"I see the painter as an instrument, a function, a conduit of the essential unity. My work is a metaphor, never a simile. I make no distinctions between subject and object, inner and outer, maker and viewer. I am continually surprised by what arises on the canvas or the paper. I am not a 'creator'. How can one create what is already there? I am mist, trees, rain, sun brush, canvas, weather, season, figure".
Born in Vancouver in 1923, Jarvis was a passionate young artist who aspired to be a cartoonist as a teenager. He enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art, Now Emily Carr, in 1941 and studied under B.C. Binning and Jack Shadbolt. Upon graduation in 1948, Jarvis won a scholarship, and at the suggestion of Lorne Harris, he travelled to New York to study under the abstract expressionist Hans Hofmann. Jarvis returned to Vancouver in 1950 and became a drawing and painting instructor at the Vancouver School of Art. Jarvis continued painting until he passed away in Sechelt, BC in 2001.
Donald Jarvis' work can be found in and amongst the collections at The National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and many more.