"LOOK FOR SUBTLE QUALITIES IN EVERYDAY THINGS AND EXPERIENCE THE JOY OF DISCOVERING WHAT IS SPECIAL IN THE ORDINARY".
John Bayalis is a hyperrealist painter living in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA. After spending 30 years as an art educator he is now free to devote all his time and energy into his painting. John was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1950 and grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. His parents emphasized a strong disciplined approach to education in a family of five siblings. He grew up in a suburban environment that had taken over the American landscape in the 1950’s and 60’s. This was to influence his interest in the vernacular landscape throughout his life. As a typical American youth of this period, he engaged in all the school activities of sports and games, playing on school teams and bonding with his classmates. His mother recognized an early interest and talent in drawing and arranged for him to enroll in an oil painting course at age nine. The influence of this experience would come back in his life later, but in the years of 12 to 18, art was not a very big interest to him. John attended High School in Wilmington, Delaware and it was his first real exposure to urban life. The vibrancy of the city life and the visual elements would be an influence on his work. College life at the University of Delaware, in Newark, Delaware, gave him the opportunity to experience the turbulent late 1960’s in a small college town. It was here that he began his training as an artist under a varied faculty of professors that included realists, abstract painters, and modernist sculptors.
John Bayalis was "discovered" so to speak, when his work was published and seen in the art magazine, "Art Voices South." There was an article about him and a few photos of his works reproduced. As a result, several galleries expressed an interest in his work and offered him representation. Over the years, articles and reproductions have appeared in several national publications. In 1984, John's work appeared on the cover of American Artist Magazine, which gave him credibility on a national level. Most recently, in February of 2019, his work was featured in Watercolor Artist Magazine. John's paintings have also appeared in fine art connoisseur and Plein Air Magazine. His watercolors have also received recognition and awards in national watercolor shows including The Missouri Watercolor Society, The Southernwestern Watercolor Society, The Florida Watercolor Society, The San Diego Watercolor Society, The Georgia Watercolor Society and The Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors. John also has worked as an instructor for the artist's network, where his online class, introduction to hyperrealist watercolor painting, has been most popular.
"AVOID REPEATING THE PAINTINGS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN DONE … CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO GO WHERE YOU HAVE NOT BEEN YET".
Through his works of art, John Bayalis exposes us to a melancholic feeling that you just don’t understand where it comes from. It’s experiencing a longing for a past, a circumstance, a place, a person – and you are not even sure any of it has really existed. It’s wanting to satisfy a void that you did not know you had, and then suddenly, you are totally satisfied. John Bayalis’ works of art have the power to incite in you a desire for something. And in that same manner, it has the power to satisfy such a desire. Simply put, his art offers that constant move between longing and satisfaction.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. The artist provides a mirror of the society that he lives in and the culture of his homeland. Viewers look to art for the defining images of themselves and their place in the world.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. I remember one early summer morning being swept away by several of my uncles in a surprise visit. They packed me in with them in a classic Pontiac and drove off to the New Jersey seashore, spoiling me all day with treats and attention. I think my interest in coastal landscapes, vintage cars and highways were created as a result of this experience.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I was raised in the era of early American television and remember the characters in TV westerns and police dramas. I wanted to become some sort of heroic character like them.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. The first drawing I remember doing was of the neighborhood I lived in along the Delaware River in New Jersey. I was about 5 or 6 years old and my mother saved it, passing it on to me. I still have it to this day.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. My mother recognized that I had a strong interest in art as a child and when I was 9 enrolled me in oil painting lessons with a local art group. I had so many interests as a child growing up though that it was years before I took up painting again. I chose to major in art in college after disinterest in scientific fields of study when I was 19.
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. In college, I discovered the Photorealist painters of the late 1960s; Richard Estes, Ralph Goings, Janet Fish, and John Bader to name a few. I had been instructed by professors that had a strong interest in European painting and Abstract expressionism and I found it liberating to see work that captured my eye for realism as a subject source. What interested me in particular, was the fine craftsmanship as well as the painting and drawing skills they displayed. There were no happy accidents in their works.
Q. What does your art aim to express? A. As a Hyperrealist painter, I want to show a window into my view of the world as I observe it. I try to look in my daily life for images that are often overlooked but have an undiscovered depth when more carefully examined. I hope to encourage viewers to use their own powers of observation to a new level.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. Probably my sarcastic sense of humor. During my teaching career, it took my students a while to understand when I was joking or being serious.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. An artist, I believe, is only as successful as their last painting. The challenge of striving for this can lead to feelings of insecurity and doubt. One needs to sacrifice the security that many other professionals have. The public and critical views of an artist’s work can also produce doubt at times. An artist has to have thick skin and an inner core that deals with these feelings.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. As I said earlier, I was influenced by the works of the Photorealist artists of the 1960s and 70s, which I discovered as a college student. I follow many contemporary artists on social media and enjoy the exchange of works and ideas.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. I have been fortunate that I have been married to another artist for 45 years which has made my life as an artist decidedly easier. The time commitment and rocky pathway to an art career has been mutually understood. The ability to communicate and get feedback on a daily basis with another artist has eliminated the pangs of loneliness many artists experience.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I love travel and experiencing new places and discovering the history of what came before me. I am especially interested in visiting the studios of artists of the past. In France, I was able to see the studio of Cezanne and Renoir in the south of France and Rembrandt in Amsterdam. There are also several worth visiting in the U.S. such as Andrew Wyeth and J. Alden Weir. I also love Classical and Jazz music as well as films. I enjoy music and theater as well as fine restaurants.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. I trust my instincts regarding subject matter and composition and I rely on an inner voice to find the path a painting will take. I am interested in challenging myself with every new painting I attempt.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. When I look at my work, I know that I have made the best possible painting I was able to do. I am interested in knowing that viewers have positively responded to a painting and connected to it in the same way I have.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. An artist needs to paint what they are familiar with, that is, things from personal experiences. Also, that I needed to challenge myself with each new work. There is no point in painting what I have already done and know I can do. These challenges will build a whole new technical creative world.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. A professor in art school, who shall remain nameless, gave me a “D” (subpar) grade in my second-semester foundations drawing class. I was both defeated and furious over it, but at the same time realized if I wanted to ever be an artist, I would need to work much harder. As a sequel to this event, that same professor contacted me some years later and asked for an introduction to a Gallery that was handling my work. He was rejected.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Use all the new technology to your advantage…they are the new tools of the artist. Never stop learning from the paintings that you do.