British artist Donald Greig produced a wide range of landscapes and seascapes soaked in a haze of idyllic peace. His work is reminiscent of the idyllic school of painters, who during the 19th century intertwined elements of social realism with idealism to create beautifully rendered works offering a glimpse at everyday life. Like Greig, they worked predominantly in watercolours.
Greig’s work presents the transcendental nature of both the countryside and human life. No one scene is the same, even as he often painted the scenery around him, first in Kent and then in Devon. Light drifts casually across the tops of trees, bathing leaves in acidic-sharp washes of green. Waves are caught at the moment of impact with solid rocks, bursting blooms of white foam which then descend to the darker swell of cobalt. People lazily perusing goods become undistinguished figures, caught in a moment of movement at the market.
Greig’s surroundings surely offered him an abundance of inspiration. Kingsbridge in Devon borders a lazily winding estuary that has since been deemed an area of outstanding natural beauty. Inspiration may also have come from a much younger age. Greig’s father, James Greig (1861-1941) had also painted landscapes. It seems likely he would have offered his son instruction and inspiration. There are certainly similarities in their works.
Greig’s artistic career, however, was interrupted by the dawn of the Second World War. He was obliged to put down his paintbrush to serve the army. The upheavals of war may have perhaps influenced him to explore the more idyllic nature present in his work. Perhaps Greig was searching for peace in his surroundings through which to draw his own sense of calm. Whatever the case, Greig’s evocations of nature were widely recognised. He was part of both Devon art societies as well as national institutions. He even found acclaim in the salons of Paris.
Today, his works can be found in the National Maritime Museum, as well as other institutions across the country.
Born in London.
Moved to Kingsbridge, Devon.
Awarded a gold medal at the Paris Salon.
Died in Kingsbridge, Devon.