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John Semple

“I was born in 1930 to Mildred Paulus and William Oliver Simple of Pennsylvania Dutch and Scottish heritage, and my parents hailed from Nazareth and Easton, Pennsylvania. My father’s work as a traveling salesman for paper companies during the Depression soon took us to Wollaston, Massachusetts, where I grew up. Wollaston was a lovely New England town on the coast south of Boston.

While there were no artists in the family, my mother was a trained and talented violinist who had been instructed by her father, a musician, composer and clarinetist. But my grandfather’s early death in an automobile accident meant I was never to see him. My loss! To this day I am touched when I hear the second movement of Moazart’s clarinet concerto.

I hated school! I never had the slightest idea how to read either a clock or musical notes, two skills all my classmates had mastered. School was a constant fear for me. One day the teacher brought in a pile of paper plates… the kind used at picnics. She told us to decorate them with our supply of poster paints. It was the first day I ever enjoyed school. A day or two later, two of the school’s teachers were examining some of the plates and I heard one of the exclaim “What a beautiful sense of design!” It turned out to be my plate, and I had been selected from the whole school to attend special Saturday art classes at the Boston Museum. Thus began my adventure in art. I must have been ten or eleven, and I went into the city all by myself, taking the train from Wollaston to South Station and then continuing on the subway. I admired my mother for trusting me.

I have always ignored the plates fads in painting; too often the motives behind them are commercial, not artistic. Ignoring then, however, imposes a penalty –you may be left out of many aspects of art, from plum teaching posts to some museums. The road to recognition has been longer and slower for me in the contemporary art environment. Fortunately, the general public has a more enduring faith in and appreciation for the representational tradition. Late in life, the pendulum of artistic value is beginning to swing my way. You must learn how to paint and draw; art should deal with both personal visions and objects that interest and delight the eye. I have felt honored to be one of the last artists to work in the Renaissance tradition of drawing and painting and observing from nature.” –John Paulus Semple

Eduction: Mt Hermon School (1949); Hamilton College (1953); Mexico City College (1956) Skowhegan (1957) Boston University MFA (1958)


Tiffany Foundation Travel Grant (1958)
Audubon Artists – Elected to Membership 1988
Mayland Federation of The Arts – 2nd Prize 1993
Springfield Museum, Springfield, MO – Purchase Prize 2002
Prints USA 2009 – J.J. Peterson Memorial Award

Select Exhibitions:

1993 SAGA Print Show
1994 Hera Foundation – Wakefield, RI
1995 Barnes Gallery/LCA
1995 San Diego Art Institute National Print Show
1998 Pittsburgh Print Group
1999 Springfield Art Museum – Springfield, MO
2005 Montgomery College Drawing Show
2006 Tang Callery -Bisbee, AZ
2008 California Center for the Arts -Escondido CA
2010 ARTLINK National Print Show

Click gallery thumbnails to see item detail and purchase information.