Harold Allanson has always possessed a natural artistic ability, but never fully explored those talents until he took early retirement 20 years ago.
Allanson, 76, and now living in Crofton, was constantly on the road as a trucker from a young age and didn’t have time to take what he learned from attending art school in Chicago for a year and a half to a higher level.
Born in Vancouver and raised in Quesnel, Allanson evolved into trucking – “logging, general freight, tanker and everything you can think of,” he said.
Allanson was both an owner-operator and a company driver at various stages and, when someone came along and wanted to buy him out, the offer proved too hard for him to resist at the age of 56.
He had lived in Port Moody whenever not on the road from 1975-1998 and then moved to Gabriola Island to a nice seven-acre piece of property with his wife for the last 20 years before they decided it was time to downsize.
“My body wouldn’t stand for the heavier work,” noted Allanson.
He finally bought a wood splitter on Gabriola because supplying wood for the fire was a constant chore six months of the year.
“We’ve got to make a change,” Allanson said he finally decided at that point.
They looked around for a place to relocate and eventually decided on a condo at the Mews in Crofton, with a ground floor space for Allanson to set up an art studio.
“Nanaimo’s too busy for us and we found this place advertised a little over a year ago,” he explained.
They’re still getting settled into their new environment which has a little less room to roam than their accustomed norm.
“We’ve been slow getting going,” conceded Allanson. “This space here is taking a long time to develop. All the trades are busy with bigger jobs.”
For now, it’s a great place for Allanson to escape and paint. Eventually, he hopes to open it up to some art classes.
“It’s a working space more for me than a gallery,” he indicated.
Allanson’s watercolours are representative of his life experiences and observations. He often depicts working friends, people he’s met, their lives and their jobs.
The ranch lands of the interior and the people he knows living that lifestyle provide a special focus for his paintings.
The Nicola Valley, Douglas Lake and Alkali Lake are among the locations he has visited, first to photograph and then to transform into paintings. “You take what you can get and try to get enough shots to put it together,” he explained.
“I just go up and hang out with guys for a day or two when they’re branding or gathering (cattle).”
Allanson’s work expresses strong composition with use of colour and light that’s generally not seen in most watercolour paintings. He paints for his personal enjoyment and in doing so hopes others viewing his work will find pleasure as well.
Allanson remembers as a kid how he always liked to draw. “My parents thought I should do something more than drive a truck,” he said.
That’s how he wound up at art school, but still went ahead into his long tenure as a trucker. But those art skills never left him and provide so much satisfaction now as a way of spending time.
Allanson has won numerous awards and entered paintings in many shows since concentrating on his art.
“If you’re really interested, it never ends being a learning process,” he indicated. “That’s what keeps it interesting.”
Boats are also a passion as a subject, but Allanson covers many areas of interest to himself and others.
“I’ll paint anything,” he noted. “If I see something and I like it and it catches my eye, I’ll take some photographs and often it turns into a painting.”