Brian Smith: Drawn to the Human Form

By Lisa Orgler in Featured Artists > Other Mediums

Brian Smith is an artist because the human form inspires him. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art on a full scholarship, and for almost 30 years he was a successful graphic designer.

Parallel to his design career, however, Brian also practiced fine art—focusing on classical drawing and painting of the figure. It’s clear that he excels in several artistic mediums, including pastel, charcoal, paint, and mixed-media, but it is always the human figure that unifies his work.

The image below is one of the first that caught my eye. It’s a straightforward composition of five women (or one woman drawn five times) in charcoal.


I love that four of the figures are standing upright, while one is leaning toward the viewer in a playful pose. She practically calls for attention just by how she’s standing, which makes her the focal point of the drawing.

Interestingly, the black bands both conceal and add to the composition—in essence, creating two unifying horizontal lines that link all of the figures together.

In this next drawing, Brian uses a combination of charcoal and gouache. His masterful technique of combining soft shading with hard lines almost gives the impression of a manipulated photograph.


The light orange background also helps pop the beautiful black and white figure forward. Whimsical as the color and composition may be, Brian’s human forms are always perfectly proportioned and full of expression.

In this last painting—a mixed-media piece on birch plywood—we can also see a more abstract side to his work:


In a way, it’s a beautiful challenge to our traditional ideas of the human figure.

I highly encourage you to visit Brian’s website at and explore his many other figurative works in a multitude of mediums.


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