‘Art is blunt, it doesn’t sugar coat things, it doesn’t lie.’
It was one of the only sweltering days this summer when Olivia and I sat down over our chilled drinks at Starbucks to discuss her passion for visual arts. Olivia is an 18 year old professional artist. She and her partner Travis Stedmond began an art business in April where they have had the opportunity to use Paint Nites as way of ‘teaching people the joy of painting.’ Olivia explained that ‘Paint Nites are a way for everyone and anyone to try their hand at creation and art.’
‘The way any artist looks at a piece is completely different from the general public.’
Paint Nites give people an opportunity to try their hand at painting. They are held at local cafes, restaurants and bars during business hours and allow anyone to join in on the fun of painting while also having a bite to eat or a glass of wine. Local artists act as instructors for the evening and walk you through how to create a painting based on the event’s model painting. It’s an amazing way to spend a night and at the end of the event, you have your own painting to remember the experience.
Olivia has always doodled and her passion for art began in sixth grade when she came home with a painting she had done in class of two birch trees. Her father saw her talent and encouraged her to pursue art. He hired her a tutor and bought her first art supplies. By seventh grade she had begun her own art club at school. Students would stop by the library during their lunches to create their own art.
She explained that while she loves art, she often has to justify to others that she’s not ‘just an artist.’ There is a stereotype, she said, that artists feel entitled and that they don’t work hard. Olivia says this just is not the case and finds it frustrating that people will categorize a person based on just one aspect of their life when everyone is multifaceted.
‘I think that it would be the best thing for me not only as a person but also an artist.’
On top of being an aspiring artist, Olivia wants to become a real estate agent. She plans on using her art as a marketing tool to distinguish herself in the vast real estate field. She finds the career intriguing and aspires to be a successful agent like her aunt and mother.
‘The best way to learn art or anything is to do it’
There are many different types of visual arts, but Olivia is most interested in acrylic paintings and graphite drawings. Over the summer she took a figure drawing class with both an uninstructed and instructed portion to improve her skills. This allowed her to expand her knowledge of the human body from the instructor while also learning on her own.
She has also joined the Oshawa Art Association. This is an organization that connects local artists and offers a place for their art to be displayed. Olivia explained that the association requires three pieces for an artist’s work to be shown in a gallery. She is currently working towards creating three pieces that she is happy to have on display, something that is proving more difficult than she had anticipated.
When asked what distracts her from finishing those pieces, or any piece of work, her response gave a harsh look into the life of an artist. ‘Everyday bullshit’ and ‘insecurity about my own work’ are the main reasons she sometimes struggles to complete a piece. By ‘bullshit’, Olivia meant ‘the facade people can put up that prevents them from being different and unique’. Daily things, Olivia says, are what really discourages those in arts or trying to complete any type of project. She went on to explain that she usually only finishes 20% of the projects she begins. She does however keep the discarded pieces as references for later projects.
Olivia told me that her dream job is to make art. Olivia has already been commissioned to paint animal portraits as well as some pieces she describes as ‘trippy work’ .This is one those pieces.
‘Art had a purpose back in the day’
Olivia explained that art now has a more limited role in society. Historians, however use art to delve into past cultures and see how they experienced day to day life. The Annenburg Learning website has created a video series that has been broken down into thirteen different themes. The series explains how art gives us a glimpse into subjects like domestic life, converging cultures and death across different time periods.
Hundreds of years ago artists had patrons who would pay for their schooling and for them to create art. Unfortunately this is no longer a typical practice, but this has had little effect on Olivia’s dream to have the city of Oshawa as a patron.
She says that while she has been previously commissioned, things are currently slower with fewer requests for her art. She doesn’t dwell on it though and uses it as encouragement to change and improve.
‘I don’t want to pander to people’
Still, Olivia doesn’t want to limit herself artistically to those who commission her. There is a balance, she said, when she is completing a non-commissioned piece. The piece, she explained, has to be done well so that people understand the message being conveyed. ‘If they’re feeling something, then it’s a good piece.’
Skill, time and effort. That’s what Olivia says is required to make a good piece of art. ‘I think that a good piece takes skill into account but also creativity.’ Emptyeasel.com explains that ‘beauty in art’ and ‘the inherent meaning’ are also important components when assessing the quality of a piece. Are you interested? Do you find it beautiful? Can you tell what the artist is trying to say? These questions are important to ask when assessing a piece of art.
‘Pieces about death are my favourite’
Over the course of her career as an artist, Olivia has found that she has an inherent interest in death. She says it’s ‘the one thing that brings us all together’. She’s previously attempted a piece on the topic but found that it didn’t fit her intentions. Pushing it aside, she began another project. She hopes to one day finish a painting of death.
Olivia’s desire to continue with her passion for art is inspiring and she has found that ‘teaching is a form of learning’. When asked what piece of advice she would give to a beginner artist, she said to sketch ideas. Go through each different possibility of how a piece could turn out and then really commit to one idea.
She is continuing to grow as an artist each day. She pushes herself to improve and to one day be as good as her idols. She’s an inspiration to me to continue working towards my goals as a writer and hopefully to you too. Follow your passion and make your dreams a reality.
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