Brian Simons: painting from imagination
Canadian artist Brian Simons’ exuberant paintings use colour and humour to celebrate all aspects of what it means to be human. He works from imagination to allow his subconscious to determine the shapes and consequent subject matter than emerges on each canvas.
In this interview Brian explains his belief that you can think too much about making art – what’s important is to just get on and make.
Lisa: When and how did you become and painter, and why do you paint?
Brian: I started painting about 35 years ago or so. In my heart, I always wanted to paint, but was trained as an engineer and discouraged from going to art school.
I was greatly moved by the Baha’i writings that state: “the best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling…” and jumped into painting without any training. I found I was happiest when painting and have been doing so almost daily since that time. It’s quite an addiction, almost a disease … for me life is not worth living if I can’t paint and I get quite colicky when I don’t. It’s very much a love affair!
Lisa: Painting from imagination can be quite a scary idea for lots of people – not having the framework of a reference means you are unhinged. Why is painting this way so important to you?
Brian: It’s important to me because it is so much fun. One never knows ahead of time what is going to show up, and it’s always a surprise to me. One has to be open to the ideas that come to him and willing not to think too much.
I’ve always thought that really great painters do NOT know what they are doing, but simply be quiet and do as they are told by inner promptings, inspiration, the muse. Takes a lot of courage and this is what I’m hoping to learn to do more consistently; to go to the canvas empty and just do as I’m told without questioning. The wisdom in all the actions can be realised after the execution of the painting.