bio

John Mac Kah 2011Foundations

I see myself as part of the American tradition of landscape painting.  My family heritage is grounded in the southeast; one of my great-grandfathers was a cabinet maker who moved in 1842 from Germany to settle in central Georgia. My grandfather, John S. Kah,  took up photography very early, listing it as his occupation in 1890 when he was a young man in Macon, Georgia. He established had his own commercial photography studios in old Cedar Key, Florida, later in Bradenton, Tampa, Jacksonville, Durham, NC and in Vermont, moving seasonally. His work can be found in historic archives in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

My father and mother both worked in his shop (she hand-coloring images). They later had a photo-engraving business, so image making was part of family life. I was interested in natural history, and once considered becoming herpetologist, keeping snakes and turtles and rescuing wild-life.  I became interested in drawing animals, fascinated by the challenge of rendering them accurately, later grounded in a context of careful use of tools and materials and exposure to visual culture, something that still engages me.

During art school, because the focus there was more on abstraction and modernist styles, I went my own way, researching and seeking out mentors who could give me training in use of traditional oils, though I do sometimes use acrylic and on occasion, alkyds for some applications. My skills are largely self-taught; though I did do a lot of drawing in art school. I often paint on panel or linen, using traditional grounds, mediums and materials.

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate degree from Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida and have had a freelance/private studio since 1984. My work is in private and corporate collections in the southeast, and internationally. I teach from my studio and in nationally known schools including the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas, Penland School, John C. Campbell Folk School, and Arrowmont School.
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