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 John Modesitt  (1955 - )

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Lived/Active: California/New York/New Mexico / France/Mexico      Known for: figure-Indian, landscape, and still life painting

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John Modisett is primarily known as John Modesitt

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John Modesitt
An example of work by John Modisett
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
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. "Before I start a painting I ask myself what am I trying to say.  This gives me a clear understanding of where I am going and how I will get there."  Once a clear message has been established John creates a thumbnail sketch. "I paint what I see, but, I compose what I feel by refining the natural composition. This may mean adding, deleting or moving objects in order to build a natural rhythm into the painting."

Modesitt and his wife, Toshiko and their daughter Emily, live part of the year in California close to the San Diego foothills, which are the subject of many of his paintings.  Their second home is on 40 acres of land at Griselles in the Burgundy District about four hours south of Paris.  Whether in California or France, Modesitt is up early in the mornings and outside with his easel and canvas for plein-air* painting.  In California, he often travels to the deserts or the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 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."

He 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."

Modesitt plots out his compositions in a medium tone line with a #2 round hog hair brush and switches to larger flats to block in the darkest tonal areas. "Each painting is an unraveling truth. I usually start with the areas that inspire me the most and then work around the canvas adding shadow and highlights first and then progressively adding more and more detail until the painting is complete."

Modesitt started painting at the age of thirteen. "My father's poster collection of French Impressionist paintings were my initial inspiration to paint and draw. Monet was my favorite, I knew even then that painting would be my life's work."

Although, oil painting is his 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 producers of the Broadway show Cats.

He studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago* and the Metropolitan Museum of Art*, and traveled extensively throughout the world in search of new inspiration for his paintings.

His works are collected in both hemispheres from the Dali 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.  He continually pushes the limits of his talent in his never ending search for perfection.

Sources:
Eclectic Art and Objects Gallery, reflects information provided by the artist January 2001.
B Eric Rhoads, 'John Modesitt', Plein-Air Magazine, October 2004.

 

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from the artist, who lives in Solano Beach, California:

Born 1955, New Mexico

Education:
1985-86 Study at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
1981-84 Study at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
1981 Private Study of Sculpture, Townsend Studios, New York, NY
1978-79 Associate of Arts Degree, Cabrillo City College, Santa Cruz, CA
1978-79 Study at the Santa Barbara Art Museum, Santa Barbara, CA
1976-78 Oil Painting, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA

Chronology & Exhibitions:
1992 Constructed a home/studio in Solana Beach, Ca.
1991 Moved to Solana Beach, Ca.
1991 Traveled to Hungary and Romania to paint
1991 Traveled to Japan to paint
1990 Painting outdoors on Fox River, IL
1988 Sculpture commissions, Chicago, IL
1985 Horizon Galleries, Chicago, IL, Group shows
1985 Moved to Chicago, IL
1984 Traveled to China to paint
1983 Traveled widely in Midwestern U.S. to sketch and to paint
1984 Traveled to China to paint
1982 New York Experimental Glass Workshop, New York, NY
1981 Designed sculpture awards for the Broadway show Cats, New York, NY
1981 The Glass Garden, New York, N Group show
1980 Moved to New York, NY
1977 Gallery 113, Santa Barbara, CA, Santa Barbara Art Association Invitational
1976 Director, Gem Art Gallery, Santa Barbara, Ca
1968 Began painting with oils

Selected Public & Private Collections:
Dali Lama, Tibet
Mr. and Mrs. Jean Frost, Santa Barbara, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Wiodek, San Diego, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Chris Schuckmann, San Diego, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Nielson, San Marcos, CA
Dr. Mose Durst, Oakland, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Weiss, San Diego, CA
Dr. David Rueder, Pasadena, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Perry Cordell, Las Vegas, NV
Mr. and Mrs. William Jones, San Diego, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Barnes, St. Charles, CA
Mr. and Mrs. James T. Frost, Santa Barbara, CA
Mr. and Mrs. Mark Hickler, Wellesley, MA
Mr. Masatada Kawano, Shigaken, Japan
Mr. Shigeki Nakamura, Shizuoka, Japan

Teaching:
1996 San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, Ca.
1988-89 Private Classes in plein air painting, Chicago, Il
1978 Art of Painting in Watercolors, Cabrillo College, Santa Cruz, Ca.

Commissions & Public Auctions:
1982 Broadway Show, Cats, New York, NY
1983 Joffrey Ballet, New York, NY
2001 Christies, Los Angeles, Ca.
2001 John Moran Auctioneers, Pasadena, Ca.

Bibliography & Books:
The Artists Blue Book
Modesitt: The French & California Paintings
Davenports Art Reference
Franklin & James
North County Times, San Diego, CA, February 13, 1998, Local Painters Transform Outside World by Patricia Morris Buckley
Daily Courier News, Chicago, IL, December 10, 1989, Touch of Glass by Mary Buchwald
World and I, July-August 2005, Reflections of a Modern-Day Impressionist by Glenn Straight

Periodical Listings:
Western Art Collector. Premiere Issue 2007. The Savvy Collector's Guide to Western Artworks by Chris Holding.

World and I Magazine. July Anu. 2005. Reflections of a Modern-Day Impressionist by Glenn Straight.
Professional Affiliations:
Santa Barbara Art Association
California Art Club

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV:
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.

In 1985, he moved to the Chicago with his family and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Most of his time there was spent in the museum studying the collections of his favorite painters such as Monet, Manet, Pissarro, and Renoir.  He absorbed all he could from those artists.  In the early 1990’s Modesitt moved his family back to Southern California with his skills refined.

In San Diego, Modesitt began to paint directly from nature like never before. Here was the home of some of the great turn of the century regional artists such as Maurice Braun and Guy Rose.  The revival of all these artists had an influence on Modesitt as their love of nature and of painting sparked a sense of camaraderie.
Several exhibits assembled in Japan in the 1990’s showcased Modesitt paintings. Gallery owners on the East Coast of the United States began to carry John Modesitt paintings. Japanese collectors began collecting his Southern California landscapes. He was not content to paint only Natural scenes and soon developed an interest in Native American scenes. He and his wife befriended Chief Two Bears of the Dakotas. Chief Two Bears shared extensively about the lives of all Native American tribes. This greatly influenced Modesitt’s work.

During the 1990’s several trips were made to France.  In 1999, Modesitt and his family took up part-time residency in the Burgundy countryside in France. In a small village of about one dozen French families, Modesitt painted "en plein air". His work was sent back to galleries in the USA meeting with success. When he returned to the U.S.A., he visited Canyon de Chelly and other Native American settings. New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona became important places in his paintings.
Several publications list John Modesitt and numerous art magazines carry articles on his work. A new book has been published on his works in California entitled: Modesitt, The Paintings of California written by Kagawa and Stewart.

Modesitt paintings are found in the Butler Museum of American Art.


Biography from Eclectic Art & Objects Gallery:
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 Modesit paints what he feels about nature and translates his emotional and spiritual experiences into rhythmic color compositions on canvas.

"Before I start a painting I ask myself what am I trying to say. This gives me a clear understanding of where I am going and how I will get there." Once a clear message has been established he creates a thumbnail sketch. "I paint what I see, but, I compose what I feel by refining the natural composition. This may mean adding, deleting or moving objects in order to build a natural rhythm into the painting."

John Modesitt and his wife, Toshiko, and their daughter Emily, live in California close to the San Diego foothills, which are the subject of many of his paintings. Modesitt often travels to the deserts or the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which has 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."

He plots out his compositions in a medium tone line with a #2 round hog hair brush and switches to larger flats to block in the darkest tonal areas. "Each painting is an unraveling truth. I usually start with the areas that inspire me the most and then work around the canvas adding shadow and highlights first and then progressively adding more and more detail until the painting is complete."

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.

He studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and traveled extensively throughout the world in search of new inspiration for his paintings. His works are collected in both hemispheres from the Dali 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.

Hecontinually pushes the limits of his talent in his never ending search for perfection. He spent the spring and summer or 2000 painting the French countryside near Giverny. These important works demonstrate his ability to capture fresh, new emotions on canvas. "I could hardly control my brush. It wanted to paint whispy strokes in blues and greens and cool tones that are very different from my Southern California paintings. France is a new energy that I will continue to explore." John's French paintings sold out as fast as we could hang them. John will be returning to France this year to paint.

The Eclectic Art Gallery is organizing a group tour of Northern France hosted by John Modesitt.

Public and Private Collections: Dali Lama, Tibet; Mr. and Mrs. Jean Frost, Santa Barbara, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Wlodek, San Diego, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Chris Schuckmann, San Diego, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Raymond McCurie, Escondido, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Nielson, San Marcos, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Len Morris, Solana Beach, CA; Dr. Mose Durst, Oakland, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Weiss, San Diego, CA; Dr. David Rueder, Pasadena, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Perry Cordell, Las Vegas, NV; Mr. and Mrs. William Jones, San Diego, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Barnes, St. Charles, CA; Mr. and Mrs. James T. Frost, Santa Barbara, CA; Mr. and Mrs. Mark Hickler, Wellesley, MA; Mr. Masatada Kawano, Shigaken, Japan; Mr. Shigeki Nakamura, Shizuoka, Japan

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


John Modisett is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
The California Art Club

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