Donald Hamilton Fraser was educated at St Martin's School of Art, London. He thrived in all the Young Contemporaries' shows of the day, exhibiting from the start. In 1953 he won a French government scholarship to study for a year in Paris, and coming into contact with the art of Matisse, Braque and Nicholas de Stael had a profound influence on the direction his paintings were to take. He liked to describe his work as 'semi-abstract pictures based on landscape'. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1975 and made a Royal Academician in 1985.