JOHN BOYD – 1940 – 2001
John Boyd was unusual in that he painted his best work in the last half dozen years of his forty year career. Renoir’s opinion that Degas, had he died at fifty, would not have been regarded as a master, can also be applied to Boyd. David Donaldson and William Crosbie were his mentors and his work for many years showed their influence both in subject matter and technique. Gradually, in an unhurried fashion, he found his own voice, becoming one of the most distinctive and individual painters working in Scotland.
John Boyd was born in Stonehaven in 1940, and whilst at Mackie Academy was lucky enough to be encouraged by James Morrison, who often welcomed him to his studio in Catterline. He attended Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen from 1958–62 where he was taught by Bobby Henderson Blyth, and briefly studied at Hospitalfield near Arbroath, where he met John Byrne and Sandy Fraser, who was to become a lifelong friend.
Shortly afterwards he moved to Glasgow where he lived for the rest of his life. He became an art teacher, principally at Shawlands Academy, where he taught the young Archie Forrest. Only in the last decade did he devote himself exclusively to his work as an artist. He began a long series of oil paintings drawing strongly from his childhood experiences on the Kincardineshire coast thirty years before. These paintings are ruminative and evocative compositions of fishermen, alone or in groups, standing quietly. Often they cradle model-sized boats, inspired, according to the artist, by early Italian paintings of prelates holding models of their churches. These paintings, like Boyd’s still lifes, display unfussy handling, a lively painterly surface and beautiful, subtle colour. He was still exploring these themes in his final exhibition at last year’s Edinburgh Festival.
John Boyd was a prolific painter and showed his work in twenty one-man exhibitions, represented by galleries in Glasgow, London, Eton and Edinburgh. He is highly regarded in South Africa where he exhibited at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesberg, following in the footsteps of Robin Philipson and David Donaldson.