Upcoming Fine Art Classes

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Fine Art Department

John McCormick

John McCormick

Instructor: John McCormick
May 10–13, 2018 (Thursday–Sunday, 9:30am–4:30pm)


This class is no longer available for registration. For more information, please call the Mendocino Art Center Registrar:
707 937-5818, ext. 10 or toll-free 800 653-3328, ext. 10


This is a comprehensive class starting with equipment, tools and preparation. Organization of painting area and placement of colors on your pallet will be emphasized. Students will learn how to start a painting using drawings to emphasize composition and value placement. Each day I will do a demonstration painting describing techniques and process. Both one-on-one critiques at the easel and group discussions will be held daily. My influences, both historical and contemporary, will be part of our conversation over the course of the class. I hope that each participant can become more visually aware and have a more solid foundation in a relaxed and positive environment.


Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, JOHN MCCORMICK’S father was an artist, and an accomplished draftsman, so John was given training and encouragement from early childhood. McCormick obtained his B.F.A. from the University of the Pacific where he studied with Larry Walker and went on to earn a teaching credential at San Francisco State University.

Early in his career McCormick exhibited his abstract paintings at the same time that he started a successful business in San Francisco, painting sets and large-scale scenic backdrops for photographers, videographers, television and film studios. The studio client list included HBO, Lucasfilm, Walt Disney Studios, Apple computers, MTV, the Grateful Dead the San Francisco 49ers, Golden State Warriors and Time Warner.

The abstract paintings of this time were well received, but the scenic painting with its emphasis on creating a photo realist look, moved McCormick to explore a more referential style of painting. "There was a transitional period where I realized I wanted to bring more drawing back into my fine art and that my exploration of abstraction as an idea was reaching a logical conclusion." McCormick finally concluded that the idea of landscape with its arbitrary forms was not that big a leap from the artistic vocabulary he had developed during his years of doing abstraction.

The idea of Landscape in painting today means something different than it did to the culture a hundred years ago. McCormick says, depletion of the natural environment was not a concern of earlier painters but is an implicit concern in many of the contemporary landscape painters today. I think Simon Schama in his book, Landscape and Memory, put it best when he said, "the resilience of the landscape imagery speaks to the recognition that landscapes are culture before they are nature; they are constructs of our imagination projected onto earth, water and woods. In McCormick's work, one senses a quiet beauty, which he says, may be the energy source for the spirit, a place in the mind where sympathy and compassion are born and regenerated.

In some of the recent landscape paintings, McCormick has added swimming pools and other man-made objects; making the work more prosaic in nature. The stark juxtaposition of visual elements carries a quiet unsettling ambiguity.

Over the past few years, McCormick's work has shifted to include figures, usually suspended in time. The figure provides a glimpse into the human condition. Drawing inspiration from memory, and photos, the work tries to capture the unguarded moment. Often the figures are turned away or in shadowed light from the viewer making things present yet vague.

Over the past thirty years McCormick has exhibited his work both domestically and internationally. These exhibition venues include the Triton Museum of Art, the United States Embassy in Moscow and galleries in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Sun Valley and New York. His work is included in many private and corporate collections including Stanford University and the Nasu Highland Resort in Japan. Additionally, his work was featured in the film Vanilla Sky with actor Tom Cruise.

McCormick continues to work and paint at his home and studio in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Visit John McCormick's website

Current MAC Members: $414
Non-members: $460 plus a $45 non-member registration fee

There is a registration fee of $45 for each class for non-members. Current Mendocino Art Center members do not pay a registration fee and may take 10% off each class registration. The discount is reflected in the prices above. Not a member yet? You may sign up below.
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Cancellations must be made in writing, either by mail or email. If you notify us at least 21 days prior to the first class meeting, you will receive a refund of tuition less a $45 cancellation fee. No refunds will be made after that date for any reason due to our contractual obligations and material acquisitions. If the Art Center is compelled to cancel a class you will receive a full tuition refund. Memberships are non-refundable as they are considered a donation to the Art Center.

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