawk's Art Studio, in 2019.

The Winnipeg artist feels at peace being able to finally appreciate his ancestry.

"It feels good to finally know who I am and where I come from," he said. "I'm 51 years old, and it's taken a long time because a lot of stuff was suppressed. And now I know. It's just a nice feeling to know where I come from and who I am."

For more information on Hawk's online art studio, visit https://jdhawkartstudio.com.


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B300-150 Henry Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0J7

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