John Guthrie

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I am from Lima, Ohio and currently reside in Boston, MA.
When did you move to Boston? Where do you like to go in Boston when you’re not working in the studio?
I moved to Boston in 1989 to attend Mass Art. When I’m not working I am big on walking around town. I love going to museums the most. But I have a dog too, so that keeps me going to the many parks and green spaces Boston has to offer.
What necessities do you require when making your art?
I’ve been in the same studio for 23 years, so of course it’s pretty well set up for working. Many parts of the studio are on wheels from chairs to nested work tables to painting storage. I have an old school stereo with four speakers. I’m sure the neighbors know this. I have a set of drawing files filled with various kinds of paper, as well as different sizes of stretched canvas ready to go.
Describe a typical day in the studio for you.
I usually arrive at the studio around noon and stay until around 10 pm. I usually clean and straighten up first thing - I like a clean studio. Then, depending on where I’m at in the process, I will either start drawing or commence painting something I have already started. I’m usually reading something too while I’m there.
What are you reading these days?
A friend just gave me The Tipping Point. It’s been out for a long time but it’s really fascinating. I’m also reading The Success Principles right now. I’m not into fiction at the moment.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Getting started on a new piece is always the most difficult. Figuring out what I’m going to do. Once I start working on something I can keep up the momentum pretty well.
Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?
Usually in my acrylic work (the color pieces) I have a piece planned out already before I start working. I do a lot of drawing before hand and that dictates what the piece is going to be. The watercolor pieces are different though. I have a general idea of what I’m drawing but the way the piece feels at the end is never anything that I expected. But in all my work there are always surprises and associations that I wasn’t expecting when I started out.
How do you choose your materials?
After over twenty years of painting I pretty much have my materials down. There was definitely an evolution though. As the years have gone by I’m using higher quality products, so the kind of paper I use has changed. And with different papers I can do different things. I generally use 300lb hot press papers now, which allow for a more vigorous approach to working. I’m always open to new materials and ways of working if I think they will help with what I’m trying to do. As far as paint, I use Golden Heavy Body Acrylics.
I have a general idea of what I’m drawing but the way the piece feels at the end is never anything that I expected. — John Guthrie
Is there something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I used to be an Aerospace Engineer.
Did you go to art school?
I went to the Massachusetts College of Art.
What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?
In the acrylic pieces I use color, value shifts, and line quality to create perceptual anomalies, and impossible geometries. The way the drawing relates to the paper or canvas is a metaphor for how we relate ourselves to the architectural spaces we find ourselves in.
How long have you been interested in the experience of architecture?
One of the most formative experiences as an artist came when I was ten years old. My parents took me to see a baseball game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnnati. I was shocked to be immersed in these huge expanses of bright color. It really blew my mind and the experience has stuck with me ever since. That was the first architectural experience that I can remember. I still want to have color doing that sort of thing in my work. Surprising the viewer or exciting them into a new experience.
Is there any artwork on display in your studio? Whose is it?
I have a nice collection of art I’ve gathered over the years. I’m always looking to get something new. My favorite pieces are the Joseph Albers silkscreens and a drawing by Daniel Arsham. I’ve recently acquired some great work by local artists Damien Hoar de Galvin and Pat Falco.

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