Ardell Bourgeois entered a war zone armed with nothing more than a palette and a brush.
Ten years ago, he was one of three civilian artists stationed in Afghanistan to record the actions of Canadian troops against the Taliban. A prominent aviation artist, he flew with the air force, making sketches and taking notes.
He found making art in the searing heat and blowing sand of the desert an unexpected challenge.
A painting he created in his time in Afghanistan is included in a travelling exhibition called A Brush With War, featuring military artworks. It was shown in Victoria last year and will be at the Military Museums of Calgary this summer.
The 49-year-old Chilliwack artist has spent a lifetime drawing aircraft, becoming one of the country’s most prominent aviation artists.
This year, his work will be seen by more Canadians than ever before.
An image he created is included on the reverse of a collectible silver dollar issued by the Royal Canadian Mint. The coin commemorates the bicentennial of the outbreak of the War of 1812.