Jolomo 'Dawn Breaks over Isle of Gigha' oil on canvas 25x46cm (10x16ins)
Vivid landscapes saturated with rich colour and dotted with an impression of wild flowers. Passing storm clouds which brood over solitary crofts and distant, dramatic mountains fading into mist with the soft suggestion of a full moon.
John Lowrie Morrison or JOLOMO, as he signs his paintings, is one of Scotland's foremost landscape artists and his new work is always eagerly anticipated by those who have become addicted to his distinctive style and dramatic visual storytelling.
Jolomo 'Big Breakers Mangersta Beach, Isle of Lewis 41x41cm (16x16ins)
John's paintings follow in the tradition of the Scottish Colourists - Peploe, Fergusson, Hunter and Cadell who drew inspiration from the revolution in art taking place in Paris in the early C20th and the influence of the Fauves in particular, in order to paint the Scottish landscape in a totally new way. Their use of colour and structure can be seen in John's daring contrast of primary and complimentary pigments and vivid tones and his compositional framing of architectural and natural forms.
There is also a connection with their gestural approach and instinctive application of pigment and experimentation with colour which makes his work so striking and immediate. The Colourists were brave and sometimes considered 'shocking' in their choices and that confidence and fluidity of application is one of John's great strengths as a painter and an intrinsic part of the appeal of his paintings. Painting directly from nature, absorbing the landscape and re-interpreting it in his own distinctive style; just as the Colourists learned to do from their experiences in France of painting 'en plein air', gives an immediacy and creates an emotionally charged response in the viewer.
Jolomo 'Eveninglight Over the Mull of Kintyre' oil on canvas 41x41cms (16x16ins)
Like the Colourists, John revels in the beauty of painting with pure pigments that bounce off each other and complement the subject matter to create visually stunning effects and celebrate the ever-changing landscape of his homeland.
After completing training in drawing, painting and printmaking at The Glasgow School of Art, John spent many years teaching art in schools in Glasgow and Argyll. A visit to the Chagall exhibition in Paris in 1969 proved to be influential on the development of John's use of blue in his early work. Chagall associated blue with The Virgin Mary and the colour of heaven - an expression of transcendence through pure colour. There is a very spiritual aspect to John's paintings - the connection between the natural world and a deep human need for beauty and meaning in life and John is a lay preacher for the Church of Scotland, leading worship on a regular basis.
Jolomo 'Moonlight on the Machair South Uist' oil on canvas 30.5x30.5cms (12x12ins)
The croft appears as a symbol of endurance against time and the elements; a metaphor for the human condition set against the backdrop of wild nature and eternal forces and this symbol re-occurs frequently in his work. Similarly, the full moon - like Turner's red dot - has become a quintessential element of many of John's paintings; a punctuation mark in the composition where the eye rests as it travels over the different elements of the work. The viewer is drawn onto the beach, through the tangled dune grasses and wild flowers by the diagonal line of the pathway and then across the sea to the distant mountains and up into the mass of cumulus clouds which echo the brightness of the sand and provide balance and contrast. The sea is calm and placid but ever-changing, reflecting the sky but also tinged with sea-greens and darker bands of midnight blue which compliment the shades in the grasses and softer, muted tones of the mountains.
Jolomo 'Summerlight Isle of Gigha, Looking to the Paps of Jura' Oil on canvas 41x41cms (16x16ins)
There is a great sense of energy in John's painting technique - layers of smooth, rich oil paint contrasted with dots and thick impasto, quick mark-making and scratches made with the end of the brush. This style echoes the hurrying clouds and wind-tossed wildness of the Scottish Isles where the landscape is in a constant process of flux as it is buffeted by storms and changing light. These are rugged communities, set off the beaten track, lost in time and his work has an elemental quality which appeals so much to people. There is an other-worldliness to his pieces - both a real and imagined place of heightened colour and perception. John is painting what is and what we would like to be. Sketching 'en plein air' and absorbing the natural energy of these locations and translating that for the viewer into a timeless composition gives his work both an authenticity and magical quality at the same time.
John's new collection is now available to view on our website at John Lowrie Morrison OBE (Jolomo) – Art and Artists – Iona House Gallery
Blog post by Katherine Newman