Brian Middleton Art

"I don't paint things.  

I only paint the difference between things."

Henri Matisse

Master Sand Sculptors travel from all corners of the globe to participate in the event and they have 24 hours over three days to create their masterpieces from just sand and water. As a visual artist with nearly forty years of studio work and shows behind me, I was amazed at what these artists could create under pressure and at the mercy of the weather.

In November 2013, my iPad paintings were published in NYC in a survey book called 
 International Contemporary Artists, volume 7.

Keep checking back and THANKS for visiting today.

After reading the recently-published and wonderful biography of the painter  Lucian Freud by Martin Gayford and after seeing the major retrospective of Freud’s Life Works at Centre Pompidou in Paris in June 2010 I was encouraged in my intention to return to portraiture and life-drawing. This is something I will hopefully continue to work on over the years ahead. 

Virtual Impressionism:  I am very excited about working with a brand new medium: the latest generation of iPad® with retina display.  So far it has not disappointed me, especially the possibilities with painting and drawing virtually.  In March of 2013, I coined the term "Virtual Impressionism" to capture the essence of this new work.

I read the biography on David Hockney titled “A Bigger Pictu​re” and am learning about his exhibition of works using the iPad®.  I have always admired and been fascinated by Hockney’s wide range of media and his willingness to embrace new technology. When I saw the quality of his new work using tablet technology I felt that this was something I needed to return to and definitely have another look at.

In the spring of 2012 I embarked on a project that made me think back to my days at The Brandstead Press.  In early 2012 I was approached by Barry Munn, a writer and friend, who intended to publish his memoirs Nirvana-by-the-Sea.  He was looking for an art editor to oversee the visuals and illustrations  component of the book as well as design the cover. Barry hired me to  participate in this project with him and his editor in Victoria. Nirvana was published and successfully launched late 2012 in both Ontario and BC. It was an amazing journey for me and I learned so much more than I could ever have imagined!

I have been exploring portraiture once again and I have discovered that I really prefer working with models who are willing to do repeated sittings for me over an extended period of time. In the spring of 2012, I received a private commission for a portrait and I hope to do more.

In the summer of both 2010 and 2011 I was delighted to participate as an official judge in the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition in Parksville. This competition is a world class event for Master Sand Sculptors and is an official qualifying event for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. 

A comprehensive digital projection installation of the complete 9/11 works along with music took place on September 11th 2010 at Knox United Church in Parksville, BC.  John Haley and Rev. Hilde Seal participated in a public forum and discussion of the show with me.

In July 2010 I participated in Markings, a three-person show at the Lyndia Terre Gallery, Nanoose Bay, with Leah Newman and Lyndia Terre.  This was my first opportunity to publicly preview some portions of a much larger body of charcoal drawings recording my responses to both 9/11 and the Global Financial crisis from 2008 onwards.

I have enjoyed many new opportunities since we arrived here in Oceanside.  In the summer of 2008 I was a featured artist at The Chemainus Theatre and in 2009 I had another important show at The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach.

In 1995, our garden was featured in an article in Fine Gardening magazine ( USA ). Shortly after that both the garden and my work were featured on the TV series Gardener's Journal on HGTV.

I have held memberships in The Botanical Artists of Canada and The American Society of Botanical Artists as well as the Federation of Canadian Artists. 

After Carl and I both retired from teaching careers, we decided to move westward to Vancouver Island in 2006.  We now live in Parksville in central Vancouver Island.

In time, lawns and trees and flowering shrubs and perennial and vegetable beds followed. A water garden was added later when the house was renovated to include a new studio.  Our view was spectacular from the top of our glacial moraine and drumlin.  The rich soil allowed us to grow almost any flower the zone would permit. It followed naturally that I began to paint the canvases of our skies in South Central Ontario as well as the flowers I was tending in the garden.  Irises have a particular significance for me as my mother's name is Iris and it is one of the first plants I remember in our yard as a child.  The cutting for those blooms came from my grandmother's home on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Coincidentally, our Carlisle home was only a few minutes' drive from the wonderful Laking Iris Garden, part of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario.
The move was prompted by an apprenticeship with one of Canada's finest wood engravers, Gerard Brender à Brandis. This was a propitious meeting as he generously taught me many skills in his workshop and studio including making handmade paper from natural plant fibres and cotton rag, hand typesetting as it was done before the twentieth century, bookbinding, inking and printing his beautiful engravings of flowers using a Victorian Albion press.

My partner Carl and I lived in the same home in Carlisle for nearly thirty years.  It was a bucolic place to live and work and I became an avid gardener with Carl.  Our first perennial bed began in the middle of an overgrown half acre of field behind our home.

Not surprisingly, my first five years in painting and drawing focused on geometric compositions and an exploration of overlays and the simulation of transparencies using media like opaque gouache and acrylics. My turn towards botanical painting and drawing and also landscape began over 30 years ago when we moved from Toronto to Carlisle, Ontario.

My mentors at OCA included some notable Canadian artists including Aba BayefskyTom LaPierreViktor Tinkl, and a colour theorist named Roger-Francois Thépot who was a contemporary of Victor Vasarely. Vasarely's geometric abstractions and colour field paintings are iconic in that European movement during the 1960s. Thépot's lessons in colour theory and the use of colour in painting remain for me a very solid ground.​

I distinctly remember the moment when I stood looking at a famous painter's work and somehow during that experience I went from being a passive viewer to wanting to try to paint something myself.  I knew with certainty that I would make an attempt and even more strongly, I felt a strange and inexplicable inner confidence that I could do this, in time and with much effort.

That one moment changed the direction of the rest of my life. I said: “Yes!” and not “No.”  In fact, I did start to sketch and draw the most rudimentary and everyday objects soon after, and when I got back to Canada I made a conscious decision to assemble a portfolio of work with which I could later apply to the Ontario College of Art (OCA, now known as OCAD) in Toronto.

One year after returning to Canada,in the Spring of 1974, I applied as a mature student and was accepted into OCA for full-time studies in the Fine Arts programme.

My journey as an artist probably started long before I became aware of it, as a child living in a very modest home in Northern Ontario where I was born in 1950.  My first conscious awareness that I had of a desire to create visual art didn't actually take place until I was in my early twenties.

It was 1972 and I was living and studying French in Provence and travelling when possible on a very modest budget to places like Italy and Spain.  And for the first time in my life I was seeing some of the world's major museums and art gallery collections.

​I couldn't get enough of it.

My passion for painting and drawing began in 1972 during a year in Provence as a foreign student in university. For four decades I have been looking, seeing, creating and then sharing my work with others. The iPad Painting is the latest application of the studio skills I have been practicing and using for the past forty years.

my story