John Fennell

Painting: landscapes (studio and plein air) as well as abstract work. 

Studio: 200

Media: Acrylic and Oil. Price Range- $100- $1000

M-F 10-5 (generally), First Fridays or by appointment (fennellj@missouri.edu)  

Email:  fennellj@missouri.edu


Phone: 573-529.2948

Commissions: I accept landscape or abstract commissions

Chicago native John Fennell has been a painter for more than 35 years. After graduating from Northern Illinois University, he attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago and then studied privately with artists Milford Zornes, Rex Bradt and Gianni Cilfoni. He later earned a master's degree in painting and drawing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has exhibited in Chicago and Milwaukee, as well as in St. Louis, Kansas City, Fulton and Columbia, Missouri. His work is in many private collections. He recently retired as a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism where he taught magazine writing, magazine publishing and design for the past 13 years. Before teaching, he was a journalist and editor. A former newspaper reporter, he assisted the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Royko at the Chicago Daily News. For seven years he was the editor of the international design journal, Step-By-Step Graphics, before becoming editor-in-chief of Milwaukee Magazine.

About the Work

Light in all of its manifestations has been my primary interest in the ongoing work displayed here: landscapes, cityscapes and geometric abstractions. To me, light is the foundation of seeing and a metaphor for knowing.

The landscapes – influenced by the Hudson River School, the Impressionists, Cezanne, Matisse and others – are painted outdoors, plein air style, and completed in the studio. I paint landscapes because I am fascinated by the natural world and the idea of transcendence, to be at once in the world and yet go beyond it. That’s what happens in painting, an act of the mind as much as it is of paint and brush. In a way, I become one with what I see, what I try to interpret in paint. These landscapes are evidence of those journeys.

The geometric abstractions, influenced by the mid-century modernists, emphasize pure form and color – landscapes of the mind, if you will. I am particularly interested in how the mind orders line, shape and color from seeming chaos. I begin these explorations with random lines and swashes of color not knowing where the painting will lead. Guided by intuition, the lines and shapes gradually take on form. As I draw and add additional layers of transparent paint – often over a period of months – I discover new patterns and colors. This transformation is what excites me because I am never sure where the painting will take me. What am I ultimately after? In a world where so much of our lives are prescribed, I find that these explorations into the unknown reconnect me with the inner spirit, the driving force of life.



• Orr St. Artists Group show, Columbia MO, Dec. 1-Jan 2

• Ek•Phras•Sis, The Box Gallery, Kansas City, MO, Nov 2-Jan. 24, 2019

 • Columbia Scene, Orr Street Gallery, Columbia MO, Nov.1-Dec. 1, 2018

• Boone County Bank annual exhibition, Oct., 2018

• Geometry of Light, Boone County Government Building, (July-Sept, 2018),

• “Three Seasons,” an exhibit of 20 landscapes, Boone County Bank, May 28-July 3, 2016

• Columbia Art League exhibition, “Interpretations,” (Aug-Oct, 2017)

• Boone County Bank annual exhibition, Oct. 13-15, 2017

• Columbia Art League exhibition, “Chromophobia,” (April 30-May 2016) 

• Columbia Art League exhibition, “Passages” (Feb.-April, 2016)

• Columbia Art League exhibition, Give a Gift of Art, Nov., 2015-Jan 2016)

• ArtHouse, Fulton, Missouri, Exhibit of my paintings, (Jan-May, 2016) 

• “The Geometry of Light,” Missouri School of Journalism Strategic Communications (Sept. 2016)

• “Natural Capital,” Gateway Gallery, St. Louis, (Feb-April, 2015)

• “Earth, Sky, Water: Landscapes of Missouri”: Strategic Communications Office, Aug, 2009.

• “Earth, Sky, Water: Landscapes of Missouri”: PS Gallery, Columbia, Jan. 4 – March 29, 2008.

• “Night Lights,” PS Gallery, Columbia, Missouri, 2006 Fall Exhibit, Oct-Dec, 2007). 

• John Fennell, recent work, Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, Oct-Nov. 2003

 •Reflections of the Heartland, Landscape Paintings, group show, Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, Oct-Nov. 2001

• Night Lights, Katie Gingrass Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, Feb.-March, 2001.

• Small & Significant, group show, Katie Gingrass Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, Nov. 1999.

• In the Dark, Quad Graphics Gallery, June, 1999.

• Masters Degree Exhibition, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, May, 1999

• Abstract Spirit, Quad Graphics Gallery, Sussex, WI, April, 1995

• Chicago Visions, group show, Gruen Gallery, Chicago, October, 1985

•  Landscapes, Arnie’s Gallery, Chicago, April, 1982 

• Landscapes, Artspace Gallery, Chicago, Dec. 1980

• John Fennell, recent work, Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, Oct-Nov. 2003 

• “Night Lights,” PS: Gallery, Columbia, MO, Oct-Dec. 2006

• “Landscapes of Missouri,” PS: Gallery, Columbia, MO, Jan. 2008

• “Landscapes of Missouri,” University of Missouri, Aug. 2009

• “Geometry of Light” University of Missouri, Sept. 2010

•Columbia Art League, Summer Exhibit, July-Aug 2014

Art House, Fulton, MO, June 2014-present



Columbia Daily Tribune,“Color My World,” May 1, 2016

Columbia Daily Tribune,“John Fennell, Peek at an Emerging Artist,” June 29, 2008

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Small Thoughts, Original Visions,” Feb. 25, 2003

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A Few Words That Are Worth a Thousand Pictures," Feb. 2001. 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gallery Shows Art in Eclectic Setting," Dec. 1, 2000;



Honorable Mention, Columbia Scene, Orr Street Gallery, Columbia MO, Nov.1-Dec. 1, 2018

Honorable Mention, and purchase, Boone County Bank annual exhibition, Oct., 2018

Honorable Mention and purchase award, Boone County Plein Air (Mid-Missouri Arts Alliance, Ashland, MO Oct. 19-21, 2018

Second Place: Columbia Art League, “Night Lights” 2016

Honorable Mention, Columbia Art League, “Night Lights” 2017

Winner, Daniel Boone Regional Library’s Plein-air Art Day, Sept. 2009


Writing on Art

American Artist Magazine, 1980-81

Milwaukee Magazine, 1998



B.S. Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL), 1971

Post Graduate Work in Journalism, Northwestern University (Evanston, Chicago), 1974.

American Academy of Art, studies in painting and drawing, 1977-79

Private Studies: Gianni Cilfoni, Chicago, 1977-80; Milford Zornes, Mt. Carmel, Utah, 1975

M.A., Painting and Drawing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1999