Since graduating almost 20 years ago from Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) with a BA in Drawing and Painting, Rowan Paton has established herself as a successful and innovative artist based here in Edinburgh. She works with various materials and an eclectic colour palette to create abstract landscapes. Rowan has recently been elected as a professional member of Visual Arts Scotland (VAS) and is excited at the prospect of helping recent graduates showcase their work. Web intern Rachel Lee spoke to Rowan about her career as an artist and her recent VAS exhibition.

What is your first memory of art?

Donald Paton, my Great Grandfather, was a Scottish water colourist, his son Hugh Paton a painter, and his granddaughter, Avril Paton, so it’s probably in the blood somewhere. There was never really anything else I wanted to do but make pictures.

Why did you choose to study at ECA?

The studios are beautiful. I considered myself lucky to spend four years in light-flooded rooms with a wonderful library at my disposal.

Do you have any fond memories of studying at ECA?

ECA still smells the same when I visit, that is the most evocative thing. Sort of a mishmash of clay, oil paint & chemicals. I loved my degree, worked extremely hard and I made life-long friends. I had some wonderful tutors: Paul Keir, Joan Smith, Liz Ogilvie, George Donald, Cathie Pilkington, Steven Hunter and they made the experience worthwhile. I was awarded the Ellen Battell Stoeckel summer school exchange to Yale, USA, in my third year, which a was a brilliant summer and led to my Masters at Yale University.


"ECA still smells the same when I visit, that is the most evocative thing. I loved my degree, worked extremely hard and I made life-long friends."

Rowan Paton, Drawing and Painting - BA

How would you describe your style of art?

My current practice is driven by a preoccupation with mark making, but language, colour and print also characterise my work. Essentially, it is about escapism. I create myself alternative environments. I have begun using text and language again within my drawing and printmaking, something that drove my practice in earlier years (my Degree Show featured text heavily within my paintings). Using language with image has always struck me as an obvious visual catharsis.

Can you tell us about your recent exhibition and your inspiration for it?

I have been fortunate enough, most recently, to create a large-scale wall drawing, Wilderness, a piece about mental ill health, installed for the SSA VAS Open 2018 at RSA, Edinburgh. This has been a recent personal highlight.

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently completing a few larger paintings and I am excited about a new series of prints I have begun. I am also looking forward to more site-specific collaborative projects and sculptural work, which I will shortly begin plans for. I am also thrilled to work towards a solo show at the Tent Gallery in Evolution House at ECA in January.