Water, Oil and Belief

Reckie Lloyd marches to the beat of his own drum as he explores new mediums of expression

The sands of Liberia were Reckie Lloyd’s first medium. After the rain, the wet earth became his temporary canvas until his masterpieces would be washed away, returning to the elements from which it came. This evolved into sketching and today he creates entrancing oil paintings that capture the deep emotions of his subjects.

Immigrating to Canada, after spending six years in Ghana as a refugee, Lloyd took to painting at the encouragement of a mentor. But in his early adulthood, his visual art came second to his passion for West African drumming and dance. Today he runs Sangea Academy where he performs and hosts workshops.

Reckie Lloyd

When the pandemic hit, Sangea Academy was forced to pause and Lloyd returned to painting.

“I used to paint for 21 hours a day, sometimes,” he says of his time during lockdown. “I got better at acrylic and then I moved to oil, and it changed the whole game. Because it’s easier to paint with oil than acrylic, but it’s just understanding the technique and knowing how to use it.”

Though his focus was on West African drumming and dance for many years, he acknowledges the influence both disciplines have had on each other.

“My drumming reminds me of the time I was in Africa, and the desire to play music,” he says. “The paintings I’m creating, or the series I’m working on right now is talking about some of my experiences in West Africa.”

There is a depth to Reckie Lloyd’s paintings that go beyond the beauty at the surface. He explores relationships to elements and how those interactions differ for people in Africa compared to those living in Canada. He also tackles the precariousness of self-love in a piece titled Amara that features a radiant woman who, though appearing relaxed at first glance, is digging her hands into her flesh. “I put a lot of attention and a lot of detail into her hands,” he explains. “It looks like she’s okay, but her hand is saying so much about what she might be feeling.”

Reckie Lloyd poses with his painting, Amara

Lloyd is also a recipient of the 2022 Edmonton Artists Trust Fund (EATF). The EATF was established in 1997 with the objective of investing in artists living and working in the greater Edmonton area. A joint venture between the Edmonton Arts Council and the Edmonton Community Foundation, recipients are nominated for their work in areas including literature, music, theatre, visual arts, dance, and filmmaking. The $15,000 trust award is intended to support artists with both their living and working expenses.

Lloyd plans to use the funds to invest in supplies and diversify his technique, taking his paintings even further. He feels it is his belief in himself that has taken him this far.

“As soon as I started believing in myself, my art changed,” he says. “Even if you’re not sure what you’re doing, just believe that you can do it, and you’ll be surprised.”

To celebrate the 25th year of the EATF awards, in 2023 there will be 25 awards of $15,000 each.