The paint

One of the truly enjoyable aspects of this business is the studio visit. It’s an opportunity to see where the artist “lives”. Each artist’s studio is unique. The environment where the work is created is important. What size is the studio, and how does this influence the work? What sort of light does the studio provide? Does the artist keep completed work in sight or store it away while the new piece evolves? Are special objects, images of work by other artists, art books in evidence?

Last weekend I visited with painter, Brian Burke, on Prince Edward Island. He spends his days working in his studio here much of the year, but also is able to spend a bit of time working in a studio in Lucerne, Switzerland. He is fortunate to be able to leave the studios as is so no time is lost upon arrival. The transition from one to the other is as seamless as possible.

Brian in the studio


The studio in PEI is located in what was previously a home, so it provides other rooms besides the room where the painting happens. One room is set up as a living room with seating, bookshelves and a television. Brian said he often sits for a while when he arrives in the morning, before the actual painting work begins. I’ve noticed through my countless studio visits with artists that a seating area, often separate from the studio proper, is an important component in the artist’s work life.

Studio sitting area

Evidence from the previous three months work was obvious. Paintings were leaning everywhere, although they were more spread about than is normal for my sake. It was quite a treat for Judy and I to sleep in the studio building. That gave me lots of private time to enjoy the work.

Studio entry

Brian Burke's studio


Selecting work to take back to the gallery is often a challenge, particularly when there is an abundance and when it is so good. Sometimes one sees great pieces, but they are not quite ready to leave the studio as the series is still in development.

Studio 2Studio 3

Eventually choices are made. Then we create the consignment list, ensure that the works are photographed before they leave the studio and finally prepare the work for travel. Below are works now installed here at the gallery in Saint John.

Brian Burke, Neighbour, oil on canvas, 40%22 x 40%22


Neighbour, oil on canvas, 40″ x 40″

Brian Burke, Prove It, oil on canvas, 30%22 x 30%22

Prove It, oil on canvas, 30″ x 30″

Brian Burke, Old Flame, oil on canvas, 24%22 x 30%22

Old Flame, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″

Brian Burke, War Story, oil on canvas, 30%22 x 30%22

War Story, oil on canvas, 30″ x 30″

Brian Burke, Ginger, oil on canvas, 45%22 x 45%22

Ginger, oil on canvas, 45″ x 45″

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