The 76-year-old former New Glasgow resident returned home Saturday to surround himself with family, friends and his artwork during a reception at Summer Street Industries.
Diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, Phalen said it was his wife who suggested the gathering, but it was one event he was happy to attend.
“I agreed to it because it is nice to see people alive and say goodbye,” he said.
The celebration of Jack’s life included a luncheon, speeches, hugs and handshakes all the while surrounded by the warmth of his paintings in the room.
Phalen served in the military for 25 years and was one of Canada’s youngest paratroopers in 1958. Upon his retirement, he worked for Health Canada.
He started painting in 1999 after having a brief conversation with his sister, who was also an accomplished artist, about painting. He told her he would like to give it a try and the next day, there was a starter kit at his house.
He said he put it away for a few months, but when he eventually did try his hand with the brush, he fell in love with it.
“I could skip a whole day,” he said when asked if it was relaxing for him to paint. “I very seldom paint from photographs. Most start with an idea.”
He is unsure if he has a special technique that he uses in painting and is humble when asked if he considers himself an artist.
“I never advertised or tried to force my work on anyone,” he said. “I am a little shy with it. I only ever did one art show in Elmsdale a few years after I started. I won the people’s choice award.”
He has donated paintings over the years to charities, but the remaining pieces will be left with family.
“I personally don’t have a favourite piece,” he said. “They are all a part of me.”