Edmonton

Edmonton boy who earned Exorcist cameo with 'scary' art set for first exhibit

Blood splatter, painted with the flick of a bright red brush, is Joel Mitchell’s specialty.

Joel Mitchell, 11, has a knack for painting the undead

Joel Mitchell and his parents Jason Mitchell and Erin Macbeth are a horror-loving family. (Kim Nakrieko/CBC)

Blood splatter, painted with the flick of a bright red brush, is Joel Mitchell's specialty.

Skeletal creatures, decapitated heads, red-winged devils — the 11-year-old uses pencils and acrylics to capture them all. 

Joel has one word to describe his art. 

"I don't know how to describe it," he said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "Scary.

"I have to do school assignments but when I have free time, which is very rare, I will sketch this stuff." 

He just kept going and going and if something wasn't right, he would crumple that piece of paper up and start over again.- Jason Mitchell

Even before he could tie his shoes or ride a bike, the Edmonton boy had a passion for the macabre.

His father, Jason Mitchell, said it all started with a love of heavy metal music. 

"I play drums so I bought him a drum kit and he was banging on that thing from three-years-old," said Mitchell.  "It kind of shifted more into the art stuff when he hit kindergarten." 

Joel's first horror-themed paintings were inspired by Eddie, the mascot for Iron Maiden. (Class-Axe Art/Facebook)

First, Joel became obsessed with his dad's collection of vinyl records. Before too long, he turned his attention to the artwork on the album jackets. 

Eddie, the mascot for British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, was his first muse.

"He really liked the character Eddie their mascot and he was pulling out the records and amazed with them — and the music, too. He knew all the words at a very early age," said Mitchell. 

"He just kept going and going and if something wasn't right, he would crumple that piece of paper up and start over again."  

Joel, who paints under the name Class-Axe Art, will be showcasing his art for the first time at Dead By Con, a new horror festival being held in Edmonton next month. Joel will have a booth at the convention, which takes place Feb. 16 and 17 at the Radisson Hotel & Convention Center. 

While the convention will be Joel's first public exhibit, his art has already made an appearance on the small screen.

He was commissioned to create a piece that was featured in the second season of The Exorcist television series.  

 It's three corpses above more corpses.- Erin Macbeth

Joel's mom, Erin Macbeth, said that commission happened thanks to a woman who had worked at her comic book store before going on to intern on the set for The Exorcist in Vancouver. 

Actor Ben Daniels with Joel’s art. (Erin Macbeth)

"She ended up showing one of the actors, Ben Daniels, some of Joel's artwork," Macbeth said.  "He requested that Joel do a piece for the bible that he draws in on the TV show.

"I was very proud. I don't how else to describe it. I'm proud of him." 

Joel's parents admit they may have had a hand in some of their son's darker tastes. Movie nights were often slasher-themed, featuring classics like Friday the 13th and Halloween. 

While other parents may be hanging up hockey gear or drawings of dinosaurs, Macbeth is happy to adorn her walls with something darker.  

And yes, she does have a favourite piece hanging in her living room. 

"It's three corpses above more corpses. It's blood. It's my favourite." 

This painting of corpses on more corpses is Erin Macbeth's favourite piece. (Class-Axe Art/Facebook )