Title: Esmé Painting No.1 – Time Passing
Size: 60cm x 80cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas

Additional Information
Inspired piece: James Cowie - Schoolgirl (Study for "A Portrait Group") About 1940, Pencil on Paper, 40.5cm x 34.1cm

Link here to the piece in the National Galleries of Scotland collection.

"The initial inspiration for my painting is a drawing by James Cowie. It is “Schoolgirl” (Study for a Portrait Group) from 1940. The pose, the lighting on the face, Cowie’s superb technique and the relationship between the figure and the background have always impressed me. It is a drawing that I have liked since my own time at school. Indeed, I remember my art teacher sitting a fellow pupil in front of me, much to my embarrassment, to try out my own version. I must have been about 16 at the time. I still have my rather poor attempt. Anyway, 40 odd years later, I thought I would try a proper version this time of my own 16 year old daughter, Esmé. It has been a while since I have tried a portrait painting in oils.

I started with various similar ‘leaning on hand poses’ and tried out quite a few sketches and photos before settling on the final oil painting arrangement. The background and foreground have changed and developed a lot with the changing seasons. Initially it took place in woods in the Falkland estate and she had an open book on the desk in the foreground.  Since I had ‘too much’ space in front of the model, however, I decided on a more elaborate still life arrangement. A bowl of strawberries and a plate of apples gave me a fresh challenge getting at the idea of summer or harvest.

I wanted the background to reflect the Fife countryside that I walk, run or cycle through each day. Hawthorn in bloom, I will add that. Rosebay willowherb looking good out there against the fields of gold. Too good to ignore. Added and subsequently removed. Swifts circling. I like that. A red rose in bloom in the garden. Promptly picked and drawn. The picturesque Lomond hills, finally included in one of my oil paintings. Local colour!

The clothing, intentionally more neutral in colour, is inspired by the garb that I developed from medieval pilgrim and plague doctor robes and have used often in previous narrative and portrait paintings. I did consider contemporary dress and have included that in another concurrent interior portrait of Esmé leaning on her cheek.

I was going for a “Cider with Rosie”or ”Where the Apple Ripens” vibe. The “Apple Gatherers” by Stanley Spencer is also a favourite piece of mine by another inspirational artist. I could not resist the anachronistic ‘Apple’ Iphone, which Esmé never seems to be without. Each time I asked her to pose it would accompany her. The apple, surely one of the most overused symbols in art, along with the rose. Still, both are great to draw and paint and new to my work.

Late on in the painting process, I started adding falling leaves to give more depth and movement, to help with the composition, and to accentuate the change of seasons. The notion of ‘time passing’ interested me. This painting represents a snippet of time captured, one that could so easily have slipped past unrecorded. It was not until some time later that I remembered Cowie himself had painted a double portrait entitled “Falling Leaves”.

The influences that other artists have on your work and the inspiration that you take from them is hard to evaluate. The slow burn effect is intriguing. Who to be inspired by next, I wonder? Cezanne? Gaugin? Peploe? Spencer? Alan Davie? Corot? Bellany? They all seem to be vying to be top of my list." Joseph Davie

Price: £5000

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About the Artist

Joseph Davie Biography

Born Glasgow 1965
1983-87 BA (Hons) Degree Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art.
1987-95 Lighthouse Studio, Glasgow.
1994-95 PGCE, Jordanhill Faculty, Glasgow.
1995-14 Teacher of Art and Design/ APT Buckhaven High Scool.
2016 Teacher of Art and Design Levenmouth Academy


1987 The Carnegie Travelling Scholarship.
1990 The Guthrie Painting Award, RSA Edinburgh.
1990 The Glasgow-Berlin Book Project, Glasgow Print Studio.
1991 Travel Grant, The British Council.
1991 Project Award, The Scottish Arts Council.
1991 The Betty Davies Award, Society of Artists and Artist Craftsmen.
1992 The David Cargill Award, Royal Glasgow Institute.
1993 Special Commendation, Morisson Scottish Portrait Award.
1997 The Arthur Anderson Prize, Royal Glasgow Institute.
1997 The May Marshall Brown Award, RSW, Edinburgh.


1991 A Journal of the Blackout, Glasgow Print Studio.
1991 Solo Show, Birganart, Toronto.
1991 Blackout, Edinburgh Print Workshop.
1991 Blackout, Highland Pritmakers.
1993 An Inadequate Conclusion, Elektra Fine Art, Toronto.
1993 Salt and Light, Hunt-Jennings Gallery, London.
1993 Elektra Fine Art, Spadina, Toronto.
1998 A Passionate Hobby, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London.
2008 “mouth-piece”, Castle Gallery, Inverness.
2013-16 Solo Shows, Pillars of Hercules, Fife.
2015 ‘Retrospective’ Maspie House Gallery, Falkland


1992 Birganart, Toronto.
1994 East Kilbride Arts Centre


1989 L.A. Art Fair.
1989-91 Bath.
1990 Basle.
Nurnberg ‘90.
1989-92 Olympia, London.
1989-94 Art ‘89/’94, Islington, London.
1998 Artfair ‘98, Business Design Centre.
1998 The Contemporary Print Fair, Barbican, London.
2009-10 Glasgow Art Fair.


1988 The Society of Scottish Artists, Edinburgh.
1990 Edinburgh Salutes Glasgow, The Scottish Gallery.
The Fine Art Society, Edinburgh.
Critics’ Choice, Bohun Gallery, Oxfordshire.
Drawing Exhibition, The Thumb Gallery, London.
Scottish Printmakers, Mary Ryan Gallery, New York.
1990,97-8 RSA, Edinburgh.
1988,91 The Royal Glasgow Institute.
1991 Vier Plus Four, Glasgow-Berlin Book Project, G.P.S.
The Society of Artists and Artists Craftsmen, RSA, Edinburgh.
Danger Artists at Work. Scottish Arts Council’s Travelling Gallery.
1992 Houldsworth Fine Art, The Mall Galleries, London.
Critics’ Choice, Cooling Gallery, Cork St, London.
Scottish Artists, Elektra Fine Art, Toronto.
The 20th Ljubljana Print Bienniale, Slovenia.
The Royal Academy of Arts 225th Summer Exhibition, London.
The Singer and Friedlander/Sunday Times Watercolour Show.
1995-00 The Royal Glasgow Institute Annual Exhibitions.
1996-7 RSW, Edinburgh.
1997 BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London, Ulster
Museum, Aberdeen Museum.
1998 RSA Members Exhibition, invited artist.
2000 Faith in the Frame, Belfast.
2005 RGI
Reacquainted, Kelly Gallery, Glasgow. (Simon Laurie, Dorothy Stirling)
2006 - 10 Castle Gallery, Inverness
Mansfield Park Gallery, Glasgow.
Temple Gallery, Aberfeldy.
Open Eye, Edinburgh.
2011 Lunardi Gallery, Ceres.
Unique and Original Glasgow Print Studio
2012-13 RGI
2012 “Surfaces for Thought”, 3 artists, Rothes Halls
2016 “18 Swimmers”, Mansfieldpark Gallery, Glasgow
2016 Swimmers, Scottish Animals, Castle Gallery, Inverness.


B.B.C., Glasgow and Edinburgh.
City Arts Centre, Edinburgh.
Springburn Museum, Glasgow.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow.
The Hunterian Museum, Glasgow Museum.
The McLean Art Gallery and Museum, Greenock.
The Dick Institute, Kilmarnock.
St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto.
Bon Secours Hospital, Glasgow.
St. John’s Hospital, Livingston.
Glasgow Education Department.
East Kilbride Development Corporation.
Historic Scotland, Stirling Castle.
Glasgow Museum of Modern Art.
The Smith Institute, Stirling.
Flemings Bank.
Linn Records.
Victoria and Albert Museum.


10 Springburn Images, Springburn Museum, Glasgow.
Glasgow 1990 Year of Culture Poster. Widespread.
Woven Tapestry/Banner, Keeping Glasgow in Stitches Project
Tiled Mural, East Kilbride Development Corporation.
Poster for the Dick Institute, Kilmarnock.
Stirling Castle Tapestries, Stirling Castle.
Cafe, Departure Lounge Mural, Glasgow Airport.
‘Wet,Wet,Wet’, Album Booklet.
Stirling Castle Tapestry Commission.
12 Stirling Street Banners.
Stirling Tolbooth Banners.
‘St Mungo Bookshop’ logo, Glasgow.
‘Concerto Caledonia’ CD Covers: ‘Colin’s Kisses’,
Mungrel Stuff’,‘Fiddler Tam’ and ‘Lion’, Linn Records.
St Mungo Artwork, Private Commission.
‘Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games’ Series of Artworks, Private Commission
Scottish Wildlife, Private Commission
‘Tobias Hume’ and ‘Purcell’s Revenge’ CD covers, Delphian Records
Nahaniel Gow’s Dance Band, Concerto Caledonia, poster design.


1998 Lighthouse Promo Pack.
1991 Slate Magazine Cover, Sept. Ontario.
1991 Article and images in the Medical Journal.
1991 Vier Plus Four, Berlin Book, Glasgow Print Studio.
1991 A Journal of the Blackout. Exhibition catalogue.
1991 Danger Artists at Work.
1991 SAAC Catalogue.
1993 Alter-Ego. Glasgow Print Studio.
1993 West and Working Calendar.
1994 Southfields, Cover, Southfield Press, London.
1996 Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scala Books.
1997 RSW Catalogue.
1999 RGI Catalogue.
2000 Faith in the Frame Catalogue.
2003 A History of Scottish Art, Merrell.
2005 RGI Catalogue.
2009 Lallans Magazine front cover.

Artists Statement...

Themes, new and old, that occur, interweave and clash:-

salvation and lostness,
faith and the absence of,
misplaced faith-modern day golden calves,
light and darkness (spiritual/electrical),
mess, chaos and order,
the worship of or tyranny of tv, interior design,
childhood memories, usually scandalously idealised.
maths and electricity.

the cast:-

contemporary hapless heroes,
anachronistic pilgrims,
malevolent figures, (almost comic book)
confused or ambivalent figures,
underwater figures and astronauts,
a savior,
a prophet,
dweebs, dunderheads and dipsticks,
the sportsman, the swimmer,
clumsy potter,
boy who is mistaken for air/water/…
and the usual beautiful female lead for some scenes -a modern day Eve.

The plot and the losing thereof....
(a whiff of a narrative / half narratives):-

the meeting of two ideas/ people/ cultures...
broken narratives that raise questions,
bringers of light or darkness or both,
bringers of healing or disease or both,
some greater or unseen battle,
hiccups to faith,
people out of their elements,
preposterous propositions,

the costumes:-

conspicuous camouflage,
oceanic tribal garb,
medieval pilgrim,
swimming cap,
naked / nude,
native american stuff, tribal!
the runner outfit (how much more banal can you get than that?)
masked figures and numbered , nameless figures

the sets

modern interiors,
ambiguous spaces, (but hopefully pretty to look at)
simple land-scapes, (Scottish/Italian inspired)

the props:-

free-standing lights,
churches and towers,
fire station towers
interior product,
storm-lamps etc....

artistic influences:-

Innuit art, Giotto and everything in between.