Artist of the Week 61 | John MacDonald

Artist of the Week 61

John MacDonald | Fields of July | Oil | 8 x 16″
(Click here to view this work on Artsy)

John MacDonald

John MacDonald paints en plein air and in the studio. His works most often show landscapes local to the Williamstown area. MacDonald, a former illustrator, sources nearly all of his plein-air imagery within just a few miles of his home in rural western Massachusetts, where ubiquitous woods and streams offer him a daily dose of inspiration. “I’ve been painting right outside my studio,” he says. “In the three or four miles around my home, there’s enough to paint for the rest of my life.” MacDonald’s works are rooted in the traditions of 20th century realism, displaying a fascination for light, color and a confident use of brush work.

“My love of realism is directly tied to my love of the craft of painting. To create an illusion of space, form, light, and atmosphere that carries an emotional charge, all from mere fluid dabs and smears of oil paints, is an endless challenge and a perpetual joy.”

John MacDonald | Morning on the Hoosac | Oil | 12 x 12″
(Click here to view this work on Artsy)

In classical Chinese poetry, John MacDonald found inspiration that might be as vital to his work as the lessons he has gleaned from great painters like French Impressionist Claude Monet and Tonalist George Inness, whose works he has long admired and studied. The spiritually rich, nature-centric writings of the Chinese poets typify MacDonald’s own interests as a painter, including his discriminating approach to portraying the natural world.

“I strive to say as much as possible with as little as possible- to subtly suggest rather than to overtly describe. My subject matter is the mood that arises from the ego-less contemplation of landscape, a mood of not knowing that leaves some mystery in a painting, something unresolved that allows the viewer to explore the painting and make discoveries within it.”

Click the above image to watch a demonstration from John MacDonald on how to paint a landscape.

An article by John MacDonald on “Painting Basics: Understanding Value”

John MacDonald was born in 1957 in Lafayette, Indiana. He earned his BFA from Washington University of St. Louis and a MA in painting and drawing from Purdue University. He studied printmaking in Avignon, France and painting at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson.

For over thirty years, John worked as a freelance illustrator and landscape painter. He now focuses solely on painting and teaching. He has taught painting workshops through the Clark Museum of Williamstown, Massachusetts as well as painting classes at Williams College.

Recently, John contributed a portion of his five-hour workshop “Creating Dynamic Landscapes” as part of the free Facebook Live series “Artist of the Day” Information on John MacDonald’s many upcoming in-person workshops can be found on his website.

John MacDonald | After Spring Rains | Oil | 24 x 36″
(Click here to view this work on Artsy)

John MacDonald is a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Illustrators Partnership of America, the National Association of Plein Air Painters, the Graphic Artists Guild, and the Oil Painters of America. He is certified through the Creativity Coaching Association as a creativity coach and brings his coaching experience to his workshops.

In 2018, MacDonald received the J. Francis Murphy Award in a national landscape exhibition at the Salmagundi Club. MacDonald’s painting Long Winter Dusk was voted the winner of the Community Choice Award by Berkshire Museum visitors during the Summer 2018 juried exhibition, “Art of the Hills.” His paintings can be found in collections throughout North America. He currently lives int he Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.

John MacDonald | Against the Shore | Oil | 24 x 24″
(Click here to view this work on Artsy)

Contact Lily pad Gallery West for information on pricing and to view additional works by John MacDonald.


To learn more about John and view his expanded portfolio, visit his website:

John MacDonald

Lily Pad Gallery

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