“Painting is an on-going experience, the artist should never stand still.”
It was only after retirement in 1983 after 35 years as an art teacher that David Martin found success as a painter. Fortunately, ahead of him lay another 35 years to devote to painting and to establishing a distinctive approach that drew on his training as a painter at Glasgow School of Art as well as his later interest in textile design under Robert Stewart. David McLeod Martin was born in Glasgow in 1922.
As a pupil at Govan High School his considerable talent for drawing earned him a gold medal in the National Schools Drawing Competition and this early success encouraged him to apply to Glasgow School of Art. He began his course in 1940 completing the first two-year general course before he enlisted in the R.A.F as an instrument mechanic spending the rest of the war in Trichinopoly, Southern India. This was followed by three years as an instructor in art under the Forces Educational and Vocational Training Scheme and in 1948 he returned to Glasgow School of Art to complete his studies both more confident and, by now, a highly proficient jazz pianist. David enjoyed his final two years benefiting both from the ‘bravura’ style of painting encouraged by David Donaldson as well as the more technical training given by Ian Fleming “the craftsman who knew all there was to know about paint and mediums and techniques.”
With few commercial opportunities available for painters at the time, David became an art teacher, but was always conscious of the need to keep developing his own work so took evening classes for ten years with the influential textile designer, Robert Stewart. Though he had some commercial success in textiles the application of his art through the perspective of design started a fascination with pattern that was to become a central characteristic of all his later paintings.
Freed from the constraints of his formal training in representational art he became more influenced by the work of international artists like Henri Hayden and Georges Braque whose studio he visited in the early 1960’s. In 1952 he married the painter Isabel Smith and moved to Eaglesham, where he was to live for the rest of his life. The objects and textiles that surrounded them, as well as the auriculas and orchids he cultivated, were all to play a part in the evolution of a style that would emerge in his painting. The annual exhibitions of the Royal Glasgow Instituted (to which he was elected a member in 1959), the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (to which he was elected a member in 1961) as well as the Royal Scottish Academy all provided a regular opportunity to exhibit and sell his work throughout the 35 years of teaching. He had one solo exhibition at the Stone Gallery in Newcastle in 1965 but it was only after retirement in 1983 that he could devote all his time to painting full time. Fortunately for him he had another 35 years ahead and he worked with unbridled energy well into his 94th year.
Through solo exhibitions at Roger Billcliffe and John Martin Gallery in London, David established a considerable International following holding more than 25 exhibitions including a retrospective at Perth Museum and Art Gallery in 1999. David Martin was a meticulous painter, with nothing left on the canvas that was extraneous or haphazard. Every element in the composition had to carry a clear purpose, each colour needed as the visual tinder to ignite an adjacent passage of paint just as the pattern of a field, curtain or wallpaper, would give a rhythm to a series of flat planes nearby. He was an artist who delighted in pushing his work onwards.
2018 Paintings, John Martin Gallery, London
2014 Recent Paintings, John Martin Gallery Chelsea, London
2012 Turning Ninety, John Martin Gallery, London
2010 John Martin Gallery, London
2008 Recent Painting, John Martin Gallery, London
2006 John Martin Gallery at Lalique, New York
2003 Landscapes, John Martin Gallery Chelsea, London
2002 Eightieth Birthday Exhibition, John Martin Gallery, London
2001 Roger Billcliffe Fine Art
2000 John Martin Gallery, London
1999 David Martin Paintings 1948-99, Perth Museum and Art Gallery
1999 John Martin Gallery, London
1998 Roger Billcliffe Fine Art
1997 John Martin Gallery, London
1995 The Fosse Gallery
1995 John Martin Gallery, London
1994 Thackeray Gallery, London
1994 Roger Billcliffe Fine Art
1992 Thackeray Gallery, London
1991 Kingfisher Gallery
1990 Torrance Gallery
1985 Torrance Gallery
1984 Gallery 22, Cupar, Fife
1983 Fair Maids Gallery, Perth
1979 Strathclyde University
1965 Stone Gallery, Newcastle
1993 Elected Honorary Member of Society of Scottish Artists
1991 Member SAAC
1986 Meets Marc Chagall in Glasgow
1983 Retires from teaching
1961 Elected Member of Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour
1959 Elected member of Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts
1949 Elected Professional Member SSA
Design for Fabric selected by Arts Council for inclusion in an exhibition in the Design Centre, Glasgow. Printed by Gayonne Fabrics Ltd
1949-59 Studied design at evening classes with Robert Stewart, GSA
1948-9 Jordanhill Teacher Training College
1946-48 Glasgow School of Art under David Donaldson
Meets the painter Isobel Smith at Glasgow Scholl of Art
1946 Instructor in art under the Forces Educational and Vocational Training Scheme
1940-42 Glasgow School of Art
1934-9 Educated Govan high School
The Scottish Arts Council; Scottish Television; City of Edinburgh Art Collection; Edinburgh Corporation; Robert Fleming & Company; Perth Museum and Art Gallery; East Kilbride Town Council; Education Authorities of Edinburgh, Argyll, Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire; the Dick Institute, Kilmarnock; Clydesdale Bank; Warburg Asset Management; Credit Lyonnais, London; The Earl of Moray; Dr T Shimizu; Lord MacFarlane; Lord Goold; Linklater & Paines, London.
David Martin exhibited annually at Royal Scottish Academy, starting in 1948, as well as the Royal Glasgow Institute. He also exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Mall Galleries, Bath Contemporary Art Fair, William Hardie Gallery, Thackeray Gallery, Torrance Gallery, ’41 Gallery, The Shore Gallery, Leith; Roger Billcliffe Fine Art; The Macauley Gallery, The Hunting Art Prize exhibition 1996, Glasgow Art Fair, Singer Friedlander and the 20th Century British Art Fair.
With John Martin he participated in exhibitions at The Miami Art Fair 1996, On a Grand Scale 1997, Fifty and One 1997, Art International New York 1998, various Christmas Shows 1998 and the London Contemporary Art Fair 1995-99, Discerning Eye at the Mall Galleries, London 2000, Connections 2000 for members and guests of the RSA. The most recent collection of completed works features in ‘The Long Summer Show’ 2018.