Robert Wyland delivers a Carmel demo to help celebrate a half-century of prolific painting.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Marine artist Wyland’s muse – the ocean – is vast. So are his efforts.
His murals bring to life whales that are multiple stories high. His art reaches hundreds of thousands of collectors. His outreach foundation has conducted events for over 50 million people in the name of ocean conservancy.
Robert Wyland – known best by his last name alone – doesn’t do small. He will do a live painting in his Carmel gallery this weekend as part of a tour celebrating 32 years of galleries and 50 years of painting. His demonstrations will include an entire oil painting as well as black-and-white Chinese and Japanese brush painting.
“I’ll show you how to do the painting so you don’t have to buy them,” Wyland says with a laugh. “It’s cheaper.”
The events are also a chance for him to unveil some of his newest works to collectors, who Wyland says number at least 800,000 across all 50 states.
For Wyland, a life filled with art is all he’s known. He says his half-century mark of work dates back to his “first paintings of dinosaurs as a kid.”
“Wyland’s been doing this since he was very young,” local gallery owner Lenny Shapiro says. “His first ‘Whaling Wall’ [life-size mural] was painted 30 years ago.”
Now, at 53, Wyland is the official U.S. Olympic artist – creating art to celebrate the 2010 Vancouver Games – and was invited by the National Wildlife Federation to view the effects of the Gulf oil spill and help spread awareness of the situation. He’s also working on a new collaboration with Disney called “Nemo’s World,” a range of co-branded products for international distribution through galleries and Disney Stores including limited edition giclée prints, lithographs, figurines and jewelry.
Wyland has earned his share of artistic awards, but says he is especially excited about his recent induction into the Diving Hall of Fame – recognition that he called “a big honor,” especially given the fact that he ranks among the youngest members ever brought on. He credits his diving experience as the inspiration for much of his art, as he explores various underwater areas, then channels his visions into paintings and sculptures. No artist-as-a-recluse here.
“I actually live it,” he says. “I go out into nature and get inspired.”
Citing ocean videographer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau as a personal hero, Wyland believes that his art can inspire people to care about protecting ocean life.
“Art can go deeper to change opinions,” he says.
Wyland hopes art can shape public awareness about ocean conservancy, especially in the wake of events like the Gulf oil spill, which he called “worse than anyone can imagine” after seeing it in person.
“The oil companies don’t own the waters of America, the citizens do,” he said. “It should have never happened, and it’s going to take a lot of work from BP and the government to fix it and to ensure it never happens again.”
His Whaling Walls, which appear in 100 locations around the world and span entire sides of buildings, are part of a project that took 27 years to complete, including one mural in Long Beach listed as the largest mural in the world: 1,280 by 105 feet. His last wall was finished in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics.
His next project is of similar scope – 100 art sculptures with actual-size marine animals in public spaces. He’s already unveiled one. As he puts it, “only 99 left.”