The Arts – Viola Paterson

Viola Paterson – Painter, draughtswoman, printmaker and member of the distinguished Paterson family of artists

Viola was born in Helensburgh in 1899, daughter of famous Glasgow Architecture and Artist Alexander Nisbet Patterson and Margaret Hamilton. Viola was one of two children, her brother Alastair Hamilton Paterson entered the army and eventually rose to the rank of Major General.

Viola was a member of the distinguished Paterson family of artists. In 1919-23 she attended the Glasgow School of Art under Maurice Greiffenhagen. In 1924-25 Viola left Scotland to study in Paris at L’Academie de la Grand Chaumiere with Lucien Simon Besnard and then with Andre L’Hote.

Viola then continued to paint in France, although she travelled around Europe, before returning to Britain in 1941. During the war she worked for several years for the Admiralty in Oxford. After the war years, Viola settled in Chelsea, London where she continued to paint and exhibit.

Paterson worked in oil, pastel, water colour, lithography and etching, but gained her reputation through her colour woodcuts which she made using a technique which she called “woodtype”.

A line drawing would be etched onto a soft wood block to create isolated sections, each of which would be individually coloured with watercolour and printed off onto a sheet of paper attached to the top of the block with drawing pins. The result was a complex, multi-coloured image produced from a single block. Most coloured woodcuts are produced using several blocks, generally one block per colour.

She returned to her family home, Long Croft, in Helensburgh in 1955 and remained here until she died in 1981.

Viola exhibited widely at RA, RSA, Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, SSA, and Belgrave and Parkin Galleries.

Images: Copy photographs from plates by Lance Cooper, 1999