John Janzen was born in Ottawa in 1954. He moved to Alberta at a young age and spent most of his life skiing, building houses, breeding Newfoundland dogs, and running engines for CN through the Canadian Rockies. Alternately, his need to create and express himself evolved during quiet moments on lengthy layovers between shifts. Watercolour was Janzen’s chosen medium in the midst of these scenic adventures because of it’s portability and convenience. Janzen also temporarily relaxed from traditional painting to build a unique log home in Jasper, Alberta in the early 80’s. This was a massive undertaking that took over 8 years to accomplish.
In 2001, Janzen enrolled at the University of Alberta Extension program and began refining his style and skills as a painter taking courses towards a Fine Arts Certification. Often interrupted by his busy career and family life, much of Janzen’s skills are self-taught and and learned through workshops by the artists at hand. He has been especially influenced by Gregg Johnson of St. Albert using the Ed Whitney process. Tony Couch also remains one of his watercolour mentors. Some other influences have been Robert Longo, John Singer Sargent, David Janzen, Blake Ward, the Group of Seven and Emily Carr.
In 2011, Janzen re-located to Milan, Italy for two years where he studied Italian and continued his art education at NABA School of Art and Design. He travelled throughout Europe pursuing the works of great masters like Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Rubens, Modigliani, and Soutine. These works inspired and influenzed Janzen’s shift to oil painting and he painted daily – exploring this new medium at his home studio in Milan. His en plein efforts with watercolour continued as well during many trips throughout Italy and Europe.
After his recent move to Victoria in the fall of 2013, Janzen has been impressed and inspired by the natural power and movement of the ocean. He is especially attracted to how boats are time worn and weathered by the ocean and how everything is eventually destroyed by the incredible power of the sea.