Artist Spotlight

Graham McKean

This January’s Artist Spotlight features Graham McKean, whose artworks have been an auction favourite at McTear’s Scottish Contemporary Art Auctions in recent years. Pictures Specialist Makenzie Cool sat down with McKean for a one on one interview about his life, his art, and everything in between. Graham let us know his inspirations, gave us some advice, and told us about some of his favourite things. Find out how much he sold his first painting for, his hobbies outside of painting, and his favourite item of clothing. There are 10 lots by Graham McKean in the 23 January Scottish Contemporary Art Auction, so take this opportunity to learn a little bit more about the man behind the paintings, and then place your bids!

Q: When did you start painting? Or did you start with another artform first?

McKean: I have painted as long as I can remember. From being a small child.

Q: When did you start to develop your distinct style?

McKean: Over the years my style of painting has developed on it’s own and people seem to recognize it as mine.


Q: Who were or are your artistic influences? 

McKean: In the mid 1980’s I saw a poster advertising an exhibition of recent art school graduates in Glasgow featuring work by Steven Campbell, Adrian Wiszniewski, Peter Howson and Ken Currie and I remember being fascinated by this “new” art being produced by Scottish artists. Also Scottish artist and friend John Johnstone.

Q: What is your favourite dessert?

McKean: Cheese cake of almost any kind.

Q: What is your favourite beverage? 

McKean: Whisky of almost any kind.

Q: Where is your favourite place in Scotland? 

McKean: The western highlands.

Q: Is there a medium that you have not yet worked with, but would like to try? 

McKean: No, I have experimented with various mediums over the years and have not found anything that works as well as oil paint and canvas although I would never say never to change.

Q: What are other interests you hold outside of painting?

McKean: Walking, cycling, travel, reading and more recently Playstation 4 (single shooter games mainly).


Q: Are you into fashion? If not, what is your favourite item of clothing? 

McKean: I am not particularly into fashion. My favourite item of clothing at present are leisure wear jogging bottoms with an elasticated waist band.

Q: What is one painting by someone else (well known or not) that you wish you had done? 

McKean: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh.

Q: What is your favourite painting you have done yourself? Did you keep it for yourself, sell it, was it a commission etc? 

McKean: My favourite painting that I painted myself is a homage to Picasso titled “Sleeping Peasants” which hangs in my living room at home.

Q: What is your favourite holiday? 

McKean: When our children were small it was the theme parks in Florida, nowadays it is city breaks in European cities or short breaks to the highlands of Scotland.

Q: If you could choose someone to play you in a film, who would you choose? 

McKean: Bruce Willis, Leonardo De Caprio or Harry Hill.

Q: What are you the proudest of in life/what is your biggest accomplishment? 

McKean: Being the father of My son Michael, Daughter Leanne and husband to my wife Ava.


Q: Who is your favourite artist? 

McKean: Vincent Van Gogh.

Q: If you didn’t paint, what would you want your career to be? 

McKean: I could not imagine my life without painting.

Q: How much did you sell your first picture for? 

McKean: A packet of 10 Embassy Regal cigarettes.

Q: Are your figures based on/inspired by someone specific, or are they made up? 

McKean:  My figures are made up unless I am paid to produce a portrait of someone specific.

Q: What is your favourite whisky? 

McKean: At present I tend to enjoy blended whisky although I have tasted many a single malt that I would not dismiss.


Q: Tea or coffee?

McKean: Tea.

Q: If you could choose to meet any artist or person from history, who would you choose?

McKean: Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt, John Lennon, Jesus, Florence Nightingale and my grandfather Hugh McKean.

Q: What is your favourite book? 

McKean:  Lord of the rings.


Q: Do you have any pets?

McKean: Not at the moment but have grown up with numerous dogs and will get one again in future no doubt. 


Q: What is your favourite time of the day?

McKean:  Mid morning.


Q: What are three things you cannot live without?

McKean:  Painting, Tea and TV. 


Q: What are you currently reading?

McKean: WW2 Normandy landings.

Q: Do you have any advice you would give your younger self? (art related, or not) 

McKean: Do not have so much faith or trust in other people to sell or promote your work.



Q: Do you speak any languages besides English?

McKean: Very limited Spanish and French.

Q: Favourite sports team? 

McKean: Scotland football team although they usually let me down.

Q: If you could only paint one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

McKean:  Sunflowers

Q: Do you collect anything? 

McKean: Paintings by Scottish artist and friend John Johnstone



Click here to view the full auction catalogue. >>

Makenzie Cool


For a complimentary, no-obligation on Scottish contemporary art, please contact our specialists on 0141 810 2880 or



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