British painter, born in Edinburgh. He studied at the *Slade School, 1952–4, and spent most of his life in London, but did not forget his Scottish roots, and the Isle of Arran inspired some of his best landscape paintings. As well as landscapes, he painted portraits, still-lifes, animals, and religious subjects. His style is flat (sometimes with an almost heraldic simplicity of image) and whimsical; admirers find it luminous and poetic, detractors find it twee and poorly drawn.
Aitchison himself wrote: ‘My pictures are always of something; they're not just “planes of colour” or anything posh like that. When I do a still-life or a portrait, I place the object or the person in front of the colour that is to appear in the picture. It may take hours of fiddling about with different backdrops of paper or cloth to get the colour right. You can't get the composition right if the colour's wrong. I suppose what most irritates me is if someone says I'm a “naive” painter.’ Aitchison was a colourful character, a well-known figure in Soho.
Text source: A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art (Oxford University Press)