John Carnes, watercolorist

I began working in watercolor, gouache, pastel, and graphite almost twenty-five years ago. My strongest inspirations have been the New England landscape and the human figure. While my earlier work was representational, my current interests have to do with the relationships among shapes and colors, and how modeled forms can inhabit a two-dimensional or shallow picture space.

Note: Make Coffee Not War is available in giclee prints through John Carnes.

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John Carnes by Allison McKeen

What photographer and painter do you admire most?
Photographer: Paul Strand. He was a protégé of Alfred Stieglitz and rebelled against the previous photographers who tried to make their photographs look like paintings—all fuzzy and soft. Strand photographed the contemporary life of the city, the natural world of rural New England and the Southwest and Mexico. What I love most is the gorgeous richness of his platinum prints, their pearl-like luster and their warm blacks.

Painter: If I think of the watercolor painters who inspired me as stepping stones across a New England stream, the first would be Winslow Homer, the second John Singer Sargent, and, finally, the one who got me to the other side, Paul Cezanne. Once you leap from the rock that is Cezanne's late watercolors, you launch yourself across to the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Of the ones being shown, which was your favorite to create?
"Autumn Pond" is a favorite because it was the culmination of a lengthy process involving multiple trips to the Central Maine location, a half dozen sketches and at least three prior paintings, each successive painting being simplified more and more. It is a composition of massive shapes and forms, but I think it still conveys a sense of place and time.

Is there a style you'd like to explore that you haven't?
I've explored a number of styles during my 26 year painting career. Most recently I find myself considering returning to where I started: painting the Maine landscape plein air.

Favorite drink?
On my way to my studio each morning I've purchased so many cappuccinos (on the dry side, of course) that the Gardiner Food Co-op and Café has named one for me. My greatest claim to fame!

Last meal?
You mean like before I die? If so, I guess that would have to be fried chicken (using my mother's southern roots recipe), mashed potatoes with lots of butter and salt and pepper, a crisp salad with a dressing of avocado oil and balsamic vinegar, and, finally, an extra large slice of White Trillium Cake for dessert. I love wine, but for this meal I would probably choose a tall glass of ice cold milk. And one of those cappuccinos to accompany the cake.

If you mean what was the last memorable meal, that would be my sirloin steak, cheesy mashed potatoes, and spicy broccoli last Wednesday night at The Grill Room in Portland. The Cote de Rhone I ordered was delicious.

Artdogs Studios
277 Water Street, Gardiner ME 20345
(207) 208-9232  ·