John Whalley: In the Details

John Whalley is not just a great artist. He is also a joyful and generous man, who shares his fascination of found objects with his audience.

John Whalley
Shorthand, 2016
Egg Tempera on panel
24 x 16 inches

For his solo exhibit last summer, called Etudes, Whalley wrote, “The word étude is defined as “a small, intricate study”, and so it seemed an appropriate title for my most recent exhibition of new egg tempera paintings and graphite drawings. With the exception of one portrait, the show is made up of small, intimate compositions created from among the thousands of “orphaned objects” that inhabit the shelves of my studio. Some works allude to partly told stories that the viewers are invited to consider with their imaginations. Others are simple, detailed portraits of tools, objects or old photographs, with attention to their patinas, textures and the quality of light they are seen in.”

In the Details

Although Whalley’s mother was an artist who studied at the Pratt Institute and encouraged Whalley to draw, Whalley credits his father, an engineer, with his attraction to the details. “He observed everything.” Whalley said, in a Portland tv interview. “He would take two to three hours out of a day to watch a wasp bury something for its young and lay eggs and we would watch the whole process. So I think he instilled a real love of observation. And that, with the artwork, I’ve just always loved studying things in detail…bugs, things in nature, and as I got older, objects, many of them which have a lot of wear and tear to them, and textures.”

John Whalley
Edgeworth, 2007
Graphite on paper
21 1/16 x 29 inches
Signed: John Whalley (l.l.)
For sale at Surovek Gallery

What shines through, in every drawing and painting, is Whalley’s appreciation for each object. He and his wife pick up objects on their walks or buy them in shops or at yard sales.

His studio is filled with old tools, books, postcards, photographs and items that defy description. When Whalley puts them together, he sees what he calls, “the beauty that speaks softly,” and draws the textures, lights and darks, so that we can see the beauty, as well.

John Whalley
The Gator Hunt, Palm Beach, c.1903, 2010
Graphite on paper
8 1/2 x 10 inches
Signed: John Whalley (l.l.)
For sale at Surovek Gallery

Art as Inspiration

Whalley’s generous spirit, and his belief in the power of art, is evident in his work with underprivileged children. He developed a therapeutic art program at an orphanage in Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania, and taught there from 1981to1985. He taught art to homeless children in El Salvador and the Amazon and from 1997 to 2003 he volunteered as to teach art at the New Horizons Youth Ranch in central Brazil.

John Whalley
Waiting, 2009
Graphite on paper
14 x 20 inches
Signed and dated: John Whalley (l.r.)
For sale at Surovek Gallery

His time spent teaching also inspired much of his work.

John Whalley at Surovek Gallery

Please contact us for more information about Edgeworth, The Gator Hunt, Waiting or any of the other fine works by John Whalley available at Surovek Gallery.

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