The Stoney Creek, Ontario resident was born in Russia to missionary parents, moved to Canada and has traveled internationally.
He began creating art as a pre-schooler under the tutelage of his Russian nanny. After moving to Canada, Tiessen, mentored by a retired wildlife and pet portrait artist, created his first significant wildlife work at 10: a chalk portrait of Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A year later, “Aslan” and other works were displayed the Artway on Two in Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital.
Tiessen how has a decade of exhibitions under his belt, along with a number of national and international accolades: at 15 he was mentored by esteemed Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman in a Master Artist Seminar, at 17 he was the youngest person juried into the International Guild of Realism (IGOR) and at 19 received IGOR’s “Creative Achievement Award.” With these accomplishments and a number of requests from friends and fans, Tiessen has put together and published his first monograph: Josh Tiessen: A Decade of Inspiration.
Josh Tiessen hopes people looking at his art will feel the sense of ‘wonder and awesomeness’ that is in the natural world all around us
About half of the book is an intimate and detailed biography which includes family photos, samples of his early work (including “Aslan”) and photos of Tiessen working at his craft or out in public. While someone might think this would be self-indulgent for a 21 year old, in Tiessens case it isn’t. I’ve had the chance to interview Tiessen on a number of occasions and reading through the book found myself learning even more about his life than I had in the interviews. By the time you’re finished reading these chapters, you find yourself amazed by a competent, intelligent and professional young artist.
The second half of the book chronicles Tiessen’s art from some of his early still life images, beginning wildlife paintings (his specialty) to his latest works which combine realism, fantasy and metaphor. Tiessen accompanies each image with a note about it’s development and, in many cases, the spiritual meaning that can be drawn from it. As he states at one point in the biography:
“Although Josh’s art is not necessarily religious in subject matter, he tries to illustrate the beauty and diversity of creation and the image of God in human creativity. He sees his artistic ability as a gift from God. As a contemporary artist in the 21st century, he would like to be a positive and uplifting presence in the art world. Josh says that he hopes people looking at his art will feel the sense of ‘wonder and awesomeness’ that is in the natural world all around us.
As he begins each painting Josh prays, asking God to work through the process. As a result, just like the little penguin family, metaphorical and spiritual meaning seem to be infused into his paintings and people often comment on the analogies they draw from them.”
While I only had a chance to view an electronic version of Josh Tiessen: A Decade of Excellence, I can only imagine what the print product will look like. I’ve watched, through social media and his e-mail newsletters, the progress of some of Josh’s works. This monograph is a fitting tribute to the life of a young artist who has just begun a lifelong journey.
For more about Josh Tiessen and A Decade of Excellence go to http://www.joshtiessen.com/
To listen to the latest Arts Connection interview with Josh Tiessen, go to http://tinyurl.com/hyjcmez