John Schoenherr1935 -
Born: July 5, 1935, Queens, New York
Growing up in Queens, John Schoenherr began drawing in order to communicate in his multi-lingual neighborhood. He studied at the Art Students League while in high school, learning etching and lithography from Will Barnet. During summers and weekends in the Adirondack Mountains, he took up rock climbing and spelunking. The young artist also continually visited the museums and zoos of New York City. After graduating from Pratt Institute of Art in 1956, Schoenherr began working as a free-lance illustrator and continued with commercial work for over twenty years. During the 1960s and 70s, he illustrated dozens of paperback books for Pyramid and Ace and many children's publications. However, he is most known for his science fiction magazine covers and drawings.
Although he had been creating fine art wildlife paintings throughout his life, Schoenherr began to focus exclusively on this genre in the late 1970s and stopped working on illustrations. He began working in egg tempera and later switched to oils, as they allow him to make various changes as he works out the image on the canvas. While he covers many types of large mammals and birds in his extensive opus, Schoenherr's early work contains a great deal of big cat imagery. Much of his more recent work focuses on bears. His work is characterized by raking low light and strong compositions with an abundance of negative space. His landscapes are often stark, dramatic settings with little vegetation to help highlight one or two animals within the scene.
Schoenherr continues to live on his farm in rural New Jersey, taking trips to Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming, to photograph and research animals for his artwork. His paintings are in numerous private and corporate collections, as well as in the United States Air Force, Rutgers University, and the United States National Park Service collections. The artist is a member of the American Society of Mammologists, National Speleological Society, Society of Illustrators, and the Society of Animals Artists, and he has won numerous awards for his illustrations of children's books, science fiction magazines, and wildlife paintings.
"I like large monochromatic animals I can do with a big brush. Big mammals have a nice solid form and, when moving, are controlled, dynamic masses that I find fascinating to paint."
(Quote source: Preston, Marcia. "Beyond the Edge: John Schoenherr," Wildlife Art News (May/June 1996): 24-29.)