Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts

Landscape Artist in the City: John Budicin Didn't Start Out a Fine Artist

Landscape Artist in the City: John Budicin Didn't Start Out a Fine Artist

Each month, the Thunderbird Foundation focuses on a particular artist in our gallery. This month, we’re proud to host landscape artist John Budicin. This is part one of his story.


Artist John Budicin is at once a soft spoken man and a creative force to be reckoned with. If this interviewer had any jitters about talking with such an esteemed artist, they were quickly allayed by Budicin's friendly and welcoming manner. And yet the artwork for which he's internationally known doesn't betray the man's easy going nature; it is moving, emotional and full of depth. His landscapes simplify a complex composition to its most important components, the resulting image capturing a richness of nature that truly stirs the soul. Looking at his work, one might be surprised to learn that this master of light and shadow didn’t receive any formal training. In fact, John Budicin wasn’t always a fine artist.


Budicin’s art career started in the advertising offices of several major department stores in the creative hub of southern California, where he spent the disco era drawing black & white layouts with pencils and magic markers. "I used to do a lot of oriental rugs," he said with a laugh, “which was very tedious.”


He quickly moved up the ranks in the field to become Art Director, at which time he started occasionally taking a local outdoor painting class. While enjoyable, the passion for painting hadn’t yet tugged at John Budicin’s spirit - at least not enough to forego his comfortable living. He continued in his career for several more years until, he says, “the advertising art market died overnight” when one of the department stores he worked for was bought out by retail giant Macy’s and the operation was transferred to the other side of the country. Budicin’s second illustration job was soon after lost when the store hired a new Sales Promotion Director who switched to photography.


It was the dawn of a new era in advertising art and that meant an uncertain future for John Budicin, but in an almost clichè of fortuitously ironic fashion, it ended up being just the opportunity and push he needed. “The only thing I ever wanted to do was paint and that’s what I did; I started going out every day just doing it and that was my teacher.” At the end of the 80s he forsook his magic markers for a paint brush and never looked back.


In the years since, Budicin’s primary interest in nature has remained a constant - particularly the relationship between the light and the atmosphere it creates in different locales.  In many ways, John Budicin is less a painter of landscapes and more a painter of light itself - and the scene is brought together simply because of how the light expresses itself on the landscape's many curves and angles. “The subject matter is almost secondary to the light and the effect you achieve,” he said. “Generally I look for something that has exciting light. I just look for ordinary places that took a dramatic change with the last light. To me, the last 30 minutes of the day are the most fascinating - and the early morning, but any more I’m too lazy to get up that early!” 


So what was the key that opened the door to the art world for John Budicin? Relationships with his personal process, as much as the people involved in the art world. John said that as as member of Plein Air Painters of America, “we used to paint Catalina every year and they had an exhibit at the casino. Through them I met a lot of great artists and became friends with quite a few of them. The process was an evolution of doing things, meeting people and pushing yourself to do better.


John Budicin's work is available in the Thunderbird Gallery. For information, call 435-648-2653.

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