A Note From Nathaniel
I was raised in rural Nova Scotia where I spent a lot of time reading books about drawing and painting. I spent countless hours drawing and painting as a child and teenager. I would imitate the art I saw all around me. I learned to draw almost anything I could see and I learned art theory from books.
I’ve drawn several hundred pictures in many different styles. Most of those drawings from my childhood are lost because my family moved around a lot.
As a teenager I won a few art contests. In fact, I won every art contest I entered. I was a promising artist but my family was quite poor so I didn't have the means to attend art school. A single mom of 3 boys, on welfare, couldn’t afford art school.
Unfortunately, poverty drove me to steal and sell drugs which caused me a lot of trouble in my youth. I was expelled from school in 7th grade due to my anger and rebellious attitude. My mother didn't know what to do with me so I found myself in centres for troubled youth and therapists offices quite often. I was known as "the troubled one" or just plain old "badness" to many of the people who knew me.
My early years of life were riddled with abuse and, what I later learned were childhood traumas. Luckily, people cared enough to offer me counselling and guidance that helped me later in life.
In my early 20's, determined to live an honest life thanks to the counsellors who took the time to speak with me, I put aside my dreams of becoming a professional artist and I began working as a cook, furniture mover, and eventually an electrician. I moved to Calgary, Alberta, a bigger city, got away from the troubled life I was living and started going to church where I met people who encouraged me to stay away from drugs and crime. I got married and had a beautiful daughter.
I converted from Christianity to Islam for a period of time. I left the church and, after a few years of honest, hard work and clean living, my demons caught up to me and I was overcome by addiction by the time I was 27. I continued working as an electrician and a functioning alcoholic but my marriage fell apart. I spiralled in addictions for several years. My life became one of hedonism, alcoholism, drug use, partying, gambling, and loose sex.
After 12 years working as a construction electrician, at the age of 35, it became apparent that I needed to make big changes in my life for the good of my mental health. I was suffering from alcohol addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, divorced, separated from my daughter, financially ruined by my addictions, I was full of anger, depressed and contemplating suicide almost every day.
In November 2018, I overcame my addictions, by way of a spiritual awakening, in a 12 step program. My depression and anger slowly went away. I sobered up and decided to spend my time helping people instead of using and abusing them. Being of service to other people became the bedrock of my life.
Staying sober created a lot of free time for me. With the time I would have spent in addictive behaviours I began exploring new hobbies like piano, guitar, prayer, meditation, reading and writing. Eventually, after waking up one night at 3am with a desire to draw, I crushed up charcoal from the fireplace that was in the living room of the house in which I was renting a room and I began drawing. I decided to revisit my childhood passion for drawing.
In March 2020 I purchased Charcoal, Chalk Pastels, Acrylic Paints and began relearning the skills I had forgotten. I was well received by the community who encouraged me to pursue art as a new path in life. I'll never forget the men at the construction site where I was working asking why I worked in construction when I possessed such a talent. Since then I’ve been working relentlessly on art, taking on commissions and learning the skills needed to develop this website, refine my skills, and earn the title of "professional artist".
In my childhood I was motivated to draw by the praise I received from people who saw my drawings. Family, friends, and strangers alike. While I still appreciate the compliments and admiration, something more powerful motivates me to succeed as an artist in my adult mind.
I create because it's important to me to be an example of success for people of colour in the communities I was raised in. I've experienced a lot of racism in these small communities. I hope that my life is a statement that people of colour are valuable, respectable, and that we have the ability to succeed and do positive things in our communities despite the ignorance and injustices of past generations.
Furthermore, my hope is that I'll use my artistic talent to raise awareness for social causes such as men's mental health, addictions, suicide prevention, and men's rights. Currently, my goal is to create an art installation that will be shown in galleries around Canada to open discussion around these issues and promote the Canadian Association for Equality and the Canadian Centre for Men and Families. These are commendable organizations that address the challenges men face in modern society.
Another powerful reason that I create is that I know that my courage to pursue my dream of becoming an artist encourages other artists to do the same. If I can encourage any other person to do what they're passionate about, I've succeeded in life.
I believe that, if we do what we're called to do, share our gifts with the world, working from a place of love and service to others, everything will work in our favour and we cannot fail, we will overcome challenges.
I owe thanks to the people who support and encourage me on this journey. Your love and support saved my life and gives me the strength to change my life from one of anger and sorrow to one of gratitude and faith.