Mike Hunniford paints en plein air on McBurney Plaza everyday and recently had his art supplies stolen. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Langley street artist back at his easel after art supplies stolen

Mike Hunniford had his paints and gear stolen from the downtown spot where he paints out of doors.

Mike Hunniford doesn’t like to dwell on the negative, such as why someone would steal all his paint, brushes, fold up chair, wagon and other supplies that he uses to paint in McBurney Plaza.

Last week while the Langley street painter was away from his easel and supplies on the chronic hunt for discounted paints, someone stole everything.

“I left it right here and went down to Penny Pinchers (thrift store),” he said. “I came back to nothing.”

He had just invested more than $100 in paints from the dollar store prior to the theft.

“It was really discouraging and depressing,” he said.

The theft left him questioning about whether to give up on his public painting which generally garners a positive reaction from passersby.

“I got that down in the dumps,” Hunniford said.

He’s certain the items weren’t removed by Langley City or its bylaw staff.

“Bylaws is always really good to me,” he said.

Hunniford doesn’t want to speculate on who took it or why since the items weren’t high dollar value. He wants to focus on the positive.

“I’m very grateful, I’m sober and I’m happy,” said the man who received his 10 year sobriety cake on Thursday.

But he’s had to scrounge up a few new supplies, including a rickety fruit box for a seat, so he can be back out on McBurney Plaza, painting his vibrant canvases and chatting with the people who stop by.

He’s typically out painting from 9 a.m. to about 2 p.m. for anyone interested in donating.

“It’s been a couple of years out here,” he said.

Hunniford said he’s out on the street painting day in and day out, including some days people might not imagine, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“It is magical,” he said of being out painting on those days.

Strangers stop by with food and warm drinks and a group of First Nations people wrapped him in a blanket to stave off the chill.

He said people who would never talk to a stranger like him on the street seem to appreciate having the art to make the introduction.

“I think that it breaks the ice,” he said. “I find lots of people are too busy looking at their phones.”

A friend in the auction business saw some painting, not realizing they were Hunnifords, and 10 of them are now part of a Sept. 21 auction taking place at the Able Auctions location in Abbotsford.

• READ more about street artist Mike Hunniford:

– Empowered through adversity

– Library art program

– Holiday painting

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Mike Hunniford paints en plein air on McBurney Plaza everyday and recently had his art supplies stolen. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

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