Brian Middleton revolutionizes the art world in Qualicum Beach

Brian Middleton is exhibiting his iPad Paintings at the Old School House Arts Centre from June 25 to July 13. - Lissa Alexander Photo
Brian Middleton is exhibiting his iPad Paintings at the Old School House Arts Centre from June 25 to July 13.
— image credit: Lissa Alexander Photo

Brian Middleton believes that painting virtually on iPads is going to revolutionize the way art is made around the world.

“Imagine being able to go to an art store and buy every colour of red and blue and yellow that you can image, that you have an unlimited budget to buy all of those paints... well, I get that immediately,” he said. “I get paints that don’t dry out — I can paint in the dark because I don’t need a light source in the room to mix my colours and the most important thing to me is the process. Because for the first time in art history, an artist is able to observe their own process.”

Middleton is exhibiting his iPad Paintings at the Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach from June 25 through July 13, with an opening reception on June 25 at 7 p.m.

Middleton is originally from Ontario and has lived in B.C. for a decade. In his twenties he was studying French in Southern France to complete a degree in teaching, when he fell in love with the paintings in European art galleries. That inspired him to start drawing and when he returned to Canada he spent a year putting together a portfolio to apply to the Ontario College of Art. At the age of 24 he was accepted and he has now been painting for 40 years.

Throughout the years Middleton has painted geometric abstract art, landscapes and botanical pieces, among other subjects. He taught art and French in Guelph, Ontario for 25 years while continuing to exhibit his work successfully.

But about 18 months ago everything changed and he stopped painting with brushes.

A friend was visiting from Ontario and brought along an iPad.

“She had a drawing program and she said ‘you might have fun with this’ — well she didn’t even get it back, at the end of the week she said I needed to have an iPad or a Tablet.”

Middleton said it was the infinite palate that drew him in, and he soon discovered that he was pretty good at drawing designs on the screen with his finger.

“An app is really an application of skills that you know already, so I had 40 years of skills built up,” he said.

Whereas Middleton used to paint in his well-lit studio, he can now paint anywhere at anytime with his iPad. He coined the term virtual impressionism for his work and he has also been collaborating with professionals at the new Digital Media Studio in Qualicum Beach. They have introduced him to new tools being used in other fields that can be usual for visual artists, he said.

In November last year some of Middleton’s iPad work was published in a book in New York called International Contemporary Artists Volume 7.

Each of Middleton’s iPad Paintings featured at TOSH have taken about five hours to edit and were then printed on paper backed by metal which collects the light, he said. The print is then fused between two sheets of plexiglass and they hang freely on the wall without any frame.

In this way the surface of the print is reflecting the process itself, Middleton said, imitating the iPad or Tablet screen.

Middleton has exported videos of his painting process and these will be playing on a large screen throughout the exhibition at TOSH.

iPad painting is gaining ground around the world, Middleton said, and as he continues to improve his technique, new technology and tools also become available. Although what he has created so far is quite different than what people are used to, he has more innovative ideas.

“People are going to go ‘What is that?’ and that’s the step I’m taking now, but the next step may be something even more revolutionary,” he said.

To view some of Middleton’s work and read more about him, visit

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