History and bio

What you see in my paintings may be totally different from what I see.  But as long as they move you, in my mind, they are successful.  I have always been fascinated by the way light defines the world around me. It has become a trite statement from too many artists.  Even those that do not understand light.  But that makes it no less true.  I simply love what light does. How a scene can change in feel, substance, and color;  how it changes in composition and in its very reality as the light changes.  The understanding of light is cross-disciplinary.   Its power to manipulate the form and content of an image and to change the viewer’s response to it is crucial in my choices in painting,  photography and filmmaking.

Growing up in the country I relished the landscape.  It represents both a quiet oneness with and an escape from everything. I can find peace in the solitude, a connection to a visceral feeling of intense isolation that I feel is symptomatic of being human.   Through technique, subject and composition, I try to convey the beauty and power of the landscape and the way I feel it can charge one’s soul.    The successful  illusion of reality born by a sense of light manipulated in simple paint applied to a flat surface is true magic. And I believe that if it is successful it hits a truth that no photo will ever capture.  I marvel at Sargent and Velasquez,  the Ashcan painters, Sloan, and Luks, and Chase and so many more. They all were able to understand the beauty of paint, and so very directly capture a scene that is at once whole and completely convincing and yet nothing but paint.  That illusion is very similar to the magic obtainable in filmmaking.

For years I painted al fresco and direct. “All at Once”, doing mostly plien aire paintings. But my approach is changing by necessity: I have a rare incurable eye disease,  and as my vision slowly turns to mush I adapt: painting more in studio and over multiple sessions.  I still paint very directly and sometimes get the smaller ones done in one sitting.

I hope that you enjoy my work!


Second Place Philadelphia Sketch Club Juried Members mixed Media Show, 2021; First Place Landscape, Philadelphia Sketch Club, Juried Small Paintings Show, 2017, The Whitemarsh Prize for Excellence, Whitemarsh Art Center, Juried Plein Air Competition, 2015; Honorable Mention -The Philadelphia Sketch Club Small Landscapes Juried Show 2013; First Place- Sugartown Juried Fine Arts Show, 2011; The Catherine Grant Award for Landscape 1982; William Emlin Cresson Special Commondation 1982; The Lambert and Emma Wallace Cadwalader Prize for Portraiture 1981.

John Dorchester is a multi-discipline artist.  He has applied his artistry to painting and drawing, filmmaking, writing, music and historically sensitive architectural renovations. He grew up surrounded by the rolling hills of rural Chester County, Pennsylvania.   As an adolescent he had a keen interest in landscape painting and filmmaking,  studying painting with Nantucket artist, Warren Krebs, and filmmaking with Earl Fowler, whose famous brother, Jim, made nature films for Mutual Of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom”.

John continued his study of painting with Sydney Goodman, Lou Sloan,  and Jimmy Leuders and others at the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts, in Philadelphia. He graduated with honors and awards in absentia, after a serious illness interrupted his studies just weeks before graduation in 1982.

John was awarded many of

The Academy’s top awards

including the Emma Cadwalader

Prize for Portraiture, The Catherine

Grant Award for Landscape

and one of only two

William Emlin Cresson,

“Special Commendations” ever given

by PAFA.

John has won accolades as a fine artist, musician, and a commercial filmmaker.  While concentrating on commercial filmmaking for nearly two decades he garnered six Telly Awards and one Addy Award (for an agency).  As a musician, he was a quarter finalist in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN in 2014.  His latest album, Blue Delta, has gotten radio play around the world.

John has also restored a number of historic homes from the late 1800s to the 1920s.

Throughout it all John has continued to pursue painting and has been recognized by juried shows in his native Philadelphia area and nationally.

John is represented in private and corporate collections in throughout the United States and Canada.

SHOWS:   2022 Philadelphia Sketch Club 158th annual Small Paintings Juried Exhibit; 2022 American Impressionist Society On-line Exhibition; 2022 42nd Ridgewood Art Institute Juried Exhibition, Ridgewood, NJ; 2021 Philadelphia Sketch Club Members Juried Exhibition; 2021OPA Juried Salon Exhibition of Traditional Oils, Gainsville GA; 2021 AIS Associate Members juried on-line exhibition; 2021 41st Ridgewood Art Institute Juried Exhibition Ridgewood, NJ; 2020 107th Allied Artists of America Juried Show, Salmgundi Club, NY, NY, 2020; 37th Ridgewood Art Institute Juried Show, Ridgewood, NJ. 2019; OPA Juried Salon, Traverse City, 2018: Southern Allegheny Museum Of Art, Tradition and Innovation, 2018; PSC Juried Salon Show Of Small Oil Paintings, 2018, Bucks County Plein Air Juried Competition and show, 2017; PSC Juried Salon Show Of Small Oil Paintings, 2017, Group Show, Artisen Gallery, Phoenixville, PA, 2016, Oil Painters Of America National Juried Salon of American Painting, 2016;  Heron Crest Studios 2015; Philadelphia Sketch CLub Exhibit of Small Paintings, 2013; Squirrel Gallery,  2012, 2014, 2016; Whitemarsh Invitational Pleinair Show, 2015; Sugartown Invitational, 2010.

John caught painting by a man and his dog. Lancaster PA.  Photo by Kerry Sacco 2016

MEMBERSHIP: Alumni Member, Center For Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA), Philadelphia,   Member Oil Painters of America;  Member American Impressionists Society; Elected Member, Allied Artists of America;  Member Philadelphia Sketch Club.


Artist’s statement

1982 landscape

2012 landscape

1992  landscape