Law and art: Painting helps deal with trial tension

Of all the stresses appeal lawyer Christopher Nowlin deals with during a trial the worst is waiting for a jury to deliver a verdict.

The process can take days and, without something to do to pass the time, dealing with the unknown can wear on the counsel, Nowlin said Monday.

"It's fraught with a kind of tension," Nowlin said during a phone interview from Vancouver.

Nowlin fills the hours by painting. And on Thursday, eight of his paintings and jury-themed drawings will be on display at the downtown library from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

His work is presented in collaboration with a reading by friend and author David J. Litvak, who will read from his humourous travelogue Dancing with Bears on Kootenay Time. Nowlin provided the cover art.

Although he made law his career, art has always been a big part of Nowlin. There was a time, while waiting tables in Montreal, that he'd considered pursuing printmaking professionally. When he wasn't accepted into art school, his career was set on the course of law.

But Nowlin's artistic side refused to let go. Driven by a background in philosophy and criminology, and encouraging words from his friends, he wrote a crime novel while in law school.

The success of If Lips Could Kill led him to write a second book, this time about Vancouver's inflated ego, called To See the Sky - a kind of mystery/satire inspired by the city's run up to hosting the 2012 Olympics.

And, of course, there's Nowlin's art. He describes his work as surrealist, although not in the style of Salvador Dali. Instead, he takes inspiration from Rene Magritte, a Belgian artist known for his floating bowler hats, pumpkin heads and suited men falling from the sky.

"I've always liked his stuff," said Nowlin. "Art is a fun and light hearted thing to do."

Although Nowlin has worked on trials in Kamloops - including the appeal of accused murderer Steven Roe - this is the first time he's had an exhibit here.

Nowlin promises it will be a fun and relaxed evening. To see more of his work go online to

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