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 John R. Koser  (1923 - 2003)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: marine, floral landscape, still life,

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John R Koser
An example of work by John R. Koser
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A native Californian, John R. Koser showed an early interest in everything artistic. As a teenager he studied drawing and composition with William Frederick Foster and Nicolai Fechin. After serving in the armed forces during WWII, he enrolled at Colorado College, Colorado Springs as an art major. However, following his father's sage advice to pursue a career that would provide a more stable livelihood, he transferred his major to pre-dental. He continued his education at Baylor University and the University of Southern California where he received a Doctor of Dental Science degree in 1953. During his years of dental practice, John co-authored and illustrated two dental textbooks.

In his free time he expanded his artistic knowledge studying with Grace Lodi, Leon Franks, Robert E. Wood, Morton Solberg and Judi Betts. These teachers had a powerful impact on his art and emerging aesthetic philosophy. In 1971, after a serious illness, he retired from dentistry and returned full-time to the artistic career he had aspired to as a young man.

His focus on realism and use of multi-layered washes of transparent watercolor tend to distinguish Koser's paintings. However, his talents as an astute draftsman, giving attention to detail, can be credited with much of the success in his creations. "In my paintings, I use the subject material for inspiration. I feel a strong and compelling desire to know and understand it thoroughly and to find and "own" its inner spirit. The most reliable way for me to capture the true nature of my subject is through drawing. By learning enough about the subject I can feel free to use abstraction to portray it." From this philosophy came bold watercolor creations bound by strong composition and clean primary colors such as those shown in these one-man exhibitions:

Images of Britain, Museum of North Orange County, 1981
Colonial Doors of America, Muchenthaler Cultural Center, 1985
Primary Colors, 25 years of painting by John R. Koser, Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1997

These exhibitions were only three of 29 one-man shows attributed to the artist. His works have also been displayed along with other artists in national juried group exhibitions.

Koser earned signature status in Watercolor West, a national transparent watercolor organization, and served as president for two terms. The American Society of Marine Artists also honored him with signature membership. He served as president of the Fine Arts Institute of San Bernardino County Museum and on the Advisory Board for Watercolor Magazine, a quarterly publication of American Artist magazine. Koser's willingness to encourage fellow artists through these organizations and other art groups made him a much sought after juror and facilitator for seminars and workshops. Although particularly adept at landscape, seascape and portraiture, he displayed the ability to create in many styles, media, and techniques. Koser was a lecturer and master workshop presenter throughout the western United States and Canada.

San Bernardino County Museum, Redlands, California


Watercolor Magazine spring 2004 "Obituary for John R. Koser"
American Artist Magazine -June 2002 "Primary Magic In Sunlight"
American Artist Magazine August 1999 "Making Sales Through Exhibitions"
American Artist Magazine September 1998 "Composition 101"
Watercolor Magazine winter 1997 "Portrait Sketches w/Transparent Watercolor" (Plus magazine cover)
American Artist Magazine October 1997 "Nuts and Bolts"
Watercolor Highlights 1993 "Transparency"
Watercolor Magazine fall 1992 "Creating the Illusion of a Soft Edge"
The Artist's Magazine November 1991 "Adding Life to Marine Scenes"
Watercolor Magazine spring 1990 "Primaries (Primary Colors)"
Watercolor Highlights 1989 "Transparency of Watercolor"
Watercolor Magazine 1986 "Transparency"
American Artist Magazine October 1983 "The Vertical Technique of J.R. Koser,"
Rapidograph Advertisement
American Artist Magazine September 1983 "Watercolor Page John R. Koser"

Submitted April 2004 by Sheila Hansberger, Past President of Watercolor West. She and Bettye Koser, wife of the artist, collaborated in the writing of this biography.

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