Roy Henry Vickers Meet & Greet

On November 19, the Canadian artist Roy Henry Vickers came to Burnaby for a meet and greet at Trev Deely Motorcycles. Although it was rainy and all I had was a broken umbrella, I made the trip to see him and possibly have him sign my copy of the book he illustrated called ‘The Elders are Watching.’

With his leg in a cast he sat in the corner of the pop-up gallery with a stack of pre-signed calenders, interacting with the handful of rain-soaked people who had made the trek out to the ‘burbs. On display was gold and silver jewellery, original prints and paintings, and inexpensive paraphernalia like books, cards, and DVDs suitable to stuff stockings this XMAS season.

When my turn came up after waiting in line for only a couple minutes, Vickers exclaimed when I showed him my copy of ‘The Elders are Watching’ as it was an original publishing before he had moved to Raincoast Books! He could tell as the spine of the book has a small white signature logo and inside the cover lies a textured page with the same logo embossed in gold. Funny, considering I picked up my copy at Value Village for $2.99!

As he signed my book and a copy of his 2013 calender, I told him I bought what I thought was a print of ‘Capilano’ at a thrift store for $15. Unfortunately, it was not a print but an exceptionally well-framed card of his – oh well! Little does he know that it’s actually hanging in my parents’ bathroom back in Chilliwack!

Thinking that I wouldn’t have the opportunity of being in the presence of a great artist like Vickers for a long time, I asked him if he had any advice for people trying to master their craft – be it painting, drawing, or photography. He gave some really great advice so here goes:

  • Only study those artists that move you
  • Practice

Simple, but to the point. He also regaled me with other advice, but as I was so enthralled with his presence I can’t recall with precision exactly what he said – oops! Regardless, what I heard truly did inspire me as I ended up walking around Vancouver with an art high and a Cheshire cat grin!

What I do remember is that after he started photographing in black and white and then making the change to color, his painting was never the same – that’s when he really blew up as an artist. Within the constraints of the camera’s frame, he was able to see beauty everywhere he went and it translated to his painting.

As well, and I hope that I remember this correctly, an artist can’t paint with words [as in a picture says a thousand words] because those words are in the viewer’s mind and not in the artist’s. That you want the viewer to empathize with the work – to feel and understand what you have created instead of being told how to interpret the art.

Damn, just writing this up encourages me to pick up my camera again and start shooting! All in all, the meet and greet was a success because it inspired at least one amateur artist to continue on, even though I haven’t been trained in the classic art school way~