Arts Education

Artist John Mac Kah Brings Wealth of Experience, Knowledge to Classes

Hemlocks. John Mac Kah, artist

In his more than 40 years of teaching drawing and painting, artist John Mac Kah has passed along his knowledge to students at UNC Asheville, John C. Campbell Folk School, Penland School of Craft and the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas. “Teaching makes you a better artist,” Mac Kah says. “When you have to explain your methods along with historic relevance, it helps you to know who you really are as a painter. And,” he adds, “you can learn from students.”

Mac Kah is a graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL, where he opened a working and teaching studio in 1983. In 2003, he moved to Asheville’s River Arts District and now paints and teaches at JMK Studio236 at Riverview Station. Among the classes he offers in drawing and painting is “The Painter’s Craft,” a course he has been teaching for 20 years, encompassing all aspects of methods, materials and health precautions from the Renaissance to the Space Age. His teaching is based on classical methods and procedures taught at the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas under the direction of Ben Long.

Artist John Mac Kah Brings Wealth of Experience, Knowledge to Classes

Grandmother Tree Beaver Lake. John Mac Kah, artist

“‘Craftsmanship trumps creativity’ is our mantra,” Mac Kah says. “You cannot teach creativity. With the right skills and knowledge you can express your creativity in an intelligent way that engages and moves the viewer.”

Mac Kah offers plein air painting workshops, group classes and one-on-one lessons at all levels. On Wednesday evenings he holds The Drawing Room, an open life drawing session from 6–8:30 p.m. “We also work with young students in helping them with portfolios for entrance into accredited art schools,” he says. Mac Kah stays in touch with former students all over the country and many of those who are local help produce shows for his Saints of Paint group that raises needed funds for local nonprofits.

Find JMK Studio236 at Riverview Station, 191 Lyman Street. To learn more about his work or about scheduling classes, visit or call 828.225.5000.

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