Layering painter John Decker emerges with new aesthetic.


Born and bred in Huntington Beach where the sun-soaked suburbia, and cityscapes inspire his ironic and nostalgic compositions, John Deakers commits to layering – he layers paint, mixed media, three-dimensional figures, and different planes of realities.

Focused on subjects like peg-legged Icarus-types, to angsty one-eyed teens, Deakers does not immortalize typical heroes; rather, he deicts the characters at their lows, or amidst the mundaneness of everyday life.

Don’t Worry Baby

Altering the Southern California image of sparkling clean glamour, Deakers creates images of disillusioned adolescence. With a tone of despair, in “Don’t Worry Baby”, a forsaken figure leans against the side of a white truck, as the boy’s backdrop is a pixilation of rectangular images together making a row of houses.

The dedication to a rectangular composition in “Don’t Worry Baby” introduces the work of quilting in layers of paint, like layers of fabric. As he compiles overlapping squares to create the sky he mixes blue with the sparse gray and brown for the smog-ridden atmosphere. The layering tradition is repeated in the boy’s pants, as Deakers mixes actual jean and other media to explore texture and textiles as an element of layering in aesthetic experience.

Contesting David Hockney

As if in dialogue with the iconic Los Angeles painter, David Hockney, Deakers refutes what Hockney favors in his persistent and even delirious embrace of a world constituted. Exaggerated and imbued with garish tones that heighten compositions to the brink of cartoon, Deakers layers in familiar pop culture entities like Seven-Elevens to ground them in current reality. Like Edward Hopper’s “Night Hawk”, the jarring florescence echoes the same image comment on the isolation of commercialism.

Justin Rudd Nonprofit

Deakers is currently sponsored by Justin Rudd, the head of a 501c3 Nonprofit Organization that promotes and sponsors beach cleanups, spelling bees and other community building events. While some of his work is traditionally worked on in his private workspace, John also creates out of a van, taking his pastels and brushes, and draws for an audience.

Tools of Artistry

Straying away from the traditional tools of artistry, Deakers paints off of pieces of cardboard boxes, like “Donuts”, in which he paints a donut shop with telephone wires in the foreground, and the reoccurring smog layering the composition once again. Seemingly made from the rings of a coffee cup, polyp-like clouds envelop the top section of the image, layering in a heaviness of paint, but a depth of atmosphere, like sfumato on acid.

Deakers’s collection of layering continues with his three-dimensional painting structures. The “Orange Juice” piece’s two-dimensional composition is imbedded in a crate of oranges, as the boy breaks through the fourth wall of the two-dimensional image and reaches for the orange above him.

With a fresh-squeezed practice of multi-media layering, John Deakers expands the painting aesthetic beyond the brush and canvas. Reigning from Southern California, Deakers harnesses the California experience: with his imagery of familiar California suburbia, but intertwining the ironically angsty yet fantastical, he coats in multiple levels of emotionality through his commitment to layering.

We hope this article was inspiring for you! Please contact us if you have any further questions about the layering technique.