Through Kaleidoscope Eyes

Comox Valley artist Brian Scott paints the world as he sees it – colorful, quirky and fun…

While we continue to talk, a little grey cat appears out of nowhere and begins to snake through Scott’s legs, boldly bumping and rubbing against him. It occurs to me that Scott’s works are, by and large, void of animals. “You don’t paint animals?” I ask. To which he replies, “Never.”

We go back to talking about his life. Scott was a member of the Faculty of North Island College from 1979 to 1999, where he taught drawing, color theory and design in the Fine Arts Program. He also taught for the Emily Carr College and Design Outreach Program for 14 years. In 2002, he accepted a government appointment to the Board of the BC Arts Council.

“As well as having a summer home on Hornby Island, I also spent a couple of years in Union Bay and a few other places in coastal British Columbia. In 2004, I moved to a delightful old farmhouse on the Old Island Highway in Black Creek,” continues Scott. “It is ideally located mid-way between Courtenay/Comox and Campbell River. I was finally able to open not one, but two private galleries and now have two painting studios here. Because I now have my own place to showcase and sell my work, I generally do not exhibit at other local galleries and events. Many Valley restaurants display my art and, in doing so, help direct new clients to my gallery and I do show in galleries in Victoria, Whistler and Granville Island, as well as art rentals programs at the Vancouver and Nanaimo Art Galleries, and the North Vancouver Art Space.”

Brian Scott is an artist whose name is inextricably linked to color—wild and wonderful mixes of fanciful, fun and exciting hues that bring the West Coast fishing boats, architecture and tumble-down buildings of our beloved coastal British Columbia into a new perspective.

If there is a ruler in Brian Scott’s studio, you can bet it is gathering dust, along with a few tubes of seldomly used black paint.

“My art is like a game of opposites, repetition and fluidity,” explains Scott. “It is not about controlled and perfectly straight lines, like you would find in a formal French garden. I like to compare my work to a wild English garden, where there is no rhyme or reason, and where there are curves and irregularity rather than structured geometry.”

Not only do Scott’s paintings come alive with vivid color, they have a depth and dimension that, he says, is produced by contrasting cool and warm colors. Bright colors and sharp lines are used to provide highlights and draw the eye forward. Dark colors and receding, blurred lines create the shadows. “People are fascinated by the illusion of depth on a flat surface this creates,” he says.

Using his favorite shape—the circle—Scott is able to create paintings with what he calls a “vanishing point.” It may start, for example, with the sun as a bright, large circle in the background of the painting, and diminish from there, moving forward through clouds, trees, flowers and, eventually to a something as small as nail hole in a fence or a knot in a plank of wood in the foreground.

It is a technique that Scott has mastered beautifully. His landscapes literally draw your eye down pathways and into gardens, inviting you to take a walk down memory lane… if only in your imagination. With his seascapes and fishing boats, one can almost hear the sound of the crashing waves or the boats’ moorings creaking against the strain of the tide.

“When I am creating a piece I look at the geometry of the manmade structures—such as a house or a boat—and how it contrasts with the surrounding natural landscape,” adds Scott. “I then choose colors and textures that bring it to life.”

Scott says inspiration comes easily to him. On days when painting does not come naturally, he buries his head in a history book for a few hours. Scott also paints when he travels and has created works based on vistas in Italy, Jamaica and Hawaii. His latest venture involves creating a series of paintings based on views from cruise ships of harbor scenes, from Sitka, Alaska to Acapulco, Mexico.

In an average year, Scott will produce about 100 pieces, ranging in size from 16”x20” to 30”x40”. He talks passionately about his more recent focus; one that he hopes will help people maintain their family heritage and history—commissioned works of homes, gardens, boats, scenery or favorite places.

Scott works with individuals and families to create an original piece depicting the family home or favorite place and then makes a specified number of limited edition prints of it, for distribution to family members only. It is then up to the people who have commissioned the piece to write the history to accompany it and pass on this legacy to their children and grandchildren.

As my interview draws to a close, I ask a final question of Brian Scott: “Is there anything that you don’t consider a potential canvas?”

“My only criteria is that it is a stationary object,” he says with a grin.

Later, while enjoying one of Bran Scott’s fascinating books, I read the history that accompanies each picture and scrutinize each individual painting, I notice something that makes me grin. In one—Doris, Cat Lady of Cumberland—there is a little black cat cavorting amongst the flowers and a second cat peering from a windowsill. These two little cats are proof that even he occasionally breaks his own rules… and then reaches for one of those seldom-used tubes of black paint. “Never say never,” I think with a smile.

FMI call 250-337-1941 or visit His studio is located at 8269 North Island Highway, across from Black Creek Store.