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Inspired painting

Edinburgh College of Art graduates Nerine Tassie and Damian Callan balance their respective professional painting careers with teaching others to paint.

A working studio at Edinburgh College of Art

Nerine is a professional landscape artist and secondary school teacher who divides her time between her studio and classroom in Fife. Damian’s area of expertise is figurative painting and he runs classes for adults and children from his Edinburgh studio. 

Both artists can pinpoint individual teachers who have helped shape their career paths.

Pivotal moments

It was her own secondary school art teacher that spoke highly of Edinburgh College of Art and swayed Nerine’s decision to study there. Damian’s route was a little more complicated and he was very almost a student at Leith School of Art instead of at Edinburgh. He nostalgically recalls the reconsideration of his application following the tragic deaths of the Leith School founders and directors, Lottie and Mark Cheverton in 1991.

A melting pot of styles

Both artists recall first year as a whirlwind of creativity and doors opening to new possibilities and techniques. They relished the opportunity to work alongside fellow students with a huge array of differing styles whilst, at the same time, dabbling with everything from sculpture to fashion, jewellery to printmaking.

Damian also accredits influence and inspiration to one of his tutors George Donald whom he describes as highly entertaining, a great communicator and role model. The performance aspect of teaching is something that Damian embraces in his own lessons today. 

First year was a fantastic merry-go-round of trying every sort of art and design subject and I enjoyed it enormously.

Damian Callan

Television star

A sell-out degree show in her final year boosted Nerine’s confidence to pursue a career in painting. Following graduation she started working from a studio in Fife and the surrounding coastal scenery and woodland continues to inspire her work today. In 2015 Nerine was awarded Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year after successfully wowing the television judges with her atmospheric and textural creations. 

There was such a diversity of style from the other artists in the competition, I feel really privelaged to have won.

Nerine Tassie
Damian Callan demonstrating at Edinburgh Airport

Paint like Renoir

Damian did not leave Edinburgh after graduation but his work certainly did and and can today be found in collections across the world. In addition to paining and teaching, Damian is also a writer  and one of Damian’s books, ‘Paint like Renoir’, led to him demonstrating the French impressionist’s techniques for a new documentary film ‘Renoir – Reviled and Revered’. 

Donated works

Nerine and Damian have both generously donated pieces to an art sale taking place at Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th March.  All proceeds from the art sale will go directly to Warren’s Wish, a charity working with the University of Edinburgh to ensure that patients with Cystic Fibrosis and other life-limiting lung conditions can have better access to lung transplantation.

Find out more about the Warren’s Wish Art Sale

Related links

Edinburgh College of Art

Damian Callan's website

Nerine Tassie's website

Warren's Wish