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Born in Owatonna, Minnesota, John Spelman began painting in childhood. After studying briefly at the Minneapolis Museum of Art, he moved with his family to Chicago and continued his studies at that city's Art Institute. His interest in the outdoors---he was a hunter, trapper and fisherman---drew him to landscape painting. For more than thirty years Spelman spent his summers and some winters in a cabin on the north shore of Lake Superior near Grand Marais, where he painted woodland scenes at all times of the year. He also spent time in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and eastern Tennessee with the Chicago artist Rudolphe Ingerle, with whom he shared a palette and style. Spelman's landscapes are broadly brushed and rich in color. To heighten their visual impact, he often used strong contrasts of light and dark.
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