Interview with an artist: Using a pen to feel at peace

Ariana Calvachi is an artist in her first year at St. Thomas University. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

While some artists paint what they see around them, first-year St. Thomas University student Ariana Calvachi paints what’s on the inside.

“The feelings that are most powerful. Pain, sadness, depression, anxiety and all the things that overwhelm us. I call them our inner demons,” she said.

Calvachi enjoys drawing and sketching.

“I started painting when I was really young. I think most people find their passion as they’re growing up,” she said.

Ariana Calvachi wanted to give a face to darkness. This piece, called Internal Demons, is featured in her art book. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

“I drew a lot when I was little. I drew on papers, on my dad’s work and I painted on the walls. But I think that just made me discover that my passion was to paint and to draw.”

Calvachi is from Quito, Ecuador. She made a portfolio of her art in her International Baccalaureate program at her high school.

Now, she’s continuing her creative path at STU and plans on studying art. She’s taking Introduction to Art Fundamentals, where students are making art books. Calvachi’s is called “Internal Demons.”

She said she’s drawn a hand and a face so far. Both represent different inner demons.

“[The hand portrays how the demons] are inside us and they try to get out. They try to take over all of ourselves and we sometimes feel like they are pulling us back,” Calvachi said.

Calvachi drew a hand to represent how [our demons] are in inside us and they try to get out.” (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)
The face represents what the face of darkness would look like.

“We should not allow ourselves to drown in our own darkness,” Calvachi said.

Calvachi’s pieces are all done with her favourite technique, pointillism. It involves painting small, distinct dots of colour in certain patterns to form an image.

Two of Calvachi’s paintings hang on her dorm room wall, one is made with pointillism and one is a carving. The pointillism painting, called “Dark Innocence” is one of Calvachi’s favourites. It was in her IB art portfolio.

One of Calvachi’s favourite techniques is called pointillism. She used this technique in her piece called “Dark Innocence”. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

Another of Calvachi’s paintings is inspired by one of her own experiences – getting sick and being hospitalized at the beginning of her senior year.

Before she started Grade 12, her family took a trip to the beach. She suspects that’s where she, her grandmother and her father caught a virus that caused Calvachi to cough excessively.

Her grandmother’s virus was not life threatening, but Calvachi and her dad both got sick due to the combination of their individual allergies and the virus itself.

“I spent a lot of time in the hospital and [receiving] medical care because I wasn’t recovering. Once or twice a week, I had to inhale a specific medication from this mask,” Calvachi said.

Calvachi drew a representation of the general feeling in the hospital. She wanted to show how illness often consumes people when they’re patients.

“I believe that when you go into a hospital, you can feel the pain, you can feel the utmost fear,” she said.

But Calvachi said she feels as though she’s in another world when she’s drawing.

“I feel unplugged from the world, like I’m in a different place, a peaceful place where I can release the stress and all the things that overwhelm me,” she said.

“It’s as simple as taking a pen or a pencil and starting to draw. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe with words, but I think that most other artists would get what I mean.”