A whole new way of life certainly began for Alexandra Steele at 50.
The grandmother-of-five turned a hobby into a flourishing career when she took up art full time.
Trained as a primary teacher at Jordanhill, her flair was spotted by a former director at Central Regional Council, which at that time was in charge of the district’s schools. The suggestion that she become a peripatetic art teacher going round the area’s primary schools appealed and she quickly became engrossed in her new role which lasted 25 years.
Alexandra (65), who lives in Larbert, said: “However, when I turned 50 I thought it was a case of now or never and began to paint in earnest. A friend who lives in London was interested in my work and that’s how I got exhibited in a gallery down there.”
Since then she has also had her work shown at Eton and last weekend, a new exhibition was unveiled at The Leith Gallery in Edinburgh.
Her trademark style is to use a palette knife to create multiple layers, only selecting a tiny brush for areas such as her signature, while her influence has come from the Scottish Colourists, particularly Peploe, and the French Impressionists.
As a child, she spent much of her summer holidays at her grandparents’ croft near Invergordon in the Highlands, where she developed her love of nature and the land.
And that’s what inspires much of her work: deserted beaches on remote islands, thatched cottages in Western Scotland, and the luminescent skies and seas of the West Coast.
Every June to September she visits the Highlands and islands to sketch and take hundreds of reference photographs for her work.
Alexandra, who is a widow, has two grown-up daughters, one living in East Lothian and the other in Australia.
Her exhibition will run until Saturday, May 28, at The Leith Gallery, 65 The Shore. It is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment by calling 0131 553 5255.