James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland

08 Apr 2020

A dedicated painter of landscape, James Morrison is an artist whose deep engagement with Scotland’s countryside has lasted for over 60 years. His main working areas have been the grand, wide-skied farmland around his home in Angus where he has lived since 1965, and the rugged wildness of west coast Scotland where he would visit annually. Below we have compiled a tour of Scotland through a selection of some of his most enduring paintings available at The Scottish Gallery. Whilst we cannot visit these places now, we hope they are an enjoyable reminder of the beautiful country that awaits us.

The West Coast

James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Rain over Eigg, 27.v.2009, oil on board, 76 x 101 cm, £9,250

Morrison’s oil painting technique of washes of well thinned oil colour over a smooth gesso ground has evolved over years, seasons and weathers... The method developed in order to paint rapidly outside with a concentration on tonal acuity, recording particular light events as they occurred

Professor John Morrison, 2015
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Achnahaird, 14.v.2003, oil on board, 101.5 x 152.5 cm, £14,500

Always more than simple transcriptions of nature, they can appear as a visual diary with entries marking points in time or they can evoke memory and hint at meaning forever just out of reach.

Professor John Morrison, 2017
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Morrison painting on the west coast, c.1995
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Morrison painting on the west coast, c.1995

It was above all the sense of space in this wide landscape that shaped Morrison’s art, but he got there by a dialogue with modern painting a little like that which Eardley also pursued.

Professor Duncan Macmillan, 2017
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Finally Summer, Mull, 3.vi.2011, oil on board, 97 x 152 cm, £18,500
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Western Space, 18.v.2009, oil on board, 101 x 152 cm, £14,500

Angus

James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Low Winter Sun, 9.i.2005, oil on board, 101.5 x 152.5 cm, £12,500
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Low Tide, 3.viii.2003, oil on board, 101.5 x 152.5 cm, £12,500

The paintings… offer a celebration of the beauty of the Angus landscape or the west Highlands in an apparently wholly unmediated manner. The titles directly lead the viewer to apprehend these images as simple, direct truth, and the joy to be found in the encounter with the everyday world.

Professor John Morrison, 2012
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Letham Grange, Winter, 15.i.2009, oil on board, 102 x 152 cm, £13,500
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
River Mark, 1991, oil on board 30.5 x 78.5 cm, (detail), £5,500
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Rescobie, 1985, oil on board, 25.5 x 40 cm, £3,250

The work of an artist absolutely immersed in the landscape before him, and one so gifted as to be able to render it seemingly effortlessly.

Philip Braham, 2019
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Green Valley, 1972, watercolour, 63.5 x 105 cm, £4,500
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Morrison painting in Angus, c.1985
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Morrison painting in Angus, c.1985
James Morrison | A Grand Tour of Scotland
Raised Beach, St Cyrus, 1971 pen, ink and watercolour, 38 x 110 cm, (detail), £4,850

A hybrid blend between ‘the now’ and the ‘memory of now’ results in pictures which appear both ominous and fabulous.

Dr Fern Insh, 2015

The Scottish Gallery has exhibited the work of James Morrison since the 1950s and has represented him exclusively since 1989. It is a close relationship that continues to this day. For more information on James Morrison, including links to recent publications please visit his Artist Page here.

Please find below a short film featuring Gallery Director Guy Peploe discussing Morrison's work in his January 2020 exhibition From Angus to the Arctic.

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