Muckenthaler Cultural Center

Fullerton, California

(714) 738-6595



Primary Colors: 25 Years of Paintings by John R. Koser

September 6 - October 12, 1997


John R. Koser


A native Californian, John Richard Koser studied drawing and composition with William Frederick Foster, Nicolai Fechin, Grace Lodi, Leon Franks, Robert E. Wood, Morton Solberg and Judi Betts. These teachers had a powerful impact on Koser's art. He also studied at the Art Center in Colorado Springs and Baylor University. In 1953, he received a doctorate in dental science from the University of Southern California and opened a dental practice in Buena Park. He has resided in Fullerton for 35 years.

Left: Our Heritage, 18 x 27 inches, collection: Maruka Machinery Corp. International

In 1971, after a serious illness, Koser retired from dentistry and returned full-time to the artistic career he had abandoned as a young man. He soon mastered the elusive art of transparent watercolors and received enthusiastic recognition from the public and the art world.

The tall, lithe artist has had 24 one-man shows and has won numerous awards in juried competitions. His work appears in many private and corporate collections and he teaches master classes whenever he can tear himself away from his studio. Koser is past president of Watercolor West, the national transparent watercolor society, and is a frequent contributor to major art publications. The 74-yeat-old master teacher has juried more than 30 art shows.

In 1990, the prestigious publishing house, Watson-Guptill, commissioned him to write a text that would explore intermediate techniques for bringing color to life with a primary palette. The resulting text, "Watercolor: Red, Yellow and Blue," inspired the retrospective, which opens at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center September 6, 1997.




The color glows like stained glass, a wet sea shell or the sky reflected in a puddle of rain. The symphony of creativity produced by watercolor on the white surface of all rag paper is perfect for the sketch, quick color note or the on the scene record. The studio painting produced with pigmented colors, water and white paper give the artist an interpretive medium with unrivaled poetic possibilities. TURNER, CEZANNE, SARGENT, MARIN, and others have used the unique qualities of this modest medium to greatness. This is exemplified in their luminous aquarelles. As an interpretative medium its unpredictable possibilities are unrivaled.

The title "Transparent Watercolor" explains its subtle simplicity. The watercolor paper, "the ground", upon which the artist applies the paint supplies the only white and controls the value (light and dark) and hue of the paint that is used by the artist to create all the shapes. The paint pigment is dissolved in water. The water floats the color into place. When the water evaporates and the gum binder of the paint takes hold, each trailing wisp and nuance is bound to the white paper surface. This technique is one of the oldest art processes known to man. From white, the pure paper, to the darkest darks, the control of the values relies on the paper that reflects through the dried paint; hence the title "Transparent Watercolor."

To retain permanent whiteness, the paper must be pure rag paper (no wood pulp). The artist has at his disposal a range of colors that are permanent and color fast. The wetness of the paper when paint is applied plays an important roll in determining the characteristic of the dried paint surface. Value must be expertly anticipated because all paint used in transparent watercolor procedures dries to a lighter value.

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1997 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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