After working as a welder, paint sprayer and army medic, Andy Wooldridge decided in his late 20s to take a chance on being an artist and has made his living as a full time painter ever since.
A veteran of the solo exhibition – his first was in 1978 in Jaffa, Israel – Wooldridge says he enjoys the chance to chat to people, as it offers a break from the often solitary existence of painting.
“I think it’s marvellous,” he says, and the public clearly enjoy it as well. At the TD Art Gallery Paint-In, Wooldridge chatted with dozens of people, answering questions about his particular style, and kept one fellow chuckling through their entire conversation.
Over the last few decades, he’s painted and drawn inspiration from all over the world, including Australia, England, Papua New Guinea, Israel and throughout Vancouver Island, and has had more than two dozen solo shows.
Wooldridge, who’s lived in Oak Bay for the last 15 years, describes his work as a blend between the Italian metaphysical paintings and hard-edged precisionists of the 1920s and ‘30s.
“It’s my own hybridization of those two movements,” he says. And indeed, the influence of both styles is clear in his work, but the vaguely threatening undertone so common in the short-lived metaphysical style is replaced with an appreciation for simplicity and vivid colours.
“It’s very simple, my stuff,” says Wooldridge. “It’s theatre, really. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Though he can and does occasionally work in acrylic or watercolour, his favourite medium by far is oil.
“With acrylic, once it’s dry, it’s dead. With il, as soon as you touch the brush to the canvas, there’s an immediate interaction between the colours. It’s the nicest medium. It’s sensual,” he says. “And God’s an oil painter, isn’t he?” he adds with a smile.
This fall he’ll be back on familiar ground with a show opening Nov. 1 at the Winchester Gallery, 2260 Oak Bay Ave. Wooldridge has shown at the Winchester since 1985, and is working on a new series of paintings for the gallery, something that he enjoys just as much now as when he started out.
It’s not every artist that makes such a successful career from such a young age, and Wooldridge is clearly aware of his good fortune.
“It’s been very good to me, painting,” he says.