CTColumn:: You Should Study Art!


Time for a bit of sentimentality. In 2008 I studied at the Ottawa School of Art in Canada; the country of incomparable coolness. I don’t know why Canadians are so down-to-earth, but it is contagious and wonderful. During that year I studied painting, sculpture and drawing with four loving, encouraging, challenging and talented instructors by the names David Clendining (sculpture), Mahshid Farhoudi (drawing) and Andrew Fay (painting). In this column you can see a couple of works by Andrew Fay, who is represented by La Petite Mort Gallery.

Ottawa School of Art is located next to ByWard Market, which is Canada’s oldest continuously operating market, and the neighboring streets are lined with galleries, cozy cafes and Delicatessens. Friends back home thought I should have gone to New York instead, but courtyard moments with fellow artists at Planet Coffee around the corner (with heavenly scones) assured me that Ottawa was the way to go.

“Bad Holiday” by Andrew Fay, Acrylic on canvas, 26″ X 48″ , 2011,                      La Petite Mort Gallery

What about the notorious winter weather? The snow came down in quantities which seemed like tons and there I was, on my bike, sliding to the left and to the right between the cars with a 60” x 48” canvas under my arm. It was mad, and it was fun and I didn’t fall once. Something grabbed a hold of me during that year and shook me vigorously; to study art is was the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me. After years of dissatisfying music and media studies in Sweden it was like stepping into my real essence, being born again in front of the blank canvas as Andrew Fey introduced us to the project ‘To interpret an Old Master painting.’ The big studio was cramped with excited individuals of all sexes and ages with grey hair, blonde hair, brown hair and red hair. Short and tall; united in our urge to embark on the new adventure. Some of us grabbed the palette knife and attacked the canvas with no mercy, to sculpt cheekbones and knees and candle light. Others carefully dotted surrounding landscapes and moved the brush in soft movements, gently working on the transition from raw sienna to burnt sienna. Looking back, I regret not having been a little more interested in the others creative process, but the day did not have enough hours to satisfy me. It was something of a manic ecstasy going on inside of me, impossible to control.

“Allegory of Injustice” Andrew Fay, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches, 2012               La Petite Mort Gallery

“Wild Lilly”, Mahshid Farhoudi

The drawing classes were very different; they gave me a pounding headache from the extreme focus. Damn, I wanted to walk out and never look back, but I was determined to develop my vision and connect the hand to that vision. It is a big surprise, and even a bit intimidating, to realize how much there is to see when you take a close look at anything. Lines, proportions, shades, movements, distances, textures… Mamma Mia. That is what you get when your drawing teacher has studied in Florence and I learnt a lot.

Dave Clendining is something of a vortex of positive energy and inspired all sculpture students to transform a lump of clay to a sensual female body during our life model classes. We took many breaks and drank a lot of coffee and had a fantastic time. Have you considered taking a painting course or to go to art school? I will assure you that you are never too old and there is no such thing as ‘untalented’… So go for it!

Elinrós Henriksdotter, Founder and chief editor 

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