RETURNING to his passion of painting as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Mount Gambier artist John Crank has generated plenty of demand for his unique work.
Despite being declared blind in one eye due to health complications last year, the 77-year-old artist has used the virus-initiated isolation period to return to the hobby he first started over 50 years ago.
Mr Crank has recently sold several of his works online with the help of his daughter, with Limestone Coast residents intrigued by his skills, which he learned under the tutelage of renowned Indigenous artist Revel Cooper.
Mr Cooper was best known as a key member of the Noongar art movement, which occurred during the 1940s at the Carrolup Native Settlement in remote Western Australia.
Mr Cooper was known for his colourful landscape paintings of the Australian outback and regularly exhibited his work across the nation.
Recalling his time spent with Mr Cooper, Mr Crank said it was a sad day when the artist died in 1983.
The pair met in their younger years and Mr Crank said Mr Cooper took him under his creative wing, teaching him the skills he continues to practice today.
“My paintings from over the years are all across the board, some are in hotels as we used to paint then sell them there to make a bit of money,” Mr Crank said.
“Revel actually gave me one of his paintings some 50-odd years ago when we used to sell them to hotels to make a bit of money.”
Mr Crank said the community response was unexpected with social media flooded with positive comments and messages expressing interest in his artworks.
“My daughter put the painting up on social media to sell but I did not think many people would go for it,” he said.
“It has certainly gained a lot of traction and there is even a painting I have not finished yet that has already been sold to someone in Hamilton.”
Now back into the swing of things after almost a 30-year lay off, Mr Crank said he enjoyed painting with bright colours because of the clean finish they give, a tip he picked up from his old friend.
“I have no idea why Revel took to me and taught me all of this,” he said.
“I think he just enjoyed my company but I have never met someone like him.”
Vowing to continue his work, Mr Crank said painting produced a sense of calm and joy for him.