Alan was a lonely and very shy child of British parents living in a very foreign South Africa. His father was a Cambourne School of Mines graduate in London. His parents lived in Chile, South America where his father worked in the copper mines. In 1934 the Spanish Peso crashed. Alan's dad took his family to South Africa where his qualifications enabled him to make an adequate living working as an assayer on the gold mines.
The family were strangers in the new country and became very anti-social. In 1947, at age 13, Alan was ill and bored in bed. The simple lampshade in his bedroom had a little rural landscape on it. He had been given some inexpensive water colors and proceeded to paint a little 4”x6” piece. This is the earliest surviving work. Alan's mother then instructed him to keep all his paintings in book form. These works have survived to this day.
Watercolors frustrated Alan, so with his mother's encouragement, he collected baby vanilla essence bottles and filled them with as many household oil paint colors he could find. This was before the days of acrylics. Because Alan liked the idea of canvas, he glued unbleached calico (linen) onto a stiff paper. With his (very liquid) household paints which simply soaked into the fabric, Alan produced eight paintings.
Later in 1948 his grandmother joined the family in South Africa. With her she brought a very old set of artist's oil paints in tubes. This was Alan's introduction to the artist's pigments although as artist canvas was initially considered way too expensive, he continued to paint on unbleached calico. As time passed, small pieces of canvas became available.
In October of 1949, Alan won ten shillings (half pound Sterling) for second prize from the South African Women's Institute of Home Crafts for his oil painting “How Dare You Come Near Our Water!”
After matriculation (high school degree/certificate), much to his father's chagrin, Alan refused engineering for a life as an artist. He attended the Michaelis School of Art in Cape Town intended for a BA in Fine Arts course. The rebellious Alan barely attended the school, finding more inspiration in the study of South African artists Gwelo Goodman and Cecil Thornley Stewart. Grandmother Pope came to the rescue in financing a voyage to London and attendance at the Polytechnic School of Art on Regent Street. Alan, however, was so much more advanced in his painting than the average student but did benefit very much from the encouragement and technical instruction of one of the tutors. But again the rebellious Alan found more inspiration outside of the classroom and searched out the great artists in the London National Gallery and the Tate. Works by William Turner and John Constable had an indelible effect on the young artist's career. So strong was the influence that Alan has maintained his own style through the surgence of art opinions. His style today whether labeled “bold realism” in London or “impressionism” in the States, is honored and respected by many artists who attempt to emulate him.
The formal training again lasted only a few months and Alan returned to South Africa. His father purchased a disasterous tiny Fordson van in which Alan traveled and lived. He painted watercolors to start with that sold for an equivalent of five dollars, slowly growing and trading oil paintings for resort accommodations in the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa.
In 1955, Alan had his first professional one man show in the Greenwich Gallery in Johannesburg. Following this, he organized his own one man shows, hiring public venues in major cities in South Africa. His success grew in South Africa with extraordinary recognition among his private collectors.
In 1982, dreaming of a greater success, Alan uprooted his family and came to the USA. It was a challenging endeavor to start in a new country where his work was entirely unheard of. Dealers, however, recognized his potential and he became a Southwestern artist. Since then Alan's work includes many European subjects including Italy's Venice and Monet's Giverny.
Exhibitions with Onessimo Fine Art:
2011- Master Impressionist
2014- Alan Wolton
2016- Living Masters of Impressionism
|View Portfolio of images|