Vern Simpson remembers his first drawings, sketched on newsprint notepads held on the dashboard of his father’s ’39 Ford, somewhere along the shores of Kootenay Lake on a road trip in Eastern British Columbia. He hadn’t yet started school.
A passion for the landscape started early, in the desert conditions of the Okanagan, surrounded by sagebrush and orchards. University of British Columbia, studies in geography and painting, mentored by Gordon Smith who directed him towards the culturally altered landscape. The focus of his work continues today: the four elements interacting, always with traces, however subtle of man’s impact on the environment.
His approach is expressionist, abstracted, gestural, with a notable use of colour. Seldom representational or anecdotal, mostly large canvases in oil or acrylic find walls in hotel lobbies, public spaces, offices, and of course private collectors, not only in Western Canada and the U.S. but throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The qualities that are so attractive in our region seem to have universal appeal.
After travels in Europe, Simpson won a scholarship to Instituto Allende in Mexico, painting a large historic mural for his Masters degree. Living and painting in Vancouver, encroaching deafeness in the ’80’s forced an end to teaching–and a concentration full-time on painting. 17 years on South Pender Island ended with a return to the Lower Mainland where he lives with his wife and is building a new studio, close to White Rock. Until completion, he has joined the commute downtown, where he frequently passes Gassy Jack, his Gastown statue.
Since his return, he speaks of his current paintings as a “Vision Quest of rediscovery”, with many of the series titles starting with the phrase–Views Glimpsed.
Vern Simpson exhibits at ART Works, Vancouver, and other major galleries in the Pacific Northwest and Alberta, and is represented by Denise Bezanson.