John Salminen

J o h n   S a l m i n e n


When I’m in a big bustling city, I’m fascinated by things that often go unnoticed by the local residents. This happens, in part, because my home and studio are located in the quiet solitude of the northern Minnesota woods – about as far removed from New York’s Lower East Side or downtown Los Angeles as it’s possible to be. In large urban areas, I feel visually bombarded and use my SLR camera with a telephoto zoom to help me discover and create compositions out of all of the visual chaos. Next, I confront the challenge of translating that image into a convincing painting. As source material, photos can record detail but they often lack the emotional impact of the original experience. It becomes my responsibility as an artist to breathe life back into the work — to recreate for the viewer the sounds and smells, as well as the sights. 

Born in St Paul, Minnesota, John Salminen attended the University of Minnesota where he earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. One of America’s most eminent watercolourists, he and his wife, Kathy, a photographer and teacher, live in a self-constructed log cabin on 40 wooded acres bordering a vast remote wilderness near Duluth, Minnesota.

He has held 25 solo exhibitions throughout the United States, was an invited artist in 46 international watercolor exhibitions in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Russia, Singapore, Mexico, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Canada, Belgium, England and Australia. He has served as juror/judge of 70 national and international exhibitions and his iwork has been featured in more than ninety national and international magazine articles and 42 books on four continents.

Among Salminen’s more than 245 awards are the American Watercolor Society Gold Medal, 2006, 2010; the American Watercolor Society Silver Medal, 1998; the American Watercolor Society High Winds Medals and CFS Medal, 1997-2012; the National Watercolor Society Silver Star First Place Medal, 200, 2011; the Transparent Watercolor Society of America First Place Award, 2000, 2010, 2012; the Allied Artist of America Gold Medal of Honor, 2011 and the 2010 Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial Award of Excellence.

His work is represented in public, corporate and private collections through the world, including the Asian Museum of Watercolor Art, China; Guanhua Watercolor Art Gallery, Zhujiajiao, China; the Armenian Art Museum; the National Watercolor Society Art Collection; the Jack Richeson Collection of Fine Art; Tweed Museum of Art; Springfield Art Museum; First Bank Fine Arts Collection and the Leroy Spring Corporation Fine Art Collection.

In addition to his own art practice, he teaches workshops throughout the United States and Canada and is a frequent judge of juried national and international exhibitions. His work has been featured in many magazines both in America and abroad and he has released two instructional DVDs. He is included in the Marquis Who’s Who in American Art and Who’s Who in America.

Elected a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute in 2012, John Salminen is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, Allied Artists of America and the Transparent Watercolour Society of America. He is also a member of the Jiangsu Watercolour Research Institute, China.

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