• By: Tori McNeely

Escape into Art with Mike Goguen

Ottawa-based artist Mike Goguen is many things. He is a husband, a father, an engineer, and an inspiration to every artistic dreamer pursuing their passion. He is a testament to the tenet that the flames of passion are fueled not by thinking but by doing. After over 37 years of painting, he continues to refine his practice.

Goguen’s interest in painting stems from his childhood. What started out as pencil sketches soon turned into paintings when he wished to incorporate colour.

“By the time I was 8 years old, most of my drawing was pencil sketching and I started to experiment with perspective and shading. By 1981, just before my 14th birthday, I decided I wanted to add colour to my artworks. I found pencil crayons were very time consuming at the time which is why I took up painting. I perceived it as being a much quicker medium at the time, being a budding artist with no experience yet.”

Although Goguen developed a passion for painting at a very young age, circumstances prevented him from studying fine arts. Goguen very candidly shares that having grown up in poverty in the 1980’s, pursuing an education in technology was a sure way to maximize his chances of securing a stable career in a short amount of time.

“I would have loved to take more time in school and study in the fine arts in University as well, but we all must simply work with that which circumstance has placed within our reach,” says Goguen.

Space Station, 24” x 30”, oil on canvas

As circumstance would have it, Goguen is living the best of both worlds – as an engineer at a local technology firm and a talented self-taught artist featured in several galleries.

For over 30 years, Goguen has been working with oil and acrylic to produce artworks that separate the viewer from the mundaneness of their daily routine. From the calmness of a water ripple in H2O to the 1970’s galaxy interpretation in Space Station, the stories his paintings tell range from realism to complete fantasy based surrealism.

“I often try to achieve a sense of exaggerated perspective and depth in my artwork. Many of my more elaborate pieces attempt to provide the viewer with an escape from the ordinary,” says Goguen. “I have always been intrigued by the idea that something can be portrayed on a flat surface with the illusion of having 3 dimensions to the human eye.”

Goguen’s artistic imagination is informed by influential visual artists including Alex Colville and Roger Dean, musicians such as Amadeus Mozat and Pink Floyd, and finally, authors Isaac Asimov and J.R.R. Tolkien.

His growth as an artist is not identified through any painting in particular. Instead, a series of paintings are what speak to his proficiency as an artist.

“My first milestone was a simple winter evening scene of woods and mountains viewed from across a frozen pond,” says Goguen. “This painting is special since it was the artwork in which my style suddenly transitioned from very heavy brush strokes with little detail to a much smoother, more surrealistic and detailed style. It was the beginning of the style in which I paint today.”

Today, Goguen is a member at Ottawa West Artists’ Association, Art Lending of Ottawa, the Richmond Village Art Club and ArtBomb Daily.

When asked how pursuing his passion for arts has impacted his life, Goguen responds, “I have met many great artists over the years whom I would have otherwise never known and to heed their wisdom and learn from it has been extremely fulfilling.”