Artist intent on painting the bigger picture
Okotoks: Glynn Anderson uses art in his work with troubled youth
Wednesday, Feb 02, 2011 10:08 am
Capturing a landscape is something artist Glynn Anderson does in his painting. Changing the landscape is something he tries to do in the lives of children.
Anderson, who was born in Canada but raised in England since age nine, has a long tradition of combining his love of art with his role with children dealing with complex behavioural needs as a teacher at the Stampede Ranch for Kids west of Longview.
He graduated from art college in Wales in the mid-80s then spent five years in England teaching art to high school students before shifting his educational focus.
“I moved into working with children with behavioural problems, particularly kids who were in residential care provided by social services,” he said. “I began to bring my arts skills into play there, particularly to encourage the kids with community projects.”
Anderson found early on a means of artistic expression could be invaluable in boosting the self-esteem of a child with feelings of loneliness.
“One of the things about this particular group of young people is they’re quite segregated from society in a way,” he said. “They find it difficult to integrate because of the traumatic past most of them have had. So I used to do as many projects as I could which involved art in the community. I am talking about things like murals and art work that could be displayed at the county hall.”
After nearly a decade and a half working with children in the East Sussex county of England, Anderson moved his family to Okotoks about five years ago. While living here he became aware of a facility where he could renew his work with children in need of support.
“I found the Stampede Ranch for Kids which instantly seemed like quite an ideal place for me,” he said. “What they did was similar to the special provisions work I did in England but it was also fairly unique in that the work was done in a ranch setting in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.”
The ranch is located 23 kilometres west of Longview on Highway 543. Having rediscovered his personal love of painting in recent years, Anderson has been grateful for his commute to and from the ranch. His commute, as well as other drives in the Foothills, have taken him to places crying out to be captured on canvas.
His painting “Vantage Point”, which has been featured in the Altitude Art Gallery in Okotoks, originated in a unique local area.
“That one was painted over on Volcano Ridge which is a little bit past Turner Valley,” Anderson said. “It’s a beautiful spot.”
As a teacher at the Stampede Ranch Anderson has again been able to use art as a valuable tool for inspiring students.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve had a 15-year-old-boy who went into a lot of depth on a painting I was tutoring him on,” the artist explained. “It’s quite a bold thing to commit to putting something down on paper which other people could look at and criticize. Some of the young people I have with low self-esteem find it very hard to do it at first. But this one young person in particular has managed to move past that and he was really committed to his piece of work.”
Anderson said the youth has produced a beautiful painting — way above the level of proficiency the teen artist initially thought he could produce.
As long as Anderson continues to sees the students building confidence through the introduction of art, he is going to give his students a brush, some paint and the opportunity to express themselves whenever possible.