Rig Art: “Energy”

Harold Lloyd Lyon, a Canadian by birth, now calls Arizona home. In 1993, he published a how-to book on painting called "Creating Illusion" that he hopes inspires others. Check out more of his work at “The Artworks of Harold Lyon” on Facebook.

Title: “Energy”
Artists: Harold Lyon
Year: 1973
Size: 36″ x 24″
Medium: oil on canvas

If you’ve been to the CAPP office in downtown Calgary, you may recognize this painting of two rig workers tripping pipe in bone-chilling weather. With a little investigative effort, we tracked down the artist, Harold Lyon, a Canadian living in Arizona, and asked him about it:

“I was very fortunate to have my brother-in-law, Mr. Edward Jackson, invite me to the rig he was working on in southern Alberta in the early 1970s. The men depicted here were attaching another length of drilling pipe that would allow them to go deeper into the earth to capture this wonderful energy. Ed complained that drilling well after well was only resulting in natural gas, but they tried drilling one final hole hoping they would strike oil at last.”

The painting, Lyon hopes, portrays hard-working individuals in the dead of winter surrounded by steam from the rig. The chain, however, is meant to represent the many success stories of Man’s quest for energy.

Lyon is primarily known for his western and rural-themed paintings, so discovering a rig scene amongst his works is surprising. Not to him, though, as he admits, “energy has been part of my life in so many ways. Starting in 1932, when I was two years old…somewhere I have a photo of myself sitting on my grandmother’s front steps watching the horse and buggies on the highway roll by in front of her house. An occasional Model T Ford would also roll on by on the same road. Those Fords were one of the first automobiles dependent on the new energy, an energy that has grown along with demands of the day.”

“My life has always been part of this quest for new energy. I have worked dozens of different jobs including Chrysler’s car factory in Detroit as a machine operator. I learned to operate several machines on the assembly line. These machines all used energy. Without energy no new cars would roll down the highway. One forgets that the horses on a plough use energy. A threshing machine uses energy that comes from the drilling rig as illustrated in the painting. The abandoned buildings across this great nation are those created by the hand of man and his ability to harness this energy. The same buildings today still mostly rely on energy found in the ground.”

“I worked on the Chief Commanda, a pleasure boat leaving North Bay, ON and travelled across Lake Nippising to the French River. I was one of the engineers who oversaw two 600 hp diesel engines that maneuvered the boat around dangerous rocks during its many journeys. Diesel fuel is another great example of reliable energy. I could go on forever.”

“We must take advantage of the situation and develop these treasures for our future generations. The time is now, we must plan ahead. This wonderful energy is a godsend for humanity.”