About the Artist
[In July of 2012, multi-award winning Pacifica-based writer Jean Bartlett interviewed Al Olsen for the Pacifica Tribune. The following excerpt is from that article, which was titled, "Artist Al Olson's Magical Teaching Brush." It is used here with permission.]
Al Olson, technically masterful and wonderfully pop-arty, has been sharing his passion for art and empowering artists at Daly City’s Doelger Senior Center since 2017 where his class offerings have included: Art Appreciation; Drawing Comprehension; Intro to Art: The Basics; Joy of Painting; Multi Media Art including Collage; and Portrait Process. The native San Franciscan and long-time Pacifican has always done art. He won his first art contest when he was 7. His Easter picture, drawn in colored pencils, won out above all the other entrants for the San Francisco Examiner’s Easter art competition.
“I started with color pencil and water colors when I was six years old,” Olson said. “My father was my inspiration. And I am still doing color pencil and water colors at age 71!” Olson’s dad grew up on a farm in North Dakota and he was quite artistic. Whenever the family headed to “Dad’s” childhood home for vacations, Al would sit on his father’s knee while his father sketched the farm animals. His dad was always very encouraging of his son’s art, and Al headed off and studied art at American River College and San Francisco State University.
All of Al’s working life has been about art. He worked in an independent youth program in Daly City teaching art. He worked for the Salvation Army Mission Center as an Activity Director for the youth and he also worked in their senior program and taught senior citizens, and children, art. Al developed programs for libraries, schools, and Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs. For many years he was the Activity Director at the Linda Mar Skilled Nursing Facility.
“I would define my art as fantasy painting, with elements of reality, impressionism and surrealism,” the artist said. “My favorite media is good old charcoal, but I also do work in water colors, acrylic, oil, pastels, color pencils and I do hand sculpting in clay.”
Olson has a philosophy on creativity. “I believe there is a Great Creator,” Olson said, “who created us. And we are all little creators, meaning that we all have within in us the ability to create. Every single human being is some type of artist. I believe if people actually acknowledged that they were creators, if they stood up to what they own in their soul, there would be peace in this world.”