Painting on Monhegan Island, Maine

Painting on Monhegan Island, Maine

Profile of John Oat
A graduate of the Design and Illustration program at School of Visual Arts in New York, with a B.F.A. from The University of North Carolina in Greensboro, NC, John Oat has enjoyed a 40 - plus year career as a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Art Director and Fine Artist.

John was born and raised in the scenic southeastern corner of Connecticut. He grew up near Norwich, a small New England city with the benefit of a high school offering a unique fine arts program. He started painting plein air oils while attending the Norwich Art School when one of his art teachers encouraged him to paint something outside the classroom and he was immediately captivated by the challenge.

He was influenced early in his painting career by plein air painters Charles H. Davis, Willard Metcalf, and Childe Hassam, who had been drawn to coastal Connecticut because of the quality of its light and atmosphere. John painted and exhibited on Martha’s Vineyard early in his career and while living in Mystic, Connecticut became an active artist with The Mystic Arts Center.

While on a painting trip to Monhegan Island, Maine in the 1990’s Oat had the good fortune of finding a mentor in Don Stone N.A who opened his eyes to a fresh, vibrant, direct approach to painting. He is grateful for his friendship with Don, for generously sharing his time and expertise during workshops on Monhegan and his steadfast encouragement. As Don would say, “It’s never to late to do what you love, and the most important thing is to love what you do.”

John’s favorite painters vary from Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorolla, Robert Henri, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper and Jove Wang.

At this period of his professional career John paints exclusively in oils. He has exhibited his work in both group and solo shows and his paintings hang in many private collections.

Artist Statement 
I like to paint outdoors now because I get so much enjoyment working directly from nature. I appreciate the challenge of creating a painting when the light and atmosphere can change, sometimes dramatically in seconds, and there may only be minutes available to capture it on canvas.

Painting from nature is the best way to learn how to paint. The subject matter, colors, and light observed while painting outdoors cannot be made up in a studio setting. Of course you can create wonderful paintings in the studio, but painting on location provides a more direct relationship with the subject, a unique relationship. I hope to share through my paintings, a brief glimpse of my experience in an outdoor setting by expressing the feeling I get from a particular place. The movement of light and color over the subject matter inspires me to tell the story of a unique moment in time. Hopefully my paintings speak to each viewer about the wonder of our natural environment.

What about the studio work? 
Sometimes it is nice to be indoors where you are out of the weather, with a cup of tea and stable lighting conditions. I use the studio to put the finishing touches on paintings started outdoors. The studio is also a great place to paint “remembered” impressions from unique experiences at an outdoor site. I use sketch book notes and digital photos that I've taken while painting outdoors as references for my studio work. Photo references remain secondary to what originally inspired me to paint the scene.