Artist John Cosby


‘When a person stands in front of one of my paintings, I want that person to feel the wind and the heat I felt when I painted it.”

Born 1955, Hollywood, California

Resides in San Clemente, California

American Impressionist Painter

Founding member of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association

Signature member of Plein Aire Painters of America and The California Art Club

Travel has been an inspiration for Mr. Cosby since the beginning. As an impressionist, he paints what he sees and feels. Bold colors and energetic brush strokes combined with the truth of the place is what you will see and feel when viewing a painting by John Cosby.

“While standing on location in a place I have never visited, I begin to recognize what is different about it from all the other places I have been. I try to capture that, the uniqueness,” says Cosby.

John Cosby started painting at a young age. His grandmother was an oil painter and encouraged him to experiment with brush and canvas. “She would give me the paint, some brushes and a scrap of canvas and set me off to paint.  This early experience took the fear out of creating a painting,” said Cosby.

As a young man, a mere 18 years old, he was chosen as an advance man for the Executive Branch of the United States Government, served under two presidents and traveled the world. This brought him into contact with many interesting people, but just as painting captivated him as a child, it was the museums filled with great works of art that truly held his attention. “They haunted me and helped set the course for my career as a painter.”

When he left the White House, he and a friend rebuilt an old classic old classic sailing sloop designed by Nathaniel Herresmhoff. He and a friend (who had dreams of being a writer) then set sail up and down the eastern seaboard in the inland waterway for 3 years.  “Doing drawings of anything that moved me, things began to sell and my course was set,” said Cosby.

Thus he began his art career.

“Cosby’s distinctive approaches to painting light and space are his own. He has established his presence in plein air landscape by his exemplary handling of atmosphere and light, both of which he paints with excellence and ease. It is his superb handling of light, color, movement, and atmosphere which characterizes his oeuvre and indeed has come to define his art. 

John Cosby is a distinguished American painter of national renown. 


He proclaims his heritage by painting the American landscape and the way people relate to it and become a part of it, two themes that have been constant in the development of American art. As such, he takes his place in the continuum of American art. Philosophically, he is a Realist and an Impressionist. Averse to narrative, he paints what he sees and what he experiences. His intuition and his keen sense ofobservation are evident in each of his paintings, but there is more there than simply the physical image. Cosby’s works evoke subtle personal feelings, and when he paints the glory of the pristine landscape and coast, his paintings speak softly and directly to the viewer. “

Jean Stern, Executive Director, The Irvine Museum


Join us on May 4th from 5-8pm to see new work by John Cosby in conjunction with our ‘Artists Travels’ show.




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