Local artist creates touching tribute to victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash

It started out with a drawing that was created for a friend who was grieving the 15 people killed and the 14 injured when a semi-trailer unit struck the Humboldt Broncos team bus last week.

But it has become a tribute that has gone viral, gaining attention from admirers all over the country.

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Local artist Deanna Brown created a pencil and paper drawing of a Humboldt Broncos player with angel’s wings, which was meant as a gift for the friend, who lives in town and knew a lot of the victims of the accident.

“I had offered to do anything I could to help her family, and I offered if there was anything I could do, or if I could bring her dinner,” said Brown.

The friend kept saying no to Brown’s offers for gifts, until Brown came up with the idea of the winged Broncos’ player.

“So I sat down and I did it,” said Brown. “My friend is a very private person, so I shared it on Facebook knowing that she would see it, and know that it was for her, but I didn’t tag her in it, because she’s very private.”

It took only about four hours to complete the drawing once Brown had the design in her head.

“I was very happy with it, and I thought my friend would like it, but I never dreamed that this many people would see it or like it or share it,” said Brown. “That wasn’t even in the realm of possibility. I wasn’t even thinking along those lines when I shared it.”

Her friend also loved the drawing.

The drawing has exploded in popularity, as people who visited the Deanna Brown Airbrushing & Custom Art Facebook page fell in love with it. It has been shared hundreds of times since it was first posted on Sunday afternoon, and has been profiled on TSN’s BarDown website and has been shared on Tom Cochrane’s Facebook page.

“I have received … personal messages from people all over North America. They have been sending me pictures of where they have put it, either in their home or their place of business, or they have put it as decals on their cars. It’s a little overwhelming.”

Brown believes she has received about 3,500 e-mails since Sunday afternoon from people looking for prints of the drawing. She knew she couldn’t answer them all, so Brown reprogrammed her website, put the image on her site as a free download, and updated the Facebook page with thanks for the requests, and instructions for the download.

“As of this morning (April 10), I think I saw an update that a little more than 5,000 people have downloaded it now,” said Brown.

The original drawing has been sent to the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.

Brown does a lot of graphic drawings, and uses pencil on paper for her artwork.

She believes she is able to come up with designs, such as the one for the winged Bronco, in part because of her work as a counsellor. She believes make her more sensitive to people’s feelings. Brown works at the Estevan Family Resource Centre.

“It really just comes to me,” said Brown. “I see the finished product in my head. It’s like I see a picture in my mind of what it should look like, and then I figure out how to make it look like that. It’s kind of hard to describe.”

She is glad that she has been able to do something that has brought comfort to people following such a tragedy.

Brown said she is a hockey fan, but isn’t a hockey parent or a billet. Her friend, however, is an avid fan and connected in hockey circles.

“As she puts it, the hockey family is a very big one, and a very close one, and so she and her family have been involved in various hockey programs for many, many, many years, so they had personal connections to a lot of the people,” said Brown.

Brown noted that she has received a lot of support from the family centre in recent days, and they have been very understanding of how much time she has dedicated to the artwork because of the response.

Those who want to download the drawing can go to Brown’s Facebook page, or visit https://www.deannabrownart.com/.

© Copyright 2018 Estevan Mercury

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