“As a little kid, I used to illustrate the walls of my bedroom — against my parents’ wishes, the artist explains. “I climbed up into the closet and actually used crayons on the ceiling.” Thus is how John Simpkins began to express himself through art following formal art studies at Napa College and with the renowned Earl Thollander, Simpkins later explored the museums of the U.S. and Europe for further inspiration.
He sought to eliminate any remnant of academia and “let the child come out,” he explained. “I discovered that American primitive art appealed to me. It gave me a warm feeling so I began to experiment with that.” Simpkins’ strong, bold and graphic style is deceptively simple. His paintings please and uplift with a single glance but then unfold with layers of meaning. The artist explains, “My work evolves slowly and intuitively from the heart.” Almost always, Simpkins includes a “bit of the vinegar of life” along with happy symbols and motifs such as hearts, checkerboards, cats, gardens, etc.
Simpkins painting style is equally “layered.” His use of paint and color is subtly complex and often includes the use of gold leaf. For years his art was unseen outside of a few, select, private collections, but once viewed his paintings are not forgotten, so word eventually reached galleries, museums and publishers. His creations have now been exhibited from America to England and published in a variety of books and magazines.