Heimo Christian Haikala
View Artist Statement
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Gallery Direct Interview with HEIMO CHRISTIAN HAIKALA|
Heimo's work is a combination of personal and spiritual symbolism. Using vivid colours in a mosaic format he creates artworks that allow the viewer to look at the work as a colour study or look deeper to find the narrative depiction.
Could you tell us if you were encouraged to draw and paint as a child, and who gave you the most encouragement in your younger years?
I started drawing around grade four. My mother and my teachers encouraged me. Also, memories and photos of my father who was a painter in Finland inspired me.
At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to become a professional artist and pursue a career in the arts?
Believe it or not around grade seven so twelve years old.
What formal or informal education have you found most useful during your career?
My fourth year at Ontario College of Art (OCA) which is now the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD).
I was the first person to take all drawing plus anatomy in my fourth and final year at OCA. They initially refused me, not the teachers, the administration, because it was never done before. One must remember that at this time OCA was a Tech Collage. I had to get the backing of the teachers and I eventually got my way.
I shared the Fine Art Award for drawing that year, which helped me with my post grad year in Florence where I started to seriously paint.
What kinds of images did you first start out with and what medium did you use?
In grade nine I sold my first oil on board which was an image I copied from a "How to Paint in Oils" instruction kit. The image was a mighty mountain landscape and I got twenty bucks for it, which was a lot of money at that time.
In my late teens I was a big Wyeth fan. I would mess up acrylic water colour brushes to get multiple points to create a dry brush effect in acrylic on canvas. This time the images had religious themes. I watched a lot of Roman movies as a kid Spartacus, Ben-Hur, etc...
Have your life experiences influenced your choice of subject matter?
Sure,life, death, love, hate all the biggies
Your work is very unique and instantly recognizable. Could you tell us how and when you began to develop your mosaic style of painting?
When my mother past away in 1997 I was having difficulty with colour and composition. It was then that I started with a sketch on the canvas then blocking it with squares of colour, next to a tone, next to a tint next to a shade until it started to take shape.
What role do you think your emotions play in the creative process?
It's different for everyone, but for me, painting from your heart sounds about right. If you’re not painting but you’re still thinking about the next one I think that's fine as well.
I forgot "death" is a good motivator.
How do you think or want people to respond to your work?
I want them to be in front of my painting longer than the other guys. I want them to look and think and hopefully buy.
What has been your greatest success and biggest setback during your career?
Selling a painting in N.Y and not selling a painting in N.Y.
What other interests do you have besides painting and do these interests influence your artwork in any way?
I'm a chess player, which I learned in grade two. Besides painting, chess is the other universe I can visit. I did some motion abstracts using chess moves as the moves of a brush.
Could you tell us what your favorite pieces of work are and why they are your favorites?
Right now my favorite piece is "Smoking Mary" because it brought me back to the figure. I think it works overall as a painting, design, colour, subject matter. I'm trying to create paintings with substance and beauty.
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