John Houston became renowned for his wonderfully bold, expressionistic landscapes ,seascapes and moody skies and was a major contributor to Scottish art in the later part of the Twentieth Century.
He was born in 1930 and studied at Edinburgh College of Art where he later taught and initially shared a class with Sir William MacTaggart. Indeed, Mactaggart was also known for his landscapes of East Lothian and some of his seascapes such as "Crossing the North Sea" have the same elements as John Houston's - the colour, texture and light. It is not a secret that Houston was influenced by MacTaggart and who wouldn't have been , working closely together sharing thoughts and inspiration there is bound to be linkage in there output. I seem to recall reading sometime ago that John Houston would get upset if the mood he was trying to paint was not coming through and he would paint it out and start again . I also recall that in a similar way MacTaggart said how he hated a blank canvas and found it hard to paint until there was something else there to work with. Having said this they both managed to produce stunning work that for me exemplifies the use of colour in landscape.
John Houston painted the places that he knew and loved and he was fortunate to live in East Lothian where ,lets face it , the weather is a feature that can change the conditions many times in the course of a day. Houston acknowledged the weather and said that it was a stimulant to his work , the different light and cloud formations making every day different. He also believed that it was his familiarity with the landscape that allowed him to see past the obvious and to paint the emotion. He returned time and time again to the Firth of Forth and painted those beaches and bays on both sides of the Estuary.
So what was the reason the he returned time and time again to the same subjects?
John Houston was a keen sportsman and played for Scotland in under 21 football before he injured his knee. But throughout his life he continued to be a very keen golfer as well as fisherman. He played golf to a very high standard. But what of it , I hear you say, this is about art not golf! Well, actually it is an important aspect of John Houston's art and just for one moment we should look at Aberlady Bay, Gullane and North Berwick to the South shore of the Forth, and Largo to the North. These locations have featured time and time again in John's paintings where he depicts the different lights and times of the day and the reason is simple, Largo bay has Scoonie Golf Course, Levens Links Golf Course and Ludin Golf Course running parallel to the bay, while Kilspindie , Luffness, Gullane, Muirfield and Archerfield Golf Courses are to be found to the Southern shore. John would take his sketch book and watercolours to these familiar places and paint the emotion of the light on the sea and return to his studio to paint in his preferred medium of oil.
Whatever the reason was that drew him to these locations the fact remains that the resultant paintings are very much in the tradition of the modern landscape started by the Dutch painters of the seventeenth century who painted the North Sea with big skies , wide horizons and dramatic seas. Turner followed a couple of hundred years later and then William Mactaggart who continued in brilliant colour . So John Houston is in a very fine group of artist and I believe him to still be under recognised for his skill and use of colour, he is a great expressionist painter and we are delighted to have another wonderful work for sale here at Blondes Fine Art. The work is oil on canvas , 12 x 16 inch signed and dated 1998 with Mercury gallery (London) Gallery label verso. It was purchased by a titled lady at John Houston's final solo show in 2000 and depicts the wonderful sunset over Aberlady Bay and ,who knows, perhaps sketched having completed a round of golf at Muirfield.
If you do not have one of John Houston's work in your modern Scottish collection or are looking for one of his best and iconic works this is a great size will go anywhere in a home and the price is great value . Contact us for more details.