John Watt, Tucson, AZ Member Since March 2008 Artist Statement My father, artist, actor, and author, Malcolm Sparky Watt, had an enormous influence on me and on my decision to pursue art as a career. It was his passing that inspired me to paint.
Beginning when I was very young, I wanted to be an artist, to paint with my dad, to go on his trips to the Indian reservations, and experience The West as he did. He did his best to make that happen and took our family on many trips. In 1965 he took us on an extensive trip to the Indian Country, including Canyon De Chelly, Monument Valley, and the ruins at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Keet Seel, Montezuma’s Castle and Tonto. It had a profound impact on me, but it would be another forty years before I was ready to paint about it.
After graduating from high school in Tucson, I postponed college and became a certified welder so that I could experience adventure on the Alaskan pipeline. I have yet to make it to Alaska, but along the way, I’ve had a lot of adventure on a very long and circuitous route!
One eight year stop on that route, was New Orleans, where for almost five years, I apprenticed with kinetic sculptor Lin Emery. That afforded me the amazing opportunity to meet and be influenced by some of the greats of contemporary art, including Tony Smith, Isamu Naguchi, Henri Moore, Kenneth Snelson, Arthur Silverman, George Rickey and Arnaldo Pomodoro. Unfortunately, it didn’t afford much else, so I decided to go into the life insurance business to finance my own studio.
That took me to Little Rock, AR, New York, Washington D.C., Europe, the Caribbean, and twelve years later, back to Tucson, ready to give my passion the attention it deserved. Given my background, my artistic leanings at the time were more three-dimensional so I designed and produced a line of jewelry called Shards . Those expressions evolved and from 1998 till 2002, I worked full time as a steel sculptor creating Glyphs .
Between Shards and Glyphs, I earned my degree in advertising art and graphic design. I also thought I would like to try my hand at fine art painting. I asked my father how to do it. He responded by telling me to... just get a brush, put it in some paint, and do like this (brushing)...its magic! Two years later, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and his answer made sense.
Fine art painting is creating an illusion, not just of three dimensions, on a two dimensional surface, but of an emotional experience that will resonate with the audience.
Following my fathers passing in 2002, I found among his supplies six canvases that he had done rudimentary drawings on, but never painted. I also discovered the slide references he had used for the unfinished canvases.
With my family’s encouragement and a profound sense of calling, I decided to pick up where my father left off. Much like performing a great illusion, these paintings are my interpretation of magic , passed on from father to son.
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