John Modesitt is part of a new wave of California Impressionists who paint in the style of Edgar Payne, Guy Rose, and Maurice Braun. Like these early masters, Modesitt paints what he feels about nature and translates his emotional and spiritual experiences into rhythmic color compositions on canvas.
Born November 6, 1955 in Los Alamos, New Mexico, John Modesitt began his artistic career in Southern California. In 1980 he moved to New York City to study art more seriously. He was discouraged by the onslaught of the modern art movement dominating the galleries and public venues. He was equally disappointed with the instructors at the schools and their strong slant toward a "non-disciplined" approach to painting. Modesitt decided instead to place his efforts in learning what he could from the deceased traditional masters himself by frequenting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and any museum that would display the type of art that he was interested in. All that needed to be learned in so far as technique and composition was readily available.
Modesitt and his wife and daughter live in California close to the San Diego foothills, which are the subject of many of his paintings. Modesitt often travels to the deserts, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, or the islands of Hawaii, which have been the content of some of his most recent works.
"Mountains and seascapes are my favorite subjects. When I am searching for a location, I go beyond the developed areas to places where I can see nature 360 degrees around me. No houses, highways or commercial developments. Sometimes I spend days searching for a location to paint."
Modesitt is a purist in every aspect of his art from composition, color and technique to the paint and canvas materials that he uses. For example, all of his pigments are hand ground to a formula and consistency that matches the palette of the early California impressionists. He prepares his canvases (cotton or linen) by using a lead-based primer or Gesso. He then coats the surface with an archival safe varnish to assure that his artwork will last for many generations to come. Once primed the canvases are tinted to give them warmth and depth.
"I am big on surface quality. Up close I want my paintings to have a rich surface of pigment handling, and as you move away into the distance color and composition give the subject a sense of rhythm and life. I don't get attached to any formula, it's dangerous. However, I generally paint from the shade into the light to divide planes in the composition and to give drama and depth to the subject. I have a reverence for all objects in the painting. Everything becomes essential. The details in distant mountains are as important as the center of interest which is the reason for the painting."
Although, oil painting is John Modesitt's medium of choice, he also works in glass and watercolor and has earned a number of prestigious commissions for his glass sculptures from clients such as the Joffrey School of Ballet and the Broadway Show Cats. His works are collected in both hemispheres from the Dalai Lama in Tibet to art collectors in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Modesitt has exhibited his works in one man and group shows in Chicago, New York, Tokyo and many other national and international venues.