A mas­ter’s class

A for­mer art teacher gets his due. By Jan Pa­tience

The Herald - Arts - - Arts - JIMWYLIE

Brae­mar Gallery 34 Mar Road, Brae­mar 01339 741681 www.jimwylie-artist.co.uk www.brae­mar­gallery.co.uk March 22 un­til May 2 Daily 10am-5pm, closed Tues­day and Wed­nes­day

There are thou­sands of adults who owe a debt of grat­i­tude to the guid­ance of art teach­ers in Scot­land’s sec­ondary schools. Th­ese teach­ers were also paint­ing away in their free time, hon­ing and de­vel­op­ing their skills while also en­cour­ag­ing sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren. Many of their pupils went on to find work in the vis­ual arts busi­ness, while oth­ers were sim­ply brought out of them­selves by the creative at­mos­phere and peo­ple they found in the art rooms.

Hav­ing served more than enough time at the coal­face, there is now a fleet of for­mer art teach­ers, set free from the om­nipresent tar­get cul­ture of mod­ern ed­u­ca­tion, achiev­ing the recog­ni­tion they de­serve. This elite group in­cludes names such as Robert Kelsey, Wil­lie Rodger, Davy Brown, James Spence and his wife Anda Pater­son, Jolomo and Charles MacQueen.

At this point I ought to stand up and be counted as a for­mer pupil of this week’s fea­tured artist, Jim Wylie. As prin­ci­pal teacher of art at Kil­marnock Academy, he was a qui­etly com­mand­ing pres­ence through­out my teenage years, in­still­ing in me a love of draw­ing and paint­ing as well as art his­tory through prac­ti­cal, though never over­bear­ing in­struc­tion. My draw­ing and paint­ing may have fallen by the way­side, but the ground­ing in ap­pre­ci­at­ing the vis­ual arts that Jim Wylie in­stilled in me has lin­gered.

There are sev­eral award-win­ning artists who emerged from his class­room, in­clud­ing He­len Flockhart, Don­ald Clark, Pam Glennie and Ryan Mut­ter, but there are hun­dreds more like me who were qui­etly in­spired dur­ing his 33 years in teach­ing.

What made Jim Wylie a great teacher was the fact that he ac­tu­ally showed you what to do when you were floun­der­ing. Pam Glennie, who was at Kil­marnock Academy un­til 1982, when she left to study at Glas­gow School of Art, re­calls: “Artists should be able to draw and he is very skilled in draw­ing. He can’t help him­self. He has to show you how to do it and look­ing back on my time in ed­u­ca­tion, and that in­cluded art school, Jim was the only per­son who showed me how to draw.

“Look­ing at his work over the years he has tried to get away from form, but he keeps get­ting pulled back to real hard­core draw­ing. Ev­ery­thing is ex­ag­ger­ated in his paint­ings – the colour, tex­ture and form – but there is noth­ing manic about it.”

Wylie was not to the artis­tic man­ner born. He was raised in Pri­esthill in Glas­gow, the son of a nurse and a com­mer­cial trav­eller. He at­tended Satur­day morn­ing art classes at Pais­ley Art Gallery and Mu­seum as well as res­i­den­tial art cour­ses at Cas­tle To­ward near Dunoon, but a ca­reer in art never oc­curred to him.

He re­calls: “I re­mem­ber my art teacher at Shaw­lands Academy ask­ing at the end of fifth year what I was go­ing to do and I replied I thought I’d be a joiner. He told me in no un­cer­tain terms that I would not – I’d go to art school. And that was that.”

Wylie at­tended Glas­gow School of Art from 1961 to 1964, where he stud­ied un­der masters such as William Ar­mour, Ge­off Squires, Sin­clair Thom­son, and Dun­can Shanks. The ground­ing he re­ceived from them in com­po­si­tion and in colour in the true Glas­gow tra­di­tion has re­mained a main­stay of his work.

He left teach­ing in 2001, aged 55, and his work­man­like, ma­ture approach to his craft has led to an in­creas­ing de­mand for his su­perbly de­signed land­scapes.

Next week the sec­ond ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion of his work opens in Brae­mar, fea­tur­ing 35 paint­ings rang­ing in price from £300 to £3200. For this show he has drawn in­spi­ra­tion from pho­to­graphs and pas­tel draw­ings he made around the vil­lage of Brae­mar and the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. He has also used the clean lines and un­usual perspectives gleaned from north­east coastal vil­lages as in­spi­ra­tion for his es­says in stroke­able tex­ture, strik­ingly pure colour, care­fully plot­ted per­spec­tive and skil­fully con­trolled form.

For­mer Kil­marnock Academy teacher Jim Wylie has taught sev­eral award-win­ning artists

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