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John Nakanishi


About THE Artist

John Nakanishi is an acrylic painter and a ceramic artist living in Pleasant Hill, CA. When John isn’t creating art, he coaches soccer for East Bay Eclipse, a competitive soccer club based in Moraga, CA. He is also an avid trail runner, enjoying runs from 5 miles to 50K distances. John is currently the president of the Concord Art Association.


Artist Statement

I was born in Chicago, Illinois. My family moved to a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, when I was in kindergarten, then moved to coastal Connecticut when I was in junior high. 
When I was going to school, art teachers and art were always part of the curriculum. I remember entering art contests at a young age and even won honorable mention once. 

My parents always encouraged my artwork, and both parents were artistic. My mom often did pencil sketches of cute characters for us kids, and my dad did oil and watercolor paintings (he continues to produce oil paintings now in his elder years!).
After high school, I attended the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. I majored in filmmaking and minored in ceramics. One summer, I had an opportunity to enroll in a paid apprentice program run by a local union to learn a trade. I chose welding because I wanted to be able to create metal sculptures. At the end of the program, I was offered a job at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics and membership into the local union. I decided to accept the job and did not return to school. I spent 10 years in the welding trade, ending up in California working the shipyards as a high-pressure pipe welder. 
But then, I became dissatisfied with the trade and started considering other dreams and ambitions. I decided to “retire” from welding and return to school full time as an “older” student (which I was able to do thanks to my new wife, who put me through school). I ultimately graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BS in chemical engineering. For the next 29 years, I held positions in the chemical and semiconductor manufacturing industries as a research scientist, engineer, product manager, and operations manager. I have also spent the past 20 years as a soccer coach. I am currently a head coach at the East Bay Eclipse Soccer Club, a competitive soccer club in Moraga.
Even though my career path changed multiple times, I never completely stopped creating art. Some years were more productive than others. Then I was laid off in 2019, and it was an opportunity to get back into creating art. 


   About My Art   


Acrylics and pastels

Acrylic painting is the medium I am most comfortable with. Recently I’ve experimented with different techniques of applying paint to canvas. As I look at the works of art that I had completed in my younger years, I often discover that I like the concept but find the execution lacking. So I am considering painting them again with my acquired knowledge to try to make them better. Stay tuned!



I purchased a set of pens in the beginning of 2020 and have really enjoyed drawing with them. I’m currently working on a set of greeting cards. Eventually, I would like to learn how to paint with watercolor and add color to my pen-and-ink drawings.


Sculptures & ceramics

I learned how to throw pottery as an undergraduate student at the Hartford Art School. This has been an area of interest that I have not had the time to pursue until now. Soon I will be producing more ceramic works. Clays and glazes align with my interest in chemistry. I am excited to get back into this media, experimenting with formulations and methods.


About My Art

My paintings are impressionistic but tend toward the abstract. Recently I have been leaning toward themes and subjects that draw from my Japanese heritage. I’m also working on being more deliberate in my color choices and am planning on pursuing a series of paintings using a reduced color palette.
Whether it’s a landscape or an abstract piece, I like experimenting with mark making to create interesting textural and spatial visuals combined with dynamic color combinations. If I like what I’ve painted, I display it.
I think it is because of my analytical background as a retired chemical engineer that I tend to be drawn to analytical patterns and logical progressions in my artwork. 
I hope viewers enjoy the composition and view all the elements as pleasing and interesting. Much of my art has ties to nature, so I hope people feel the same inspiration they get when they are out watching a gorgeous sunset.

Dragon Blot 02.jpg
About My Art
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