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New downtown Quesnel art studio will provide workshop, studio space

A variety of workshops have already been booked at new Reid Street Studios
Patti Faber works on her painting during a landscape oil painting workshop led by Katja Kovanen Sept. 12. Kovanen will soon be teaching her workshops out of the new Reid Street Studios. (Lindsay Chung Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Nobody is ever going to mistake me for an artist. I appreciate art but can’t claim to have any artistic ability. So I was pretty amazed at what I could do in a four-and-a-half-hour painting workshop.

Working off a reference photo and following loose directions by Katja Kovanen that guide you along and give you a lot of freedom, I was able to come up with something that looks a lot like a painting of water, mountains, sky, trees and grass, during Kovanen’s oil painting landscape workshop Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Granville’s lounge above Books and Company.

Kovanen began teaching both landscape and portrait oil painting workshops this year, and she is excited to offer them in a bright, new workshop space next door at the new Reid Street Studios.

Kovanen and Kate Tataryn of Sol Ninja Clothing and Yoga operate The Space Above on Reid Street, a shared artisan area with handmade clothing and textiles, home decor, silversmith jewelry and live painting area located above Books and Company. They are adding Reid Street Studios to the artistic landscape of Quesnel’s downtown core. Reid Street Studios, located in the old lawyer’s offices above Suzanne’s, offers a large room for hosting workshops and four studio spaces with windows overlooking Reid Street. Tataryn and Maureen Wheeler have already moved in as resident artists, and two studio spaces are still available for rent.

“It’s sort of an extension of The Space Above, so it feels like the next step,” said Kovanen, who is also hoping to have paints for sale at The Space Above and at Reid Street Studios.

Kovanen has booked a wide range of workshops in the new space. She will teach landscape and portrait oil painting workshops, and there will be abstract acrylics with Christa Krisman, watercolours with Heater E.S. Armstrong, gel plate printing with Sybille Muschik, mandala and Celtic knot drawing with Cyndi Cassidy, fibre and textile arts with Kate Tataryn and possibly paint pouring and driftwood sculpture with Maureen Wheeler.

“It’s a really big space, and the landlord is giving us a lot of time to work things out,” said Kovanen. “He’s been very supportive.”

Anyone who is interested in sharing a workshop can either rent space to put on their own workshop, or rent the space from Kovanen and have Kovanen do the advertising and registration work for them. The workshop space could fit up to 10 people, but with COVID-19 precautions in place, workshops are currently running with up to six students and one teacher.

Kovanen started teaching painting workshops this year. Christa Krisman was her first instructor in Quesnel, and she remembers her first class was abstract acrylics, and she painted a portrait.

“[Christa] was so encouraging that I went in a group show the next month,” said Kovanen, whose first group show was the Art From The Heart show at the Quesnel Art Gallery. “I started with that, and then I just started painting. I started with acrylic, then moved to oil.”

On Sept. 12, Krisman was in the student role, as she took Kovanen’s landscape oil painting workshop.

“I thought it was a challenge for me to work in oil because usually, I work in acrylic, and the work is very, very different than what I usually do,” she said. “I actually liked it. I was surprised. It’s nice to participate in the group; I like to socialize.”

Krisman has been teaching in Quesnel since 2012. She moved to Prince George four years ago and now teaches there, and she usually teaches classes in Mexico in the winter. Last year Krisman had her own gallery down there.

“Abstract teaching, it means you use your imagination,” she said. “I like to show [students] different options, different tools, different approaches and what you actually can do. People think ‘I don’t know what to do,’ but it’s amazing what people can do. That’s what I like.”

For more information about Reid Street Studios, visit the business’s Facebook page or call or text Katja Kovanen at 250-255-7930.