ST. ANTHONY, NL – A St. Anthony painter is teaching and inspiring youth to develop their artistic abilities.
Using both his 30 years’ experience as a teacher and now, as an artist, Ephraim Patey of St. Anthony is hosting a painting class for local youth.
Classes started in January and are held at the Polar Centre every second Monday.
Across five classes, Patey says he is already seeing improvements in the students, and feels he is learning from them as well.
The Northern Pen attended one of his classes Monday evening (March 26).
It was a smaller class than typical, according to Patey.
Four students attended that day, each of them working diligently copying a painting by Patey of a tropical setting.
The artist doesn’t mind having a smaller class though as it allows him to work more directly with each student.
Like the students, Patey is fairly new to painting himself. He first picked up a brush just three years ago.
He says he was always interested in “creative things.” He does photography as well. His creative pursuits simply expanded to painting.
His teacher was George Bussey, his next-door neighbour.
“He’s an incredible artist and an incredible instructor as well,” Patey said.
But learning is a process. Starting out, he says he didn’t know how to hold a brush properly.
“And sometimes I still don’t,” he joked.
After improving and developing his abilities as a painter over the last three years, he decided he wanted to share this skill with others.
He thought the best place to start was with youth.
Patey first suggested the idea to his martial arts class, and he received their support.
Classes started this past January, and have been held every second Monday.
Teaching the class
Each class, Patey brings one of his own paintings for the students to copy. Prior to each class, he re-paints it to familiarize himself with the techniques of that particular painting.
In class, on an 8x10-inch blank panel board, he then slowly recreates the painting, gradually teaching the students each step along the way.
He says he is sharing Bussey’s techniques. They don’t sketch out the art first, they just paint.
“You don’t have to be exact with everything, you’re not doing an image that you’re seeing, it’s an image in your mind,” he said.
Patey’s basic framework is starting off with the sky and then painting the foreground – the land or ocean – to complete the horizon.
Then, they start to put in more features and details.
He says they leave the objects that are closest in the foreground for last.
While the students copy the painting, Patey leaves room for the students’ own artistic freedom. For example, one student paints dark stormy waves with seagulls peppering the sky. Another paints the same setting with a clear sky and a calm and serene ocean.
He also teaches the students the basics — how to hold their brushes, the different kinds of brushes to use in different situations, how to mix their colours, how much paint to apply to the board, and other important techniques.
Improvement from the kids
Patey feels he’s already seeing the students develop as painters.
“They’re picking it up very nicely,” he said. “I’m really pleased with what they were able to do tonight.”
For instance, some learned how to use a fan brush for the first time. And while this posed challenges, he stresses the important thing is that they’re learning and enjoying themselves.
Patey says skills like painting are not something you’re born with, but have to be learned. To want to learn something, the kids need to enjoy it, he said. Therefore, he stresses the simple importance of having fun with painting.
Learning from the students
Patey also believes it’s not just the kids who are learning – he is learning from them as well.
“Your best teacher ever is your students,” he said. “Every one of them has got a different perspective.”
He appreciates and learns from their inquisitiveness.
“They ask very complicated questions sometimes that you struggle to answer,” he said. “Adults won’t ask those questions because youth don’t have hang-ups that we got – we’re afraid to make a mistake, they’ll make a mistake, smile, and keep on going.”
Patey feels that also means teachers have to pay greater attention to what they’re doing.
“You pay a lot more attention because you’re going to have to answer questions,” he said. “And you don’t want to get up and not know how to do something. You become more aware of your own techniques.”
Patey says any youth are welcome to come out and try their hand at painting. He welcomes parents to come with them as well.
There is no cost.
Classes are held every second Monday at the Polar Centre in St. Anthony and the next class was scheduled to be held on April 9.