Christopher Wood PPSSA RSW RGI portrait



Christopher is an elected member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, an elected member of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts and Past-President of the Society of Scottish Artists.

He trained at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with an Honours degree in Drawing & Painting in 1984.

He has been a full-time professional artist since his first one-man exhibition in Edinburgh 1987.

He is married with two children and two step-children and lives and works in the coastal town of Dunbar, near Edinburgh.

Photos: Amelie Wood, Angus Bremner

Activities Include:

Hanging Convenor 143rd Annual Open Exhibition of the RSW at the RSA Galleries 2023
Elected Member of The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts (2023)
President of the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA) (2009 – 2011)
Vice-President of the Society of Scottish Artists (SSA) (2006-2009)
Board Member of the Exhibiting Societies of Scotland (ESSA) (2006-2011)
Elected member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) (2006)
Elected to serve on the Council of the SSA (2004 – 2011)
Professional Member of The Glasgow Art Club (2005)
Elected Member of The Paisley Art Institute (PAI) (2005)
Elected Professional Member of the SSA (2004)
Elected Professional Member of the Visual Arts Scotland (VAS) (1993)
Selection/Hanging & Arranging Committees SSA Annual Exhibitions at RSA 2006 to 2013.


George Watson’s College, Edinburgh
James Gillespie’s High School, Edinburgh
Edinburgh College of Art, Drawing & Painting 1980-84

Awards include:

The Smithy Gallery Prize (PAI 2014)
Rowallan Castle Award (RSW 2012)
The Glasgow Art Club Fellowship (SSA 2011)
The Sir William Gillies Award (RSW 2009)
The Glasgow Art Club Fellowship (RSW 2005)
SSWA Special Award for Painting (SAAC 1997)
The Scottish Arts Club Award (SAAC 1995)
The Nancy Graham Memorial Award (SAAC 1994)
The Armour Award (RGI 1994)
The James Torrance Memorial Award (RGI 1993)

Collections include:

Standard Life Aberdeen (New York Collection); HRH King Charles; the Bank of Scotland; United Distillers; Edinburgh University; Lennox Lewis; The Demarco European Foundation; MacRoberts Solicitors; Premier Property Group; Phoenix Equity Partners and many other private and corporate collections around the world.


Christopher has had solo exhibitions at galleries throughout the UK including: Kilmorack Gallery, Beauly; The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh; Thompson’s Gallery, London and Harpendon; Cadogan Contemporary, London; An Talla Solais, Ullapool; The Meffan Museum and Art Gallery, Forfar; The Scottish Arts Club, Edinburgh; The Glasgow Art Club, Glasgow; The Richmond Hill Gallery, Richmond, The Gatehouse Gallery, Glasgow; Corpus Christi College, Oxford; The Macaulay Gallery, East Lothian and The Vicarage Cottage Gallery, Newcastle.

His work has been selected for exhibition with The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA); The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW); The Royal Glasgow Institute of The Fine Arts (RGI); The Society of Scottish Artists (SSA); Visual Arts Scotland (VAS, Formerly The SAAC); The Paisley Art Institute (PAI); The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition; The Discerning Eye Competition; The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) and the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI).

He has shown in mixed exhibitions the length and breadth of the country, including; Fidra Fine Art, Gullane; Kilmorack Gallery, Beauly; Thompson’s Gallery, London & Harpenden; Tatha Gallery, Newport on Tay; Gallery Heinzel, Aberdeen; Lime Tree Gallery, Bristol; The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh; Hart Gallery, London; Richmond Hill Gallery, Richmond and the Manor House Gallery, Chipping Norton.

The art of Christopher Wood RSW is defined by immersion in the materiality of painting as a transformative process. This latest body of work reflects the evolution of Wood’s practice in a series of paintings and mixed media works which display the artist’s tenacity and skill; balancing instinctual, spontaneous marks with structural elements of composition. Inspired by the artist’s coastal environment near his home in Dunbar, Wood’s palette is infused with the reflection and absorption of light to be found in ever changing elements of Scottish land and seascape. The artist’s choice of colour echoes the relationship to subject in his work; defined not by naturalism but the visualisation of an interior world, both sensual and cerebral. The opaque qualities of acrylic often used in his mixed media works create subtly layered surfaces that heighten our sense of illumination through abstraction.

Throughout his career Christopher Wood’s movement towards abstraction reflects immersion in his chosen environment and dynamic experimentation, grappling with the plastic elements of image making to create potent and contemplative spaces for the imagination.

Georgina Coburn, 2012

Immersion - The Art of Christopher Wood

The word which most readily comes to mind, as I move among Wood’s new paintings is ‘visceral’. There is something deeply intuitive about these works: alternately insistent, lyrical, emphatic and searingly emotive. This is painting from the heart, in its purest form. Wood is the first to admit that his chief sources of inspiration are profoundly personal, ranging from the birth of his first child, three and a half years ago to recent bereavement. There is certainly a sense of catharsis here, of painting out the emotion, but it is also impossible to deny the exuberant optimism of exploration. The idea that while paint is a means of self expression, it is also an agent of self-discovery.

Foreword by Iain Gale, 2005

The Glasgow Art Club Fellowship Exhibition

The popular Scottish landscape painter Christopher Wood’s work has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Working from his studio in Dunbar, the east coast shoreline, the ebb and flow of the tides and the Scottish elements have always played a part in his work, but it has been infused with a deep and vibrant colour that is imaginative as much as descriptive.

These days the work is taking a further turn with materials like cloth, paper and enamel to create distinctive hybrids between traditional oil painting and collage. The Scottish landscape is still there, but a furrowed field or a sea cliff might be captured in a ragged cloth edge instead of painterly line, a sunset rendered in a piece of fraying canvas.

Moira Jeffrey, The Glasgow Herald, 2004

Elements of beauty: New Ground

Christopher Wood has taken the risk of freeing himself from the subject matter which has given him his reputation as a gifted landscapist. He is now a painter of what I must regard as ‘mindscapes’. However, these new paintings are possessed of the distinctive character associated with his work over the past ten years, particularly in the degree of sheer physical energy release which they make manifest.

Christopher Wood is an artist who could be regarded as a contemporary Scottish Colourist because colour is a dominant factor in the ways which he has found of depicting the ever-changing effects of light and weather typically Scottish, particularly those associated with Scotland’s shorelines where tidal forces create a dramatic encounter between land and sea.
Christopher Wood’s use of colour is given a special significance by the confident draftmanship inherent in every paint-laden brushstroke applied to the surface of his canvas.

Professor Richard Demarco C.B.E., H.R.S.A., R.S.W., F.R.S.A., Hon. F.E.C.A., Hon. F.R.I.A.S., Hon. R.W.S., S.S.A. (Hon. President)

Edinburgh, 2004

Christopher Wood’s paintings, featuring in his second solo show at the Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh this month, tread a narrow path between representation and abstraction – and in this case that doesn’t constitute artbollocks. Inspired by the landscape around the artist’s studio in East Lothian, many of the oil paintings appear at first sight to be compositions of pure colour; but a prolonged glance will reveal scenes of hills, fields and coastlines of surprising depth and form. This reflects the way in which they are created: Wood claims to “start off with paint and work [his] way back to nature”. If you remain unconvinced, go to the gallery and see for yourself. The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, 5th – 30th June 1999.

Art Review, June 1999

Field day

The countryside is just the starting point for Christopher Wood’s striking landscapes, writes Elizabeth Mahoney.

Artist Christopher Wood lives and works between two dramatically different landscapes. Looking out from his studio, to the north the land stretches down to the flat shore, the waters edge and the beautiful beaches of East Lothian; while to the south the lush rolling hills climb up to the stark and dramatic moorland of The Lammermuirs.

His home and studio nestle in the East Lothian countryside which forms a beautiful meeting point for the two. Similarly, Wood’s career can be described as a meeting of opposites. Starting out as a landscape painter after graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 1984, he began by producing canvasses which were infused with the natural forms and the scenes that surrounded him. As well as critical acclaim, prizes and awards, the loyalty of his early work to the local landscape drew comparisons with Joan Eardley’s paintings of Catterline on the North East coast and William Gillies’ Lothian landscapes.

At this stage, Wood’s painting was poetic and lyrical as his titles hint, ‘ I Wandered Alone Over The Beach (Under That Moon Where She Droops Almost Down To The Sea‘ and ‘Sweet Tremulous Days of Rain and Sun’ are typical. You hardly need to see the paintings to imagine the scenes. Now the titles are shorter and sharper, for example, ‘Hill Loch’ and ‘Red Storm’, and you need to see theses oil paintings, with their impasto textures and intense colours, to appreciate their spacial energy.

He explains the new brevity quite simply. “The titles I was using became overly important in people’s minds. This was finally brought home to me when I was introduced to somebody at an opening at the RSA and he began with ‘Ah yes, you’re the chap with the titles’. I thought, ‘No I’m the chap with the paintings actually’ and from then on I’ve preferred to keep my titles short and allow the paintings to speak for themselves.” But it’s not just the names which have altered. On the strength of new paintings on show at the Scottish Gallery, many would be tempted to label Wood an abstract painter. There are blocks of colour, puzzling forms, bewildering layers of shapes.

For the artist, it is less a case of moving between two irreconcilable traditions, more a natural progression in his painting process. “While my paintings are no longer topographical, for me they are still solidly grounded in Nature. They have to be. The meaning of a painting is now more about emotional responses, ‘process’ and feelings, but their inspiration and visual vocabulary still come from the land, from the same areas of East Lothian and other places I feel I know well. But I no longer go out to paint. I don’t set an easel up in the fields and draw what I see anymore.” This is partly due to his familiarity with the landscape, having been based in East Lothian for 15 years and absorbing enough to work solely from memory and the imagination. But it’s also a result of heavy weather in Provence a few years ago, which forced him to change his approach.

“I was working there for three months and it rained all the time. Because of the conditions, I couldn’t actually paint much outside and had to nip out between downpours to make quick sketches before returning to my studio. Because of this I was forced to work up these sketches into finished paintings in the studio, which of course is quite a different pursuit to working ‘en plain air’ as I was used to. At the time of course I was still trying to work in quite a realistic way, but because I was forced to work so much indoors with only my sketches to go on, I found I had to use my visual memory and my imagination more and more. This also coincided with my being introduced to the work of Nicholas de Stael by an artist friend who lives in France.

“When I came back and had my show, my earlier work seemed to me to be merely paintings of places and things. I remember quite vividly thinking there was more of interest in the colours and textures of my palette than there was in much of the work on the walls. It might sound strange, but I began then to try to marry the un-selfconscious beauty of my palette with the visual language I used in describing a scene.

“In Wood’s studio it’s easy to see what he means. There are swirls of oil paint, arranged in rows, one gorgeous colour upstaged by the next. If the early paintings were largely concerned with recording the natural landscapes, these new works are adventures in paint informed by that same landscape. “Most of my work involves layer upon layer of paint. Each is allowed time to dry before being scratched and scraped and layered again with more paint, before being set aside, while the focus moves to another canvas. Thus the finished painting is built up over time.

“I’ve been using transparent glazes more and more. By using very strongly pigmented paint scraped really hard across the canvas, all the textures in the layers below can once again be shown. I love paint. I love the ‘stuff’ of it. I love playing around with it.”

Wood’s studio is crammed with canvasses, some almost complete, and some in the early stages. A store room contains hundreds more which he selects from for over-painting and reworking. A number of the new paintings have been made in this way, with only the merest trace of the earlier composition visible.

The whole studio can, at times, be given over to work in progress, with each canvas being worked up over five or six different periods. “I have no idea where the painting will go and I’m always happy when I surprise myself. I spend a great deal of time listening to each canvas to divine it’s particular voice. I turn it around, upside down, thinking,’what the hell is that?’. Eventually, I begin to see what the painting could be. “It’s chaotic, it’s improvisational, and I enjoy that,” he says, with a beam.

The finished paintings are anything but chaotic and the strong relationship with surrounding landscape is still present. In the majestic ‘Between The Moors And The Sea’, for all its play with paint, swathes of deep blue mark the sea and sky, and the sun shines down. The fertile land by the shore is suggested by patches and cubes of colour. Further back, wide expanses of uncluttered, less busy and highly textured canvas demarcate the higher, wilder moor land.

“Between The Moors and The Sea’ is about living here in East Lothian”, Wood explains.”My girlfriend and I were thinking of buying a house in West Lothian but every time we came back here, we realised we didn’t want to leave. So it’s about this place. It’s not topographical. There are no ‘views’ you could find round here, but it nevertheless encompasses, for me, the ‘idea’ of living here. These days I start off with paint and work my way back to nature.”

Elizabeth Mahoney

Scotland on Sunday, June 1999

From a poet and his painters to a painter-poet. *

Christopher Wood is no longer up and coming; he is unequivocally up. Not that we have yet seen the best of him. In his mid thirties, Edinburgh-trained, living and working in East Lothian, he paints landscapes which are still-lifes and still-lifes which expand into landscapes of the mind. He is an abstractionist with a precise sense of volume and form. His palette is delicate yet capable of bursting into rich and glowing luminosity. You will see pictures within pictures, skies and seas where there are none, sensuality in the bleakest landscape.

Wood’s latest exhibition, at The Scottish Gallery, is confirmation of his maturity. He has always been able to manipulate paint and give it voice, take what he wanted from De Stael’s spatial anarchy and lyrical economy, then bring his own energies and vision to images whose only sense lies in the visual music they make. The role of designer-draughtsman, such a cosy refuge for artists with nothing to say, is not for him. If you look long enough you will hear him quite clearly. No need, now, for titles like I’d Rather Learn From One Bird How To Sing Than Teach Ten Thousand Stars How Not To Dance, or Before Why’s First Because. The paintings say it all – and better.

*(The first line of this review refers to the previous paragraph regarding an exhibition about Robert Burns)
W Gordon Smith

The Scotland on Sunday, 28th July 1996

Magic Circle of Life

It was worth risking the yellow peril of East Lothian’s acres of rapeseed to see the work of two painters – in age, generations apart; in style, continents apart. Christopher wood graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1984 – “but I don’t think of myself as having trained there,” he says. “I trained here, looking out beyond Traprain Law, sketching in the fields, until I had absorbed enough of the landscape to work now only in the studio, entirely from my imagination”. Wood’s solo show of more than 40 abstractions of the world on his doorstep – at the Macaulay Gallery at Stenton, near Dunbar – is his sixth there in a row. In between he has been hung at the RSA (Royal Scottish Academy) and won two important prizes at annual shows of the Royal Glasgow Institute.

Wood’s canvasses have moved up in scale and, as a consequence, his images have become more structured and forceful. He still conjures dreamy atmospheric passages of resonating colour, almost liquid in their coalescent intensity, and he has the gift of making these expressionist essays complete in themselves. But the larger works are rooted in more solid statements which invite specific interpretation – linear forms which introduce harsher textures, planes of scumbled broken colour, Sea and Sky, sun and moon, are indivisible, but is that dense mass a rock formation or harbour mouth, Traprain Law or the Bass Rock itself? Do those darts of high colour serve only as pictorial accent, or could they be prayer flags recalled from a recent trip to the Himalayas?

These are challenging works, some more coherent than others, but all bold and painterly. His titles are poetically unspecific. ‘The moon lends away its light’, ‘At the drop of dusk’, and ‘At the round earth’s imagined corners I do dwell’. It is fair to quote back at him that his world is a circle “of which the centre is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere”. There is a hint of Eardley in his palette and his graceful division of space, and a suggestion too, of the aerial vision of William Burns, but in this exhibition Wood has begun to lay claim to the landscape he has lived in and learned to read during all the years of his adult life – as Gillies did in the same airt, and as Eardley did at Townhead and Catterline.

W Gordon Smith

The Scotland on Sunday, 28th May 1995

Christopher Wood’s East Lothian studio…

is set between the moors and the sea and his creative imagination feeds off these elemental sources to produce lyrical responses. His style, influenced by Philipson and Eardley, moves ever closer to the abstraction of Nicholas de Stael. This is evident in two fine small works at the RSA and even more emphatic in a show of 30 canvases which has just opened at the Vicarage Cottage Gallery, North Shields. His titles, like Sweet Tremulous Days Of Rain and Sun and The Far and Flowerless Fields of Ice, might seem to be trying to do to much of the work if his paintings were not, in themselves, charged with such poetic expression. Beyond handling texture and colour in the best traditions of the Edinburgh school, and observing the true lie of the land and mood of the sea, he manages to suggest that on the right day he can paint the wind and the smell of flowers in a meadow.

© W Gordon Smith

The Scotland on Sunday, 1st May 1994

Studio ©Angus Bremner