Ian was born in Gravesend in Kent in 1934. A talented musician, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London from 1950. Soon afterwards he began a part time painting course at St Martin’s School of Art and before long he decided to eschew a promising career as a concert pianist in favour of his painting. He began exhibiting his work in London in 1956 and a year later while showing at the wildlife specialists Tryon Gallery he met the artist Edward Seago. At the time Seago was a celebrity artist, equally popular with the man in the street and the Royal Family, he had recently returned from accompanying Prince Philip as a friend and ‘tour artist’ on a trip to the Antarctic in HMY Britannia. Seago saw great potential in the young Ian Houston and offered him encouragement from the start, in much the same way perhaps that Munnings had encouraged the young Seago.