It was a short walk, in the National Gallery of Canada, from the work of the brilliant Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh to the work of Stoney Creek teen Josh Tiessen. That's a pretty fancy neighbourhood for a young local painter.
Tiessen's painting, a close-up of a door with peeling paint, spent the last month hanging in the National Gallery. He's the 16-year-old artist who was a finalist in the National Gallery contest 'So You Want To Be An Artist'. It's one month that the artist says has changed his life.
"Since the competition, in the meantime, I have almost sold out of all of my originals. I only have one left," Tiessen said. "I have three pre-sold originals that I'm working on." He says the walls in his gallery are bare now and that's a good problem to have.
His success in the last month has allowed him to make an important change in his life. He can now earn a living from his art. It used to be a hobby. Now he paints full time and looks like he won't return anytime soon to his old day job.
"My brother and I delivered newspapers," he said. He laughed and added "we were carriers of the year for the Burlington Post."
Despite that early success in newspaper delivery, his month in the National Gallery, a stones throw from one of the world's greatest painters, is the accomplishment of which he is most proud. "It's really launched me in my career, I feel," he said. "It's helped me get that sense that I can really make this my future career."
Tiessen is getting a helping hand from the City of Hamilton and the province, too. His success in Ottawa has helped him find a place in Summer Company. That's a provincial program run at city hall in Hamilton designed to support people between 15 and 29 with an interest in creating their own company. The program provides $3,000 to its members and will help Tiessen to learn how to manage a business that would support his art.