William Littlejohn was born in Arbroath, Scotland and began his artistic training at the Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen between the years 1946 to 1950 where his talent as a draughtsman was honed. His skill in depicting scenes and objects around him was evident in his early painted work and though Littlejohn explored many approaches to painting in his work, he favoured watercolour over painting in more traditional oils. The artist often incorporated images of his native Angus and Aberdeenshire into his work, representing the quality of light, dramatic cloud formations and changeable nature of the sea in his skilled yet creative and often ambiguous visual style. Littlejohn enjoyed a long relationship with the Royal Scottish Academy, with which he exhibited from 1951 to the year of his death. He was elected member of the RSA in 1973, and often exhibited with the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour.
Littlejohn also enjoyed a long career as an artistic educator. He taught at his former school Arbroath High School until the year 1966, and subsequently taught at Gray’s School of Art as both lecturer and later Head of Fine Art until his retirement in 1991. Following this, the artist continued to paint, beginning to explore the use of silver and gold leaf in his distinctive paintings. In 2006, the year of the artist’s death, the RSA held an exhibition to honour their most distinguished Academician. His work remains in several collections throughout Britain, including the private collections of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.