By Jack Lawson –
When local artist Paul Wing was diagnosed with Parkinson’s he revisited his first love – the camera.
Wing worked as a videographer for 37 years before Parkinson’s forced him to retire. Almost immediately, he began taking pictures again. At the advice of a friend, he also began exhibiting them.
“Seven years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s,” says Wing, one of the 16 artists on this year’s West End Studio Tour. “I worked for a year and a half, until I couldn’t anymore. As soon as I retired I pulled out my old Nikon cameras and started shooting.”
Much of this love of photography can be attributed to Wing’s father, an amateur photographer. As a child Wing once borrowed his father’s camera and went out into the snow to capture chickadees in flight.
“I was about 11 or 12, it was one day in November… I lay in a snow bank for an hour shooting chickadees. When I got the film back it was ridiculous – just little black specks,” laughs Wing. “That was probably when I started to become an amateur photographer.”
These days Wing works just as much with digital media as he does the traditional tripod and camera combination. Wing’s style, occasionally described as “painterly,” is achieved through the careful planning of a few photographs and the technological magic of Photoshop.
Typically Wing will take between 25-50 photos when on a shoot. These pictures are then refined and finessed for hours with editing software until the otherworldly colours or transparent figures present in so much of his work come to the fore.
“I guess I’m a wannabe painter,” says Wing. “A lot of my stuff I push into the graphic painting route. I try to make photography-based digital art – marrying and combining multiple pictures.”
One example of this is a series of four photographs taken in Barcelona. Wing sandwiched the four images together, blending the characters into ghostly shapes and pulling out sharp pastel colours from the buildings.
Although a number of Wing’s works are from travels overseas, much of the photography on display for the tour is decidedly Canadian.
“[For example] I’ve got a few pieces I shot at Gib’s Gas Station on Highway 7,” says Wing. “I found these two cars, bright red with greenery pushing in on them.”
Early on in the interview, Wing spends a few minutes searching for his Parkinson’s medication. These drugs, when combined with extensive surgery have made living with the illness much more manageable.
“Photography is very therapeutic. It’s creative and it gives you a sense of independence,” says Wing. “I can’t imagine not shooting. So I’d like to keep taking pictures until I kick it.”
Click here to read profiles of the other artists on the West End Studio Tour.