Scottish painter and art teacher. For most of his life he was associated with Edinburgh College of Art. He graduated there in 1924, and after two years studying with Lhote in Paris, he returned as a teacher; he stayed until his retirement in 1966, serving as head of painting, 1946–60, and principal, 1960–6. His favourite subject was landscape, especially views in and around his home at Temple, a village about ten miles south of Edinburgh, where he settled in 1939: ‘On coming to Temple I began to cope with my new material by relying on simple planning and tonal relationships as subtle and evocative as I could make them.’ His work, which also includes still-lifes influenced by Matisse, is indeed intimate, poetic, and completely unpretentious, and it has won him a position of affection as one of the most popular Scottish painters of recent times. Gillies was knighted in 1970 and in that year the Scottish Arts Council mounted a large retrospective of his work.
From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.