Magazin’Art automne/Fall 2004

John Mlacak

a sense of place

Painting the landscape in oils is John Mlacak’s forté. Mlacak is an artist for all seasons and his open air paintings take you on a journey through the magnificent Gatineau Park, Rivière Rouge, Eastern Townships and Charlevoix areas of Québec. Other paintings reflect scenes in the brilliant colours of Ottawa-Carleton and travel in the Maritimes, New England and Europe.

As a passionate outdoor painter, Mlacak picks up the bold, dramatic colours of the Canadian seasons and the vibrant red and green roofs of Québec farm buildings and towns. He is fascinated by the play of light and shade weaving through the trees and over the white torrent of waterfalls and rapids. A full-time artist Mlacak enjoys a steady demand for his work.

Mlacak says this about his work: « My paintings are generally representational with a high degree of personal expressionism. At times they may be impressionistic with a strong emphasis on design form and colour. I use natural shapes, dramatic light and shadow, cool and warm colours that may be intense or subdued and strong modelling to achieve depth and effect. I use the highest value contrast to focus attention on the centre of interest and dynamic transitions to sustain engagement with the painting. »

His paintings are exhibited in local Ontario and Québec galleries and are represented in private and corporate collections in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia, Korea, Indonesia and South America.

Mlacak has studied with a number of renowned local and international artists. He has been greatly influenced by the late Canadian artists Brodie Shearer and Bruce Heggtveit and greatly admires Canada’s own Group of Seven, Tom Thompson and the French Impressionists.

« My goal is to capture a sense of place and I am influenced greatly by the emotion that can be inspired by nature. I paint using techniques that yield identifiable brush strokes characterized by wet-in-wet, wet-on-dry, hard and soft edges, glazing, and with both transparent and opaque paints. I know I have been successful when the finished painting rekindles my inotial feelings. »

Art is now Mlacak’s third career. He worked for thirty-five years as an engineer with Nortel Networks in telecommunications research and development, retiring in 1994. For eleven years he was active in local and regional municipal politics in Ottawa.

Mlacak’s painting career started after a heart attack in 1978. Over the years he took art instruction to keep him painting. It wasn’t until his retirement in1994 that he has be-en able to paint full-time. « I found that I could paint all day and not get tired, and as I progressed, I became more comfortable with my progress as a painter. Painting was a natural extension of the creative design and development processes of most interest to me and which were so central to my careers in telecommunications design and local politics ».

« I create the first pass of half my paintings en plein air and the other half in my studios using photographic material or creations based on memorable impressions. When I paint, I usually get about eighty percent of the painting done in two to three hours at one sitting, but the last twenty percent takes eighty percent of the time as this is where most of the design takes place. »

John participates in numerous group and solo shows annually, has won many awards for his art in juried exhibitions and supports a considerable number of charities by donating paintings.

In 2002, John had his second heart operation. He naps most afternoons and doesn’t start painting until later in the day, but goes on well into the night and early morning. « I always work on fifteen to twenty paintings at a time, and these are all visible in my studio. I only select one to work on when I think I know what I want to try next. It’s an evolving design challenge. » John’s wife, Beth, is the business manager, leaving John more time to paint.

John’s son Bill, is a freelance computer programmer and lives in New Hampshire with his wife, Joanna Whitcomb, and their two daughters, Sophia and Helena. Daughter, Kirsten works at the Canadian International Development Agency in Ottawa and Siobhan, lives in Paris, France where she teaches English as a Foreign Language and is also a successful photographer in black and white.

John’s work is selling steadily at Koyman Galleries in Ottawa and Toronto. He is also represented by Avenue Art in Westmount, Québec.

Noel Meyer

He is listed in the Biennial Guide to Canadian Artists in Galleries published by MAGAZIN’ART.