Marj Bond, painter known for embracing bright and vibrant colours

Born: May 23, 1936;

Died: March 15, 2023

MARJ Bond, who has died aged 87, was tall, lively, generous and relished life as a parent and a professional painter, working on pictures right up to the end of her long life. She was above all an instinctive, emotional, intuitive artist with a profound love for intense, luminous colour and a natural gift for big, bold imagery.

This is not surprising as she studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1955 until 1960 under the famous David Donaldson and Mary Armour, both of whom encouraged lush colour and tactile brushwork. Bond’s delighted in the physicality of oil paint. "I have never liked a smooth, swishy swashy surface!” she said.

On my last visit to her wonderful home littered with vivid mementoes of travels, her Mill studio was brimming with big paintings waiting to go out to various exhibitions, like Glasgow’s Compass & Billcliffe Galleries, Edinburgh’s RSA and Open Eye, Paisley Art Institute, London’s Thackeray Gallery, and Henley’s Bohun. She also exhibited in Dublin, America, and always, annually with the Society of Scottish Artists.

Few had her ability to make such convincing areas of glowing red, such fields of burning orange, gold and vermilion, or her confidence to create her characteristic deep seas of lapis edged with emerald or indigo. Her imagery ranges from strange silent Inca heads of ancient warrior kings or tribal goddesses, via Celtic crosses and eastern shrines to total, recent abstraction. An early talent for pattern-making and her so-called punk madonnas gradually developed into strong design elements and a most difficult simplicity.

The end results are much loved vivid pictures which radiate heat and light, mystery and intrigue. And Marj Bond’s pictures sold well too. A practical person, she worked hard, exhibited frequently, and throughout the 1980s ran a popular commercial gallery in the historic Fairmaids House, Perth. Many Scottish artists benefitted from this, getting a good start in their careers. I met her there in 1982.

Like generations of Scottish artists before her, deprived of the sun, she headed south in search of foreign sights, symbols and sensations. Her Eureka moment was in 1988 when she travelled to India with her second husband, architect James Gray, lecturer at Edinburgh School of Art.

India opened her eyes. She told me, "It was a terrific breakthrough to me. At art school we were indoctrinated with the importance of tone. Previously I'd repressed the urge towards very bright yellows or pinks. Once I'd been to India and saw these hues, my colours went through the roof!"

Trips to Cuba, Mexico and the south of Spain followed, encouraging her belief in the joy of colour, but now coupled with a passion for collage and texture.

Bond rarely sketched, relying on memory and imagination, aided by a few photographs for her dramatic images. Even her technique was expressive, always mixing her paint on the actual canvas, glazing red over blue, layering up the picture with skins of more and more oil paint. "I can't get that sort of immediacy any other way," she once told me. This style of painting necessitated a generosity of spirit which shines through her paintings, providing her fans with long lasting delights.

Bond was an elected member of the Scottish Society of Artists and Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.

She is survived by three children, two step-children, 10 grandchildren and one great grandson.