Creative pupils from two central Fife schools have been praised for their eye-catching tributes to a local hero whose decorative flourishes transformed some of Scotland’s grandest houses.  

The budding artists produced their work for a competition that marked the 100th anniversary of painter and illustrator William McLaren’s birth. 

Pupils from McLaren’s former schools – Beath High and Cardenden Primary – were invited to create artworks inspired by the miner’s son from Dundonald. 

Judging the competition were Cardenden library assistant Heather Brown, OnFife’s collections leader Gavin Grant and Cardenden History Group member David Taylor. 

Niamh Logie, of OnFife’s young people and families team, said: "It’s been wonderful to share William McLaren’s work with young people from the community where he grew up and to take inspiration from his legacy. The standard of artwork submitted from all of the classes has been outstanding." 

Entries for the competition, organised by cultural charity OnFife, included paintings, drawings, mixed media, prints and collages. 

Pupils from P4-7 at Cardenden and S1-3 at Beath took part. Artwork by the winners and runners-up in each class was displayed in Cardenden Library.  

The four class winners from Cardenden Primary were Alex Clapon, Harris Buckingham, Elliot Walker and Rebeca Clapon.

Susanna Inglis, Lucy Wilkinson and Hazel Adams won the three class prizes at Beath High. 

The two overall school winners were Rebeca Clapon and Hazel Adams – their entries have been framed and are now on display in Kirkcaldy Galleries.

Ahead of the competition, pupils were shown a selection of McLaren's work – including murals, book illustrations and self-portraits – as inspiration.  

The artist, who went on to Edinburgh College of Art after growing up in Dundonald, initially earned a living as a commercial illustrator, working for magazines including the Radio Times, The Listener and illustrated weekly newspaper, The Sphere.

McLaren became a prolific book illustrator too, designing dust jackets for more than 150 titles – among them works by Enid Blyton and Jules Verne.

McLaren's social circle widened when he moved to Edinburgh in 1963, and he was soon commissioned by Lord Linlithgow to create a series of paintings for the staircase at Hopetoun House.

It was a breakthrough that led to a number of decorative commissions in private houses and public buildings where he developed his trompe l'oeil – deceiving the eye – style.

Subsequent commissions included murals at Wemyss Castle in Fife; Hawthornden Castle in Midlothian; and East Lothian’s grandest residence, Tyninghame House.

McLaren also completed a magnificent Renaissance-style mural at St Adrian's Church, West Wemyss, and the ceiling mural of the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh.