He rises at 5:10 a.m., stops for a cup of Tim Hortons coffee and slinks into work.
His blank-faced office greets him as he tucks his SUV sneakily inside the attached garage.
The white building gives no hints about what goes on inside. The unmarked grey door has no neighbouring windows, leaving the skylights on the top of the building to bring in the outside world.
Wilf Perreault comes here from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, methodically placing his nose to the grindstone in an effort to overcome his self-proclaimed lack of talent. He believes if he stays secluded, works harder than any other artist, and paints like his life depended on it, he’ll produce something he can live with.
At age 68, Wilf Perreault has created the most sought-after paintings in Saskatchewan with prices for his large landscapes of Regina back alleys reaching $20,000. Earning a reputation as one of Canada’s most interesting landscape painters, he has shown in galleries throughout the United States and Canada and recently held a five-month solo show at Regina’s MacKenzie Art Gallery.
The critically acclaimed and publicly lauded MacKenzie show featured 40 paintings, a 150-foot wrap-around panorama of Perreault’s most-beloved back alleys, as well as a 30-minute documentary film, a bilingual hardcover book and a limited edition print.
While he has received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, he still doesn’t think he’s a very good painter.
“I’ve always felt that I’m not that talented but I have a pretty good work ethic rather than talent,” says Perreault humbly, not a hint of sarcasm or humour in his response.
“I really want to make it work, so I work half-days, 6 until 6. It’s true.”
Perreault’s perceived lack of talent is only valid in his own mind. With endless requests for his work and the success of his Wilf Perreault: In the Alley show he should be proud, confident and even a bit pompous. But, he’s not.
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