J o h n   W h i t t i n g h a m

About this website. 

Server information shows the 'country of origin'.  This is stored with the domain registry which happens to be in the USA. This website, whittinghampaintings.com is hosted in Germany and France with its site builder in the Czech Republic, possibly?

 

About Me.   Some history, some questions.

I am a studio painter residing in western Canada.  With me is my brilliant, polyhistoric and yes, beautiful wife.  Sprinkled across the Canadian subcontinent are my children and grandchildren. The self-possessed and courageous women who have modelled for me and upon whom I place great importance reside in this country as well, though one is a citizen of the United Mexican States.  What we do as realist painters is render illusion, though somewhere in these painted images is also an allusion to a live person.  More so, if the collaboration and study is sustained over  a long period of time. I owe much to my models for their effort and contribution.

The subject of my work is the human figure and face.  In painting, the figure, portrait and multi-figure history paintings are among the more difficult subjects.  Many artists today avoid them altogether.  Behind my choice of subject matter is the implied belief that humanity is central to art and should be its central theme.  This engenders a type of art counterposed against the dehumanization of mass society and a constructive process dismissive of trivial efforts in the field of painting.

No Trace.

I seemed to have appeared suddenly without any prior history.  In a way this is true.  I  moved to Edmonton, Canada a few years ago.  For  thirty years prior to 2016, I painted without exhibiting.   The few exhibitions I participated in, were prior to the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW.) and therefore would have predated hypertext and Internet search engines.

Someone must have taught you. 

No.    Just me.   It did not happen overnight, but it did happen in near isolation.

Workshops?  No Thanks. 

When I first attended university in the 1970s, the painting department was dominated by the New York School of Abstraction and they were unwilling or unable to teach figurative art.  I have taken no art classes or workshops since university, though I have frequented non-instructed life classes.  As a student and working class person, it is hard to justify paying for a workshop whose instructor is not half as good as I was when I was 18.  In asking myself should I spend the money on painting materials or a short frivolous workshop, the painting supplies always won out.  At the time most people took workshops because they could not motivate themselves to work on their own.  I never stopped learning.  In fact I have been relentless in this regard.

Background

I have been painting for 49 years.  I knew and shared studio space with one of the greatest artists of our time - originally from the Peoples Republic of China.  I have been through the museums of Europe (as late as February 2020) and completed the mill of a Fine Arts school including directed studies at the university level. I worked hard at invention and problem solving over many decades.  I have several university degrees including a BA in Visual Art and a BSc Computer Science.  In addition to my formal education which straddles art and science, I have substantial practical knowledge of other fields.  My recourse to historical sources, science and empiricism, as well as my own protracted enquiry have introduced some divergence from  mainstream art and no small amount of innovation.  I say this without apology.  And this is not just talk or pedigree; witness the paintings now coming out of my studio.

John Whittingham

Revised April 18, 2020

evilgenius1@gmx.com

gallery/studio4easelsmar1_2016

Second floor studio. Four easels set up with soft rubber wheels to operate over a wooden floor. (In April 2020 there are now five easels) You can also see the installation of a mini winch on the back of the treacherously slippery eucalyptus easel. (Additionally a fourth winch system was completed in August)

Reference my articles under Easel Modifications. 

A travelling tabouret sits in the foreground with drawers, a sealed container filled with low odour solvent and imbedded holders for water, spray bottle and brushes.  

Photo: Spring 2016

SOURCES:

It occurred to me that I started where many were late to the party.  I acquired Ralph Mayer's 3rd Ed of the Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques in 1976. At that time I was registered in chemistry at a university.  My art teachers had no background in chemistry and often lacked precision in language.  In contrast I had my own chemistry lab by the age of eight.  I soon acquired Leon Battista Alberti's Della Pittura translated from the Tuscan into English.  This book (3 vol.) appeared in 1536 CE and is itself informed by Stoic philosophy and the manual, De Architectura written by the Roman military engineer  Marcus Vitruvius Pollio in the first century BCE (dedicated to Augustus Caesar).  His name may be familiar to you because Da Vinci used it for his drawing, Vitruvian Man (image below).

Alberti laments the loss of genius so abundant in Antiquity but so absent in his own time - i.e. the dawn of the European Renaissance.  My generation looked at the Renaissance in the same way Alberti looked at Antiquity.  They were both wrong.

gallery/vitruv_leo1

Affiliations :

Harcourt House (2014- )

Alberta Society of Artists, juried member (2017- )

(also formerly Edmonton Art Club 2016-2017)