'Exalted warrior' painting of Sophie Gregoire Trudeau has fairy tale ending

A Tofino B.C. artist spent a "manic" night painting Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in an 'exalted warrior' yoga pose, hoping her heroine would notice the tribute — and got a fairy tale ending.

'She's just a warrior of a woman,' said artist who painted Sophie Gregoire Trudeau overnight

This painting called Heart Awakening was done overnight by Tofino artist Deanna Lankin, after she learned she'd get to meet Canada's first couple. (Deanna Lankin)

A Tofino B.C. artist spent a "manic" night painting Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in an 'exalted warrior' yoga pose, hoping her heroine would notice the tribute — and got a fairy tale ending.

The off-duty prime minister and his family have been vacationing across Canada, including making several public appearances in Tofino recently. Their frequent appearances in public and social media have provoked plenty of eye-rolling and criticism the prime minister should be more focused on the business of running the country.

But when Deanna Lankin learned he and his wife planned to visit the boutique jewellery and art gallery where she is a resident painter,  she saw a blank spot on the wall and had an idea.

She's just a warrior of a woman ... For people especially in the public eye to be so vulnerable about something like that.- Painter Deanna Lankin

With one night to go before they came she was driven to create something extraordinary for the couple that her pre-schooler named Lily calls Canada's "King and Queen."

Lankin stayed up almost the entire night "like a crazy, manic, geekin' out artist," she later wrote on her Facebook page.

She drew inspiration from local photographer Chris Pouget's beach yoga images and chose an 'exalted warrior' yoga pose to depict strength through open-hearted love.

For a while in the middle of the night she lost her nerve, fearing the painting would be wet when the couple arrived the next day.

But she pushed on, ending up with a pastel beach scene featuring Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in a yoga pose on Chesterman's Beach.

Off-duty prime minister Justin Trudeau and his spouse Sophie Gregoire Trudeau bought Heart Awakening, depicting Sophie in a yoga pose on Chesterman's Beach at Tofino B.C. after the artist stayed up all night feverishly painting the tribute. (Deanna Larkin/Facebook)

Lankin said she feels a personal connection to Gregoire Trudeau.

"She's just a warrior of a woman — her outspokenness about overcoming bulimia," said Lankin. "For people especially in the public eye to be so vulnerable about something like that, they are both such an inspiration."

The next day the storied pair did visit the House of Alaia jewellery shop, but Lankin struggled to work up her nerve to show the painting she called Heart Awakening.

Just as she finally did, as in any fairy tale, the heroine was whisked away by security on official business.

That night Lankin lay in bed and visualized the pair walking back in the store. She couldn't believe the story was over.

She was right.

As if by magic, she said, a security guard or driver appeared the next day.

He recognized Sophie's likeness and asked if the prime minister knew about the painting, according to Lankin.

It didn't take long before the couple returned.

"The prime minister and his wife are on their way in. They are five minutes out," he said, wrote Lankin describing her second encounter with the Trudeau entourage.

Tofino painter Deanna Lankin stayed up all night painting when she heard that the prime minister and his wife were heading into the jewellery/art gallery where she works as a resident painter. (Deanna Larkin/Facebook)

"I was just in awe of both of them — the way that the two of them maintain just a calm and humble energy," she said.

The off-duty prime minister loved the painting and bought it for $888 — a price Lankin said she chose because it is also the symbol for infinity.

She was also left with an image of the pair imitating art, imitating life. Trudeau sporting flip-flops held her painting, while his wife struck the pose within.

While some mocked her post urging the couple to get on with the business of Canada, and one man saying he'd shut the pair out of his business, another calling them "twits," Lankin said for her the moment was overwhelming.

"This photo represents one of the proudest moments of my life," she said.

Lankin recalled keeping her five-year-old daughter up late on election night and trying to explain Canadian democracy in a way a child could understand, stressing how lucky people are to be able to choose a leader for "our little kingdom of Canada."

"I was so excited to pick Lily up from daycare today to show her [the photograph of the couple with her painting]. She knows them as our King & Queen…which they are to me as well."

About the Author

Yvette Brend

Yvette Brend is a CBC Vancouver journalist. Yvette.Brend@CBC.ca @ybrend

With files from Lien Yeung

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