John Elwyn was born in 1916 in Newcastle Emlyn in rural south Cardiganshire where his father ran a woollen mill, one of many that once flourished on the banks of the Teifi.
Elwyn studied at Carmarthen Art School in 1933-37, Bristol College of Art in 1937-38 and Royal College of Art in 1938-39 and 1946-47.Elwyn began exhibiting from 1948 regularly at the Royal Academy, New English Arts Club and in exhibitions arranged by the Welsh Arts Council and the Royal National Eisteddfod where he was awarded the Gold Medal for Fine Art in 1956. Throughout his life he exhibited in many major public and private art galleries, Leicester Galleries, Howard Roberts Gallery in Cardiff, National Library of Wales and Tegfryn Gallery in Anglesey amongst others.
Although John Elwyn lived in Hampshire from 1948, teaching at Portsmouth and Winchester Schools of Art until his retirement in 1976, Wales remained his spiritual home and provided inspiration for his paintings. He drew continually upon his wide experience of the working life of the countryside, the bustling farmyards and cattle pastures of the Teifi and Ceri valleys and the upland rural areas.
His work is held in many public collections including National Library of Wales, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff; University of Wales, Welsh Arts Council, Tate Gallery, Contemporary Arts Society of Wales, North Wales Arts Association and Leeds University (see BBC Your Paintings).