Monday, May 27, 2024

Honouring his roots

Artist highlights Newfoundland and Labrador history

A local artist is turning something old into new inspiration.

Tyler Natyshen, a graduate of College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Digital Animation program, is a visual artist who recently created a series of drawings, all about life on the island of Newfoundland.

“In my recent exploration into realism, I have been drawing from reference images that suited my medium of choice the best, and that is older photographs,” he said. “This choice has afforded me the opportunity to utilize historical images that offer a look at the way of life and culture of Newfoundland that all Newfoundlanders hold dear, but few people have had the opportunity to view collectively.”

His latest project, “Fishing Through the Archives,” is currently on display at the Arts and Culture Centre in Stephenville, NL, and focuses on historic Newfoundland imagery.

“I hope to pay homage to the challenges faced by these men and women through challenging myself to depict them as accurately as possible,” he said.

To create his elaborate works of art, a simple ballpoint pen is his tool of choice.

“I have done a lot of work with graphite and paint in the past. While graphite pencils are the better precision tool for the type of realism and portraits in my practice, my utensil of choice has become the ballpoint pen,” he said. “Ballpoint pen is a precise tool with a lot of features that make it desirable to me. The black ink provides depth and contrast, and the viscosity allows you to create textures that are hard to achieve with anything else.”

Natyshen was recently an artist in residence at Union House Arts in Port Union, NL. The program provides studio space, on-site accommodations, and additional support for professional artists. It was during this time that he was introduced to an archivist who had been collecting photos of people living and working in and around the Bonavista Peninsula. The images he saw motivated him to recreate scenes of everyday life.

“I’m inspired by the true resilient nature of the individual people and communities that made this province a province with a history to be proud of,” he said. “The optimism and fearlessness that is encompassed in every aspect of the activities and landscapes featured in the historical images I have come to treasure.”

The idea for his latest project was born out of necessity.

’Fishing Through the Archives’ is a project conceived from the lack of readily available historic Newfoundland imagery in the public domain,” he said. “As an artist and proud Newfoundlander, I have come to highly value reference images that allow a glimpse into Newfoundland’s rich cultural heritage.”

Growing up in Stephenville, Natyshen says he has been interested in art since he was very young.

“I grew up constantly drawing and writing comics without much intention to pursue fine arts, but as I got older, I found my work becoming more abstract and compelling to others,” he said. “When I started to try my hand at portrait drawing, I realized I was not only able to draw realistic portraits, I also enjoyed the challenge it presented. While I am still actively practicing in abstract, comics and realism; I’m finding the most growth and success in realism.”

Aside from his current project, Natyshen works on commissioned pieces, as well as numerous solo and group exhibitions.

To see samples of his work, visit Tyler Natyshen on Instagram.

For more information about Digital Animation and other CNA programs, visit

Tyler Natyshen, a graduate of College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Digital Animation program,
is a visual artist who recently created a series of drawings, all about life on the island of Newfoundland.
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Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne is Editor of CNA Currents. Born and raised in Stephenville, NL, Ryanne moved back to Newfoundland after spending 16 years in Calgary, Alberta. Ryanne has a Journalism Diploma from College of the North Atlantic and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cape Breton University. She worked for many years as a reporter and freelance writer. She is happy to be back in her hometown and working for CNA.


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