This water colour painting by Harold Allanson called Joy Riding is part of an exhibit at TOSH showing the working life on a ranches in B.C. — Adam Kveton Photo

B.C. ranch life featured in artist’s Parksville exhibit

Retired trucker of 35 years says paint what you know — working life

As a trucker of more than 35 years, who hauled every manner of item across much of North America, Harold Allanson sees a disconnect between consumers in cities, towns and suburban neighbourhoods, and those who ranch, fish and farm.

Now retired and focusing on painting after a lifetime of artistic interest, Allanson’s work tends to spotlight the working life of those people.

The Crofton-based artist is exhibiting watercolour work at TOSH until April 14, which depicts ranch life in B.C.

“I just like to portray it in a true sense,” he said of working life. “In today’s world, so many people just live in large cities or big suburban areas, and they are really not aware of what goes on outside of that, how their groceries came overnight or the beef or the pork or whatever is in the grocery store, where it really came from,” said Allanson.

“There’s all kinds of people out there doing these jobs, and to me, it’s just an interest. It’s where I came from. It’s what I know, and I guess in that sense, it’s what I like to portray.”

Allanson has been painting exclusively in watercolour for the last 20 years since retiring. Finally finding time to indulge in his painting interests from an earlier time, Allanson went to a class that happened to be on watercolours. “I’ve just kind of stayed with it,” he said.

Allanson’s style is highly detailed, which can surprise people when they find out the work is done in watercolour. Though he said he would have liked to have painted more loosely, his tendency towards fine detail has settled in.

His process includes taking plenty of photos, using individual shots to inform details of his painted work, or to replace subjects with better ones in other photos.

Allanson said his ranch work — the pieces in his exhibit are from the last five or six years — came through an old friend who was still cowboying in the Interior. Having grown up near ranches and spending time on them, Allanson was familiar with it, and began visiting his friend, going along on his work day.

Gradually, he met more and more cowboys and went out with them on their work day.

“They’ve always welcomed me,” said Allanson. “I’m almost 76 now, so they just treat me like a grandpa… I don’t interfere with what they’re doing. Sometimes I help out a bit, and I just take photographs.

“If they are willing to be part of a painting, well then I always say anybody who’s in my paintings, I will send them a small print afterwards… as a token of appreciation for letting me do what I do, and in doing so it often leaves the door open to return sometime in the future.”

Allanson’s work remains at TOSH (The Old School House Arts Centre at 122 Fern Rd. West in Qualicum Beach) until April 14.

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