Even though it wasn’t the first time he’s won awards for his artwork, St. Mary High School student Brennan Cantin said it still feels good to be recognized.
Cantin won the People’s Choice Award at the 2022 High School Juried Art Show in the Mann Art Gallery. On Thursday night, he added to his trophy cabinet by walking away with the Best in Show Award at the 2023 show.
“I was quite happy,” said Cantin, who was unable to attend the award ceremony in person, but spoke to the Daily Herald over the phone. “It was nice to have stuff that you’ve made be recognized. Because you spend so much time on it, it’s really nice to know other people have enjoyed what you’ve worked on.”
Cantin’s oil on canvas painting ‘Hermanus’ was selected from among pieces submitted by 41 students from four different Prince Albert schools. The painting is based on an old photograph of his mother at the beach with her friends.
Cantin said he likes to paint people, this painting gave him a chance to that. He also liked the beach and the houses in the background, which he found to be an interesting challenge.
“There was so much colour in the photograph, so it really inspired me,” he said.
Cantin credits an interest in lighting for inspiring his pursuit of oil painting. He said there are so many interesting ways to depict light in the art world, and he tries to show that in his own creations.
“I’m just obsessed with it,” he said. “I even like reading about it. I read about the way different materials react with light, and just the ways things look under light. It’s not a very concrete thing. There are so many different ways that you can depict light. It’s just such an interesting thing to get into.”
Cantin plans to attend the University of Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert campus after graduating this spring. He’s hoping to earn a biomedical degree, but also plans on keeping up with his painting too.
“My grandpa, he ended up with an extra degree in fine arts because of the classes he ended up taking, and that’s probably the route I’m going to go,” Cantin said. “I’m always going to pursue art. I’m not going to stop.”
Mann Art Gallery education program manager Lana Wilson curated the 2023 High School Juried Art Show. She said Cantin’s work stood out as one of the best right from the start.
“He’s definitely blending realistic figure shapes with this painterly effects with his brushwork, and he’s got a great sense of space,” Wilson said.
“It really stands out. There’s nothing else like it in the show, and I very much admire the time and effort that he’s put into (his work).”
Wilson credited Cantin for his ability to paint skin, something that’s challenging for most painters. She also appreciated his use of different hues, and the way he captured shadows and light.
“Oil is quite a difficult medium, but there’s so many wonderful things he’s captured here,” she said.
The 2023 show is the gallery’s 12th annual High School Juried Art Show. Wilson said she was impressed by the quality of this year’s entries.
“Every year I’m blown away by the creativity, by the artistic skill, and of course, the hard work,” she said. “I have to remind people right, talent or a predisposition to art, that’s only going to take me so far, right. It’s all the hard work, it’s the hours and the experimentation that’s going to help to get you to the to the place of these very successful pieces.”
Wilson gave special credit to the students who submitted clay pieces this year. She said the group stood out for their consistently high quality.
“If I could give a point of merit to every single one of these clay pieces, I would,” she said. “I wish I had more awards.”
Students from Carlton, St. Mary, PACI, and the Sask. Rivers Distance Learning Centre all submitted pieces for this year’s show. The exhibition is open until June 3.
Wilson encouraged residents to come down to the Mann Art Gallery, view the exhibit, and cast a vote for the show’s People’s Choice Award.
2023 High School Juried Art Show Award Winners
Best in Show – ‘Hermanus’ by Brennan Cantin, St. Mary High School
Creative Clay Award – ‘Mother Earth’ by Desirae Cree Pederson, Carlton Comprehensive High School
Creative Exploration in Any Medium – ‘untitled’ by Rachel Sophie Gibson, Carlton Comprehensive High School
Artistic Achievement Award – ‘Playing with Light’ by Cam Casavant, Carlton Comprehensive High School
Jurors Choice Award – ‘untitled’ by Morgan Elder, SRSD Distance Learning Centre
Artistic Innovation Award – ‘King Louis XVI’s head’ by Paige Lightie, St. Mary High School
Award for Emerging Artists – ‘Don’t fall deep’ by Bridgette Morin, Carlton Comprehensive Public High School
Editor’s Note: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Award for Emerging Artists winner. The article has been updated with the correct information. The Daily Herald apologizes for the error.