The Art Gallery of Golden is awash with the vibrant themes and colours of artist Martin Olson in “A Brush With Nature.”
It’s hard to believe that throughout his 20-year career with the Canadian Ski Instructors Association (CSIA), Olson’s colleagues had no idea he is a talented and prolific artist.
Olson was born in Vernon, moved to Golden in 1954 and grew up skiing. As CSIA’s western course instructor, then national program director, Olson ensured would-be ski instructors were trained and certified to a high standard.
His long career took him across the country many times, and because training was held primarily in the evening, the artist, who is often described as being self-taught, was often free to explore museums during the day.
“There is no such thing as self-taught,” he says, pointing out he spent time in the streets and museums of Paris when he was younger and continues to travel to see the work of other artists. “Unless you’re living on the moon, it’s pretty hard to avoid the teachings of the masters when you see them.”
Following his retirement in 2000, Olson had more time to paint and one day, alerted by a friend, went along to an estate sale where there was a wealth of painting materials.
“I was pawing through this stuff looking for frames and buying the paintings with the idea to paint over them or throw them out,” he says. “When I got home, I thought to myself, they look a lot like the schlock I turn out – and maybe a bit better.”
Olson began attending many workshops over the years, with accomplished artists such as Randy Hayashi and internationally recognized artists John Poon and Kevin McPherson. Training was in representational art in the studio as well as outdoors on location in both oils and acrylics.
“You can’t paint like someone else, the painting is just somewhere in you,” he says, noting he paints primarily landscapes and wildlife. “I like dabbling in portraits but don’t really know what I’m doing.”
Upstairs and down, Olson’s house is filled with his paintings, but he says it’s hard to have interest in them when they are finished. When he has seen enough of one or is bored with it, he simply paints over it.
“It’s my hobby; some people like to read, I like to draw and paint,” he says, calling it a relaxing diversion that suspends time. “It’s the colour that appeals.”
Olson describes one late afternoon drive along the road when he noticed the mountains cast in the shade were blue while those in the glow of the setting sun were orange.
“They’re complementary colours and it was very striking,” he says, noting the scene is still vivid in his mind and parts of it at least will make their way into a future painting.
Olson prefers to use acrylic paints with their vivid colours when he is working indoors and oil paint when he paints outdoors because it doesn’t dry as quickly as acrylics.
“If Michelangelo had acrylics he would have used them,” he says, pointing out he rides his bike every morning and prefers to paint in the afternoon and evening and has set himself a goal.
“I’d like to produce a painting that lasts after me, not because I give it to someone, but someone who can’t bear to let it go because it’s good.”
Being good enough is seemingly not an issue with the work in his current exhibition at the art gallery as gallery officials had to as for more works to exhibit as six had already sold within a few days of the opening.
The Art Gallery of Golden is located at 516 9th Ave N. Hours of operation are 10:30 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on statutory holidays, summer Sundays and Sundays in December.
Call 250-344-6186 for more information.