Williams Lake has a new art gallery featuring bright, bold, large oil paintings.
Owner Mark Kopp grew up in the lakecity and has been an artist throughout his 27-year-career as a paramedic with B.C. Emergency Health Services.
He had a soft opening of the gallery on Monday, June 15, which is located next to Unlimited Medical Services Inc. which is owned by his spouse Kendra Rolston.
Now that Kopp is retired from the ambulance service, he is devoting more time to creating art and excited to be opening the gallery.
After high school he began as a commercial artist working for a local business, gradually starting his own business — MK Art Design.
Eventually he got into oil painting and realized it was the medium he should have been doing all along.
“It’s a loose, fast feel as you can see. It gives it a fluid feel, gives it a thick application feel, and I love the smell of the oil, the way the oil moves and mixes and how it stays wet if I do want to walk away and come back,” Kopp said.
Most of his mixing is done on the canvas.
Pointing to a painting featuring a clay wine decanter with a matching wine glass beside it he emphasized the varying hues of red, orange and yellow.
“You might only have four primary colours, but you get a richness of 15 different colours between the spectrum because I’m mixing on the canvas itself and it’s dragging wet paint into wet paint. I love that. It’s the part that excites me.”
He uses a mixture of brushes, palette knives and his hands.
When he started using a palette knife as well it was almost like starting over, he recalled, adding he felt very revived.
“I tried all the different styles of painting. I can do realism, portraits, just about each style. Right now I am in a lucky time of my life where I can paint what I want to paint and just move it.”
His technique is to work quickly. Sometimes he’ll go into his studio at home and paint until he’s done.
It’s a small studio, but he can work on four or five large pieces at the same time.
For the last 10 years he’s been painting commissions for people’s homes.
Prior to COVID-19 he would visit clients in their homes to observe the style, colours, lighting and find out what they have in mind for a painting.
From there he will create something to fit in their home.
Often people buy a piece in a gallery that might not look the same hanging at home, he added, noting some of his paintings are made for gallery lighting while others can hold their own with natural lighting.
“There are a lot of windows here, but this gallery takes on a life of its own in the evening and is completely different.”
The collection hanging in the gallery for its opening is one-of-a-kind. He does not produce any prints of his paintings either.
“I put up a diverse collection and a lot of it is emotion driven and about what things inspired me — the emotions in the moment. That is why I work very quickly, because sometimes it’s difficult to get into the same emotion all week.”
Thinking back in his career, he said some of the paintings he created during dark times in his life, were often the first to sell from a show because people could connect the painting with a time in their own life.
Completely self-taught, Kopp considered going to art school but said he was too busy doing art, and found he learned a lot of techniques by talking to different artists.
“No matter what training you take, you still have to have a passion and a drive for it to make it work.”
His art has been showcased at the New York Art Expo, where one of the five pieces was moved to the front of the show where 30,000 people walked by in four days. Fourteen days later he attended an art expo in Vancouver.
Both events opened doors and in the last few years his art has moved to the Czech Republic, Toronto, southern United States, New York and New Jersey.
Chuckling he admitted he used to get excited if his art moved to Victoria or Prince George. It’s a nice feeling to see his client-based expanding and his art being seen in different parts of the world.
Years ago he opened a gallery in Williams Lake featuring more than 30 artists from across Canada, but said he found it was pulling him away from being able to make art himself.
A grand opening event is scheduled for the gallery Saturday, July 11, from 4 to 9 p.m. Moving forward he hopes to hold events in the gallery regularly.