He was studying to become a designer at the International Silver Company, where his father worked and was the head of the Forman Association. He would spend countless hours at the company design studio where he would watch them work and learn. He then began walking the hills and forest of Wallingford and Yalesville, Connecticut, drawing and painting the landscapes, plants and people, which he came upon. By the time he graduated from Wilcox Technical High school, he had won well over a hundred and fifty awards for his watercolor landscapes, drawings and designs as well as from the Fisher Body Craftsman Guild, through General Motors.
Upon graduation, he had earned several scholarships; it had long been a dream of his to attend…“Tink Adams’ Legendary Art Center School in Los Angeles. So he accepted a scholarship to Bridgeport University where he majored in Art and Engineering. During this time he worked to save enough money for tuition to Art Center, in hopes of being allowed to attend in the future. It was his watercolors along with his designs that allowed him a full scholarship for his remaining six semesters to obtain his degree.
Upon graduation, his portfolios helped him to land a job with the General Motors Design Center and later with Sumburg Farrar Industrial Design in Michigan. While working with these two companies, he acquired the insight, knowledge, and experience of running a design company.
With harsh winters and the changes of climate, he decided to follow his dream, and open an Industrial Design Office with three other Art Center Alumni, in San Francisco, California. In 1972, he moved his office from San Francisco, to the foothills of the Sierra’s, and he began painting the beauty of the landscape and the people of yesteryear. It was then that he was approached and asked to participate in the Death Valley Days.
In the late 80’s, with his love of history and the process of the creation of all things, from the design to completed product, John started telling the stories through his paintings.
"In the 90’s, John started painting his Design Shop Scenes..."
...with his first commission from Audi Volkswagen. It was a large watercolor with designer’s portraits to celebrate the launching of their new VW Beatle, Concept One, in 1993.
Since then, John has completed dozens of design studios and shop scene watercolor paintings. Some of these were Aston Martin, Porsche, Lincoln, Streamlining, the Designers of the mascots for the automobiles, and clients who have their own personal home shops.
All through his years as a painter he has loved painting the human figure and from those early teen days, he mastered the art of portraiture. This ability is seen in all of his studio watercolor paintings.
We may all think that John’s automotive work is only about designers and the design process until we view his “At Speed” paintings and his other work, which may be seen on his web site. These abstract metaphors for speed are mostly debuted at John Barnes, Palm Beach Cavallino Classic, each year in January.
He was challenged by his watercolor instructors, Dave Solan and Morgan Embroden to create his own speed, Paint metaphors for the movement of metal objects through dust, air, sunlight, and darkness. John is thankful to find that these At Speed painting have found their way into so many collectors’ collections.
Ten years ago, John was approached and asked if he would join the staff at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, teaching the History of Industrial Design, and Design Drawing 2. It has been a wonderful experience and opportunity for him to contribute to the education of the future designers in his classes.
John lives with his wife, Patty Kris in the two-story native volcanic stone home he built in the early 70’s. When they can find someone to tend and care for their garden, chickens and cats, they can be found traveling across this glorious country in their vintage 1967 Airstream Caravel trailer, painting and enjoying life on the road.
Contact: John Marsh
PO Box 1240 West Point, CA 95255-1240 USA Tel: 1-209-293-7088