The beauty in the ordinary

Muse  – Photo by Ian Bodnaryk


They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For local artist, Ian Bodnaryk, beauty can be found in a crumbled piece of paper.


Painting a picture of balled up paper may not be the first choice for most artists but for Bodnaryk, a realism artist, anything can be exciting if you paint it dramatically enough. He says he wants to show the world the extraordinary natural beauty in people and everyday objects.


“When people typically think of a still-life artist they think a bowl of fruit or something like that, I tend to not paint anything like that,” says Bodnaryk.


His portraits peer out from the canvas as if they have been given the breath of life. His unique style was completely self-taught.


Even though he has gathered admirers and supporters of his work, Bodnaryk says his biggest supporter was always himself. “You don’t become an artist for the money,” he says. “You have to love it.”

Bodnaryk says he has always been a natural at art. He has been drawing ever since he could remember and started painting when he was 16. Growing up in Port Perry his talent was noticed early on by his parents and schoolteachers. They encouraged him to pursue it. Wildlife fascinated him and painting what he saw around him became a stepping-stone for realism painting.

THE FACE BEHIND THE CANVAS: Ian Bodnaryk in the Whitby Station Gallery where he teaches a still life class.
THE FACE BEHIND THE CANVAS: Ian Bodnaryk in the Whitby Station Gallery where he teaches a still life class. Photo by Tabitha Reddekop


A love for the natural world had early roots in Bodnaryk’s life and as he grew as an artist he gave back to this love. He has contributed many of his paintings to raffles and draws for causes that supported the environment. For him, taking care of the environment is important. “Without nature we would be almost non-existent as a species,” he says.


Bodnaryk was drawn to realism because he likes to capture things how they are and not their essence. The toughest part of realism says the artist, is keeping things interesting. He feels like he has achieved that by being as different from everyone else as possible. He paints something that creates emotion and pulls at your heartstrings.


Bodnaryk puts extensive effort into his work, especially when working on a portrait, sometimes taking up to 200 hours to complete one picture.


After putting so much time into a painting, Bodnaryk says he becomes emotionally attached. He finds it hard to give up portraits because he is drawn toward the person he decided to paint. But it’s also rewarding. “For someone to buy a portrait of someone completely different that they don’t have any attachment to can be pretty satisfying.”


One of Bodnaryk’s big achievements was becoming a finalist in the Kingston Prize exhibit. The Kingston Prize is a Canada-wide portrait exhibit, which features the work of 30 chosen Canadian artists. The exhibit travels across the nation, bringing recognition and support for contemporary artists.


Bodnaryk was a finalist in the 2013 Prize, with a portrait called Contemplation of Daniel. The portrait shows a good friend of his appearing deep in thought as he leans against a brick wall. The young man gazes down reflectively, every last detail captured in intricate brush strokes from the gleam of his skin to the slight scar on his left eyebrow.

Kingston Prize finalist, The Contemplation of Daniel. - Photo by Ian Bodnaryk
Kingston Prize finalist, The Contemplation of Daniel. – Photo by Ian Bodnaryk


“I work from references but because I am good friends with him I basically get to study him as much as I want,” Bodnaryk laughs. “It would be extremely cruel of me to paint him from life for that amount of time!”


He tells aspiring artists, talent can only take you so far. The best quote he ever heard was, “It takes 1,500 hours to chip away the suck!” He advises artists to learn from each piece they do that way they won’t make the same mistake next time.


The artist teaches a still life class at the Whitby Station Gallery and sometimes works at Curry’s, an art store in Whitby. He hopes to further his artwork and one day to create a compilation of his work to display.


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Tabitha Reddekop is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. When it comes to writing and reporting, she enjoys covering stories that really pull at the heartstrings. She likes to spend her spare time reading, watching documentaries and taking pictures of her cats. Tabitha hopes to become a reporter for a small community newspaper following graduation.