FROM mural making to drawing on brown paper with biro and Tipp-Ex, the retrospective of Alasdair Gray's work across the city examines not just his output but also the way he works.

It is a rare insight into the practice of Scotland's greatest, and surely its most prolific, living artist.

The 150 works on show at Kelvingrove explore the breadth of his work, including never before seen portraits and oil paintings.

To celebrate his 80th birthday, Alasdair Gray Season: From the Personal to the Universal, will be as much a draw for die-hard Gray fans as those who are only familiar with his writing, including his debut masterpiece, Lanark.

"He is a visual artist, a writer, he is quite outspoken politically and is socially engaged. His appeal is quite broad," says Sorcha Dallas, Gray's agent, who has curated the show at Kelvingrove.

"It will be a great experience for people, I hope there will be some who are new to his work who will be able to explore the murals or novels further as a result of going to the exhibition.

"It is very accessible, it not only shows the breadth of his practice but the City Recorder series socially mapped Glasgow at a particular time.

"To look at those drawings and think about Glasgow and how it has changed as a city in that time is quite interesting."

With more than 1000 pieces of Gray's work catalogued, the Kelvingrove show only scratches the surface, according to Dallas

Key works are grouped chronologically, starting with the early years and art school, then the landscapes and sketches.

"He has always had a quite immediate way of working, which comes from the mural-making background, with things being quite temporary and what is to hand," explains Dallas.

"So he'll use often stuff that is on his desk, like a biro or Tipp-Ex. He's not thinking about the long term, it's just having things that are around, like brown paper - it has become quite identifiable as an Alasdair Gray work or medium."

She continues: "It has been good to pull out some of his oil paintings, they are really rich.

"When you're working with oils it becomes much more textured and you get a different quality and feel from it."

The works have come from Gray's personal collection as well as private and public collections, including Glasgow Museums' Night Street Self Portrait, an early cityscape showcasing Gray's distinct style; and 'Cowcaddens Streetscape in the Fifties', possibly his best known work.

It is based on sketches and ideas for a Monkland Canal picture Gray had given up trying to paint as a third year art student.

It shows a sliding viewpoint, with Port Dundas to the north and St Aloysius Church to the south.

Many of the works had never been seen before 2007, when the artist published his biography, A Life in Pictures.

"There are some really nice individual works," adds Dallas. "Great personal portraits of his son Andrew which are among my favourites, really interesting works from his early years at school, also some he made while attending a Saturday morning art class at Kelvingrove.

In one room of the gallery, part of the first mural he was commissioned to do, while still at art school, has been recreated. And visitors will be encouraged to take a walking tour of Glasgow's West End to see his other murals in situ, at Hillhead Subway Station, Oran Mor, Ubiquitous Chip and the Western Baths.

"I knew about his murals but not about his portraits. For me that was a bit of a revelation, to see that work he'd been doing all this time that I was totally unaware of," reveals Kelvingrove manager Neil Ballantyne.

"Glaswegians in particular have a very special affection for Alasdair."

As well as an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art, from October 11, the Glasgow Print Studio will be running the Alasdair Gray Season: A Life in Print and Posters. The exhibition will feature preliminary draft prints, showing Gray's working practice, as well as an extensive range of his poster works.

A highlight will be a series of reworked coloured prints from his first novel, Lanark, as well as early play posters.

"There will be some other material, which shows how his prints develop, many with his annotations on them," explains GPS director John McKechnie. "He often says, 'Change this blue to yellow' or 'Make that gold' or 'Take this out.'

"The new Lanark works have never been seen before. I've been having a look at what he's working on and they're going to look stunning." He hints: "There will be more work in the pipeline after the show."

Councillor Archie Graham, chairman of Glasgow Life, says Gray's artistic and literary talents have made him one of Scotland's most revered artists and it is absolutely right that his home city pays tribute to his talent.

"Alasdair often attributes many happy memories to his time spent at weekend art classes in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It is a very great honour to be hosting this unique retrospective at Kelvingrove," he says.

l Alasdair Gray Season: From the Personal to the Universal. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum from Saturday until February 22.

l Alasdair Gray: A Life in Print and Posters. Glasgow Print Studio from October 11 to November 16.

l Alasdair Gray: Spheres of Influence 1. Gallery of Modern Art from November 21 to May 25.

l Alasdair Gray Season: Spheres of Influence II. The Reid Gallery, Glasgow School of Art from November 22 to January 25.