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The artistry of creating art

Concentration, creativity and beauty were all on full display when one entered the Kivalliq Art Camp in Rankin Inlet this past week.
The camp ran from Nov. 5 to 13, with a full showing of the students' work on display at the lab building next to the Learning Centre on Monday (Nov. 12) evening.

Instructor Rob Saley gives a few pointers on the eyes of a subject to Anthym Kadjuk of Baker Lake during the Kivalliq Art Camp in Rankin Inlet on Nov. 9, 2018. Darrell Greer/NNSL photo
Instructor Rob Saley gives a few pointers on the eyes of a subject to Anthym Kadjuk of Baker Lake during the Kivalliq Art Camp in Rankin Inlet on Nov. 9, 2018. Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

The annual camp is sponsored by the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) and was lead by instructors Rob Saley, Paul Mantrop and Andrew Qappik.

Saley said from an initial doodle to a finished work, artwork is a process with each part equally important.

"We actually encourage doodling," said Saley.

"Each student is given a sketchbook and, often, from those doodles come wonderful ideas which then can be translated into canvases.

"So the sketchbook and doodling are strongly encouraged."

Saley said the amount of talent he saw from the students during the camp was simply amazing.

He said the students were hard at work from day one until the last brush and pencil were packed away.

"We had an incredibly talented group of students – not only this year, but over the years we've been coming to this camp – and it's incredible to watch students develop from day one.

"At first, maybe you see they have a little bit of fear of tackling a canvas and paint. But then you're watching that fear go away as they gain confidence with each canvas, and begin building on the experiences and what they've learned from the first canvas to the second and all the way through the camp.

"John (Tatty) was a little hesitant on day one – he wasn't sure about it – and by day five he was working on his sixth or seventh canvas.

"He was given a little, tiny bit of instruction and direction and he just ran with it, and that's incredibly rewarding as an instructor, to see skills learned and confidence gained, so we couldn't be happier as instructors at this camp."

Saley said the works produced at the camp resulted in stories being told and wonderful portraits being produced.

He said the instructors encourage the students to take on challenging projects and dissuade them from just doing an NHL logo or an ulu.

"If they're adamant they want to do that, we try to make it something more so they add a Northern flair to it or have some sort of personal story being told.

"That way they're not just doing a decorative piece, but putting a little bit of their soul into the canvas, which is something we try very hard to teach."

This year's camp featured mainly a mature group of students.

Saley said the camp being held in November, opposed to the summer months, meant many youth had school and other commitments.

But, he said, the camp did have a wide range of ages among its students and it was a pleasure to work with them all.

"We had five or six return students this year and we definitely saw improvements in their works.

"We've also become Facebook friends with many students over the years and, so, I've seen work they've been posting and doing on their own time.

"That shows me they're inspired and motivated, and creating work when they're not at camp.

"We're here to help encourage them when they run into a problem or have a question and, really, to keep people from becoming frustrated is our main goal because a frustrated artist isn't having fun and that shows in their work."

Sam Tutanuak and Daisy Panika co-ordinated the camp for the KIA.

Tutanuak said he decided to sit-in on the camp as well, as it was always something he wanted to give a try and broaden his horizons.

He said he enjoyed the experience and getting a good idea of what producing art is all about.

"I haven't discovered my inner artist quite yet," said Tutanuak with a chuckle.

"I enjoyed doing the pencil-on-paper sketching through the week and following the lead of my late brother, Simon Tookoome, but I have a lot of following to do there.

"I had a lot of fun during the camp and, maybe it's a cliche, but I also found the experience to be therapeutic and quite relaxing.

"I really learned a lot, especially doing facials and stuff with portraits, and it's something now – doodling, at least – that I will definitely continue to do."