John Rombough

North Slave
Primary Art Type: 
PO Box 15
Lutsel K'e, NT X0A 1A0

Artist Story

The influences on my style of art come from many places. I am a contemporary woodland painter and use strong supporting black lines and vibrant colours. I am inspired by the Dene culture itself – the aspects of animals, clans and honouring ancestors. My dad was from Lutsel K’e. I feel the earth tones that I see on the land and express myself through spiritual aspects of art; whatever flows through me comes from my heart.

I began painting over 20 years ago. I am self-taught, starting off with acrylics and over years have been mentored using vibrant colours. My main mentors are other artists such as Ojibwe Norval Morrisseau, the grandfather of contemporary woodland style, and those from the native group of seven.

I was adopted out of the North but came back to relearn my culture. I create art because I want to express myself and give back to my Dene culture. When I teach kids, I see their expressions when they are creating and it is a promising feeling. It makes me feel I am on the right track and helping establish a creative energy.

I usually work on a large series of about 20 to 30 paintings at a time. They all come to me naturally and are not thought out at all. Every painting is different and has a different theme. It kind of just fills itself in – it is amazing how it works that way on its own. I love that there are no rules and I can just express myself naturally with the colour wheel. It is really fun to be free and speak on the canvas and work with landscape, tree lines, faces in rock formations… I love that it all ties into one and I can feel well balanced on the canvas.

Artist Bio: 

Chipewyan Dene artist John Rombough was born in the remote community of Sioux Lookout in Northern Ontario, Canada. At the age of three, John was adopted by Carol and Lyall Rombough, a Prince Edward Island couple. He attributes his early interest in drawing and painting to being raised in their giving and artistic environment. As a young adult, John began the search for his birth parents. He discovered his biological father, Alfred Catholique, living in the tiny community of Lutselk'e on the shores of Great Slave Lake in Canada's pristine Northwest Territories. Warmly welcomed by all the Catholique family, John decided to move to the community in order to rediscover his cultural identity. John Rombough's painting style has since changed to reflect the harmony of the Dene people and the natural world. His distinctive modern aboriginal designs also encompass his own personal visions and strong connection with nature. Paintings that communicate to all nations, through visual interpretation, brilliantly mixed colours are transferred onto canvas, sending out a message of compassion and respect. As John works toward creating original pieces, Ceremonial Drum Songs flow through his thoughts, songs that represent Dene teachings and spiritual way of life. Sacred teachings past down from ancestors through his visions inspire John to live a healthy creative lifestyle. Honoring the ancestors teachings; respect self, respect people and respect the land. John Rombough is recognized as a role model throughout the NWT and takes his role very seriously. His paintings are instrumental in conveying a message to the youth, a message of encouragement, leadership, strength, will power and determination. New cultural discoveries continue to provide him with an inexhaustible resevoir of ideas to put to canvas. John's paintings are increasingly well received by collectors and corporations alike.

Last Updated: June 6, 2024

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