Painting by John Ishmael
Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know designer and artist, John Ishmael. His inviting smile and sweet laugh are things I cherish in a friend. But, what I really love is his talented stroke of the brush. John is an artist first and foremost. He sees things with a highly discerning eye and transforms them into beauty. Not everyone can do this, only the lucky (or well trained!) I sat down with him over cocktails to see what makes my darling friend tick. Here is a glimpse of our converstaion….
John will be displaying his work this Thursday, March 22nd at his store, Nandina Home in Inman Park from 6- 9 pm at an Art Open House… Come Join Us!
Designer & Artist John Ishmael
ME: John, I love your work and have it in my house….What inspired you to become a painter and at what age?
JOHN: I have painted since middle school, so, many many years. My mother has a painting I did when I was 14 hanging in her apartment. I always loved to draw, and painting became another way to be creative.
ME: What is your favorite color palette in which to work? I love your moody grays, yellows and blacks…
JOHN: I am not sure I have a favorite color palette, my work changes over time, and if I look back on older work, I see that the colors in my work have become more varied. I will do a very soft color palette of taupes, grays, butter yellow and white, then I will do — what I call my sunset palette — oranges, coral, yellow, lavender, soft blue and purple, and this is not soft at all, more energized.
ME: Who are your influences in the art world?
JOHN: My biggest influence was my high school art teacher Carole Williams because she made me feel I was talented enough as an artist to pursue art as a career. And I know, by looking back at the work I produced when I was 16, she had a special gift to see potential because I have come a really long way.
As to artist’s who have influenced me as an abstact painter, there are several such as Cy Twombly, Franz Kline, William de Kooning, and Robert Motherwell. In my earlier years as a painter, I was strongly affected by Salvador Dali. I have been a member of an art critique group for more than 12 years, and I believe that my work has matured most through the motivation and healthy criticism of this group which includes: Corinne Adams, Susan Easton Burns, Betty Botts, Dixie Purvis, Carolyn Wyatt, Bitty Herlihy, Leslie Ann Price and Phyllis Franco.
Painting by John Ishmael
ME: On a daily basis, what can you NOT LIVE with out? Frette sheets, a good Chianti and French cheese are a few of mine.
JOHN: I don’t think there is anything that I can’t live without, but I really love good food, and cooking is one of my favorite things to do…. So, a functional kitchen is necessary, a beautifully designed and functional kitchen is really my desire.
ME: If you could live and paint any where in the world.. where would it be?
JOHN: That’s really difficult to answer. I am always motivated by natural beauty, so there are several places that I love to go to be inspired… I must go to the studio and paint…. a few are Mykonos Greece, New Orleans, the Oregon coast, and the Amalfi coast in Italy.
ME: We both love cocktails … and to entertain.. what’s your favorite?
JOHN: Favorite cocktail hhhm… that would have to be a straight-up vodka martini with a properly made lemon twist! But, I think I love a great Red Zinfindel more. Entertaining is really about the perfect mix of people to invite to a dinner party. I like to have people that love to tell stories, people that love to listen, people that are clever, artistic, or funny. Any one of these at my dinner party is wonderful, if you have two of those traits.. fantastic! If you have all three, I may get jealous, but you definitely get invited!
ME: So, the most important question yet…If you were a race car .. which one would you be? You know I am a 1969 red Merecedes convertible.. and you?
JOHN: Me being a race car is rather amusing, I think the most memorable car race I ever saw was not even real, it was from the movie THE LOVE BUG, and the car was a talking VW Bug named Herbie…. I laughed so much during the movie, my family moved away from me in the theatre! So, I guess I would be a VW bug with a 53 on my hood.