Portrait of the artist as a young man

KILLALOE – Having painted myself as a youngster, and, despite not having accumulated much skill, the work of many local artists often fills me with joy, yes, but not awe, typically. Enter Joseph Ferrant’s painting of a boy receiving a saxophone lesson from his grandpa that hangs on the wall in the home of late local artist’s, Patricia Milan’s, wall.

After having heard about Patricia’s role in Ferrant’s artistic formation, I was especially eager to follow-up with the young man, to see if I could gain just a little bit of insight into the development of an artist in his own words.

Joseph told me, “I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. When I was around 8 or 9 I did some lessons in folk arts and crafts, and later, in high school, I had art lessons with Mrs. Milan, here in Barry’s Bay. It was only recently that I received some formal training at the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto, which is a classical atelier based on the 19th century French academies. I did three to four months on their official courses and only finished the first part of their three-part program but I would say it has been the most helpful in making me a professional painter.

Aware of the strong artistic spirit of our area, and yet struck by how much his own approach seems to stand out from it, I asked him about his influences. “You refer to yourself as a realist – that is clearly true. Who or what would you say are your greatest influences?”

“Due to the fact I grew up surrounded by their artwork, probably Michael O’Brien and my godfather, Petru Botezatu, were the two influences that pushed me towards becoming a painter, though funnily enough both are iconographers rather than realists.”

“I would like to add that Patricia Milan… on top of being one of my first art teachers, was one of my strongest supporters, and really pushed me to pursue a career in art. She also led to me to Academy of Realist Art and for that I’m eternally grateful. A lovely person and a lovely artist.”

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