JOHN wilkison

A Tennessee native, John Wilkison graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in art history and a Master's degree in Painting and Studio Art. He has  been working in watercolor since 1970 and is a Signature Member of the American, National, Southern, and Tennessee Watercolor Societies. His works are in private, public and museum collections.




The challenge of painting in this demanding medium, watercolor, is fundamental to who I am. Watercolor suits me. I love it: the process of thinking backwards into a work of art. All painting is about abstracting and simplifying the world. Through the act of looking at an object and it’s situation, I’m taking reality apart, reconfiguring it in my mind - changing it inside me - and putting it back out in such a way that the viewer believes that these strokes of color and light, are objects, scenes, and narratives.” I try for a feeling of atmospheric cohesiveness in the visual image, avoiding unnecessary techniques, if they conflict with the vision of a larger atmosphere and psychology of a piece. In this guise, abstraction of the situation becomes the foremost act. Color, texture and chiaroscuro are my tools. Though I sometimes separate from painting, to explore other pursuits; returning to watercolor, always feels natural.  As I see it, my time spent “away” from the medium, is often spent in a deeper study of how the world around me feeds back into my watercolor work. Magic and mystery are at the heart of this pursuit. Without being overly dramatic, I attempt to create a spontaneous sense of visual mystery through the dramatic use of light. Transparent watercolor offers this luminous effect by its’ very nature.




Master of Art in Painting and Studio - George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, May 1973, Nashville, TN

Bachelor of Arts in Art History - Vanderbilt University, May 1969, Nashville, TN

Professional Experience

Barbara Moore Gallery, Chadds Ford, PA  Present

Chadds Ford Gallery, Chadds Ford, PA 2017

Cumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN  Present

Jamison Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 1975-1993

Aronson Gallery, Atlanta, GA  1978-1990

Bruce Gallery, Memphis, TN  1970's - 1980's

Museum of the Southwest, Midland, TX  1985

Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, AL  1978

Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN  1976

Signature Membership

Signature Member - American Watercolor Society

Signature Member - National Watercolor Society

Watercolor USA Honor Society, Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, MO


Megan Kelly, "Distilling Meaning From Light", Nashville Arts Magazine, August 2014