Born in 1943 in Bonnyville, Alberta, to Ukrainian immigrant parents, Peter Shostak grew up on a family farm working and playing pond hockey with his brothers. I spoke to Peter from his home in Courtenay where they are also experiencing exciting early snow this season. Peter hasn’t been to Whistler since August, when the landscape was very different!
1. Tell us something about being raised on a farm in northeastern Alberta before the arrival of technology, and do you remember the spark that ignited your painting career?
I grew up in very pioneering and primitive circumstances, with no electricity and no running water. I was the eldest of 5 boys and my mother certainly had her hands full with us. We lived on a farm with pigs, chickens, cows and an array of different animals. We also grew barley, oats and wheat for survival.
Children worked in those years, we all had chores to do to keep the house and farm maintained. Things really improved with the introduction of electricity into our home in grade 6 when I was around 12 years old.
I went to a primary school which was situated about a ½ mile down the road from my family home, a building that consisted of two rooms. I could not speak a word of English when I first started, so being flung into an English speaking environment was a huge culture shock to my system. However, come Christmas that same year my communication and comprehension had improved out of sight.
I never had extremely artistic parents or siblings. My mother was very in tune with what was available within the immediate environment for her use, a practical outlook. She loved folk art, embroidery, more so than the art of painting.
Art has always been a part of me, making and creating was a spark that has always been there. My grade 2 teacher recognized my artistic abilities and gave me paper and pencils to draw with, a very rare commodity in those days. This enabled me to embark on my artistic calling.
2. Tell us something about your processes, most recent painting direction, influences and how your style has evolved in recent years?
I continue to paint winter themes with my contemporary landscape paintings. Children at play, hockey games, predominantly in the magical night time setting I am well known for. All my paintings tell a story.
1982 brought about monumental change in my career. I sold my first night themed painting to the famous Bob Hope – after this tremendous purchase I became very branded for my night scenes. First time Shostak buyers want the night scenes, as it is very much what I’m known for. Before 1982, my paintings were still based on the childhood experience, but daytime lighting was more common.
My style doesn’t change dramatically but rather evolves slowly, my technique has become more refined. Nothing noticeably drastic. Ideally with my own artistic desires, I would like to throw away my smaller brushes, in exchange for painting in big, bold, and splashy gestures. But the detail and story are what the people want and also what defines my style, so this I will continue on with.
3. Do you have grandchildren, and does their contemporary childhood have parallels to your own in the new age?
Yes I have two grandchildren, one grandson turning 10 next week and one granddaughter turning 8 in February. They are both fortunate enough to live in a family environment where the outdoors are very important. Their screen time is very much restricted. Childhood today does seem very different to what is used to be. What kind of memories are children going to have when many of them are from living through screens and all their time spent indoors?
4. Which is your favorite new piece for the Art of Winter Group Show and what particular characteristic makes this piece stand out to you?
I have a new piece entitled 'They Will Be Home When It Get's Dark," 8 x 10 arriving at the Adele Campbell Gallery. As opposed to my night scenes it is instead late afternoon, depicting the glowing light of dusk when the setting sun casts a magnificent orange glow onto the trees.
5. Is 2018 set to be an exciting time of year for your career and have you any major milestones to look forward to you could tell us about?
2018 marks an exciting exhibition opening for me in May at the Ukrainian Heritage Village in Alberta. It is a 2 year exhibition which is quite monumental! My paintings will be exhibited alongside artefacts from the museum’s collection.
To watch a short video on the tremendous works of Peter Shostak and 125 Years Of Ukrainian Culture click on the following link:Source Link: More information