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  • Writer's pictureItsik Romano

How this local artist is using cartooning to create a sense of hope for Ukrainians

Artist Paul McAdams found his passion for art in his early childhood. McAdams, who sadly lost his father at the age of 3, later discovered a collection of his artwork - intricate land and seascapes - when he was 10 years old. Instantly, McAdams felt a connection to his father and began his own career in drawing and cartooning.

McAdams who is entirely self-taught says the passion has had ebbs and flows over the years.

"I've spent years without picking up a brush or a pencil, but I've tried to carve out space for creativity in my schedule - creating art is a liberating and invigorating process that counterbalances the occasional weight of my work."
- Paul McAdams

Although the artist has drawn from a variety of inspiration over the years, including superheroes and comic books, he has one character that has stuck around and become a trademark of Paul's.

Sunny Bean, who was created by McAdams roughly five years ago, is "mostly silent, but placed in situations which encourage him to reflect on life, be appreciative, and engage in acts of kindness towards others". The bean-like character always comes adorned with a little yellow balloon, floating in the air; contrasted with McAdams' limited color palette, it symbolizes a sense of hope and joy.

Using a variety of mediums including ink, digital media, and watercolor pencils, McAdams creates simple, yet powerful tableaus, often with an important social message.

Image courtesy of Paul McAdams

"Merci, Guy" - Courtesy of Paul McAdams

"In general, I think much of my inspiration is drawn from the work I've done as a human rights educator over the past quarter-century. I've lived and worked in countries around the world, including work in conflict zones; I think that kind of exposure to different contexts and cultures strengthens my appreciation for what I have and raises my awareness of the challenges others face."
- Paul McAdams

Since January 1st, the Roxboro native has had the goal of creating one drawing a day. Drawing on inspiration from current world events, McAdams creates, and then later shares his doodles to his Instagram page.

Unsurprisingly, his wife Carolyn is incredibly proud of her husband's work and began sharing his designs to her Facebook account. When she posted a drawing Paul had created in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, one friend commented "I'd wear that on a t-shirt!"

Thus, an idea was born.

"Carolyn and I took that idea and decided we'd create and sell t-shirts with all proceeds going towards the Canadian Red Cross efforts in Ukraine. Within a couple of weeks, we sold over 400 t-shirts and raised over $6,100. We then did a second round in which we sold over 1,000 t-shirts. Altogether, the funds raised will be approximately $20,000."
- Paul McAdams

Image courtesy of Paul McAdams

To see more of Paul's work and to follow along with his daily doodles, be sure to pay him a visit at You can also head over to Sunny Bean's website HERE.

With not much more than a pen and a piece of paper, McAdams' work is a reminder for us all to start looking for life's little yellow balloons.


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