Ion Brown began painting for an enjoyable hobby rather than as a professional career, however his early success combined with his love of the painting process led him to discard engraving and continue painting on a fulltime basis. Beginning with still lifes, Ion became inspired by the local landscape and his paintings increasingly became focused on his surroundings, which now comprise the majority of his oeuvre. Ion currently exhibits on an annual basis while his wife runs the engraving business.
From 1990 to 2001, Ion Brown was the official New Zealand Army Artist, during which time he worked in both Malaysia (1989) and Gallipoli (1990). He most recently visited Crete with the official party marking the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete, while three of his works were presented to the Government of Turkey.
In 2001, Brown painted an expressive, dynamic and vivid portrayal of the battle of Chunuk Bair, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence. The Battle of Chunuk Blair now hangs in the foyer of Parliament House accompanied by a roll of honour, which commemorates the five MPs who were killed in the battle during World War Two. The painting serves both as a tribute to the men who fought in the war, while simultaneously reminding people of the horror, futility and detrimental effects of war.
In contrast to these morbid images of military fighting and fatalities, Brown’s most recent works focus on comparatively peaceful and idyllic settings in and around New Zealand, such as Takapuna Beach, Lake Taupo and Napier. His works reveal a consistent influence of the nineteenth century impressionists from Britain and France, such as Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot, seen in his lively canvases filled with sparkling colour and executed with rich, tactile brushstrokes. Brown successfully captures and distills both light and atmosphere, whilst accurately portraying the contours of the surrounding landscape to produce delightful and attractive compositions.