Doug Kirton

About the Artist

Doug Kirton was born in London, Ontario, in 1955. Attracted by its reputation as one of the top schools in North America for the study of  contemporaryCurrent, belonging to the same period of time. Usually referring to our present time, but can refer to being current with any specified time. (Artlex.com)  art, particularly conceptual art, he attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design after high school. “I had also read about the College’s remarkable  visiting artistA visiting artist is an artist hired by (usually) a gallery or educational institution to come for a period of time and teach, give workshops, and engage in discourse about her/his work, and around art in general.  program – and sure enough I did meet and learn from some of the most progressive artists of the time, including Dan Graham, Vito Acconci, Robert Frank, Paterson Ewen, among many others,” Kirton recalls. (personal correspondence from the artist, February 5, 2008).

Kirton graduated from the College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1978. He spent a year as an apprentice Exhibitions Officer at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax before moving to Toronto to work in the Technical Services area at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

“Being in Toronto had a significant effect on my work,” Kirton writes. “I devoted all of my free time to  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  and drawing, going to exhibitions and visiting artist-run centres, meeting some of the most interesting and creative people on the scene.” (personal correspondence, February 5, 2008)

Between 1987 and 1992 Kirton was a sessional lecturer at the University of Guelph and the University of Ottawa, which reinforced his desire to teach. He entered the newly-established Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Guelph, and received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1994. Since 2001 Kirton has taught painting,  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  and  digitalA system of representing images or objects through numbers. These numbers can then be re-interpreted by another digital system to generate light and sound.  imaging at the University of Waterloo.

Digital photography is an important tool in Kirton’s artistic practice. In an  Artist StatementA commentary by an artist on an artwork, and exhibition, belief system, or any other topic.  for a 2007 exhibition Kirton described his method of working in this way: “For convenience and immediacy I capture the compelling moment with a  cameraIn photography, a tool for producing photographs, having a lightproof enclosure with an aperture and a shuttered lens through which the image of an object is focused and recorded on a photosensitive film or plate. In video, a device that receives the primary image on a light-sensitive cathode tube and transforms it into electrical impulses. (Artlex.com) Find out about 35-mm cameras at Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/135_film  and work from selected pictures later. While the photographs usually provide a good approximation of what the finished  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  will look like, they are never perfect – I try for that in the studio, where interpretation and invention go into the  compositionArrangements of elements in a work of art.  and process of painting. I often use  digitalA system of representing images or objects through numbers. These numbers can then be re-interpreted by another digital system to generate light and sound.  imaging software to visualize effects that I may not have considered otherwise – similar to how a writer might use a thesaurus to suggest more colourful wording.” (Kirton in Nixon, 2007)

Besides his work in the MacKenzie Art Gallery collection, Kirton’s work is also represented at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and the Shanghai Art Museum in China. He was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2002.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning