Brian Mitchell
Artist's Statement
I failed grade seven art. That was probably because of inattention and bad behaviour. The failure certainly didn't reflect my regard and appreciation for the natural landscapes around me..

At that time - the early fifties -- I lived in the Dunbar area of Vancouver in a house with an excellent view of the North Shore mountains. I remember seeing great white clouds massing over Hollyburn, sunset light on the slopes of Grouse Mountain, and, in winter, an entire range of brilliant, snow-laden trees etched sharply against a cold blue sky.

From my earliest days I felt a keen admiration for certain Canadian paintings.

I remember the Tom Thomson print hanging in my grandparents' dining room, school hallways displaying wartime reproductions of Group of Seven paintings, and field-trips to the Vancouver Art Gallery. These visits were special: it was fascinating to see original paintings - so full of colour and textures.

Creating my own art began with photography. I recall a time -- I was very young - that I set myself a task of making a series of eight of the best compositions I could manage. I took this personal challenge seriously and spent much care and time searching for subjects, balance, light, and colour for each exposure. Only when thoroughly satisfied did I press the shutter. The camera was a box Brownie. Without film! I must have visualized those images very strongly because I can still see some of them in my mind's eye.

My interest in photography grew and remains (though now, once again, without film!). But interest in painting has long since surpassed my photographic pursuits.

My mother started it. She had enjoyed painting with oils for many years, but one day decided to switch to watercolours. She packed up her paints, brushes, canvasses, and bottles of oil in a large black suitcase - and gave them all to me. I was fourteen years old at the time and very pleased. With a wealth of subjects and ideas in mind, and suddenly, all the materials, I got right to work.

The stark white canvas was intimidating, tube colours didn't match the colours I needed. Results were awful. I had failed again, but didn't give up. I began mixing and matching colours, observing light, colour, and shade more closely. I carefully studied works of other painters. I read about painting and pigments and asked questions whenever I had the chance. I kept painting, focussing still on compositions from natural landscapes, often receiving helpful suggestions and useful criticisms.

These activities, begun in the 50's, have continued right up to the present day. Somewhere along the way, I started to produce a few paintings that I rather liked.