John Horton’s lifelong love affair with the sea and maritime industries is readily apparent in his paintings and his lifestyle.
Born in England, at 16 he joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman and served in the Pacific, Atlantic, and finally in the Arctic. During this time he also apprenticed in the shop fitting trade and worked as a designer and architectural artist before immigrating to Canada in 1966.
In Vancouver he found the perfect environment for nurturing his life-long passion for the sea and its history. Over the years, he has produced more than 1,500 paintings, all of which are meticulously researched, richly detailed and technically accurate.
For his series of over 50 paintings depicting Captain George Vancouver’s 18th-century voyages of exploration and discovery Horton sailed Vancouver’s routes, from Washington State through British Columbia and up to the top of Alaska. Many of his paintings incorporate recognizable shore features.
“John Horton’s marine art captures today and yesterday – people, places and events as we know and remember them. While there are many artists who paint marine scenes, few have Horton’s ability to delineate accurately the architecture of a ship.
Horton’s portrayals range from the Pacific voyages of discovery when captains Cook and Vancouver first anchored off British Columbia to comtemporary settings on urban and rural waterfronts. He gives us glimpses of other parts of the world, of the military at work, of bustling ports and tranquil inlets.”
~ Peter Vassilopoulous from John M. Horton, Mariner Artist
John has devoted over 35 years of his life to volunteer search and rescue on the Fraser River, and has received the Royal Lifesaving Society’s Gold Governor’s award in honour of this work. At the same time he has cruised British Columbia, Washington and Alaska producing a scrupulously realistic body of work. Such devotion does not go unrecognized. Horton’s oils are highly prized by galleries, museums and private collections the world over. Horton is the only Canadian marine artist cited in Dennis Brook-Hart’s authoritative work Twentieth Century Marine Painting.
He is a founding member of the Canadian Society of Marine Artists, a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and the Honourable Company of Master Mariners of Canada, John has completed many private commissions. The most recent one depicts the possible voyage of Sir Francis Drake and his ship the “Golden Hind” to British Columbia in the 1500’s. Another is of the famous visit of Babe Ruth to Vancouver in 1934 enroute to Japan on the Empress of Japan.
John has also worked with the Royal Canadian mint with many design proposals under his belt. John is regularly invited to work with our Canadian Navy and joined a 5 week exercise in the Pacific Ocean called “RIMPAC” during which time he produced many sketches and eventually a number of final art pieces. Two other special events of note were: a visit aboard one of our submarines, HMCS Windsor, out of Halifax and an historical journey from Vancouver, Washington, down the Columbia River to Nootka Sound and finally into Vancouver British Columbia in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Captain George Vancouver.
John won a national competition to paint 3 of the 6 historic paintings that depicted the Canadian Navy’s 100 year history, which was celebrated in 2010. Local groups such as Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Power Squadron, yacht clubs and schools have found his power point presentation about Captain Vancouver and in 2010 his presentation about the Canadian Navy, of interest. In 2010 he presented 26 talks to different groups and is in great demand. He was honoured to receive the Queen’s Gold Jubilee Medal and the Governor General’s Caring Citizen award.
A book about John has been recently published by Heritage House – John M. Horton, Mariner Artist – it gives a brief history of John’s career and features 81 of John’s paintings John completed a critically acclaimed one man exhibition about Venice which was on display in Victoria at the Winchester Gallery and which then moved to Vancouver at the Petley Jones Gallery. Along with contemporary scenes of Venice, John is especially fond of painting historic views which include the old sailing vessels as well as the gondola which has been a part of Venice life for centuries.