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Fantasy art lessons begin this weekend at Maggiolly with Katherine Olenic

April 21, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Katherine Olenic is back to teach at Maggiolly’s this Sunday, April 24 for seven Sundays through to June 26. She is known for her beautiful fantasy paintings and digital art.

Originally from Grand Valley, Ms. Olenic actually went to Maggiolly’s as a child for art classes and when she grew up and became an artist, she asked if she could teach there.

Her passion for art led her to Durham College in Oshawa for digital art and life drawing. She explained that the animation industry now is all digital, with the exception of some new places trying to combine digital with traditional but digital is mostly used. 

“I like watercolour,” she commented. “I often teach watercolour in the classes. It’s important to do original art. It can’t be a world of just digital.”

Her drawing tablet of choice is Huion, which is best for professionals making a living with art. A less expensive choice is one of the Samsung drawing tablets that are good for hobbyists, Ms. Olenic recommended.

Notwithstanding the trend to work digitally, she admitted that a computer is useful to make things go faster but remarked, “It’s your creativity and talent that creates the work. That’s what really matters.”

Animation really became her passion through movies, most specifically the film, How to Train your Dragon.

“I saw it three times with all with different people,” she told the Citizen. “I had a friend whose father was involved with airplanes and they told me how all the aeronautics were correct in the film. And I looked into that movie to see how they did the research and I looked at the designer who did the work. Other than art, my passion was history at school. I like looking at different civilizations. A friend of mine is interested in the Mediaeval times and I can even tell different armour from those times. 

“That was what really brought me into animation was the research that comes into it.”

Working in studios and as part of a movie making process may sound like a good opportunity but Ms. Olenic outlined the conditions: “It is a lot of work and a lot of money,” she said. “It gets to be a crazy amount of overtime. They have their schedule and a friend of mine worked for Disney. Usually the expectation is a minute a week [of film time]. Disney wanted to see everything by Friday and that’s a lot. Disney decided everything had to be done by Friday and they wanted a person to see it, then everything has to be done by Thursday, then another person and Wednesday.

“What was a minute a week became a minute in a day,” she told us, “Deadlines became shorter and shorter. You have to work on their time schedule in California. It wasn’t really for me.”

If not in movies, Ms. Olenic’s ambitions lie publishing her own anime books.

“I worked on that process and it was a lot more chill,” was her judgement. “Comic books and children’s books. I’ve illustrated books written by somebody else, like Santa’s Day Off by Greg J. Oliver. He trusted me to draw what I thought worked. That was good because micro managing just makes everybody stressed.”

There are the Tree Top Tunes on YouTube, for which she illustrates songs. Little music video things by Bonny Pearson Hirdes.

To promote and sell her work, Ms. Olenic attends anime conventions; “Anywhere,” as she says, “that sells art and art fairs and you just set up a table, sell your art especially at the comic conventions.”

Her advantage is that she only sells her “100 per cent original stuff. People come to my booth and say, ‘Wow – everything’s original not fan art!’ And they really appreciate it.”

The risk for painters of “fan art” is being expelled from the fairs and conventions for breach of copyright. An artist might get sued because they have too much fan art.

She explained, “Even if you change up the style, it might not be enough. Having worked for Disney, they’re so careful about intellectual property but for lay out and how they want things done, they give me direction and I can say, ‘I did what you sent me.’”

Ms. Olenic’s brother, currently studying computer science, does his own comic books. She thinks it is fun when he asks her how to draw, especially people for their perspective. Her mother has done a lot of art classes and a family friend she calls “aunt” used to paint and go to art fairs, where she sold her paintings.

Said she, “That was an inspiration for me and my parents were reassured that I could make a living at this when my paintings sold so well. They come and see me at my conventions.”

Doing what one loves for a living is a wonderful thing and Ms. Olenic is pleased to keep on with what she is doing. She thinks about opening a store someday as a place to teach lessons. She has learned a lot from how well Maggiolly is set up.

Ms. Olenic wanted to mention that she and her mother bought custom pieces of stained glass from Glasscraft on Broadway, a window for her mother and a lovely lamp shade for an interesting lamp that Ms. Olenic owns. Owner Bill Adler was very clear about pricing and design. 

In her lessons, Ms. Olenic teaches her students how she was taught in college: that the line of action is the invisible line that moves through the figure. It’s bossy, she tells them. The satisfaction of teaching comes when a student tells her that they used the methods she taught and “did the best one.”

“I think, ‘they really listened to me and then applied it to something else they did.’ I didn’t know how rewarding [that] would be,” she said.

Art is an important thing to learn at any level, she believes. One learns to think creatively, add their own unique take on a subject as well – how to interpret something creatively whatever is the occupation. Even without being an artist, learning about art is something to keep your mind active.

For summer camps, Katherine Olenic teaches at the Elora Centre for the Arts, where the lessons can go outside, a place that is fun because they do a lot of work with neuro- divergent adults.

To people young and old, Ms. Olenic advises: “Get in there and draw. Take a few art classes, even if you’re an artist. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. Just remember,” she added as a last note, “If there’s somebody who’s being nit picking on your work – that means you did a really good job.”

Her website is


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