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Hutcheson, Tom

Tom Hutcheson enrolled at Glasgow School of Art for session 1941-42, and then volunteered for the RAF. He returned after the war to continue his studies from 1946-49, and graduated in drawing and painting. Among his tutors were Hugh Adam Crawford, David Donaldson, and Geoffrey Squire. Douglas Percy Bliss was then director.

Tom taught very successfully in Glasgow junior secondary schools pioneering, along with Danny Ferguson and others, the new art teachers’ philosophy, which fostered creativity and imagination. In 1977, he was appointed principal of art education at Jordanhill College, thus carrying on the work of Sam Black.

From the outset, he was a dedicated painter, exhibiting publicly from 1949 onwards. His subject matter was invariably drawn from the landscape of the West of Scotland, with occasional forays to Skye or Spain. His love of the mining areas of Ayrshire and Lanarkshire furnished him with a steady stream of subjects which, as he matured as a painter, became more concerned with colour and texture, and less with topographical detail.

In 1949 it was “Tanyard in Cumnock”. In 1989 it was “Earthscape in Mottled Green and Muted Reds”. He acknowledged this himself, stating: “Colour is, for me, the most important element in painting. But it should never be used solely in a decorative, anecdotal or descriptive manner. It is the element for expressing emotion and feelings.”

His work is in many public and private collections at home and abroad, including those of the Queen, arts councils, and the art galleries of Kelvingrove, Detroit, and Puerto Rico. He was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Glasgow Institute, Royal Scottish Academy and Society of Scottish Artists, and was a longtime member of the Glasgow Art Club. Another Glasgow connection was with the Glasgow Group of Artists, whose annual exhibitions in June at the McLellan Galleries were, for many years, a regular feature of the art scene.

He said of his work

‘I am primarily a landscape painter relying for my subject matter on two main sources – (a) Lanarkshire mining scenes and (b) the Clyde coast. These scenes I try to depict in as economical a manner as possible trying to evoke or suggest rather than describe. For me paintings grow on the canvas rather than in the head – they come for the most part out of the act of painting itself. I use pure dry pigment mixed with inert materials to portray contrasts in surface and colour and these together with lines gouged into the paint are pictorial devices I use to express structure, space and feeling.’

From Obituary by Bill Birnie and James Spence
The Herald – 20 November 1999

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