Handifarmer - Farmer with Disabilities Program
Volume 22, Number 1
Glen Scrimshaw Story
Glen Scrimshaw has been a generous friend to the Saskatchewan Abilities Council and its Farmers with Disabilities Program for many years. In 1995, Glen began his support for the Farmers with Disabilities Program when he did the first of three paintings in his Heartland Series and offered to donate a portion of the sale of each print in this series to the Program. In addition, Glen Scrimshaw Galleries has donated many, many of their prints as draw prizes for the Farmers with Disabilities Program displays at farm and ranch shows and at the program's conferences.
For twenty years Glen has made his living from his artwork. He says, “Since I was a small boy it had been a dream of mine to be an artist. I never thought I could achieve it.” After he finished high school in Big River, Saskatchewan, Glen worked at a variety of jobs including managing a store, working on pipelines and in the construction industry, and as a commercial fisherman. Glen moved to the far north in his early 20's, and it was during this time he began to paint more and more. He found it was an excellent supplement to his income and it helped to pass the long winter nights away. As word spread, more and more people began to purchase his artwork. Finally in 1986, Glen became so busy from people ordering his paintings that he thought he could make a living at it. He left the security of a guaranteed monthly paycheck and struck out to be a professional artist.
Over many years Glen has been going into schools to talk to high school and elementary students to encourage them, to inspire them to follow their dreams, and to share the positive things he has learned in his lifetime. He explains his motivation, “When I was a child, if someone like me, a living breathing artist, had come along and given his or her message, it would have impacted me greatly. Some of the things I've learned and share with the students, I would have been told already as a child and they would come back to me when I needed them. I didn't have that and I had to learn myself.”
Glen relates, “I talk to the kids about setting goals, believing in themselves, working hard, never giving up, being patient, being true to themselves and being honest. I urge them to stay in school and get their Grade Twelve. I tell them stories about the things I've had to sacrifice to get to where I am.”
“Number One is that I believe in myself. I said to myself, 'I am going to be a recognized artist some day.' What I have now is more than I ever dreamed.”
“I tell the students, 'Make goals. Don't make them too big because you'll disappoint yourself. Make little ones. If you put a goal up at the top of the stairs, you've got to climb every one of those stairs to get to your goal. If you're lucky, you can jump two or three steps, but sooner or later you're going to fall. Do them one at a time, and slowly but surely you'll get there. Start your goals part way up the stairs. As you get closer, they keep moving up, so you never really catch all of them.' ”
“I've found that anything worth having in this world takes time. In a career, if you expect to start at the top of the ladder you are not going to know all the hardships and sacrifices to get there, and you are not going to know how to stay there. You need to go at it slowly.”
Why does Glen Scrimshaw Galleries sponsor the Farmers with Disabilities Program? He explains, “We were looking for a cause, and I am glad we found your program. Sheldon Yurach is my partner, and I remember when his grandfather lost a leg to a power take off on his farm at Big River. We also know other people who have disabilities.”
“In the larger picture, I believe that it's so important to give back. The people of this country and around the world who buy my art work helped me be where I am today.”
Glen comments on volunteerism and generosity, “I am a firm believer that if everyone does what he or she can to make this world a better place, it will be. You don't have to give art like I do, but you could be somebody who goes in twice a year and helps by doing a mailing for a charity. People sometimes think that you have to do something big and grand. No. It's everybody together doing a little bit. I help out as much as I can with everything.”
Why does he live in Duck Lake and have his main art gallery, Nothcote Art'n Antiques, there? “Saskatchewan is home and I like the people here. I am not a city person.” (His second gallery, the Glen Scrimshaw Gallery, is located in Saskatoon.)
On September 26, Glen injured his right hand. He relates, “I was planing rough boards in a thickness planer that I had worked lots before. I reached into the moving thickness planer to flick some sawdust into the vacuum hose and the feeder rollers caught and pulled my gloved hand into the 'blades'. I was not paying attention and I wasn't focused. It wasn't fatigue. I was thinking about other things.”
Glen went to the hospital in Rosthern where they took X-Rays, bandaged him, and sent him on to St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon. Surgeons there stitched his tendons together and put metal pins in two of his fingers to prevent him from moving them while they healed.
Glen comments on his safety attitude, “I am usually careful. I taught my kids safety and preach it all the time.”
Before Glen had a new cast put on two days later by his doctor in Rosthern, Glen asked him to take a picture of his hand. Glen made a poster from that picture and says, “I have given some of those posters out to kids and my message is 'It doesn't matter who you are, an accident can happen to anyone if you are not focused all the time.' In the future, when I go into a school to give a presentation, I will also talk about safety and give them this framed poster for the Industrial Arts class to hang in their shop area.”
Glen says that he was fortunate because he is left hand dominant and his left hand performs his fine motor skills. He comments on the effects of the injury, “I didn't realize, as a left-handed person, how much I use my right hand until it was in a cast. There seems to be so much that I can't do with one hand, even like opening a can of paint. I know that if I had lost my fingers, it would have impacted me big time. I could have lost my whole hand. If I lost fingers on my dominant left hand, it would be a difficult adjustment, but I don't think it would end my career.”
Glen comments on recovering from an accident, “Attitude affects recovery. If you have a bad attitude or a 'poor me' attitude, you are not going to do very well. I tell kids to set little goals, and when you achieve those goals, you feel good about yourself. Generally, the better you feel about yourself, the better you do. The better you do, the happier you are. It's a circle. One drives the other.”
“Also in recovering from an injury or to a permanent disability, one must adapt to the situation just as farmers diversify in farming. The important thing is to carry on.”
What would Glen tell people who are learning to work with tools in a shop or are beginning trades people? He advises, “Stay focused and pay attention at all times. Use all the safety equipment including eye protection. Don't ever say that an injury won't happen to you because, with that attitude, it will.”
Glen says that his paintings now are from the photos he takes. He explains, “Everyday I see beauty around me. Everybody should. You plunk me down in the middle of straight concrete and I'll find something to take a picture of. Maybe the way the light is reflecting off something or the shadows. I just love winter with the sparkling snow and the shadows. When people see my work, it momentarily blocks everything else out for them and even brings back memories. You can imagine that you are there. Momentarily you've had a reprieve from all your problems and all your 'stuff'. In my paintings I don't want to exactly reproduce a scene. If you want that, you simply take a photograph. I have to sketch and then I start painting on the board from the back forward. Every day that I paint, I learn something different and I practice, practice, practice. I have to keep challenging myself.”
Glen shares his attitude to life, “Our gallery helps people daily. I believe people are also put in front of you to help you. They are there, but you've just got to recognize it. I've done little things for people and they'll come out and do things for me. I don't expect it, but what a wonderful feeling when it happens!”
Glen doesn't have any idea how many charities and organizations he has helped, and he says it doesn't matter. He says, “I do it because I want to, because I care. When you climb a ladder of success, it is right to do good things and help people for the right reasons. Well, if you fall from that ladder, those same people will catch you and help you, whether with a word of advice or encouragement. When I got my hand injured, many people called to see how I was doing.”
Does he consider himself blessed to have artistic talent? He says, “I have been blessed because I am able to do what I do for a living, and I am able to help people through it. But everybody's got talent, something that they are good at. Some people can draw, some can write, some can bake, some can organize well, and others have vision in landscaping. It is important to recognize your talent and, if you can, adapt it and help people. You will get so much satisfaction.”
What brings him joy in life? He replies, “First my three daughters, Gabrielle, Glenda and Jessica, of course, and my friends. My career is last. It's also a joy to make a difference in the world. When young people come up to me and say, 'Mr. Scrimshaw, you spoke to our school ten years ago. I remembered what you said and it's helped me and encouraged me.' ”
“I have always said that if everyone did one random act of kindness a day, it would be a wonderful world. When you look around, there's always someone who needs help. It can be holding a door open for someone or caring and taking the time to listen to a complete stranger who is going through a tough time.”
We thank Glen for sharing his talents with the world.
The Glen Scrimshaw Gallery