Painter and teacher, born in Denholm, Roxburghshire, into a farming family. A youthful friendship with the painter Tom Scott led to Johnstone’s taking up painting and he attended Edinburgh College of Art, 1919–23; he then taught there part-time for two years. In 1925 Johnstone won a Carnegie Travelling Scholarship which enabled him to study in Paris with André Lhote at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Atelier Colarossi. In 1927 married the American sculptor Flora MacDonald. For a few years their lives were unsettled, including periods in America and Scotland, finally settling in London in 1931. Johnstone, whose work had shown Cubist and Surrealist elements, took a series of teaching posts and had his first one-man show at the Wertheim Gallery in 1935.
Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)