(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Landscape paintings by John MacDonald – one of the region’s most popular, prolific and respected landscape artists – are featured in an exhibition currently running at The Harrison Gallery through November 30, 2011. McDonald has staked out the Berkshires as his favorite terrain, painting portraits of the area as it appears in all seasons. Because he knows the area so well and has trained himself to paint only what he actually sees, emptying his mind of all preconceived images, his paintings speak with authority, distinctiveness and above all, great authenticity.
When John MacDonald paints a landscape, it’s what he leaves out of the image that makes it so true. He paints nature the way it really is – no romantic flourishes, sentimentality or symbolism. By omitting most architectural structures and all human figures, his paintings avoid any narrative and achieve a classic timelessness.
He approaches his work from the perspective of a formalist, an artist who focuses on the visual components of an artwork – colors and hues, shapes and shadows, lines and forms – rather than the subject itself. “When I paint,” says MacDonald, “I hardly see trees, meadows, mountains and streams. I focus on the elements of color and light that reveal the subject as it eventually emerges from the canvas.”
The artist’s fidelity to the scene before him, his sensitivity to the nuances of nature and his superb technique give his works a strong sense of place. His paintings make a visceral connection with anyone who knows the Berkshires. MacDonald’s landscapes create an instant familiarity with the viewer and therefore an instant bond. His paintings are not just appreciated for their beauty, but loved for the personal connection they make with the rural landscape.
MacDonald, a sixteen-year resident of Williamstown, received his BFA from Washington University of St. Louis, and his MA from Purdue University, where he studied drawing and painting. He also studied art at the Institute for American Universities in Avignon, France, and the Vermont Studio School in Johnson, Vermont. In addition to his career as a landscape painter, MacDonald works as a commercial illustrator with corporate clients throughout the country. He has been a member of the prestigious Society of Illustrators as well as the Illustrators Partnership of America and the Graphic Artists Guild.
The Harrison Gallery is located at 39 Spring Street in Williamstown, Mass. Gallery hours are Monday – Saturday, 10 am to 5:30 pm, Sunday 11 am to 4 pm. For further information please visit The Harrison Gallery on the web or call 413.458.1700.