Introducing John Donaldson
Born in Lewes, Sussex, England in 1945, John Donaldson was exhibiting and selling his paintings by his mid-teens. He received much of his early training from his grandfather, an English impressionist of the Bloomsbury School.
Between 1963 and 1975 he followed careers as diverse as church music, rock and modern jazz, commercial art and landscape architecture. In 1975 he finally gave in to his true vocation, settled with his family in a rural valley in Devon and began to paint full-time.
He now divides his time between his studios in Devon and Southwest France where he paints watercolours and oils which vibrate with the light and colours of the Mediterranean landscape.
Notes By The Artist
Music and painting have always been competing passions for me. Of the two, painting has become my first love, and is how I have chosen to make my living for the past 30 years.
There are many opportunities for self-expression in music-making and, perhaps because of this, I do not feel much need for it in my work. My style is, therefore, figurative and fairly unsubjective. By the revealing of something of beauty or enjoyment, a degree of emotional contact may be made with the viewer or collector. Great satisfaction, for me, is achieved through the successful depiction, with very little interpretive modification, of a shared experience such as a beautiful landscape, or dinner on a warm evening by the sea.
It was also my Grandfather who influenced me to work in this rather impressionist way. Finding me attempting an immature watercolour of Anne of Cleves house, in Lewes, he asked me what was represented by the vertical line in my painting. I explained that it was a rainwater pipe. Asking me to show him where it was on the building, I explained that it was deep in shadow and that you could'nt actually see it. "Why put it in then?" was the reply. "Leave out what you know is there in favour of what you can see....Stubbs was wrong in dissecting horses in order to better see how to paint them....what we paint is just the effect of light falling on an object....there is no difference between an eyeball and a tennis ball in terms of the problems of painting them....trust your eyes and not your intellect."
A great influence of my later development as a painter is Gabriel Deschamps, a Provencal artist who worked in the French Riviera for most of the 20th century. It was seeing his paintings, simple in colour and full of light, that first led me to the Mediterranean in the mid-eighties, where I have worked, almost exclusively, ever since.