Monday, April 22, 2013

Three Questions with April's Feature Artist: Brian Harvey

We asked Canvas Gallery's Feature Artist for April Brian Harvey to answer a few questions about his work and his process. Here are his responses!

"Queen & Parliament", oil on panel, 48"x24".

How long have you been painting and did you always aspire to becoming a full-time artist?

I got serious about painting when I picked up oil in about 2001.  Although I'm sure I would have continued painting, learning that I could make a living from my art helped me to decide that it was what I wanted to do.  So I just kept at it, working at a part time job for several years until I was able to pursue art full time.

What is your creative process generally like? 

I used to paint exclusively from life, but when I started to paint urban landscapes and they started to get larger I began using photographs.  I try to have a camera with me whenever I wander through the city, and I take a lot of photographs.  When I get back to the studio, I go through these photos and look for something special that I think will make a good painting.  When I have an image that excites me, I start to paint.  I work gesturally, with large brushes for much of the early stages and try not to approach paintings in a particularly systematic way. I enjoy playing with mark making, paint application and colour, keeping things loose even as I refine them.  I usually work on a few pieces at a time, and I often find it helpful to put a painting away for a few days and come back to it.  

Your work often features the city... what are your favourite areas of Toronto and why?

I like finding myself in areas of the city where I have never been, which is why I love wandering through laneways.  They are one of the great overlooked features of Toronto, a quiet network of back roads, both urban and natural, connecting neighbourhoods and often expressing their character in ways the main streets do not.  I've lived in the Junction, Roncesvalles, Parkdale, and I'm currently living in Leslieville.  Every one of these neighbourhoods have qualities which make them distinctive, but personally they appeal to me because they've all been able to maintain the historic character of their streetscapes, as well as their diversity, which makes them vibrant and exciting places.

View more of Brian's work on our website at

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