When I went to meet Avril Paton in her flat in Dowanhill the building was very familiar to me as I had seen it often in the artist's impression of "Windows in the West". I was fascinated by the fact that Avril had managed to capture the charm and interest of the West End in some of her most successful paintings.
Writing recently in the Herald, Jack Webster provided an interesting comment on this work: he was delighted to recognise some of the notable characters in the painting, including Bernard MacLaverty, the writer and the journalist Roddy Forsyth, both of whom live in the snowy topped tenement - the subject of the painting. In his article he points to the "exquisite skills" of the artist but he wanted to find out if the characters in the painting were aware that they were being painted? Avril informed him that "she invited them over to see what was happening" - so her neighbours were not surpised or shocked at their immortalisation.
Avril is very easy to chat to and most hospitable - I had some lovely Assam tea and Jim enjoyed a fine malt whisky when we called to see her recently. We spent an enjoyable evening with the artist and and learned a lot about her background and her work:
Originally from the Isle of Arran on the West Coast of Scotland she grew up with a family of artists and both her father and grandfather nurtured her natural talent and passed their skills on to Avril from an early age.
As a young girl her talent earned her a place at Glasgow's renowned Art School in Garnethill, however, immature and headstrong; clashes occurred and she did not complete her studies. Avril still regrets the briefness of her 'official studies', however, when she approached the Art School at a later date with a view to returning, she was told by John Cunningham: "carry on with what you are doing - you have more to offer us than we you".
Her latest work, is in fact a detailed watercolour of this remarkable building designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh. This work hangs proudly in the Charles Rennie Macintosh Exhibition at 'The Lighthouse', Scotland's Centre for Architecture, Design and the City. The Gallery has attracted 280,000 visitors since it opened in 1999 (70% more than expected). It is a lovely gallery and the Macintosh Exhibition is outstanding with Avril Paton's painting of the Art School making a very relevant and worthy contribution it captures both the wonderful architecture and the vibrant modern day atmosphere in the area of the City around the Art School.
Earlier works have also been purchased by the City's Galleries and her painting of the "Barras" hangs in the People's Palace at Glasgow Green. Her work is painstaking in detail with precise architectural drawing, however, her colours and characters draw you in and her work is incredibly interesting and imaginative. Much of her work is on a very large scale, intricate in detail - complex and emphatic and her fascination with her adopted city and its people is clearly illustrated.
Although her style is unique and she is well known for her water colours of Glasgow City Scenes, Avril cannot be pigeonholed and her work is surprisingly varied. Some of the Arran paintings are very personal, romantic and mysterious - one of my favourites is 'Gavin's House', painted in oil showing a little white cottage against a wonderful sky and another lovely painting is 'Cobbles' - a peaceful seascape with fantastic use of colour.
A mature and successful artist Avril's paintings have been a gift to Glasgow - observing in her works what makes the it unique: she captures the buildings, the places and the people - and expresses in her paintings how lives are lived in the City.
Prints of Avril Patons are no longer available to buy from this website but expect to be able to buy them from Avril's own website in 2003.
I HAVE BEEN A FAN OF AVRIL PATONS WORK FOR A FEW YEARS NOW THERE'S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT IT THAT WARMS MY HEART, WINDOWS IN THE WEST IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PAINTING I HAVE EVER SEEN, WHEN I FIRST VISITED SALTOUN STREET I STOOD IN THE STREET FACING THE BUILDING AND COULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT I SAW IT WAS FANTASTIC I AM NOW A REGULAR VISITOR. MY HUSBAND DOESN'T NEED TO ASK WHERE I WOULD LIKE TO GO TO PUT A SMILE ON MY FACE WINDOWS WINS EVERY TIME I'M FASCINATED BY HER WORK IT BRINGS GREAT JOY INTO MY LIFE AND OTHERS WHEN THEY SEE MY WINDOWS IN THE WEST AT HOME THEY JUST HAVE TO STOP AND ENJOY IT, THANKYOU MISS PATON.
--DENISE ( d dot brown407 at ntlworld dot com ) from GLASGOW on 3.2.2003; 21:04:18 Uhr
Avrils work caught my attention the first time I saw 'Ritas Find'. I enjoy watching visitors to my house taking in every detail of the prints I own. There is so much going on in her pictures. You can smell the winters night and the chimney smoke in Windows in the West. A truly great artist.
--billy ( bilbo1802 at aol dot com ) from scotland/innellan on 2.12.2002; 23:40:21 Uhr
I left Glasgow after spending there the 5 most fantastic years of my life.This painting always brings back all the memories and feelings of LIVING in Glasgow and the West End.Pure Magic!
--Theodosios Kyriakou ( lsroe at csv dot warwick dot ac dot uk ) from UK on 6.4.2001; 15:03:31 Uhr
Just a quick note to let everyone know that Avrils own personal site is now available for viewing on www.avrilpaton.com AND www.beyondthegates.co.uk.
We hope you come to visit.
--Incense Cam ( private at privacy dot com ) from Scotland on 26.3.2001; 23:00:07 Uhr
I feel Avril Paton is a very talented painter. I chose her painting ' Windows on the West' to write about in a school essay. I seen her magnificant painting when i visited the galleries of modern art and i feel the detail and atmosphere of the painting are second to none. I wrote,
" I find it sensational that paton was able to capture the unique character of a building whilst letting your imagination run wild about the characters within that building."
" Every induvidual window portrays a different story, this is an incredible feature "
I thorougly enjoyed writing about this sensational piece and i feel Avril Paton is an incredible artist with a sesational talent, she is defenitley my favourite artist and her works are incredible.
--Marc Smith ( funnyme01 at hotmail dot com ) from Scotland on 26.3.2001; 22:57:39 Uhr
I just love windows in the west. I told my art teacher that i was going to do built enviroment for my higher art expressive unit in stead of portraiure and still ife. (built enviroment was not an official option at my school) i'm going to think of that will do justice to the painting.
--william chan ( william2k at kindestreguards dot co dot uk ) from Scotland on 26.3.2001; 22:55:55 Uhr
YOUR IMPRESSIVE ARTICLE ON AVRIL PATON HAS SHED MORE INFORMATIVE LIGHT ON THE BREATHTAKING "WINDOWS IN THE WEST".
MS. PATON IS WITHOUT QUESTION MY FAVOURITE SCOTTISH ARTIST, AND UNDOUBTEDLY THE CREAM OF CONTEMPORARY SCOTTISH ARTISTS. IT IS A TRIBUTE TO THE ARTIST HERSELF THE WAY IN WHICH SHE HAS BROUGHT WARMTH, CHARM, AND LIFE TO WHAT IS BASICALLY A GLASGOW TENEMENT. I VISITED THE BUILDING IN GLASGOW'S WEST END RECENTLY , AND I WAS DISAPPOINTED AS THERE WERE NO LIGHTS IN THE WINDOWS, NO CHARACTERS GOING ABOUT THEIR DAILY BUSINESS, AND VERY LITTLE EVIDENCE OF THE BUSY TENEMENT AS PORTRAYED IN THE MAGNIFICENT PICTURE. HOWEVER, THIS HAS ONLY ADDED TO MY APPRECIATION OF THE PICTURE, AND THE SKILL OF MISS PATON IN REPRESENTING THE LIFE OF A GLASGOW TENEMENT ONTO CANVAS.
I WOULD DEARLY LOVE TO HEAR FROM MORE PEOPLE WHO HAVE A SIMILAR PASSION FOR MS. PATON'S WORK.
--GARY SMOLLEN ( GAZSMOLLEN at YAHOO dot COM ) from Scotland on 20.11.2000; 0:00:00 Uhr
I have two of Avrils prints hanging in my office.As a Glaswegian and a lover of Glasgow, i think my day is made brighter when i look at them.
--Alex Bradley ( bradisch at aol dot com ) from Scotland on 21.10.2000; 0:00:00 Uhr
see that picture you've got. the one of the house with legs in the window; well thats ma mate's legs so it is. his name is John and he is my pal.
-- shuggie fae partick ( e-mail at gcal dot ac dot uk ) from Scotland on 24.7.2000; 0:00:00 Uhr
Having seen the tenement rendering recently,enjoyed reading about the artist.
The site has good info. and is clear and fast.Good work.
--christie ( catflum at hotmail dot com ) from California on 17.7.2000; 0:00:00 Uhr