Richard Tetrault is a very gifted artist, first and foremost.
But perhaps the biggest difference between him and many others is often the expansive size of his creative canvas.
Tetrault, 59, has spent a good portion of his life collaborating with others to paint large-scale mural projects on buildings - as a form of both beautifying the specified area and bringing together all types in that given community to share in the project.
"I'm not interested in the commercial aspect," said the White Rock-born Tetrault, who'll be the first featured artist at the Salon Speaker Series on Nov. 17 at Coquitlam's Place des Arts at 7 p.m. "I have no desire to, say, paint a scenic mural at a restaurant. It has to be challenging and a little out of the box."
And many of Tetrault's projects have been much larger than your average box.
For instance, two years ago he was the co-ordinator of five artists engaging in a project called Through the Eye of the Raven, where they colourfully and tastefully decorated and refurbished the exterior of a six-story old hotel in east Vancouver. In total, the mural covered a staggering 7,600 square feet.
A Semiahmoo secondary school grad who went on to art institutions in both Vancouver and New York, Tetrault returned earlier this week from another broader-scale group endeavour in Santiago, Cuba, where many hands took part in what was dubbed Ideas of North, featuring four Canadian La Raza artists and covering 1,500 square feet over a fleeting six-day period.
"[The murals] are a fairly long process of outreach... getting people from many different backgrounds involved, extracting ideas and facilitating artists," explained Tetrault, who operates his own print maker/painter studio in Vancouver and also teaches artist workshops.
"The drawings come from generally a real collage of the community. I try to orchestrate it so younger people get involved and [those] with limited or no artistic talent. Everybody has something to offer in that regard, I believe.
"A lot of it is learning as you go."
Tetrault's talent can also be viewed at several Vancouver-area public schools, often helping to mitigate graffiti and involving students and their parents to join in the broad-scale endeavour.
"[The work] varies from year to year," Tetrault said. "The reality is there's a lot more interest in it usually because of the community aspect of it."
Tickets for Tetrault's presentation on Nov. 17 are $5 and can be purchased by calling 604-664-1636, or in person at Place des Arts (1120 Brunette Ave., Coquitlam).