Gallery and bio below
River Ra, Uig, Skye
Acrylic 38x38cm £850
Shore Rocks, Harris
Acrylic 40x40cm £850
West Lewis Crofts
Acrylic 39x39cm £850
Oil 39x29cm £600
John works from his studio at Roskhill, just south of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye. A borderer by birth, his love of the rugged and wilder countryside of Scotland's north west saw him move to Skye in 1992 and it is this landscape which inspires his work.
Born at Longcroft Farm near Lauder in 1949,he grew up in the rolling Border country until his first sojourn into the world of work, sailing the world courtesy of the Royal Navy. After some years he was back on dry land and tackling many jobs (newspaper photographer, printer, farming) while all the time teaching himself to draw and paint. In 1976 he married Annie and went back to his studies at "Night School". His art education followed an apprenticeship style training with the artist and teacher Robert Fraser. By 1979 he had joined the "Lothian Group" of artists and had begun to exhibit in group and one-man exhibitions in and around Edinburgh. He established his first studio and, since he was already earning from his artwork, decided against further study at Art College.
In1980 he went full time as an artist and a year later an Edinburgh publishing company began to produce prints and limited editions of his work. Moving to Haddington, in East Lothian, he renovated an old mill house and worked from there. He exhibited widely in group and one man shows all over Scotland. All this time he was constantly journeying north to the Highlands and eventually he made the move to Borve on Skye.
Now, in the north of the island, he looks out on Loch Bracadale with views south to Rum and Canna and the Skye Cuillin and north to the strange flat topped hills known as MacLeod's Tables. He says, "it's the quality of light here and the constantly changing weather. I could paint the view from my window a hundred times and each would be different."With the Roskhill studio established and new limited edition giclee prints produced, he is looking forward to developing further ideas.
John works in various media and likes to explore ways of applying paint and collage to create his interpretations of the elements that shape the Scottish landscape. He works with water-based media which allows a flow of ideas, from thin layered washes to thickly applied acrylic with collage integrated into the paint. Work in oils has begun to feature again and some very effective images are produced with the use of collage alone.
Most of his ideas are gleaned from walking in the landscape, recording details in sketchbooks, drawing in pencil and watercolour crayons to give a "loose washy account of my ramblings”. It may be a panoramic view, or a cluster of trees and houses, often it is smaller details like dry-stone dykes or a tangle of seaweed on rocks. Back in the studio he can concentrate on the paintings without the difficulty of the highland weather, not to mention the midges (they love oil paint). On occasions some images arrive on their own with no preliminary drawings or, at times, when an accumulation of work starts a flow of ideas. As he says himself, “I like to keep an open mind and try any new ideas that come my way. I am always learning".