Allan Paterson's sweet works immediately arrested our attention and made us want to get to know him. We found that, for his prolific art career, he is a meek soul. We're excited to exhibit his pieces beginning June 27. Allan's lines fall in pleasant places -- come see.
Elizabeth's Art Gallery: Where are you from?
Allan Paterson: Born in Montreal; my parents moved to Oakville so I ended up there as a teenager.
E: Have you always been a painter?
AP: Nothing much to explain: I've always loved painting and drawing and art and dabbled in it. I went to The American Academy of Art in Chicago for a year to get a portfolio, came back and got a job with Bata Shoe Company for about three years.
E: Were you able to use your creativity?
AP: It wasn't very creative at all: I did Christmas cards for them and that kind of thing. It was my first job. Then I ended up at Display Arts, where we sold artwork for stores to use as window backdrops. I worked there for about eight years.
E: Did you have people telling you what to do?
AP: Not really. We would have to do a portfolio for each season. The boss would come to each artist and tell us what he wanted, or we would do what we wanted to do. People would look through the portfolio and choose art for their windows.
E: How was the art handled at that point?
AP: The original piece would be blown up to 8 feet, the black-and-white image would be mass-produced and pasted on foam-core, and then the women would hand-tint the panels.
E: What was that like for you?
AP: It was wonderful because I drew all day. I created. You couldn't get a better job than that, as far as I was concerned.
E: Did you find yourself fitting your art to trends?
AP: Yes, things I would see that I liked. I remember macramé being in -- I painted some of that one summer. That rather dates me.
Then I opened up a store with my partner. I got into tollware then, because we were selling pine furniture. I did tinware and would sell that in the store.
E: Was that enough for you?
AP: Not really. I also got into trompe l'oeil and did several jobs for friends -- cupboards and such.
E: What came next?
AP: We wanted to leave the city and ended up in Wingham. My partner went on to be a salesman on the road; I retired. I had been diagnosed with MS in 1985. I mention it to help people who have MS know that life does go on.
E: What mediums do you work in?
AP: Watercolour and acrylic.
E: What do you like about them?
AP: I like the freedom and flexibility of watercolour; I like acrylic because you can work it over. I do both all the time.
E: Your acrylics are SO colourful.
AP: I'm into negative background painting. I really enjoy it. You paint the whole canvas with bright colours and nothing in mind. All you've got is shapes; you start filling in the background and bringing out the pattern, the design, from there.
E: What are you saying through your art?
AP: ...What am I saying? I'm just enjoying it. I've had someone ask me what to do, and I said, "Just have fun, and enjoy it, and keep painting, and not worry if it's going to be liked. You've got to like it, and that will come out in the work."
E: What do people like about your art?
AP: I do so many things, it's difficult to know. People like different things. You can fill it in.
E: Okay. First it's the riot of colour, then the beautiful subjects and the textural details. And when you paint women and children, it's in simplified forms -- almost nymphlike.
How do you allow yourself to paint the wrong colours?
AP: Because I put the colour on the canvas first, and I'm not thinking about it. I pull the painting from the canvas. My last negative painting was wild turkeys. I could see trees and thought, "I'd like to paint a turkey."
Sometimes I'll go to the Internet and type in "wild turkey", but I do have a turkey, some chickens and a pony. I've photographed and painted a lot of them. I often go by my photography.
I'm trying to loosen up in my painting. I think it's starting to work.
E: Is that why you do small-scale pieces -- because you include so much detail?
AP: It's because of my lack of room: my so-called studio is a corner of the dining room.
E: Well, it works.
Where else are you exhibiting?
AP: I'm not. I don't get out very much.
E: What do you see for the future of your art?
AP: Heavens! I'm just gonna keep painting and enjoying it as long as I can. I paint every day, non-stop. That's my life, besides looking after the animals.
I love where I am. I love the peace and the animals and the countryside. I'm very thankful for that and to be doing what I enjoy.