John Lowrie Morrison Profile

john lowrie morrison portrait

My days are very different depending on whether I am working in the studio or on location. I travel all over the West Highlands and islands in search of new subject matter, and once a month I take an extended trip, spending the majority of my time on the islands at present. These are wonderful days spent exploring what I believe to be some of the world’s most dramatic and beautiful coastlines, storing up images for future compositions. In comparison to this, working in my Argyll studio may sound less exciting - 8am-3pm six days a week painting - but in fact these days are also immensely pleasurable, as painting is what I love to do. The one drawback to this rewarding existence is spending most evenings dealing with the extraordinary amount of admin I seem to generate!

I have never seen anything to compare with the distinctive quality of Scottish West Coast light, and it is this that provides the single greatest inspiration for my work. It brings a dazzling clarity to the landscape it illuminates, which I constantly strive to capture in my paintings. I have visited some exceptionally beautiful areas over time and painting on location has provided an immense source of inspiration. More than ever I have found the colour spectrum seeming to shift as I look more closely at a scene, and as always my palette has been a profoundly expressive tool in conveying both appearance and atmosphere.

I admire a huge number of artists across the whole spectrum of art history but my main creative influences are the Expressionists, particularly Chaim Soutine, Emil Nolde and Oskar Kokoschka. Each of these individuals presents a world vibrating with energy and movement, and they in their turn owe much to the dynamic work of Vincent Van Gogh, as do I. For sheer beauty of colour and interpretative freedom I hold Marc Chagall in high regard, while the great John Eardley’ s dictum that ‘Painting is like breathing - you have to do it’ is the ruling precept of my life!

A picture begins for me when I find a particular vista that captures my imagination. I used to paint on location but found that the technical side would take over and I would produce an accurate representation of what I saw, rather than of how I felt about what I saw. Nowadays, while I sketch and photograph to keep the image fresh in my mind, what is more important to me is how I responded to what I saw, and what effect it had on me personally. This emotional or perhaps creative response is what I believe breathes life into my work.

I am an energetic and spontaneous painter, and for this reason I like to use oil, even though I think it is one of the more difficult media to work with. With this spontaneity so integral to my style I like the immediacy it gives me, in that I do not have to wait for each layer to dry. Oil painting has moved on from the laborious process of old of course, where layers of glazes were laid down in a painstaking and orderly manner! Now, the way an individual artist handles the paint and the surface texture of the painting are recognised as making a huge contribution to the overall impact of the composition.

John Lowrie Morrison was born in Glasgow in 1948, and from an early age he showed a talent for art. After completing a degree in Drawing and Painting at Glasgow School of Art he set out to pursue a career in art and design; he funded his painting by teaching, firstly as Head of Art and Design at Lochgilphead High School and then as Art Adviser for the Strathclyde Region. During this formative period John travelled extensively around Europe with his family and it was here that he began to develop the distinctive style which has brought him so much success. Working in oil on paper or canvas, his vigorous application of paint in carefree, seemingly random strokes breaths life into his work, which contrasts the rugged scenery of the Scottish Highlands with the more prosaic human elements of crofts, inlets and villages. His bold use of colour adds an energy and intensity to each image which persuades us not simply to view the landscape, but rather to experience it. John now devotes himself to painting full time, and has held a number of successful exhibitions both in the UK and as far afield as Hong Kong and New York; his images can now be found in many prestigious private and corporate collections throughout the world. He is well known for his charity work and his paintings have become famous with the stars; Madonna has six in her collection and Sting has also purchased two..




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