Ottawa police officer Jeff Simpson says he began painting as an outlet for some of his darkest days on the front line.

“We see things, unfortunately, that we wouldn’t wish anyone to see, and this is an outlet for me,” Simpson told CTV Ottawa.

Now it’s his greatest passion. It’s also a skill that many policing colleagues may not know he possesses. “I guess it’s just my therapy,” Simpson says.

After years of painting in private, Simpson will be revealing his art to the public for the first time, with an art show in Ottawa called “The First Look.”

Simpson, who began painting nearly a decade ago, worries about putting himself out there for the big reviews.

“I’m scared to death,” he says with a laugh. But he’s also hopeful that people will find meaning in his work.

“A lot of people will see things in these paintings that I never even thought of, but that’s what I like,” he said. “That’s what art is all about, it’s subjective.”

A 17-year veteran of the force, Simpson said he started just by bringing some paint and canvas home and painting a palm tree.

His work gradually moved toward abstract, with his canvases typically starting out all black. Simpson says he puts his “soul on the canvas. I know that sounds weird ... and the abstract stuff was just a natural progression.”

"The First Look" show is scheduled to start at 6:30p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3rd, at Bar Gusto on 81 Clarence St. in Ottawa.

Simpson will be donating the proceeds from his first painting sale to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

With files from CTV Ottawa’s Megan Shaw