Quarantine Questionnaire : Andrea Pottyondy
Even though we have re-opened the doors at Handworks Gallery, we will continue to share our Quarantine Questionnaires so that we can all still practice Getting to know your artists…from a safe distance
“I was born in Montreal. My parents were immigrants from Hungary and
Germany after the war. They were DPs and started their new life working at a small
hotel in the Laurentians, eventually making their way to Montreal and then the
South Shore. We never had very much in material things but we did have love, great
food and music in a tiny house in a low income neighbourhood. My father and I
played music together, I learned the accordion and he played violin.
I always liked to draw and make art or other creative things as a child but was encouraged to start working and contributing to the home right after high school. My first real job was a telex operator and the last before I left Montreal was as a ship scheduler for one of the largest shipping companies in Canada. I attended college at night after work and was always drawn to art classes such as photography, interior design, calligraphy and painting. Eventually, I moved to Montreal and had access to so many more creative courses, the galleries and dance at the Ecole Ballet Jazz de Montreal.
Being independent allowed me to travel too and it was in Mexico that I met my
future husband. In 1984 we got married and I moved to Watson Lake, Yukon, sight
unseen! Love does that. I met so many interesting people and I was able to use my
creativity wherever it was needed. I did some substitute teaching and have only the
highest respect for teachers after that experience. I worked as a bookkeeper for a
grocery store, campground, gas station combination and for Transport Canada in a
log cabin airport. Creating a menu for the local hotel restaurant, invitations for
someone’s special event, or a poster for Transport Canada search and rescue was
my creative outlet. I took a year long drawing course via correspondence with the
University of Southern California. Shipping my works via Canada Post every month
to a Prof. Breger, he would critique and send them back. It was an invaluable
experience and we were living in a very unique part of Canada. The beauty of the
north is that whatever gift you are born with, would be valuable in a small isolated
town. I was able to create and sell art and joined the Yukon Art Society out of
Whitehorse. On February 29, 1988 we had our first daughter. Then, Canadian
Airlines, where my husband worked as an agent, shut down operations and within a
few months we moved to Fall River, Nova Scotia where we still call home.
We had our second daughter in 1990 and I became a stay at home and work from
home mom. There wasn’t as much time for art making, but my first foray into art
classes in NS was watercolour with Ron Hazell at TUNS in Halifax. From there I
continued to take workshops and art classes at NSCAD and with many wonderful
artists that I still know and love. I realized very early that watercolour was a little
too delicate for my lefthandedness and desire for more layering and texture. My
husband left the airline to become a parliamentarian, that is another story
altogether that I won’t expand on. But it did allow me the opportunity to meet so
many interesting and impressive people and organizations around the world, which
was a very humbling experience. Our girls grew up with a sense of community and
volunteerism that they still exhibit today. One, a teacher, spent five years at an Inuit
school in Nunavik, the other an environmental scientist that cares about our
beautiful but sadly abused planet. I count my blessings that they have both returned
to Nova Scotia to work and live. Out of politics my partner concentrates on his
volunteer work and other initiatives and I spend a lot of time in my studios. The
winter one, I call the “Artarage” is over the garage, and my fairly new one “The
Hildegard” named after my mother, is at ground level in my backyard where I can
work all summer. I am so hoping once I heal, I will be headed in that direction. My
bio, on the Handworks website, will tell you more about my art beginnings and
What’s the first thing you have to drink in the morning to get your day started?
A cup of tea and a smoothie prepared by my very own smoothie specialist
What art movement or artist has influenced your personal style? Can you show reference to that in any particular piece or use of your medium?
Art influences are all around me all the time. I admire women artists past and
present because they had so many obstacles to overcome to make art, exhibit and
sell. People like Artemesia Gentileschi, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo,
Georgia O’Keeffe, Lee Krasner, Louis Bourgeois and of course so many Canadian
women artists including those in the Beaverhall Hill group, Helen McNicoll, Emily
Carr, Maud Lewis, Doris McCarthy and the living artists such as Rita Letendre, Jane
Ash Poitras, and just recently discovered Sara Cwynar who sees potential in useless
What about your medium captivated you to pursue it as an art form?
I use waterbased mediums because they are conducive to the type of paint and
collage, assemblage work that I do that creates a lot of layers and texture in the
Is there another medium you’d like to try to adapt your style into?
Papermaking, letterpress printing would be two art forms that I would
incorporate into my artmaking process.
What’s the most recent show or exhibition you’ve participated in?
Society of Canadian Artist 2020 open International Juried online exhibit – March
15th – June 15th . You can visit my website to see recent and upcoming exhibits.
Where in the world would you like to visit? Would this reflect in your art? Or do you need a break from your own style?
Every trip that I have taken has inspired my art making because I always bring
back found ephemera and ideas. I work on different series so that I never really
need a break from my style or get bored. I think my next voyage will be to South
America or Australia.
What’s your favourite colour? Do you use it in your work?
It really depends on the day but I do gravitate towards the blues, blue-greens and
reds. I use a lot of neutrals in my abstract works.
Is there something particularly complicated about your medium that most people aren’t aware of?
The thought process of coming into a series or a single painting is so unique to
each artist. I rarely use photo references preferring to create work from my
Is there something particularly complicated about your medium that some artists aren’t aware of?
Learning how to use multiple mediums together on a variety of surfaces. It takes
patience and the ability to be open to failure.
Where do you envision your artwork ending up? A city loft? Corporate boardroom? Wistful cottage?
I hope wherever my artwork ends up, that it brings the viewer joy or makes
them curious as they see a narrative unfolding.
What are you working on right now?
Since I broke my ankle on March 22, I have been relegated to the sofa and am
working with sharpies, pigment liners, watercolour pencils, etc. on paper, creating
coocoolovebirds and also keeping a journal! I have no choice but to stay put.
Do you have a vice that you indulge in to reward or motivate yourself?
I would say my vice is a trip to the art store, where I can pick up more magic to
Do you listen to music when you work (if yes, who and what type) or do you need silence?
I usually listen to CBC2 radio in my studio or put on some healing vibe music.
What do you find encourages you most to get into your work space and create?
Waking up in the morning.
How many galleries represent your work?
Five and an art rep in Montreal.
Have you worked with another local artist who you find vibes well with your flow. Has this resulted in any partner art projects?
I’ve worked on many artist collaborations. One was with the artist Astrid Hygom
of Denmark. That was a most remarkable experience.
Is there a local artist who you WOULD like to work with on a project?
I would work with any local artist that would want to work with me! I would like
to work with a dear friend and amazing calligrapher who lives in Quebec. She
recently broke her right hand so we both need to recuperate before that will
Has being an artist thrown you any curve balls that you genuinely did not see coming?
Becoming a volunteer docent at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia means I get to see
a lot of artwork and meet artists and curators from across our country. Being part of
a gallery has brought me together with so many amazing artists. Doing
collaborations with artists from here and internationally is a humbling experience.
Since isolating, I have become part of an art collaboration with
whitedragonpaper.com (see Instagram)
What makes you laugh more than it should?
My partner’s corny jokes.
Pets? Tell us about them.
Buddy Bo Bing, our rescued black lab mix. Couldn’t live without him. He’s the
permanently two year son I never had.
What’s your perfect way to “reset” your mind?
Going to the beach and listening to the water, yoga, meditation and now, not
being able to go out, I am watching bird videos for cats and dogs which does the
What season is your favourite and why?
Every season has its blessings.
What’s your most productive season?
If you weren’t an artist, what career path could you see yourself pursuing?
Neurosurgeon or dancer.
Thanks again for the opportunity to share a little of myself with you.
Light and love, AXO