If only the internet had been around when Norman Gilbert was setting out on his career as an artist in the early 1950s. Young and green; smarting from being rejected by the art school he loved for not following the prevailing fashion for painterly, carefully-controlled composition as opposed to free-wheeling graphic use of line and colour, Gilbert never stopped drawing and painting. He knew his pictures spoke for themselves and that an audience out there. It was just a case of finding it.

Even while working as a pig man, living with his wife and growing family in a caravan on a farm outside Glasgow, he continued to paint, although he admits now that these works were far more sombre than the vividly-coloured pictures which are now something of a Norman Gilbert trademark.

Some eight decades of hard graft have led to Gilbert, now 92, becoming an overnight success story. Like most artists, he is not a natural self-promoter but fired on by the need to feed and clothe a growing family, he did his best to sell, sell, sell.

There were false starts; bursts of excitement when it looked like success was just around the corner. During a vibrant period in the London art scene of the 1950 and 1960s, he "did the rounds" of Mayfair galleries, carrying paintings on the train from Scotland and lugging canvases around the underground. He even enjoyed a modicum of success. In 1957, he featured in the prestigious Leicester Galleries' Artists of Fame and Promise exhibition. Names who had exhibited in this annual show included; William Roberts, Christopher Nevinson, David Bomberg and Jacob Epstein. In 1967, he featured in Vogue magazine in 1967 under a headline, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Painter, while in 1974, he was the subject of a half hour Scope documentary on BBC Scotland made by the late W. Gordon Smith, a writer and art critic who supported many Scottish artists.

The tide started to turn for him in 2017 when artist Helen Glassford and her business partner Lindsay Bennett from Tatha Gallery in Newport-on-Tay offered him a solo show.

The resulting exhibition, Passion Vision and spirit, was a runaway success. Glassford and Bennett took to traditional and social media to promote Norman and not only did the exhibition introduce his work to a new audience, it ensured he finally had committed cheerleaders for his work.

Passion Vision and Spirit II opens in Tatha a week today and there is a clear sense of excitement in the fresh Newport air. Glassford, herself an artist of note, says of Gilbert's work: "Since his last show, we have built up a wonderful relationship with Norman and exhibiting his work once more is a natural development of this. The 30 works in this exhibition will span his 60-year career, showing the warmth and passion with which, he sees the world."

The first Passion Vision and spirit exhibition generated several media appearances (including one in this magazine) and a short film called The Unteachable Artist, made by BBC Scotland's LOOP digital arts platform. The film, recently shown on the new BBC Scotland channel, showed Gilbert at work in his studio and discussing his struggle to make it in the art world. Movingly, he also talked about his late wife and muse, Pat, whom he met when they were both students at the Glasgow School of Art. Close to tears, he talked about how he nursed her for six years through a slow but steady descent into dementia. She died in hospital following a stroke with Norman by her side, in August 2016. In her final days, he drew her compulsively and there are around 30 drawings from this period, which he says firmly, will never be sold.

Overnight, the quietly spoken, gently-considered nonagenarian painter became a social media sensation. He treats this new-found fame with mild surprise laced with evident satisfaction. "The film has now had well over two and a half million views on Facebook," he tells me as we sit by the fire sipping tea in this airy studio in his home in Glasgow's south side surrounded by paintings; many by him and some by artist son, Mark."That film has been viewed by people all over the world and the amazing thing is that none of the 600 or so comments have been negative."

There are no shades of grey in Norman Gilbert's work, though he does switch between creating black and white paintings and a more joyous palette, saturated with crimson, azure blues, bright yellows and fir tree greens. He always has a black and white painting running concurrently with a coloured one. It helps with the process of resolving the composition, he says.

While the demands of family life consumed Gilbert as a younger man, at the same time, they fed into all his pictures and a feeling of being somehow enveloped by his paintings is palpable. Pat worked full-time as an art teacher from the late 1960s, while he painted and taught art part-time. By then, the couple had four sons; Paul, Bruno, Danny and Mark.

Like life, there is light and shade in all his work. Although they are bright, often densely patterned and glowing with psychedelic joie de vivre, his pictures don't present a roses-around-the-door view of life. Plants, patterns and people are all given equal billing. Heads of hair are blocked in, matching other sections of the scene. In one painting, Holiday Caravan (1975), sons Mark and Danny and their mother are depicted in a riot of blues and yellows laced in with autumnal browns in a hailstorm of seventies glory.

The thirty or so works selected for his second exhibition at Tatha range from paintings he made 40 years to a group of more contemporary works. "They're not the ones I am doing now," he tells me. "They have to wait six months to be varnished."

What keeps him going, I wonder? His answer is unfiltered and straight to the point. And very Norman Gilbert. "If I don’t do it, I am nothing. It's lovely when it works."

Passion Vision and Spirit II, Tatha Gallery, 1 High Street, Newport-on-Tay, Fife, DD6 8AB, , 01382 690800, www.tathagallery.com. May 18 – June 15. Open daily (apart from Tuesday and Sunday) 10.30am to 5pm

Critic's Choice

In recent weeks, my post box, not to mention my inbox runneth over with news of art happenings around the country. Maybe it's a spring thing, but there is no shortage of activity in Scotland's vibrant art scene. It's easy to get blasé but occasionally, new work makes my visual antennae twitch like mad. This happened when news of Carol Dewart's latest exhibition landed on the virtual mat.

In Landlines at The Smithy Gallery in Blanefield, Dewart paints the ever-changing Scottish landscape with one eye on Aboriginal art and its distinctive mark making. Unlike the patterned scorched earth mark- making typical of Aboriginal art, Dewart explores the diverse colour-scape of Scotland.

Texture, pattern and light are the key elements in these new works. She says: "By changing any of these factors a painting can be constantly evolving with little variation in the actual subject matter. The introduction of a specific texture or pattern can define the mood of the painting. Add light to the equation and a simple composition can have many different facets."

Dewart trained in drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art but also spent a year there studying embroidery and weaving. Her work clearly melds the two disciplines. She prefers to work in watercolour and gouache because of the purity of the medium, describing it as, "direct, lively and very free". She adds: "These qualities take you on a journey and often the outcome is nowhere near the original starting point."

Landlines: Carol Dewart PAI RSW, Smithy Gallery, 74 Glasgow Road, Blanefield, Glasgow, 01360 770551, www.smithygallery.co.uk. May 12 – June 9. Open Wed-Sat, 11am to 5pm. Sunday, 1pm to 5pm

Don't Miss

If ever an artist painted the zing of spring, it's Alison McWhirter. Reducing landscape and still lifes into bold, almost abstract shapes, McWhirter's oil paintings are in demand with collectors who are drawn to their lush, almost sculptural qualities. In this new exhibition at the Annan Gallery in the west end of Glasgow, McWhirter goes for the full abstract; painting scenes which she says: “draw on memory, feeling and imagination." Alison's work will is accompanied by work from gallery favourites Claire Harkess and Gordon Wilson.

Alison McWhirter Feature Show, Annan Gallery, 164 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, G3 6LL, 0141 332 0028. www.annanart.com. Until May 26. Open Tue-Sun, (10am to 5pm from Tue-Sat and 12pm to 4pm on Sun)