AESTHETIC ACROBATICS

BY ALAENA HOSTETTER

John L. Humphreys has many plates spinning at all times. Since 2015, his abstract acrylic paintings have added yet another dimension to a career spanning more than 30 years in architecture, commercial and residential interior design, and general contracting. The vision of art and its incorporation throughout a project is a key consideration in his designs.

Art is ever present in architectural design, through the geometry of a space, location of a window to capture a spectacular view and wall placement. “I now understand that John approaches spatial design much like an evolving sculpture,” a client says of Humphreys’ observations made during an extensive remodel of a Dallas mid-century residence.

Humphreys’ abstract contemporary work is large in scale, reaching six-by-six feet in dimension or even larger when part of a series. His paintings are at times dark and intense, featuring rich, deep tones interplaying with shadows and textures; at other times they are very ethereal, light and airy in color and technique.

“With each painting I have an initial idea as to where I’m headed, and with each stroke of the brush contrast and shape begin to form their own life. The ultimate goal is for a patron to experience an emotional response to the painting, not just the color palette. There will always be a special place for that painting, even with a physical change in environment,” Humphreys says.

He recently completed a collection of paintings for a local hotel and individual pieces for homes in Texas, California, Michigan, Montana and New York. For a commissioned painting, Humphreys is accustomed to making a site visit to experience the impact of lighting, exterior environment, room usage and even the surrounding textures. In addition to adapting his style on each canvas, Humphreys takes into account the interaction of his art within the entire project (not just the room for which he’s creating a painting). “The client wants me to see, design and execute what they do not necessarily see themselves, but what they want to feel in a completed space. I consider sight lines from the moment you walk in the door. Every turn you make is important, and art is placed accordingly in an impact location,” he says.

Humphreys says client satisfaction is paramount, and he’ll do whatever it takes to earn a client’s business on any given project. This extends to some rather unusual requests. When Humphreys was recently engaged to demolish and redesign a hunting cabin on a ranch in West Texas, the demolition team unearthed a rattlesnake den, which housed dozens of reptiles, under the existing structure. His client requested that Humphreys locate the new cabin exactly where it was before, on the site of the den—the vistas from the peak of the rolling topography were too good to leave behind. Humphreys designed an elevated cabin to deter the reptiles’ access and also designed interior furnishings that eliminated hiding places, should one slip through one of the doors. “We spent a great deal of time trying to design around the creepy snakes,” Humphreys says with a laugh.

“I strive for effortless communication between a designer and/or architect and me as an artist by calling on personal experiences in similar situations,” Humphreys explains. He invites interested parties— whether they’re home and business owners or designers and architects—to check out his art on his website, in person at Stacy Coulter & Associates and Pettigrew Luxury Furnishings, or by appointment.

Alaena Hostetter is a Dallas-based journalist who writes about all of her favorite things: art, fashion, culture, music, entertainment and food.