Test this challenge at the Yarmouth County Museum & Archives on Collins Street, where you’ll find his exhibit until the end of June.
You won’t find pastoral scenes, well, ok, maybe one or two, but there are many more that flex the mind. Porter says they all reflect a state of his mind at any given point.
“Obviously there’s a lot of conflict in my psyche. I probably think too much,” he said.
“They express how I’m thinking, feeling. I’m a cowboy, a pirate, a woman, the snowman, the loner, the magician or the sorcerer, an indian, going after the devil, the squirrel, Icarus…”
Growing up in town, Porter was never intrigued by boats and seascapes or painting the local environment.
“I was just as much if not more influenced by Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Howdy Doody, the Lone Ranger, the Roy Rogers, all that stuff.”
Nowadays, this artist doesn’t frame his work, or use canvas. He prefers instead to settle down on his couch and sketch on his lap, working with pen and ink and watercolour.
“I like the immediacy. The canvas is a little more ambitious. Maybe it’s a more humble approach. I mean you can certainly work through a lot of ideas on that scale. Look how many images are there, he gestures towards many small sketches pinned up in the shape of a large heart.
They trigger a variety of emotions: fascination, discomfort, admiration, puzzlement.
“They’re for thinking. They’re content. I like art that has an element of mystery to it. For me, mystery’s part of the package. It should be anyway,” he said.
He describes his artwork as a visual diary of his state of mind at any given time.
Up until his mid-forties he used to paint his dreams. But then the dreams stopped. He doesn’t know why but has a few theories.
“You’re taking something from the unknown that’s magical, a God-given gift - well, to turn it into money seems like a cheap use of it. That crossed my mind,” he said.
Porter went through a period of making figurines as subject matter and then started buying them at yard sales, Frenchys and the dollar store for that purpose. He’s also drawn cowboys from movies, pausing the show to sketch off the screen.
More about artist Brian Porter
Porter studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from 1966-1970. He has participated in group exhibitions across Canada and Europe, and in numerous solo exhibitions in Nova Scotia.
He was the subject of a National Film Board documentary in 1976. In 1981, a documentary of his work was produced by CBC television.
Awards include: 1996-1998 Art Foundation Award New York Study Program; 1971, 1974, 1983 Canada Council.