Artist: Reilly Fitzgerald
Puzzle Design: Siri Olson & Jasen Robillard
Dimensions: 12 cm x 12 cm
Smoky Skies: 66 pcs; 1 out of 5
Parsons Harbour: 81 pcs, 3 out of 5
Fishing for Halibut: 66 pcs, 3 out of 5
In our coast-to-coast search for artists, we were truly excited to discover Reilly Fitzgerald’s cheery & bright art depicting life in small-town Atlantic Canada. Once a teacher and always a consummate community member in Clarenville (Newfoundland), he has now transitioned to an art-focused life.
Reilly was born with a defect in his dominant right hand and arm which required 11 surgeries by the time he was 14 years old. He eventually managed to transition to his left arm, becoming ambidextrous. His technique and style have continued to evolve over the years from realistic to more illustrative, as a way of adapting to his ongoing chronic pain issues. Reilly has lived most of his life in pain.
“Painting is one of the only things that I do that causes me not to concentrate on the pain. It’s more of a therapy for me than anything else.”
Perhaps you feel the same way about puzzling...
Reilly deliberately paints cheerful scenes and landscapes, to reflect how he feels on the inside, as opposed to the pain he feels on the outside. His comic & colouring book style reminds us to keep a positive outlook on life no matter the challenges thrown our way.
You can find his art at Eagle Photo Studio, his daughter Kaeleigh's gallery in Clarenville, Newfoundland.
Jasen’s Puzzle Design Notes
After a successful foray into collaborative puzzle design, Siri & I decided to collaborate on puzzle design once again. Inspired by research about the maritime resettlements along the “Forgotten Coast”, we brainstormed a number of ideas that suggested a sense of place & people. We both loved reading Angela Baker’s self-published book.
Reilly's friend and patron Ray, who is depicted in 'Fishing for Halibut', lives with his spouse in La Poile, NL. La Poile is an isolated community on the SW coast of NL, not accessible by road and is served by a ferry from a port in nearby Rose Blanche. Apparently, about 60 people live in La Poile (as of 2021).
“You Are Here: A Come From Away Story” is also a great documentary about the resilience, adaptability and kindness at the heart of community in Gander and Newfoundland.
Riffing on the “painting with shapes” idea I explored in Birds & Bees, I decided to weave in some whimsies that came together with pieces from all three mini puzzles. For the time being, we’re calling these sneaky whimsies Hidden Whimwhams. Here’s a peek at what they look like from the back, so as not to give away all our secrets!
- Sou’wester Hat
- Fishing Boat
- Squid Lure
- Fish Skeleton
- Dad & Kid
- Lobster Trap
- 2x Fish Hooks
- Trawl Buoy
- Newfoundland & Labrador