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JOHN GATES

His Philosophy: “You are not an artist because you have achieved some skill level, have a degree in Art, or because people tell you that you are talented.  You are an artist because that is your mindset, your way of life, the way you create-- and, as humans, we all create.  Therefore, we are all artists.  Rather than saying “I have no creativity” or “I could never do what you do”, find your creative outlet, whatever it may be, and go for it.  It will enrich your life and give you joy you never thought possible.”


His Style: “After years of observing the discord and brokenness in our society, our families, and in ourselves, I often paint in a style that, although they are watercolor, my works look like mosaics or stained glass.  My style represents how the broken pieces of our lives can be put together to make a beautiful, whole person, just as shards of colored glass and pieces of ceramic tile, are put together to make a complete, cohesive work of art.  My work focuses on recovery, healing, and community, and not on the tragedies themselves.  I hope my art can remind the viewer that happiness and joyful living can be attained, no matter what you have suffered.”     


His Life: John was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and studied art from the age of seven under Marie Kern, an oil painter and teacher in Dallas. His early work won several awards in juried art shows over the years.  He stopped working exclusively with oils around the age of 13, and began to explore watercolors while in high school under the guidance of his art teacher, Linda Rainwater. After graduation, John went to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas where he double majored in Fine Art and Spanish, and earned a high school teaching certificate in both studies.  His Bachelor of Fine Arts degree has a focus on watercolor and a minor in ceramics/mosaics.  While studying art history, he fell in love with the magnificent stained-glass windows found in churches and cathedrals.  This love of mosaics and stained glass would have a tremendous impact on the style and philosophy behind his current work. 


After teaching high school Art and Spanish for several years, John shifted his focus and served in the United States Air Force (USAF) in an intelligence role as a Spanish Linguist.  John completed a Master’s Degree in Bilingual/Multicultural Education at the University of Arizona, incorporating his art in many projects.  After a number of years in the Air Force and later as a defense contractor in education and training roles, he was hired as an Intelligence Officer by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and moved to Washington, DC in 2003.  After serving as an analyst and intelligence officer, in 2007 he began to teach intelligence principles at DIA’s Academy for Defense Intelligence. This combined two major passions in his life-- education and intelligence, and this was his career for some years.  Although he painted many watercolor paintings and greeting cards for friends and family over the years, he did not pursue art in the way he wished.  He left DIA in November 2018 to pursue art, to travel, and to explore other endeavors.  He joined the Sonoran Arts League of Scottsdale, Arizona, and has artwork in the Gallery at el Pedregal in Scottsdale.