Pri­vate Van Gogh

Arabella - - FEA­TURES - Writ­ten by Brett An­ning­son

"When I was sev­en­teen, I saw a poster show­ing a sol­dier fall­ing from the sky with a para­chute," re­calls Vladimir Horik when think­ing about where it all be­gan, "The cap­tion read: "Join the army and see the world". So I did." As the story goes, he spent time on mil­i­tary ma­noeu­vres il­lus­trat­ing his re­ports with per­ti­nent draw­ings. Then one day, in Fred­er­ic­ton, New Brunswick, while train­ing at CFB Gage­town, he saw this won­der­ful dis­play of a paint­box, brushes and oils. It was a dec­o­ra­tion in a cigar store win­dow that was not for sale – but Vladimir was per­sis­tent and was fi­nally able to buy it at three times its real value. "So there I was in the woods with a paint box but noth­ing to paint on. A square piece of can­vas cut from a truck cover and a wooden frame from a veg­etable box gave me a great sur­face to paint on," he says, "How won­der­ful it was to see huge moun­tains point­ing up and all my colours in a glo­ri­ous sun­set. I would pay a lot of money to have that first paint­ing hang­ing up on my wall to­day." On the other hand, he quickly found out that oils take a cou­ple of weeks to dry. "I proudly hung it up to dry in my three-quar­ter-ton truck full of huge tube ra­dios. Al­most ev­ery of­fi­cer who came for their mes­sages would brush up against my mas­ter­piece and pick up a lit­tle colour on their uni­form. Soon ev­ery­one was pretty pissed off with Van Gogh."

Back to the Begin­ning

Born in Al­berta of Ukrainian par­ents, on Valen­tine's Day in 1939; Vladimir grew up on the Prairies and later in the Rocky Moun­tains, which gave him a deep love of both the ma­jes­tic low­lands and tow­er­ing peaks of each tableau. Still, there was noth­ing that seemed to in­di­cate that he would even­tu­ally be­come a painter. His was a hum­ble fam­ily of Ukrainian im­mi­grants; farm­ers in their home coun­try. His fa­ther, who came to Canada for a "visit" when he was 18 years old, ended up in Al­berta where he stayed

"When I was sev­en­teen, I saw a poster show­ing a sol­dier fall­ing from the sky with a para­chute," re­calls Vladimir Horik when think­ing about where it all be­gan, "The cap­tion read: "Join the army and see the world". So I did." As the story goes, he spent time on mil­i­tary ma­noeu­vres il­lus­trat­ing his re­ports with per­ti­nent draw­ings. Then one day, in Fred­er­ic­ton, New Brunswick, while train­ing at CFB Gage­town, he saw this won­der­ful dis­play of a paint­box, brushes and oils. It was a dec­o­ra­tion in a cigar store win­dow that was not for sale – but Vladimir was per­sis­tent and was fi­nally able to buy it at three times its real value. "So there I was in the woods with a paint box but noth­ing to paint on. A square piece of can­vas cut from a truck cover and a wooden frame from a veg­etable box gave me a great sur­face to paint on," he says, "How won­der­ful it was to see huge moun­tains point­ing up and all my colours in a glo­ri­ous sun­set. I would pay a lot of money to have that first paint­ing hang­ing up on my wall to­day." On the other hand, he quickly found out that oils take a cou­ple of weeks to dry. "I proudly hung it up to dry in my three-quar­ter-ton truck full of huge tube ra­dios. Al­most ev­ery of­fi­cer who came for their mes­sages would brush up against my mas­ter­piece and pick up a lit­tle colour on their uni­form. Soon ev­ery­one was pretty pissed off with Van Gogh."

Back to the Begin­ning

Born in Al­berta of Ukrainian par­ents, on Valen­tine's Day in 1939; Vladimir grew up on the Prairies and later in the Rocky Moun­tains, which gave him a deep love of both the ma­jes­tic low­lands and tow­er­ing peaks of each tableau. Still, there was noth­ing that seemed to in­di­cate that he would even­tu­ally be­come a painter. His was a hum­ble fam­ily of Ukrainian im­mi­grants; farm­ers in their home coun­try. His fa­ther, who came to Canada for a "visit" when he was 18 years old, ended up in Al­berta where he stayed

Dans la Vallee du Gouf­fre, en Charlevoix, oil on can­vas, 20” x 80”

Dans la Vallee du Gouf­fre, en Charlevoix, oil on can­vas, 20” x 80”

for the rest of his life. His mother was born on an Al­berta farm of a fa­ther also from Ukraine who was only ten years old when he came to Al­berta with his par­ents in 1898, even be­fore that re­gion be­came a Cana­dian prov­ince; that fact made him a gen­uine Western set­tler. Un­for­tu­nately, his par­ents di­vorced and at eight years old, Vladimir and his mother moved to Field, Bri­tish Columbia. The years he spent there were a golden pe­riod which left an in­deli­ble mark on him. While the vil­lage of Field, lo­cated in the Yoho Na­tional Park in the Rocky Moun­tains, of­fered a quiet and free life­style, very close to na­ture, it was also a rail­way traf­fic hub. Vladimir could, as he pleased, hike in the moun­tains, build a cabin in the trees with his friends, fish in rivers full of fish, go moun­tain or trail ski­ing, and ad­mire the big lo­co­mo­tives and the long trains that all stopped over at Field. "My first artis­tic mem­ory comes from Field B.C, in Yoho Na­tional Park," re­mem­bers Vladimir, "There was this strong de­sire to do my sci­ence il­lus­tra­tions in colour. The gen­eral store in the early fifties didn't carry art sup­plies. Ink, how­ever, was sold in black, blue, red and green colours. Th­ese were bought on credit with my mother's gro­cery ac­count. With this, my artis­tic ca­reer took off."

La Belle Province

The next trans­fer took him to Que­bec and yet an­other ad­ven­ture. Vladimir dis­cov­ered a cer­tain gift for lan­guages and it did not take him long to learn French and be­come in­te­grated into the Que­bec cul­ture. He de­cided to set­tle there and start a fam­ily. The birth, in 1965, of a first son co­in­cided with his de­ci­sion to em­bark on an en­tirely new ad­ven­ture, that of full-time stud­ies at the Que­bec School of Fine Arts. "My wife, very well ed­u­cated and sharp as a tack, sug­gested I take the en­trance exam at the École des Beaux-arts in Que­bec City," he ex­plains, "I did and was ac­cepted. So four years of all-day classes at the art school, and one year at Univer­sité Laval for a teach­ing diploma, plus a year of free stud­ies in Europe got me started in a paint­ing and teach­ing ca­reer. In the mid­six­ties, my paint­ings started sell­ing for $5 each. By 1969, a 16" x 20" well-framed paint­ing sold

in art gal­leries for $50. Be­cause of this, we had meat on the ta­ble most of the time. Fi­nally, it was teach­ing that was putting real food on the ta­ble leav­ing lit­tle en­ergy at the end of the day for paint­ing." When he looks back at this time pe­riod there is the re­al­iza­tion that it was not very easy. To suc­ceed was tak­ing not only a great deal of de­ter­mi­na­tion but also pa­tience and un­der­stand­ing from his wife. "To make a long story short," Vladimir in­ter­jects, "my wife and I de­cided to buy a for­mer farm in pic­turesque Charlevoix, Québec. I fig­ured it would take about ten years to find out if I was a real artist. I have been at it ever since, and I do be­lieve I am an artist." It was about find­ing the peace of mind and beau­ti­ful land­scapes that would in­spire him. Charlevoix was not so dif­fer­ent from the Rock­ies – it also seemed like an ideal place to raise a fam­ily. For a while Vladimir farmed, taught art lessons and painted. But as the years went by the fo­cus be­came more and more his own art. "A few words on leav­ing the city for coun­try life:" says Vladimir, "My stu­dio was built in sum­mer with the wood of an old barn. It was a beau­ti­ful and rus­tic space with no win­dows for lack of money to buy them and only 13 holes. I de­cided to cover my many win­dow holes with pan­els un­til spring came. A vis­i­tor came by in late fall and said he wanted to buy six or eight paint­ings. I told him his joke was not funny and be­fore I could tell him to jump in the lake, he said he had just bought an inn and wanted to dec­o­rate the place with my paint­ings. I felt that my guardian an­gel had done a real good job that day. I still ap­pre­ci­ate the 13 win­dows in my stu­dio which this paid for!"

On Be­ing an Artist

"One meets many peo­ple in a life time," muses Vladimir, "and sur­pris­ingly many played a part in my fu­ture. Dur­ing the lean years, I think of a friend who would come for a week­end and bring enough food for the fam­ily for the week. Or older artists, who were well es­tab­lished, would come to my ex­hi­bi­tions and buy a small paint­ing just to break the ice and help me get along. It would be easy to write many pages about won­der­ful peo­ple who passed through our lives and left us

with un­for­get­table mem­o­ries." He goes on to point out that at the be­gin­ning, when we start our ca­reer, most of us naively think that we are pretty hot. But then, be­cause of art pub­li­ca­tions and art gal­leries, we re­al­ize the bar is set pretty high. When he thinks of what ad­vice he would give young artists start­ing out these days Vladimir has sev­eral points – At some point, you must choose a ma­jor sub­ject to elab­o­rate on. Don't try to do too much. Find your own style and de­velop it. It's al­ways im­por­tant to keep your ego in check. If your head starts swelling up, buy and thumb through two or three good art pub­li­ca­tions and you will find there are a lot of ex­cel­lent tal­ents out there. "Dur­ing my years at Beaux-arts," he ex­plains, "I painted many ab­stract and fig­u­ra­tive can­vases for var­i­ous homes and pub­lic of­fices. This was most wel­comed be­cause we had two boys to feed and take care of. After many years of ex­per­i­ment­ing with many dis­ci­plines, I have cho­sen to paint in a fig­u­ra­tive style with oil paints, and to this day it's still a turn-on for me. At the same time I have seen mas­ter­pieces done in­cred­i­bly with a hum­ble piece of char­coal. The thing is, as artists we all work with the same ma­te­ri­als so if some­one can rec­og­nize your work as stand­ing out from oth­ers from a dis­tance, you know you are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion." There must al­ways be room for cre­ativ­ity and growth. Vladimir has bal­anced this sense of cre­at­ing his own style with a sense of al­ways learn­ing and ex­per­i­ment­ing. For ex­am­ple, right now he is cap­ti­vated by paint­ing in sizes you don't of­ten see, like 1' x 8', 2' x 15' or 5' x 5'. Try­ing to learn some­thing with each and ev­ery new paint­ing, Vladimir rev­els in the chance to dis­cover a new per­spec­tive.

with un­for­get­table mem­o­ries." He goes on to point out that at the be­gin­ning, when we start our ca­reer, most of us naively think that we are pretty hot. But then, be­cause of art pub­li­ca­tions and art gal­leries, we re­al­ize the bar is set pretty high. When he thinks of what ad­vice he would give young artists start­ing out these days Vladimir has sev­eral points – At some point, you must choose a ma­jor sub­ject to elab­o­rate on. Don't try to do too much. Find your own style and de­velop it. It's al­ways im­por­tant to keep your ego in check. If your head starts swelling up, buy and thumb through two or three good art pub­li­ca­tions and you will find there are a lot of ex­cel­lent tal­ents out there. "Dur­ing my years at Beaux-arts," he ex­plains, "I painted many ab­stract and fig­u­ra­tive can­vases for var­i­ous homes and pub­lic of­fices. This was most wel­comed be­cause we had two boys to feed and take care of. After many years of ex­per­i­ment­ing with many dis­ci­plines, I have cho­sen to paint in a fig­u­ra­tive style with oil paints, and to this day it's still a turn-on for me. At the same time I have seen mas­ter­pieces done in­cred­i­bly with a hum­ble piece of char­coal. The thing is, as artists we all work with the same ma­te­ri­als so if some­one can rec­og­nize your work as stand­ing out from oth­ers from a dis­tance, you know you are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion." There must al­ways be room for cre­ativ­ity and growth. Vladimir has bal­anced this sense of cre­at­ing his own style with a sense of al­ways learn­ing and ex­per­i­ment­ing. For ex­am­ple, right now he is cap­ti­vated by paint­ing in sizes you don't of­ten see, like 1' x 8', 2' x 15' or 5' x 5'. Try­ing to learn some­thing with each and ev­ery new paint­ing, Vladimir rev­els in the chance to dis­cover a new per­spec­tive.

Re­flets d’au­tomne, oil on can­vas, 30” x 60”

Re­flets d’au­tomne, oil on can­vas, 30” x 60”

Art, for Horik, is very much like the sou­venirs he has col­lected over the years, "I have col­lected In­dian, Western, old fur­ni­ture and lots of other ob­jects you have to "dust off" once in a while. One feels the pres­ence of peo­ple past and its echoes of prairies and moun­tains. I was 19 years years old when I first saw the ocean. All my sou­venirs fit me like a pair of old boots."

Put­ting It All To­gether

"You know you are happy," ex­plains Vladimir, "when you pop into your stu­dio in the evening to see if your lat­est paint­ing is as good as you re­mem­bered it to be. The next day, when a piece is signed, I am al­ready think­ing of my next project." "As for be­com­ing a fa­mous artist," he con­tin­ues, "al­low me to give you the bot­tom line. It will take at least two gen­er­a­tions af­ter your death to know if you are fa­mous or for­got­ten... So far so good!" To see more of the work of Vladimir Horik feel free to visit him at:

Ga­lerie d'art Au P'tit Bon­heur

La Mal­baie, Québec www.aup­tit­bon­heur.com 418.665.2060

Art, for Horik, is very much like the sou­venirs he has col­lected over the years, "I have col­lected In­dian, Western, old fur­ni­ture and lots of other ob­jects you have to "dust off" once in a while. One feels the pres­ence of peo­ple past and its echoes of prairies and moun­tains. I was 19 years years old when I first saw the ocean. All my sou­venirs fit me like a pair of old boots."

Put­ting It All To­gether

"You know you are happy," ex­plains Vladimir, "when you pop into your stu­dio in the evening to see if your lat­est paint­ing is as good as you re­mem­bered it to be. The next day, when a piece is signed, I am al­ready think­ing of my next project." "As for be­com­ing a fa­mous artist," he con­tin­ues, "al­low me to give you the bot­tom line. It will take at least two gen­er­a­tions af­ter your death to know if you are fa­mous or for­got­ten... So far so good!" To see more of the work of Vladimir Horik feel free to visit him at:

Ga­lerie d'art Au P'tit Bon­heur

La Mal­baie, Québec www.aup­tit­bon­heur.com 418.665.2060

left, Con­trastes de Charlevoix, oil on can­vas, 36” x 18” above, La Sainte paix, oil on can­vas, 24” x 48”

La vis­ite s’en vient, oil on can­vas, 24” x 72”

Su la cote de Charlevoix, oil on can­vas, 12” x 48”

pre­vi­ous spread, Au bord du fleuve, oil on can­vas, 20” x 24” left, En­tre chien et loup a Grand-fonds, oil on can­vas, 40” x 20” right, Le vil­lage de Grand-fonds, en Charlevoix, oil on can­vas, 40” x 30”

pre­vi­ous spread, Su­perbe oc­to­bre, oil on can­vas, 20” x 30” above, Splen­deur de juil­let, oil on can­vas, 36” x 42” right, La Baie-st-paul en Charlevoix, oil on can­vas, 30” x 36”

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