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Scottish-born artist featured at upcoming show
The Osoyoos Art Gallery is breaking with its usual practice of featuring local talent when it opens an exhibition next week showing the work of world-renowned artist Alan Wylie.
Scottish-born Wylie, who currently lives in Fort Langley, B.C., acknowledges that he has no previous connections with Osoyoos and he’s never even been here.
But visitors to Wylie’s show, which opens with a reception Oct. 11, will be treated to a feast of subject matter and media. Wylie’s work spans the gamut from small watercolours to acrylics to larger murals.
“Everything is paintable,” said Wylie, whose work includes landscapes, cityscapes and people. His realist style puts heavy emphasis on light.
“Strong light creates very dramatic shadowing that adds drama to your paintings,” said Wylie. “Sometimes soft light works as well, but I really do like the use of very strong light.”
Wylie says the show came about when he was asked a couple years ago to give a workshop in Osoyoos, and it was suggested he might want to show in the gallery at the same time.
The workshop classes scheduled for Oct. 12 and 13 are already full, but there is a waiting list. The workshop highlights a technique called “grisaille,” which involves painting in a monochrome or nearly monochrome grey. Colour glazing layers may be added on top.
In his own work, Wylie says he likes to paint people, especially in the watercolours. He also paints landscapes and city scenes from his travels to such countries as Spain, France, Scotland and England, the Bahamas and Mexico.
Some paintings feature snowy scenes, but Wylie admits he’s not a snow lover and he moved to B.C. from Halifax in part to get away from the snow.
“I love the snow to paint, and then it can go away,” he says.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1938, Wylie became interested in painting while at high school around age 14. Several classmates were similarly inspired, and they all went on to art school, something that was almost unheard of.
When he started out as a painter, he moved to a farm community outside Glasgow. The only place for his studio was an old chicken coop at the back of the property he rented.
In 1967, Wylie came to Halifax, Nova Scotia, but one winter in the 1970s he came to Vancouver to show in an exhibition. Vancouver was warm, he left the snow behind in Halifax and the show sold out.
“I thought what on earth am I doing [in Halifax],” he said. “Seven years of shivering in snow was enough for me.”
After living in several other places on the Lower Mainland, he settled in Fort Langley 26 years ago, where he lives with his artist wife Janice Robertson.
Wylie says he typically works from photographs, whether from shoeboxes full of prints, from slides or from digital photos that he projects onto an eight-foot screen – “just like sitting in my room looking out the window.”
The successful artist has had about 75 solo exhibitions, mostly around North America, but his work has appeared throughout the world.
The pieces he’ll show in Osoyoos will be a mixed bag of whatever work he can pull together, he says, and will present a cross-section of his work.
The show runs from Oct. 12 to Nov. 9. The gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays and there is no admission charge.
The opening reception is Friday, Oct. 11 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.