Stories on Canvas with the Strokes of Young Artists
Art can be a powerful medium, telling a collection of stories, whatever the brush strokes bring to life, whether beautiful scenes of landscapes or painful histories.
And artists don’t need to be over a certain age to expertly bring those stories to life on canvas.
Take this year’s FuseSocial TimeRaiser for example which featured a couple of budding artists under the age of 17.
For Richelle Stewart, this was the first time she had submitted one of her pieces for the Timeraiser.
“It feels empowering and gives me courage in my art to know that people actually like and want to see my art out in the world,” she acknowledged after seeing people bid on her work.
“This has all been a fun and definitely a learning experience.”
She remembers picking up a paintbrush as soon as she was able to.
“There was something about being able to drag a brush across paper or canvas. Even if it was a mistake, I was able to see it as beautiful or creative,” says Richelle, a member of the Fort McKay First Nation community.
“When people started saying ‘Hey, you’re good at art. Wow, you’re such a good artist,’ it was comments like those that made me strive to make better, much more detailed pieces.”
Richelle, who turned 18 in May, finished her Grade 12 this past June at Holy Trinity Catholic High School. She admits that while she has been painting and drawing since she was little, she didn’t start doing it more as a hobby until she was about 13 or 14-years-old.
“It was a way for me to express myself more in a creative way and for my voice to be heard. In my art, I try to mostly connect culture, beliefs and my own interests.”
Though she likes to work with multiple mediums such as watercolour, pencil crayons and charcoal, her favourite is acrylic as it dries a bit faster.
“Even if I make a mistake, it’s easy to just repaint it as mistakes are just happy accidents,” she chuckles.
“What I love about painting is the ability to express your thoughts about anything without a single word being written. For me, it gives me something to focus on when I need it. To me, my mind just goes into a state of relaxation and creativity. It’s there where I feel most inspired to create even more artwork.”
This was also Austan Beauchamp’s first time having one of his works showcased in the Timeraiser. His piece was the only art work in youth section on Aboriginal art.
For the past several years, Austan’s work has focused on bringing awareness to the Residential School system.
“I was honoured to know that one of my artworks got selected. Now I am truly a professional artist.”
He says he was happy to know that people were bidding on his work. He recalled one woman who stood near his piece and kept on bidding.
“My mom told her about my artwork in the past and she said if she wins this work, she will have it in her living room and when I am a famous artist she can say that she bought the first art piece up for sale in this show.
“She encouraged me to continue painting and sell them to spread the goodness.”
Pieces at the Timeriaser are ‘sold’ for volunteer hours.
Though only now 12, Austan started painting about the atrocities of the residential schools two years ago, prompted by his emotional response to a visit by three Elders, survivors of residential school abuse, to his school to share their stories. He was so overwrought by what he heard, he went home crying; disbelieving that people could do that to each other. He put brush to canvas and created Sufferings at Indian Residential Schools.
He says it’s important the story be told because Aboriginal peoples have struggled through generations to bring justice and awareness about these sufferings in the schools.
“Canadians have to start treating Native people with respect as we took their language, culture, dignity, family, love and spirituality away from them,” states Austan. “We have hurt and abused them when they were young, and this was not their fault for being on this land before we all arrived.
“We have to support them and make them included in our family as one nation.”
He continues to plan to take my artwork to Fort Chipewyan and Edmonton, and finally to Australia.
“I am also trying to put together my artwork as a form of video and book for kids to learn about Indian Residential Schools in Canada.
“Look out for a new angle to my artwork on residential schools.”