He was born in Bombay, India in 1931, and lived there for the first three years of his life. Shortly after his 3rd birthday his parents moved back to Edinburgh where Alan spent his early formative years being educated at Loretto School in Musselburgh. He was only thirteen when he had his first picture accepted for the Society of Scottish Artists and by the age of twenty two he had three portraits exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy. He graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1952.
Significant portrait sitters include Quentin Crisp, Lord Cameron, Sir Conolly Abel Smith, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn QC, HRH Prince Philip: Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Angus Douglas-Hamilton, 15th Duke of Hamilton, Henry Thynne, 6th Marquess of Bath, and William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook.
To mark the bicentenery in 1987 the New Club in Edinburgh, on recommendation from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, commissioned Alan for a portrait of their Patron His Royal Highness Prince Philip. The sittings took place in Holyrood Palace and the portrait of the Duke currently hangs in the New Club Morning Room.
Other notable works include the ceiling fresco at Invercreran House in Argyll Scotland.
He has exhibited in The Royal Academy London, the Chelsea Society, the Society of Scottish Artists, the Paris Salon, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts and Prouds Art Gallery Sydney.
- Alan Sutherland: Early life, ASutherland.net
- "Top Class Art". The Glasgow Herald. 13 June 1983. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "One Man Show". The Bulletin. 14 August 1954. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "Art of Alan Sutherland - Edinburgh Show". The Glasgow Herald. 2 August 1957. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "Exhibition of Portraits - Alan Sutherland". The Glasgow Herald. 28 August 1954. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "New Club Minutes. Portraits - Sir Alec Douglas Home & HRH Duke of Edinburgh". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "Must Be Seen: the Ceiling Fresco". The Glasgow Herald. 28 April 2001. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "Royal Glasgow Fine Arts Institute Fine Arts Exhibition - Fresh Setting Enhances Pictures". The Glasgow Herald. 8 October 1955. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "Picture Worth a Thousand Words". Sydney Morning Herald. 15 August 1978. Retrieved 6 February 2013.