John Lee

Interior Landscapes, Still Life Paintings, and the Absence of Curation with John Lee


What does the journey of a responsive painter focused on interior landscapes and still life paintings entail? How do you cultivate an awareness of the world around you in a way that can come to life in your art? My guest is artist and painter, John Lee. In my conversation with John, we cover his journey into artistry, how his ideas for projects from, his perspective as an art instructor, what he’s been working on during his break from teaching, the insufficiency of labels, and so much more! I can’t wait for you to hear from John and his engaging story.

Interior Landscapes and Still Life Paintings

John Lee’s work is based on what he sees in the world around him. He doesn’t like to paint things that he doesn’t see, rather he focuses more on genres like still life paintings and interior landscapes. In the end, it’s kind of hard to really nail John down in one particular vein, he enjoys the complexity and ambiguity. I know that artists like you will really enjoy and appreciate John’s unique voice and style. Make sure to check out images of his artwork located at the end of this post!

Learning to see, not look.

How does the role of an art instructor impact the work of an artist? Does that responsibility bleed into and influence their creative work? How can teaching draw out different aspects of the artist? My guest, John Lee teaches in Williamsburg, Virginia at the College of William and Mary. What’s fascinating about many of the students that John teaches is that many of them do not end up pursuing a career as an artist. In light of this, John focus on exposing these students to a world they are unaware of through art. He hopes that time in his classroom helps students learn to see, not look at the world around them.

The absence of curation.

When you look at the channels for art in the world around you, do you notice that there is a distinct lack of thoughtful and intentional curation? What is the solution? How do we start to move back or begin to appreciate once again the careful attention to detail that curation provides? In my conversation with artist John Lee, we discuss how increased access to art databases can actually have a limiting effect on the creative mind. John also touches on what he is doing as an art instructor to help expose students to resources that will grow their perspectives.

Paying attention to what captures your interest.

As an artist, what is it that captures your imagination and ignites your interest? How do you nurture those impulses and learn to make them part of your creative process? According to my guest, John Lee, it is vital for us as artists to make note of what lights us up. John encourages artists to experiment and find their way to inspiration through trial and error. He also explains how he tunes out the noise that can be distracting to focus on the task at hand. What can you learn from John’s story? What has worked for you with your creative process so far?

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:00] I introduce my guest, John Lee.
  • [2:30] John talks about his start as an artist.
  • [7:00] How does John describe his artwork?
  • [13:30] What does John do with ideas that come to him? What inspires him?
  • [19:00] John talks about his time away from teaching and what he’s been working on.
  • [25:00] What’s going on with art students? Is there a moment happening?
  • [30:00] How art schools impact students.
  • [40:00] What role does art have for the non-artist? Learning to see, not look.
  • [46:00] How do you tune out all the influences or only focus on the ones you want?
  • [49:00] Paying attention to what captures your interest.
  • [51:00] John talks about his post art school career.
  • [54:30] One step forward, two steps back.

Other artists mentioned on this episode

Resources Mentioned on this episode

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