Herald and Journal, April 30, 2001

Ollig named runner up for junior duck stamp award

By Lynda Jensen

Mat Ollig, 17, was born, not with a silver spoon, but with a paintbrush in his mouth.

Or so his family would say, trying to explain the gifted artist's talent at creating acrylic and oil paintings, sculpture, or whatever other kind of medium that strikes his fancy.

Ollig recently earned the runner up distinction for the Junior Duck Stamp Award. There is only one runner up and one winner in the state, although there are several honorable mentions awarded to Minnesota students.

The Duck Stamp competition took place in Burnsville March 27. Ollig finished the acrylic painting in two weeks, just before the deadline, he said.

Judges included waterfowl experts, among others, who reviewed 970 entries.

Ollig borrowed anatomy clips of the wood duck from Kirby Klingelhofer, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted science teacher.

Ollig is the son of Julie Opsal of Waverly, and Mark Ollig, Buffalo (formerly of Winsted).

Ollig has siblings who attend Holy Trinity, and attended Holy Trinity himself until fifth grade, when he started attending HLWW schools until his sophomore year. At that time, he moved to Buffalo with his father and started attending Perpich Center for Arts Education. He is a junior there now, he said.

"I was told since birth, 'You are going to be a painter,'" he said.

When he was young, he was obsessed with pumpkins, endlessly drawing simple jack-o-lanterns, he said.

He's been drawing since he was two years old.

Those who don't recognize his name may have seen his murals at HLWW, including a wolf, which was his first wildlife rendition, a mural of band members in the band room started three years ago, the space shuttle, and a tiger - all "unfinished," he said.

For those with less finicky tastes, the "unfinished" part of it would probably go unnoticed, Ollig said.

He likes wildlife, but his interests aren't locked into any style or preference, he said. He can paint or create any area that takes his interest, he said.

Ollig is a confessed perfectionist, and appears to excel at many different mediums with little effort or past experience, said his former art teacher June Egberg.

"Mat is a gifted and talented artist," she said. "He can try a new medium with awesome success." He has a natural ability, blended with a strong work ethic, she said, and Ollig has always inspired and been admired by his peers.

Egberg taught Ollig for two years in high school, as well as for seventh grade art.

Ollig plans to attend college "somewhere warm," he said. "Like Wisconsin."

He has been using acrylic paint for four years, Ollig said. This kind of paint dries fast and is hard to blend, which is actually something he prefers, he said.

In contrast, oil dries faster, but he's getting used to it, he said.

Ollig hates watercolor, he said. "Anything that erases in water . . . I don't care for that," he said. Water color requires him to go from light to dark and he prefers the reverse, he said. "I like black (as a color)."

He also likes to build scale models and work on computers, he said.

Teachers who have impacted his life include Dave Metcalf, Egberg, Klingelhofer, and Charles Roux, he said.

Ollig is the eldest of five children. His brothers and sisters are Daniel, 15; Andy, 13; John, 6; and Katie, 4.

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