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Lifelike watercolours grace Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre

Harold Allanson’s show on display at the MAC until Dec. 1
Emily Vance photo - The painting Joy Riding is on display at the McMillan Arts Centre as part of Harold Allanson’s display. The show runs until Dec. 1.

Harold Allanson’s vivid, lifelike watercolours pop off the walls of the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville. The Cowichan-based painter is displaying his works there until Dec. 1.

The works are unusually realistic for watercolour, and one almost has to double check the cards mounted beneath each painting to confirm that indeed is the medium.

“His realistic watercolours are representative of his life experiences and observations, often depicting working friends, people he’s met, their lives and their jobs,” reads Allanson’s artist statement.

“The west coast of B.C. where he lives, the ranch lands of the interior where he grew up, and those 35 years spent as a long-haul trucker provides him with a first hand knowledge for his paintings.”

Indeed, the majority of the exhibit is made up of striking depictions of ranch life. The bold, rich colours, well-arranged composition and variance of light all combine for great effect.

READ MORE: Painting and collage brightens space at Parksville’s MAC

Joy Riding is a favourite, making great use of depth of field to invoke the sense of wonder and freedom of riding a horse. Great depth of emotion is conveyed through all faces depicted in the paintings – the gruff expressions of these real-life cowboys mingle with the joy of working outdoors.

The sharpness of lines on Loading looks more like a photograph than a watercolour rendition of two ranch-hands loading cattle.

Ravens Over Elk Falls brings the viewer into a cooler, more contemplative state, high up above the falls where one can almost feel the mist coming off the water that must rush below. Wandering through the gallery, one can hear the murmurs of on-lookers marvelling that the paintings are indeed, watercolours and not photographs. Allanson’s work can be viewed at the MAC from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays until Dec. 1.

To find out more about his work, visit

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