Our Featured Artist
Art and lighting compliment each other. At Old Town Antique Lighting we feature a local artist each month. Please drop by our store to view this exceptional artist.
“Winter Morning, Kailuwtadin Flat,” oil on canvas.
Motivation towards Contemporary Realist Painting:
Views of the Artist
Though we are rapidly eliminating the habitats that created us and most of us now live in cities, we are still the ancient creatures that evolved to live in those wild places. With our instincts pretty much intact, it would be surprising if we did not still have inborn skills for many levels of perception, especially of the environments in which we evolved. It’s likely that we all have vivid, direct perception of these realities when very young, but the world of symbols and artificial values intercedes to cause many of us to forget to look or to substitute symbols for reality. I remember spending immeasurable segments of time as a young kid, absorbed in the colors in a butterfly’s wing, the inside of a wildflower, or the light in the woods. As more or less a grownup, this shift to direct perception is much diluted visually and emotionally. I am often reminded of it, though and have spent much of my life looking closely at everything. Friends and family have long been rolling their eyes as I point out the amazing characteristics of this or that. I am often surprised at how little so many seem to notice.
My painting pushes me to look and to see and feel more. The better I see, the more I seem to be able to locate compositions that may cause or suggest this shift in perception and feeling. If my work can communicate or suggest some of these perceptions, I will have some success, and viewers of my paintings may get a glimpse of something real and perhaps meaningful to them.
I find, as perhaps do others, that when I can feel I’m a part of this larger, older world, it gives depth, meaning, and comfort to me, far beyond what most of civilization offers.
A bleak future will surely follow our increasing tendency to ignore the non-human world, for which so many no longer have knowledge, interest, or feeling. Realist art of the older, natural world, if done just right, may be able to remind people to start looking again.
Redwood Creek, 2008
“Cube Rock below Kahustadin,” oil on canvas.
About the Artist
My development as an artist has proceeded in a somewhat unconventional way. I come to my work from a deep connection to, and understanding of my subjects. When I was four my family moved from the city to the country, where I completely and permanently immersed myself in the natural world. My mother, an artist, encouraged this and in lieu of kindergarten I did natural history studies including formal plant and insect collections and artwork relating to these subjects under the supervision of a neighbor, Dr. Julian Steyermark, curator of Chicago’s Field Museum. All through grade school and beyond, my passion was exploring the woods, creeks, lakes, swamps and old fields of my rural Illinois surroundings, looking closely at everything. My mother was my school art teacher through eighth grade; a thorough art background was mandatory.
Looking for a career where I could continue roaming the wilds I earned a Bachelor’s degree in forestry at Colorado State University. Later, in Northern California I got a Master of Arts degree in biology and vegetation ecology at Humboldt State University. While in graduate school I also took many art courses and designed and built my own large oil-fired kiln and a wheel and was a professional potter for some years. In the years since then I have been teaching art and science at our small, mountain school and painting, while helping to raise our kids, developing and working on our homestead farm, and exploring the local mountains. In addition to this art education and experience, I have absorbed the classic landscape painting instruction of John F. Carlson, and have studied landscape painting with Stock Schlueter. Since 2001 I have had twenty-some solo exhibitions and have won nine awards in group and juried exhibitions.
I try to find the light that creates engaging compositions that also strike me with the emotional and perceptual intensity that I first experienced as a child. I spend every available moment hiking the local mountains, looking in all my favorite places for that light, and trying to paint it. In painting I strive to capture an encompassing interpretation of a landscape, broadly informed by my scientific understanding of the botanical, ecological and geological elements along with my lifelong observational experience and emotional connection. I like to think that my work might give viewers a glimpse or reminder of common but increasingly often overlooked moments when they may reconnect directly and emotionally with the natural world.
John Palmer, Redwood Creek, 2008
“Late Autumn Ridge-Light,” oil on canvas.
Upcoming Arts! Alive – Eureka
Join us for Arts! Alive, from 6 to 9 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month, a gala arts walk in Old Town and Downtown Eureka. Every gallery, store and restaurant that showcases the work of local artists is open, the artists whose works are on exhibit are usually present to talk with you about what they do, refreshments are sometimes served, live music can often be heard, and hordes of happy people of all ages stroll from place to place, soaking in the scene and seeing a lot of great artwork. Visitors to the area who love the arts and the best of small town life, would do well to plan their trip to coincide with this monthly, year-round, rain-or-shine event.
Next Arts! Alive: Saturday, July 7, 2018
WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE OPEN FOR ARTS ALIVE THIS MONTH… I’LL BE IN THE WILDERNESS WITH MY SON FOR OUR ANNUAL, SUMMERTIME TREK. COME SEE US AUG. 4!
Old Town Antique Lighting, corner of 2nd & F:
John Palmer, landscape paintings.