GREAT FALLS – A Great Falls veteran is filling his life with art, using a canvas not many people would think to try.

Reporter Kaley Collins went inside his shop to find out more about his metal art for this Montana Made report.

“When I’m in here, it doesn’t matter if it’s an hour or 10 hours, it’s kind of a meditation for me,” said Jason Garneau.

Story continues below

He is completely self-taught, minus the two years he took of welding to get certified.

Garneau has owned his business After Image Metal Art for six years, but to him, it’s not really a job. “Sometimes, I say job, but then it really isn’t to me, because it’s fun,” he said. “So it’s not like a job, it’s a hobby.”

Garneau’s love for art started at a young age and stayed with him throughout adulthood.

“When I got out of the Navy after 16 years, I started getting my drawing back a lot more,” Garneau said. “Then this happened and it’s been a dream since I started.”

He starts by sketching and tracing his designs, then cuts out the metal. “As soon as you cut, then you kinda know if a piece is going to be nice or not,” he said.

He goes through some extra steps to make sure the edges don’t cut his customers. After that, he grinds in the details, like the mountains and trees on his signature Montana Piece.

Garneau frequently sells his art at shows all around Montana and just wrapped up a show at the Out West Art Show in Great Falls.

“Usually, the typical process is a couple of days because you’re going through various stages, plus you have to go through a clear-coat stage after it’s finished and a curing process,” Garneau explained about his work.

“Typically, when I make a piece for someone, on a small piece, it’s usually in two weeks or longer,” he said. “Of course, the bigger you go, the longer it’s going to take.”

Then the pieces are off to find a new home.

“It’s very rewarding,” said Garneau. “It’s like I get connected to every piece I make and sometimes it’s hard to let them go.”

Reporting by Kaley Collins for MTN News