Mearns artist wins prize in major exhibition

Christmas has come early for one Laurencekirk artist, who is celebrating winning a prize in a major exhibition in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 1:37 pm
David Johnston has won the £500 Alison Prosser Award

David Johnston, who paints landscapes of the Mearns in watercolour, has won the £500 Alison Prosser Award at the 141th Open Annual Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW).

The exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy features more than 350 paintings, including work by some of the top Scottish artists working in watercolour and water-based media.

David, 71, won the award for his striking painting of snow-covered fields and woods near his home, called ‘Making Tracks into Winter’.

He said: “I have been really lucky. I won a prize at the last RSW exhibition which took place online due to the pandemic at the beginning of the year, so I didn’t expect this. I’m delighted.”

Not formally trained as a painter, David did a degree in Scottish and English Literature at Aberdeen University and taught English in schools in the North-east for 33 years.

However, he has been painting the Mearns landscape since his late teens, and has enjoyed regular exhibitions with the Tolquhon Gallery near Ellon and Gallery Heinzel in Aberdeen since the 1980s.

He said that the majority of his paintings feature landscapes within a few miles of Laurencekirk, where he was born, and has lived all his life.

“I never drive around looking for scenic views, for me, it’s about exploring deeper into the landscape.

" In my paintings, I try to get as close as I can to the original experience of being in the landscape in order to create a sense of place.

“I think my paintings deal with universal themes about the landscape and the seasons.

"Fundamentally, the work is a celebration of the Mearns landscape.”

“I’m a great admirer of the American painter Andrew Wyeth. He said there was a lifetime of painting to be found within a few miles of one’s home.

“I started painting because it was a wonderful way of being outside.

"Now, I do a lot of work in my studio, starting from sketches and digital photographs.”

A selection of the work is being shown online on