John Donaldson is an accomplished artist and musician. His creativity is evident from his artwork; beautiful compositions of landscapes painted in vibrant, expressive colours.
John remembers watching his grandfather paint watercolours. He cannot recall a time in his life when he didnÃ¢€â„¢t paint and doesnÃ¢€â„¢t believe he ever made a conscious decision to become an artist, it was something he grew up doing and still enjoys to this day. To begin with, John followed his Grandfathers lead and painted in watercolours but by the age of thirteen he had discovered oils and found the physicality of the medium suited his style and approach, allowing him to push the paint around the canvas and develop a painting over a period of time.
In his late teens John studied composition and classical organ under Professor George Austin in Brighton and continued this training after a move to Chichester in 1965, where he met his wife. Over the next ten years he switched his musical allegiance to modern jazz and electronic music, a passion that he still harbors today.
He made the decision to become a professional artist in 1975 after pursuing an increasingly stressful career in landscape architecture. He was searching for a way to earn a living whilst being able to live in Devon with his wife and daughter and painting was the obvious answer. He first sold paintings in Kingsbridge; local commissions and exhibitions in Dartmouth kept John and his family afloat until 1983 when his work was taken on by a leading gallery in Mayfair.
Being surrounded by the countryside has allowed him to draw inspiration from where he lives and states, Ã¢€Å“I look for unusual and beautiful subjects and effects of light. I used to paint London, with a little bit of sunshine or fading light, London has that something special about it, something honest and interesting to communicate to other people and thatÃ¢€â„¢s what I look for in a viewÃ¢€Â. He now splits his time between the West Country and France and cites Provence, the Cote d'Azur, Liguria, Umbria and Tuscany as some of his favourite places to paint.
When asked to describe his work John recognises that his paintings are not easily labelled but feels his work is best described under the heading of Ã¢€ËœimpressionistÃ¢€â„¢ in that there is no hidden meaning behind his work, he simply wants to communicate the beauty of a fleeting moment by being honest about what he sees and hoping someone else will identify with his interpretation of that moment, which is parallel to what early impressionist painters were trying to achieve.
JohnÃ¢€â„¢s biggest fan and keenest critic is his wife, Sandi. After finishing a painting he will always ask her opinion of the piece. John puts his success in part down to the honesty with which she comments on his painting and what she says goes! He says Ã¢€Å“She sometimes asks me a question about a piece and if there is a question to be answered then the painting isnÃ¢€â„¢t communicating properly, something needs to be changed and IÃ¢€â„¢ll do so until I get the reaction I want from her. Having someone elseÃ¢€â„¢s opinion is really necessary when you are so close to your workÃ¢€Â.
John takes what he describes as a relaxed approach to painting and doesnÃ¢€â„¢t have a rigidly structured day. However, he paints for up to six hours every day of the week. Morning sessions from seven oÃ¢€â„¢clock are common but John believes his best time for painting is between the hours of four and eight in the afternoon and that this is when he most enjoys being in his studio at his home in Devon.
As well as painting John is a musician and he believes his music and his artwork are one and the same to him. He has a recording studio in his house and still composes and records music, as well as playing occasional gigs, in his spare time.
To add to his list of achievements John works with Jane and Graham Price here at the gallery to maintain a permanent display of original work as well as producing pieces for specific shows. When questioned about his decision to get involved with and exhibit at the gallery John cites the galleryÃ¢€â„¢s reputation as one of the main reasons for wanting to exhibit his work here. Jane and Grahams energy and enthusiasm was also an attraction which he believes is fairly unique and is something perhaps missing from others in the art trade today. Jane says she likes the vibrancy of JohnÃ¢€â„¢s watercolours and that his ability to paint in several mediums and produce beautiful, high quality pictures in all of them is a distinctive advantage of working with an artist as accomplished as John.
Looking at the work there is a perceptible intimacy about the images. The colours seem to communicate mood, which is enhanced with lighting and clever details that leave you as the viewer both curious and intrigued.