Calgary Home and Garden Show: Paint with a purpose

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Murals make our communities more beautiful. From splashes of colourful paint on downtown office buildings to intricate graphics on coffee shop walls, murals are essential elements of public art and good urban design.

Rachel Lyon has been painting murals in Calgary for the past five years. The Ontario College of Art and Design graduate and principal of Rachel Lyon Design Co. is often commissioned to transform residential and commercial spaces with her creative arsenal of house paint and brushes. In January 2024, a very long mural she painted as a backdrop that was destined for the trash heap was instead auctioned off for charity. This was the stroke of genius for a fundraising feature called Paint with Purpose, which will debut at the Calgary Home and Garden Show, Feb. 22 to 25 at the BMO Centre.

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“Painting murals can be intimidating to get started. I will be teaching four aspiring artists and giving them a crash course in mural painting. Then we will go to live painting in the Paint with Purpose booth at the home show,” Lyon says. Each mural will be sold by silent auction with proceeds going to an organization of the artist’s choice. The bidding will take place online from Feb. 22 at noon when the show opens until Feb. 24 at 9 p.m.

The artists will work off smaller designs they’ve created and will paint an eight-by-eight-foot board using six colours curated in advance by Lyon. Their mural must reflect the theme “Cozy Garden” and each artist must complete their 91-square-foot masterpiece during the four-day show. The four Calgary artists and their corresponding Instagram accounts are: Leah Queen @leahqueenart, Sasha Willson @chaosandartcreations, Sterling Smith @sterlingsmithyyc, Krystelle Celestino Wurtz @krystelle.creations.

“Paint with Purpose is about creating awareness for meaningful organizations in our city and for me, teaching and learning art makes it accessible to everyone. I feel like it’s a perfect way to do it,” Lyon says.

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Public art is becoming more mainstream and popular in major cities, but Lyon says there are many residential applications. Anything can be a canvas, from the side of the garage in the backyard to a bare wall in the basement. For the homeowner, a mural is unique, customizable and more affordable than one might think.

“There are lots of factors. The size is the biggest. The level of detail, the surface it’s painted on and whether the muralist is new or experienced,” she says. The fee is based on the price per square foot and can run anywhere from $10 to $50.

Lyon will be at the Calgary Home and Garden Show daily with her students and will be on hand to chat with show attendees. As an artist, she plans to personally continue her mission to Paint with Purpose throughout 2024.

“For my commissioned murals going forward I will be donating proceeds to different organizations. Giving back to the community is one of the values of my business so I’m excited to get this started,” she says.

For information on Paint with Purpose and other features during the Home and Garden Show, visit