John MacCallum, Artist

visual artist

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portrait artist

Portraits he had done a decade ago of his son Jack as a young child inspired visual artist John MacCallum to turn his attention to portraiture.

"When I looked at them I could feel - not just see - baby Jack, the young man Jack has become today.  And I can envision the man he will be. A portait is more than a likeness, it's the emotional and intellectual presence of the person.  There is timeless value in looking deeper, especially in the age of the selfie."

John's work in portraiture calls on his fine art academica, trained skill, and an artist's innate empathetic nature.  John has a Masters degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

John's portraiture process starts with the person's presence either in person, or in conversation with those who knew them.  This interaction creates a sense of who the subject is, and John says, "It's amazing really, but in just a brief interaction you learn so much about a person - how they move, how they interact with others and their environment, and how they approach things."

He typically then takes his own photos in the right light and muses over them for a while.  Then he begins to paint or charcoal sketch on his canvas of choice.  Line after line and layer after layer, the portrait is complete.  

'Looks like a photo' is not the aim of the portrait artist.  John says, "Just as a musician would compose music that reminds them of a loved one, a portrait is expressive and representative - the use of colour, style, weight and tone all have a role in capturing the essence."

To John, the portrait is a story that needs context to be fully experienced.  On the back of each canvas he writes notes about the subject and his process, and whether portraits of others were created at the same time. 

The immersion John gives to his portraiture work is the same to other art forms. Inspired by materials and a strong interest in representational art, John's work reflects on family, nature and social justice. Out of a mix of traditional media, construction material and eclectic, recycled items, he creates meaningful and cutting-edge works of art.

John uses a mixture of traditional and modern styles and techniques for his art work, and one-of-a-kind furniture and woodworks.

He says, "I like  to use the best aspects of different styles and ideas from different times and places, and blend them together to make something really unique, beautiful, practical and meaningful… that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the past 25 years."

line sketch portrait of a woman
charcoal portrait of a woman
charcoal portrait of expressive person
charcoal portrait of a young man.  it feels like he's falling into your eyes.
three portraits of a boy in a row.  one is full detail.  the second is medium detail.  the third is charcoal.
oil portrait of man's face
three portraits of the same woman.  one in charcoal.  one in acrylic.  one in oil.
line sketch portrait of a woman
charcoal portrait of a woman
charcoal portrait of expressive person
charcoal portrait of a young man.  it feels like he's falling into your eyes.
three portraits of a boy in a row.  one is full detail.  the second is medium detail.  the third is charcoal.
oil portrait of man's face
three portraits of the same woman.  one in charcoal.  one in acrylic.  one in oil.