15 June - 21 July
Drawings and Watercolours
Tom Shanks RSW RGI PAI
A selection of watercolours and drawings spanning Tom Shanks’ career from the 1940s to the present day.
Click on an image to see title, size, frame size or mount and price
Tom Shanks is widely acknowledged as one of the most impressive contemporary Scottish artists. He is known for his evocative watercolour paintings of the West Highlands which he has loved since childhood. It was at the age of seven that his parents first took him from his Glasgow home to the Isle of Skye and this visit had a profound effect upon him becoming his inspiration for a lifetime of paintings. Tom frequently travelled the West Coast of Scotland, when he was young by bicycle, and later, when he had a young family, by car. Always carrying with him easily transportable sketchbooks pens and watercolours, Tom would sketch and paint every day.
On leaving school, Tom Shanks became an apprentice carpet designer at Templeton’s carpet factory. Upon World War Two breaking out, as a Conscientious Objector, Tom was sent to work with the Forestry Commission at the Holy Loch, Argyll. He continued to draw and paint during this time and the exhibition features work dating from this period. As his interest and skill developed, when the war ended Shanks applied to Glasgow School of Art to attend evening classes and was encouraged to enrol for the fulltime diploma course.
After graduating in 1950, he worked as a mural painter, stage designer, designer in the Edinburgh Weavers Dovecot studios and as a teacher of art but he has continued always to paint the Scottish landscape. Tom is now 98 years old. He continues to draw and paint every single day.
Gallery owner Rosalyn McKenna has long admired Tom’s work. Her parents own a piece and she always appreciated the deceptively simple washes of watercolour which perfectly captured the long sweep of sandy beach, the turquoise water gently lapping the edges, the clouds scudding across a deep blue sky and the dark purple hills receding into the background. In 2007 Rosalyn visited Tighnabruaich Gallery which, at that time was owned by Shona and Iain Dobbie. There happened to be a display of Tom’s work and so Rosalyn and her husband Neil purchased a piece as a wedding gift to themselves.
Neil and Rosalyn took over Tighnabruaich Gallery in 2017, an ambition which they had held for many years. Imagine their excitement when Tom Shanks himself visited the gallery. A quiet, softly-spoken gentleman accompanied by his daughter, Tom spent a long while looking around the gallery, taking the time to consider the work of every artist, before introducing himself. Tom asked Rosalyn and Neil if they would be interested in exhibiting his work. Without hesitation the answer was yes. Rosalyn says:
‘Buying our Tom Shanks painting gave us a real buzz of excitement and happiness. I love the piece and gain pleasure every time I look at it. So, it is safe to say I was somewhat star-struck when Tom visited the gallery. It is such a rare and unusual gift to meet an artist whose work you have long admired. Working with Tom for this solo exhibition has been the most exciting and rewarding chapter of our time at Tighnabruaich Gallery.’