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 that
captured family members, neighbors, fairy tale character, etc. Growing
change her keen interest in art and love for figure drawing. In 1998,
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
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 Alberta’s
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 exhibition.
Koral- 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
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 medium – 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
undertakes – 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 “Polskie
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
temperaments complement 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 2003 show.
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
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 friends.
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
For a personal tour of the ARTIZA School of Art, or for a
consultation, please call (780) 468-5150 for an appointment.