John was born November 26, 1946, in Tweed Ontario, the third of six children (four brothers and one sister.) Their father, Michael, worked at the Hunter Veneer plant in Tweed, their mother, Mary, would run the household at their home on Crookston Road. John and his siblings enjoyed the pursuits of most children growing up in the country, finding joy and adventure in the nature around them. Skating on natural ice rinks, tree swings, jumping into and making tunnels in hay mows. John was always very athletic and enjoyed running, biking, skiing, and skating. The McCormick family led a traditional country life.
John would go to teacher’s college in Peterborough in 1966 and pursued a career as an educator. Although John is described by his family and friends as an introvert, he may not have appeared that way to his students. John’s goal in teaching was to grab the child’s attention, make the lesson memorable, with the hope that the experience would make a lasting impression. One example of the latter was how he would stand on his head while eating an apple to demonstrate the physiology of swallowing. He was a teacher for 18 years. John loved nature and spent much of his spare time wandering the trails, by foot and bike. Painting would become a passion late in his life. Like many artists their creativity comes from some internal force, a desire to create and communicate. His artistry did not stop at painting; John produced nearly as many poems, 86, as he did paintings. Perhaps, John’s own claim of being an introvert coupled with his artistic ability, was his way to communicate his thoughts and emotion. John would marry and have two sons. Sadly, the relationship with his sons and spouse would become one of estrangement leading to a difficult period in his life, but he would have his siblings for support, including his sister Sharon who had moved back to the area. Being close to John afforded Sharon the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him including his last years when he became ill and sadly passed away on December 24, 2019, in Belleville.
In early 2020, John’s sister, Sharon McCormick, made a visit to Quinn’s of Tweed Gallery. She brought several of John’s paintings in for framing. The work she wanted to frame made an immediate impression on us. As we talked, Sharon would share more of John’s story with us. How in his later years he turned to painting. But the extent of his work was unknown until after John had passed away when Sharon went to his apartment to sort out his belongings. John had painted not a few pieces of work but hundreds. Although John used traditional art paper, he frequently used many other materials at hand including cereal boxes, magazine pages and in at least one example the back of place mat. Sharon removed all his artwork and brought it to her home in Tweed. By the time Sharon had finished her story about John, we were very curious about what else he had produced. Sharon invited us to her home to view John’s work. The collection was breathtaking. Bright colors, simple and naïve compositions but also complex. His brushstrokes were bold as were his choice of colors. The scenes mainly of nature reflecting his love and adoration of what he saw as God’s work. Frequently, there would be a small cabin or house in the distance nestled within the trees, with stairs and a winding pathway leading the viewer into his painting, his world. Most of his compositions emote a feeling of joy, peace, and happiness, but occasionally we would come across one of sadness and danger as depicted in his painting of a forest fire call “Ablaze”. Another example of John’s ability to evoke feelings within the viewer can be seen in his painting called “Coming Home”, one of the few he gave a title to, of a young child pulling his sled heading up the long path to his snowbound but warm and inviting home.
John was also a poet. Like his artwork, there is a range of emotions and subjects from joy, sadness, social commentary, and nostalgia to his acceptance and understanding of life and death.
It is the sincere wish of John’s surviving siblings, Gerald, Sharon, James, Michael, and Gene, that John’s works find a home, with proceeds from the sale of his paintings going to support the Hospice Quinte Care Centre.
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