Giovanni Lanfranco’s painting of Jesus feeding Multitude as rendered by Marc Ouellette in the new colouring book The Life of Jesus. Photo courtesy BonaOps Group Inc.

The colour of charity

  • January 20, 2023

Pope John Paul II once stated “that the purpose of art is nothing less than the upliftment of the human spirit.”

It is not known if Pierre Ouellette or his son Marc have ever heard this quote, but their actions suggest they embrace the maxim of art being nourishment for a society’s soul. 

Marc, an illustrator and graphic designer born and raised in St. Catharines, Ont., has crafted a colouring book entitled The Life of Jesus containing over 25 classic religious paintings that depict Christ’s earthly life and ministry. Some of the professionally reformatted and reproduced images include the Italian painter Caravaggio’s Nativity scene, Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and Peter Paul Rubens’ Resurrection of Christ.

Pierre said the intent of the book, published by their BonaOps Group Inc., is greater than celebrating famous Christian art and sales will benefit causes dear to the Ouellettes’ hearts.  

“Before COVID-19, I had done quite a bit of volunteer work,” said Pierre. “I was conceiving a business enterprise that would basically help charities and not-for-profits raise money. We are booked with the Out of the Cold program in St. Catharines. We’re going to raise funds for them.”

Out of the Cold provides meals for homeless people throughout the area. Chair Susan Venditti said this type of social enterprise “is a new concept” for this grassroots group.

“Host church partners will share revenue, and play an active role in its generation,” Venditti told The Catholic Register. “Using a colouring book that both tells His story and generates needed revenue is exciting.

“Pierre has been active in the community for many years supporting many charitable initiatives. He spent many hours playing backgammon with our guests. Marc is an artist with a social conscience and exceptional computer skills. Both understand and support our work.”

Marc — who has worked with McDonalds, Canadian Tire and Manulife, and developed a host of pop culture art — spoke of his hopes for The Life of Jesus.

“If this book helps one person not spend the night out in the cold then I would consider that a win. The way we’ve allowed our world and society to become so hostile to the disenfranchised has always been troubling to me. It’s been a source of conversation in the art I consume as long as I’ve been consuming it,” the 40-year-old said.

“My favourite musicians would often lament the plight of homelessness or mental illness and have always acted out charitably to help those people in their own communities, using their name and art to raise funds and awareness. I might not be in Pearl Jam, but if my art can help in the same way, then I would consider it my responsibility to do so.” 

With degrees from Niagara College and Brock University, Marc said the art history concepts he learned there came into play.

“It was an interesting refresher for me to come back to these pieces years later and develop a new appreciation for the level of craft and technical ability possessed by these masters,” said Marc. “Specifically, while reproducing them in line art it made me appreciate first the layout/compositional mastery, when even stripped down to the simplest artistic form, a black and white line drawing, the compositions are still able to lead the eye around to all the important aspects of the piece.”

Working with a community outreach program like Out of The Cold is only the beginning in Pierre’s estimation. He foresees The Life of Jesus being an entrepreneurial enterprise to help Christian environmental causes, Indigenous reconciliation efforts and more. 

Last modified on January 27, 2023

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