George Devlin celebrates life - having had two close encounters with his own mortality, he has a very lucid view that no-one should take their life for granted.


His paintings act as a powerful reminder to us of the beauty of our natural environment and the forces of nature.


What makes an artist great ?


As a lecturer in the painting school at the Glasgow School of Art, George taught his students that you cannot  understand pictorial composition unless you look beyond painting to music and poetry and even architecture. When you understand this point it allows you to successfully interpret the sense of scale and musical tempo that he uses as a hidden device within his paintings and also we can understand his use of 'poetic' conversion to define the critical elements on which he will base the structure of his composition. Indeed, George frequently writes down or considers his feelings before he composes a painting to 'filter out the inessentials or the extraneous before I embark on a canvas. It is important to filter out that which is literal rather than visual.' If you read his poem ‘Orcadian Light' below, you can gain some insight into the essence of how he prepares his visualisation and converts a proposed scene into a dramatic literal framework.


It is this sense of drama that makes his paintings so great and so immersive.


Devlin is one of the few remaining artists who paints his scene directly onto canvas 'en plein air‘ rather than in his studio. His challenge is to represent, in a convincing way, both the strengths and the subtleties of his subject to allow the viewer to achieve the same level of sensory enjoyment and engagement that he did when he set up his easel. He uses the spontaneity of his intuitive responses in an attempt to find 'an appropriate language in which to couch how I feel about the subject'. He looks for the clues within the subject, which will determine his technique, which might be a brutal or dramatic interpretation or it may be a more tranquil response. These clues may be non visual and his responses may dictate whether he uses oil, watercolour or pastel.


Devlin creates atmosphere within his compositions by using classic and sumptuous light / dark contrasts and clever formation that leads you through the painting and involves you. His mood will also react in his portrayal of the sky or landscape or water. His pre-eminence with light and tonality is central to the engaging effect that he so cleverly assembles in his form. In particular, his glorious and atmospheric depictions of water with the light and colour reflection, whether it is a seascape or river are truly masterful and render him unrivalled by any of his contemporaries.  


Devlin is now one of Scotland's top artistic composers and this is underpinned by the consistently high quality of his works.


George's energy and tenacity are remarkable - he was brought up in a working class family with eight staying in a two bedroom house in Springburn. George suggests that this crowdedness drove him outdoors into the fresh air and was responsible for the independence of his nature and the fact the he lived in his own private bubble. In primary school, one of his teachers would encourage him to join an art class at Kelvingrove and this would seed his perennial love affair with art and painting. At school, George was very successful academically and this would lead to conflict with his Marxist father who had very traditional working class views on the social importance of Law or Medicine as opposed to art. He saw George's ambition to pursue an art career as 'bourgeois' and had problems with George's single mindedness and rejection of his idea for the family, whereby you left school in third year to enter an apprenticeship and play your part in paying wages into the household.


This was not an elegant story of parental encouragement as George had to fight and defy the odds to pursue his career in painting. There is no doubt that George  has come through the hard way and he has had to work harder than most at each stage to progress and attain the artistic renown and stature that he enjoys today. He has had to work in two channels with, at various times, paper rounds, milk rounds, driving buses, lorries and ambulances to raise the funds to get him through the various hurdles and barriers in his career.


George is irrepressibly content however and loves and appreciates every day of his life and his lovely family, Marie and his daughter Nuala. It is his relentless positivity, energy and vitality that now help him to produce each memorable masterpiece that he paints. Devlin is already established in our National Galleries including the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Aberdeen Art Gallery as well as the Lillie and Maclaurin Galleries - his art is already investment class. His status abroad is also exemplified by the fact that La Poste used five of his images on stamps to promote the Val d’Oise , and also a book written about his work  in France. He is a product of a period and system that is progressively being dismantled and, realistically it is unlikely that Scottish Art will ever see the quality of his oeuvre or this calibre of painting again.


George Devlin’s paintings appeal to all age groups – this quality of art is enduring and timeless.






The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) 1955 – 1960

GSA Travelling Scholarship – Europe 1960

RSA Travelling Scholarship - Africa  1961- 1962


George lectured in (Composition) at the GSA 1962 - 1966


Elected RSW 1964 (Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour)

RGI 1989 (Royal Glasgow Institute)

FRSA 1999 (Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts)

RBA 2004 (Royal Society of British Artists)

ROI 2004 (Royal Institute of Oil Painters)

ARWS 2007 (Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society)

RWS 2010 (Royal Watercolour Society)


Works in

The National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Aberdeen Art Gallery

London Stock Exchange

De Beers (South Africa and Luxembourg)

Dutch Water Board

Cunard, (QM2) Queen Mary 2

Five Devlin images were used on stamps by La Poste to promote the new departement of Val-d’Oise (Ile-de-France Region)


George is also represented in a wide range of influential private and corporate collections




A slanting Sabbath light lies low

On winter blackened earth

As this northly space is defined by

An unseen curlew’s cry

Beyond the Bay of Skail


Clean lined islands rise aslope
As some earthen overfall
Secretive and dark and known
To men who ringed Broadgar
At Stenness
A measured ring of time in stone
Sentinelled through yellowing eyes

From a leaden sky
Of yet another day


This afternoon’s nodding grasses
Were tipped with deep remembered

Light of ancient origin

But now all Orkney lies deep dove grey
Iced here and there with paling gold
As a swan’s neck snakes to sleep
On the tranquil Bay of Skail


I am become
A kind of slow and waiting shadow
Listening and seeing silently
While just there
A black sheened Labrador
Sagely scans the moaning wind
And knows the news of spring