OUR NEIGHBOURS – Jordan Craig – A Self-Styled Romantic, this Artist’s Appreciation for Beauty Fuels Many Interests From Jazz to Private Jets

Dianne Wing

Jordan Craig’s head is in the clouds. He might be flagging in private jets, or he might be painting opaque skyscapes on canvas. That is what keeps him busy these days.

He is a man of many interests, all connected to his appreciation of beauty. It helps to come from an artistic family. His father Philip Craig is a celebrated painter, his mother Diane, a jewelry designer, sister Shannon Craig Morphew, an established painter, while brother Jonathon owns and runs Craig Gallery in Meaford Ontario.

Jordon at home on the tarmac service private jets. Photo by Jordan Craig

Jordon at home on the tarmac service private jets. Photo by Jordan Craig

Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road,” Craig left Ottawa in his early twenties to follow Route 66 to California. He lived in Venice Beach for several years, attended The Hollywood Film Institute at Paramount Studios and experimented with super 8 film. In 1997 he moved back to Ottawa and started working at Dynomight Cartoons, the animation studio, owned by his mother Diane. At first, Craig contributed his computer skills to the studio but before long he was part of the creative team that produced Untalkative Bunny. Untalkative Bunny was an animated series about a mute, yellow anthropomorphic bunny and his life in the city. It aired in Canada on Teletoon for 3 seasons, 2001 to 2004.

Craig is a self-proclaimed romantic. His appreciation of beauty extends to all aspects of his life. He is a professional photographer of landscapes and portraits. “The magic of being able to pause time and go back to a moment over and over again is one of the key things I love about photography. The world goes by in a great blur and re-examining it in a photo offers the chance to slow it all down. The way I choose my subjects relies on this philosophy. I simply shoot anything that I want to stop, collect and examine later.”

Jordan also home on stage blowing hot jazz on his tenor saxophone.  Photo by Carissa Broeren

Jordan also home on stage blowing hot jazz on his tenor saxophone. Photo by Carissa Broeren

But stopping to observe the world is not just a visual exercise for Craig. He is a professional musician as well. He believes that in order to learn something new it’s best to go to the source. His love of jazz prompted him to seek out Montreal freelance saxophonist Al MacLean for lessons. MacLean is an expert in saxophone history and restoration as well. Craig, the proud owner of a vintage Mark Vl tenor saxophone, is currently working on an album with guitarist Colin Wolfson and keyboardist Maxime Fillion. During the pandemic, Craig produced This Is Nowhere for CKCU radio along with Tariq Anwar, from his home recording studio. The program was an exploration into what it means to live as an artist with the aim to broaden the definition of the word “artist.”

A lifelong love of airplanes led to Craig’s current day job at Skyservice Business Aviation, the company that services private flights at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. He describes airplanes as physics in motion. “It’s art really, the sight and the smell of intensity.” At Skyservice Craig gets up close with private jets, some worth as much as $50 million. It might be a medivac flight coming in from Nunavut, a private jet whisking in Iggy Pop to perform at CityFolk or President Biden arriving on Air Force One. Craig has seen them all. His job entails a bit of everything: fueling, unloading and loading, towing and pushing jets into parking spots for their short stay in Ottawa. Jet fuel, and coffee. That’s the smell of international travel to Craig.

Craig's oil painting "Dunrobin late summer" typifies his current artistic focus on painting landscapes with big skies. Image Supplied

Craig’s oil painting “Dunrobin late summer” typifies his current artistic focus on painting landscapes with big skies. Image Supplied

When he is not looking to the skies at work, he is thinking about painting skies. Craig has recently shifted his artistic focus to oil painting, mostly landscapes with big skies. He has come full circle. He grew up with oil paint, brushes, easels and frames everywhere. Oil and turpentine were the smells of his family home. “Painting was such a huge part of my family’s existence that I really decided it was best to do something else. Over the years in photography I have had a great amount of success, for that I am grateful and proud. During that time I also studied with my father to learn the art of oil painting. I didn’t intend to become a painter myself, but just to learn about his process.” Craig spent last year learning to sketch and draw and took a month off this past summer to paint for himself and learn and solve problems in creative ways. Whether it be jazz, or jets, film or canvas, Jordan Craig is open to be inspired and to live life as an artist.

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