Ever since she was a small child, Izabella Orzelski has made
the human form the principal subject of her sketches. Her mother still
treasures her childhood drawings
captured family members, neighbors, fairy tale character, etc. Growing up
change her keen interest in art and love for figure drawing. In 1998, Iza’s
dream of becoming a professional figure painter came closer to reality when
she earned her MFA Degree from the Graduate School of Figurative Art at the
New York Academy of Art. Significant recognition of her status as a
professional figure painter came that same year when she received the First
Annual Award for Fine Art from the Dahesh Museum in New York.
Iza later left New York and returned to her hometown,
Edmonton, Canada, where she diligently pursued her artistic career and
eventually met her soul mate and husband, Bogdan Konikowski
a fellow artist.
Among her most notable creations to-date are her life-size
portraits of prominent Edmontonians such as Harriet Winspear
(Old Arts Building, University of Alberta),
Lieutenant Governour Lois Hole (Stanley A.
Milner Branch of the Edmonton Public Library) and more recently Dr. Grant
MacEwan (MacEwan University).
Although she teaches many art classes at the
ARTIZA School of Fine Art
and the University of
Faculty of Extension, Izabella still finds time to turn out her own portrait and figure paintings.
She is currently working on a series of paintings for her next solo
Konikowski knew he was destined to be an artist from the age of 15.
During his youth in Poland, he would skip his academic classes to stay at
home and paint. He later followed private instruction by a classical
fine artist of the European tradition, Tadeusz Mokrzycki of Bydgoszcz Poland.
Because of difficult circumstances, Bogdan was forced to drop
his art for a long period of time. However, a time came when he realized
that living without art, his greatest passion, was simply unbearable.
Bogdan re-committed himself to his art on a full-time basis and never
looked back. He soon made up for lost time, becoming a very prolific artist—in
eight months he created close to 200 aquarelle paintings!
Although aquarelles had served him well, Bogdan felt that in
order to effectively bring his ideas to life, he needed to use a different
oil paints. A great admirer of Rembrandt, Bogdan
studied this master’s techniques and reproduced several of his works in the
process. These studies helped his personal style emerge. Many of his
paintings have a strong tonal contrast and an internal glow
a light from within.
Bogdan is very versatile in terms of the subjects he
from large-scale floral images to the human figure. Deeply spiritual and
religious, Bogdan enthusiastically created two life-size paintings for
Edmonton’s Holy Rosary Church. One is a depiction of the
Crucifixion of Jesus and another is a portrait
of Pope John Paul II. Using chiaroscuro and
glazing techniques, Bogdan has come to specialize in painting murals and
reproducing the works of the Great Masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer or
Velazquez. For one commission, Bogdan created a series of murals for the
Barcelona Restaurant and Holiday Inn Hotel in Grand Prairie.
Another of Bogdan’s passions is broadcasting and hosting the
Catholic Radio show “Aniol Panski” (CKER 101FM) and the
Radio” show (CJSR 88FM) that are transmitted to Edmonton’s large Polish
community every Sunday.
Life as a Couple of Artists
Since Izabella’s and Bogdan’s styles, personalities and
each other so well, they agreed to collaborate on
the portrait of the Lieutenant Governour of Alberta. In the art world, such
collaboration is almost unheard of. Nevertheless, in October of 2003, their
completed life-size portrait of Honourable Lois E. Hole was unveiled at the
Stanley A. Milner Library to an enthusiastic crowd. Evidently a new fan and
friend of these artists, Honourable Hole later graced Bogdan’s September
latest show at the Front Gallery (Edmonton, Canada) was honoured with the
presence of Lt. Governour Lois Hole as an honorary guest
(excerpt from the Edmonton Journal).
Pleased with the success of the Lois E. Hole commission, both
artists agreed to continue working together on other projects. Two current
projects are the creation of two series of portraits honouring Canadian
women entitled: “Alberta’s Unsung Heroines” and “Twelve Contemporary
Canadian Women of Distinction”.
Proud to be a part of a small group of artists carrying on
the tradition of classical figure and portrait painting, Bogdan and
Izabella’s preference is evidently oils above all other mediums. In their
opinion, no other paint allows so many possibilities in variation of color
and tone, and no other medium allows such realistic depictions of nature and
the human body. Despite some
people’s attempt to capture the human figure using photography
techniques, these two artists believe that an oil painting retains a charm
and soul as unique as the individual artist. And unlike a photograph, a
fine art oil painting is treasured for many generations.
The School, the Family and the Future
1999, Izabella and Bogdan founded the ARTIZA School of Fine Arts and
opened their doors to students of all ages and backgrounds. Its two
ateliers are abounded with plants, books, sounds of trickling water,
laughter and music. In this setting, they create their own paintings and
readily share their knowledge and artistic experience with students and
Summertime transforms the house into a green oasis, with
grapevines and hopes climbing the balcony and sliding up to the roof. The
garden bursts with a multitude of bright sunflowers and fragrant flowers.
Keeping life and art inseparable, this type of environment also helps bring
out the creativity and talent in people, especially in children. Nourishing
the souls and the minds of little creatures with art, nature and knowledge
of many kinds is a very crucial part of their mandate as artists, teachers
and parents. Indeed, their creations are not limited to canvas – Bogdan and
Izabella are the proud parents of a daughter, Kasia, and sons Bohun and Azja..
Bogdan and Izabella are proof that a mélange of love,
passion, talent, and skill can surmount almost any obstacle. To these two,
the SKY TRULY IS the limit!
For a personal tour of the ARTIZA School of Art, or for a
consultation, please call (780) 468-5150 for an appointment.