John MacDonald was educated at Washington University (St. Louis), where he received a BFA in 1979. He studied printmaking at the Institute for American Universities in Avignon, France and received an MA in painting and drawing at Purdue University. John has worked as a full-time freelance illustrator for many years in addition to his work in painting and the digital woodcuts. He lives and works out of his studio in Williamstown, Massachusetts
For lack of better term, John calls his prints "digital woodcuts." The images are first created by brush and hand, painted in black and white, and then scanned. Following traditional woodcut techniques, color is added by creating various layers but in a software painting program. The prints are created in the studio on an Epson, archival printer. Stylistically, the images range from a more graphic, woodcut appearance to a softer, painterly style similar to a colored etching. John continues to explore the media. John's paintings are done en plein air. His works most often show landscapes local to the Williamstown area. The works are rooted in the traditions of 20th century realism, displaying a fascination for light, color and a confident use of brush work.
"My work has always been driven by the joy found in the simple and pure act of artistic creation. Being a full time illustrator, I have no desire spending the limited time in which I create personal work illustrating theories of aesthetics. I enjoy the simple manipulation of color, texture, composition, line and form and continue to be enthralled by the slow, magical appearance of illusory space as it emerges from a two-dimensional surface. My artistic preferences are for a well composed image (Japanese woodcuts being exemplary examples), the use of pattern (Paul Klee and Gustav Klimt being favorites), and the rendering of the illusion of light (painters from Caravaggio to Cezanne)."
John's paintings (1982-1994) have been exhibited in over 20 groups shows. He has been featured in solo shows at the Manuge Galleries, Ltd. of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Southern Vermont College, Plymouth College (N.H.), and the Lafayette Museum of Art (Indiana). His most recent work in painting was featured in a Harrison Gallery solo exhibition during the winter of 2005. His illustrations have appeared on the covers of U.S. News & World Report, Der Spiegel, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and Barrons. His other editorial clients include the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Architectural Digest, Money Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. Corporate clients include American Express, Citibank, Dupont, Harcourt Brace, GTE, and the National Geographic Society. He is a member of the Graphic Artists Guild, the Society of Illustrators, and the Illustrators Partnership of America.