In my landscape paintings I'm primarily focused on composition and light. Color is typically of less concern, though lately I have been purposefully working with a very narrow palette. Beyond the overall composition, I am very interested, and maybe a little obsessed, with continuing to experiment with the depiction of surfaces. How many ways can a sky be depicted and how many ways might that sky be read by the viewer? What happens at the intersection of two planes of color and how much work does the eye naturally do to complete the picture?... How much should I do to complete the experience for the viewer?
What is the greater context of this work? The subtle topographies found at the intersection of land and water seem important to me now. The word "topography" often presents itself in the title of my paintings. In the context of our wounded planet it's curious to me that people seem certain of the importance of our continued role as the dominant species. I recently looked up how long the dinosaurs were the dominant species vs. the time span of humans in that role. Dinosaurs, it is believed through the fossil record, existed over a span of 165 million years - humans by contrast have been around for approximately 6 million years, and only in our current "evolved" state for the last 200,000 years.
Hypothetical maps of +/- 200 million years ago (Paleozoic transitioning to Mesozoic) depict the land masses of Earth as one large continent called "Pangea" . We can't know what the shores of Pangea were like, but assuming that the coming together and breaking apart of continents has been happening at more or less the same pace over time, I imagine that the intersection of earth and sea has always varied from the violent and dramatic to the gentle and subtle.
I see my own fascination with the intricate push and pull at this intersection as the uncovering of a kind of coda in which the planet is revealing the potential give and take at the meeting point of two very different systems. The mud flats of Brewster Mass for example, reveal a moment where a thin film of ocean stretches curiously over the broad foot of the continent - exploring, probing and creating a new singular ecosystem that only occurs at this intersection. We are drawn to it. The ocean reminds us that our tether to the earth is fragile, that we can exist at the edge only because the earth and sea have an understanding of how to meet, overlap and hear the voice of the other. It seems to me it is no coincidence that the physical beauty of the shoreline is universal to us at this moment of eternal dialogue.
Never Quite Prepared
Unknown and Unfolding
Morning Sand and Water
Fourth Cliff - Humarock
Morning Low Tide
Field and Barn
Mid August Marsh Grass
Clinging to the Shore
Still Life + Interiors
In the colder months I tend to retreat indoors and work on "interior landscapes". Diebenkorn spoke of the "essential thereness" of everyday objects as the subject of his still life paintings and drawings. I'm interested in the lasting value of objects that are close by us almost always, and the surfaces that they are most often found on. There is something about these objects that brings out the draftsman in me so I tend to draw and paint on the same surface to delineate their specific topography as well as the plains and lines that make them what they are.
Pigment for Queens
Desktop in Afternoon Light - SOLD
Espresso by the Window
Side Table with Coffee - SOLD
Still Life with Bialetti - SOLD
Orange on Red Table
"An Essential Thereness" - SOLD
Demitasse Riot 2
Kitchen Objects 2
Reading Corner - SOLD
Boats + Machines
Boats are an easy kind of subject for painting and drawing. They're not necessarily easy to delineate, but they hold endless potential in their form and their metaphorical presence as vessels for passage, vessels for containing, vessels for drifting, etc... The simple dory, moored on the mud flats, acts unconsciously as a barometer of tides, wind direction, light, shadow, reflection. Like Eliot's river "a strong brown god", the mudflat is a place that reminds us of the untamed reality of the earth and water beneath and around our feet. A dory in enough shallow water to cast a reflection but still hold the bottom provides the opportunity for painting of three subjects: the boat, it's shadow and it's reflection. Observing and rendering this never bores me.
Sand Flats Light
Memory and Reflection - SOLD
Sail Boat - Low Tide
Coming Up from the Beach
Waiting on the Turn
Machine Motif 3 - Sold
Machine Motif 2 - SOLD - Cover art Epoch magazine 2014
Starting to Drift - SOLD
Cityscapes + Structures
As an architect, cities hold an obvious attraction for me as the subject of paintings and drawings. In my architectural practice I think I'm more concerned with the role that buildings play in the creation of place rather than with the minute details of surfaces and materials. The city is more cinematic to me than anything else, and as such the compositional potential in the spaces and objects of the city is where I tend to concentrate my focus.
Lunch on Post Office Square
Market By The Palace Wall
Along the Walled City
Through the City Wall
Hugging the Shade
Between Sea and City
Abstractions, Collage + Concepts
In the course of drawing and painting, ideas bubble to the surface as I work that are not wholly expressible through my typical process of representational image making. While all my paintings are laden with ideas that are products of my own interior thinking, there has needed to be another kind of outlet for thoughts and expressions that may be less pictorial and (perhaps) more narrative in their relationship to the viewer. This gallery of images is a place for landing some of those ideas…
Three Forbidden Things
Development of the Greek Temple
Above and Below
After the Crusaders - SOLD
Drawing Exercise in oil stick and china marker
When I first started painting I couldn't figure out how to use a brush. Trained as an architect and growing up as an avid draftsman of birds and buildings, I was much more accustomed to the feel of pencils and pens moving over paper. Caroline suggested that I try pastels and that I "stay loose and just enjoy the color". It took a while but I started to really enjoy making pastel paintings/drawings. I still do and try to keep it as an active part of my process.
Bowl of Cubed Watermellon
Old Friends - SOLD
Vermont Summer Field
Vermont Sugar Shack
Autumn by the Charles
Maybe They Forgot Us - SOLD
Grasslands Motif # 5
Grasslands Motif #9
Camp Nellie Huckins in Freedom, NH is a YMCA girls summer camp. Both my daughters go there for two weeks each summer. It's a fabulous place for them to grow and step outside of their typical experiences. When we first dropped off Alice a few years back, I felt as though I had been transported back to the summers of my youth when I would stay with friends and family on the shores of a few special lakes in New Hampshire and Maine. The tall pine trees, the spongy feeling of the pine needle carpet on the ground, the cabins, the lake, the light... all of it was so familiar and instantly inspiring. On an ongoing basis I will be donating 10% of all sales of the Huckins paintings on our website - and any other Huckins paintings that I sell directly or by commission - to the camp. Huckins is such a special place for so many reasons. So many great kids grow and expand their world there on the shores of Lake Ossipee. Enjoy these paintings and don't hesitate to contact me if you're interested in one or would like to commission one.
Cabin Nestled - SOLD
The Island Through the Trees - SOLD
Cabins - SOLD raffle summer 2014
Cabin C - SOLD commission winter 2015
Blue Island - SOLD
Between the Cabins or Between the Trees - SOLD
Drawings and Sketchbook
For me the line between drawing and painting is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. In the best sense of Wabi-Sabi, this is a good thing. A drawing in my mind is something that has some amount of mark making with something other than a brush. However, many of my works that I consider paintings, also typically have lots of marks not made by a brush. So go figure. I guess when it comes to my own work, I know a drawing when I see it.
Everything on this page I think of as a drawing. Recently discovering oil sticks has opened up a whole new avenue for making marks on paper that can quickly transform into planes or surfaces or volumes. I’ve been thinking about this kind of dynamic mark making for years, and then one day, BANG, I happen across an Instagram video of an artist working with oil sticks and it changes everything. Or at least a lot of things.
Cup - oil stick and china marker on paper
Apples - oil stick and china marker on paper
Tea - oil stick and china marker on paper
Espresso Light - ink and graphite wash on paper
Espresso by the Window - oil stick and china marker
Corner Building Study
London Tate Modern
By day, (and sometimes by night) John is a partner at an architectural practice called Form + Placebased in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts. The projects that Form + Place takes on range from small residential additions to retail commercial buildings and large project master-planning. Feel free to contact John through the Form + Place website if you think he could help you with a project - www.formandplace.com