About the Artist
Portrait Process


Artist's Statement

I paint portraits in oil in the classical realism tradition, as well as drawing portraits in charcoal and pencil. I work with the sitter to achieve a motif, gesture and expression that bring the portrait to life and create an impression of lasting value. I strive for an atmosphere in the work that evokes space and light, and reveals the personality, character/beauty and spirit of the subject. A painting can last hundreds of years given reasonable care. The goal is a work of art that is a treasured possession.

In creating a portrait, I usually paint in the style of alla prima (Italian) or au premier coup (French), meaning painting from life, literally "at the first." I use all elements of the creative process to render a portrait, including composition, drawing, values, color, color temperature, and edges. The goal is vibrant, lush color and skillful rendering of light and shadow, using flowing oil paint to achieve the desired representation. Oil portraits are painted on fine primed canvas or Belgium linen. I also paint landscapes and genre scenes, as I believe that one should be a painter first and only create portraits as a specialty. My work is inspired by the work of master artists, such as John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, and Winslow Homer, and influenced by contemporary portrait painters with whom I have studied.


A long time resident of Northern Virginia, John McCabe has been painting in oil and watercolor, and drawing in charcoal and pencil, for over nineteen years. John has been a member of the Portrait Society of America since 1999, the Guild of Creative Art since 2003 and Great Falls Studios in 2005. John attended the Washington Studio School, Georgetown, D.C. 2000, 2001 and 2002. He also studied with renowned portrait artist, Peggy Baumgaertner, at her atelier in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, in 2003, 2004 and 2005, Michael Shane Neal, Nashville, Tennessee, in 2003 and 2004, Robert Liberace in 2004 at the Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia, and Daniel E. Greene at his studio in North Salem, New York in 2001. John's teachers have also included Everett Raymond Kinstler, Carolyn Blakeslee, Diane Hollowell, Thomas Johannes, Maggie Siner, Joseph McGurl and Ann Munro Wood. John has an undergraduate and an advance degree from Northwestern University, as well as a graduate degree from Fordham University.

John McCabe’s studio is located at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA, in The Artists´ Atelier. He is on the Board of Directors of both Great Falls Studios, LLC and Great Falls Foundation for the Arts, Inc. (GFFFTA). He is also a member of the Education Committee of GFFFTA, which in 2008 established the Great Falls School of Art.


  • Washington Studio School Exhibition, 2001
  • Guild of Creative Art Fall and Winter Shows, 2003
  • 17th Annual Juried Art Show at Brookdale College of the Visual Arts, 2003
  • Great Falls Studios Art Exhibits, Fall 2005, 2006, Spring 2006
  • RE/MAX exhibitions, Great Falls, Virginia 2005, 2006
  • "A Year of Painting Together," Great Falls, Virginia 2007
  • Solo exhibition, The Old Brogue, Great Falls, Virginia, October 2008, 2010
  • Two Person Show, GFFFTA Gallery, Great Falls, Virginia, February 2011
  • Exhibition, "A Touch of Red," Herndon Arts Space, Virginia, November 2011


John McCabe and his works (five paintings) were the subject of an article appearing in elan magazine, October 2005, entitled "Art in the First Person: Never too Late to get Started"

"Companions in Creativity," The Washington Post, May 11, 2006, an article featuring Great Falls artists, with the Post describing the artist's work as "the elegant portraits by John McCabe"

"For Arts' Sake", Great Falls Connection, April 19-25, 2006, cover photo of the artist and his work

"Creating New Options," The Fairfax County Times, April 27, 2006, including photo of artist, page 1

"Great Falls Art Tour," Great Falls Connection, October 4-10, 2006, photo of artist and his work

© J. F. McCabe, 2011. Artist's works and web design fully protected. All rights reserved.