Brent Lynch seems to be having an enviable winter.
The Vancouver Island painter recently returned from a stint in Mexico—where he travels once a year and has gallery representation—and, on a snowy Tuesday, was heading up to ski at his local hill, Mount Washington.
"It's pretty silly," Lynch says over the phone about his current schedule. "I'm trying to figure out when it's going to end."
Lynch first made a name for himself in the world of illustrating—with some of his first projects up in Whistler. "I started doing posters for Whistler long before Blackcomb was built," he adds. "Mike Hurst, he was a promoter, he hired me to do promotional posters for Whistler."
One of the most enduringly famous posters he created came a little later in the '80s to promote the Saudan Couloir Extreme ski race. "It became a cult thing," Lynch says. "The hype around it became bigger than the race. The race was for maniacs of course—and the weather never cooperated. Those posters were traded and well sought after."
For years Lynch found interesting work that he loved as a Vancouver illustrator, creating posters for theatre groups and music festivals as well as book covers. "I loved illustrating," he says. "It was my calling. I got to do really cool stuff. I did event posters all over the world. I had a great time. It was ridiculous."
But as the mid-90s hit, the illustration world began to go digital, morphing into graphic arts. "The digital revolution was in full tilt then and it was hard to find work," Lynch recalls. "I'm a family man—I had kids in high school by then—so I did the most natural thing I could do and that was get on my own career and get control of that. It worked out for me."
That translated to becoming a painter—largely hauling his equipment up into the mountains or to the seaside to paint in the plein air style. "When I was young I loved being outside," he says. "I needed a gig where I could be outside. I'd go out and plein art paint—paint out in the field. That's my excuse, so I don't have to live in a studio."
But, on top of that, being amongst the landscape he's interpreting allows him to tap into the "unseen," he says. "I liked that firsthand, visceral experience ... It's not just about the landscape; you're looking at metaphors and signs and indicators. You're always looking for what nature has to say."
Fittingly, his new exhibit at Mountain Galleries Whistler is called Signs.
It features 10 new large-scale oil paintings as well as some smaller in-field studies, capturing iconic Whistler locations like the Overlord Glacier, Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk—as well as picturesque places on Vancouver Island and in the Rockies.
"I knew it was a Whistler show and I wanted to do some paintings that were inspired by field studies I've done up in Whistler," Lynch says. "(It's) a chance for me to revisit my old stomping grounds in Whistler."
The new exhibit will run at Mountain Galleries from March 16 until March 21. An opening celebration is set to take place on March 16 from 4 until 6 p.m. with Lynch in attendance.
"It's good to be back in Whistler and showing there," he says. "Mountain Galleries has been so good to me."