This morning it was reported that 353 beautiful, innocent Ukrainian children have been killed by merciless Russian troops under the direction of a despicable war criminal in the Kremlin, and more than 662 children injured since the war began on February 24th. I painted these sunflowers in the studio today in their memory just as I had painted sixteen sunflowers on February 27th when we then learned that 16 children had been killed in the first three days of the war. We continue to grieve with their families as these crimes against humanity continue and hope that the brave people of Ukraine know that they are always in our thoughts and will be each and every day until this twenty first century “massacre of the innocents” is over. 💙💛
Sixteen beautiful children have been killed in Ukraine according to the Ukraine Minister of Health with heartbreaking images that are hard to see. These sixteen sunflowers painted today are in their memory as we grieve the loss of their young lives together with all those who have lost their lives in these senseless crimes against humanity.
Inspired in the studio this afternoon by the sights and sounds of the Pacific Spirit Park from this morning’s walk: the music of the wind swaying the trees above and the rustling of myriads of falling leaves in the rain alighting on the trails and woodland floor below.
I couldn’t help but be inspired by the privilege of experiencing such precious moments as these.
In the early hours of the 16th of May six-year-old Suzy Eshkuntana was buried alive for seven hours in the rubble of her family home in Gaza after it was hit by an Israeli rocket that killed her mother and four of her siblings. Just a few days later I began this painting of her rescue, based on a photograph by the Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem, which as I wrote in my post The Rescue would “celebrate her young life being saved, and in memory of the family she has lost.”
The painting is now finished after almost three and a half months but over these past many weeks it began to take on a new meaning for me with so many stories of the loss, pain and suffering of children being reported every day: the discovery of the unmarked graves of children from Indian Reservation Schools across Canada; the 9-year-old boy injured and orphaned in an Islamophobic attack on his family in London, Ontario; children killed and maimed in the bombing of their schools in Northern Syria; children dying of starvation as a result of the war in Yemen; and of course the never-ending loss of life and suffering of the children and their families in Afghanistan for whom all of our hearts are breaking at the moment.
I have chosen War Child as the title of my painting in recognition of the work of War Child Canada, a charity which is dedicated to “protecting childhood in war-affected areas through education, opportunity and justice.” War Child was founded first in the UK in 1994 and in the Netherlands in 1995, and then in 1999 it was founded here in Canada by the dedicated and inspiring humanitarian physician Dr.Samantha Nutt who in July 2011 was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to improving the plight of young people in the world’s worst conflict zones.
If you have been moved by Suzy’s story as I have been, together with the stories of all the innocent children who have been lost or who are suffering from the iniquities of war each and every day, I invite you to join me in supporting Dr. Nutt and the vital work of her charity here at War Child Canada.
War Child – 2021 Acrylic on canvas 72″ x 52″
“Every Child Matters” has never been more meaningful. Hug your children and grandchildren tighter every day for we are the lucky ones in this troubled world of ours.
For Suzy and for all the heroes who rescued her.
Today’s painting from the studio this afternoon is from the Nature Trail in the Pacific Spirit Park, which we enjoyed on our walk this morning. After I left the studio I learned that while I was painting another mass shooting was taking place in Boulder Colorado, which is why I am dedicating my painting of this special place to those who lost their lives in another senseless crime that has left more loved ones grieving once again who are all in our thoughts tonight.