John Chisnall was born in Carshalton, Surrey in 1943 where he spent the first twenty years of his life. At school, he received encouragement in the arts in general from various members of the art departments and on leaving qualified as a chartered surveyor. He had a very successful career in the public sector, managing the design and construction of a wide range of buildings and civil engineering structures for the government estate. The professional experience gained in this field has given him extensive knowledge of many of the subjects he now explores in his paintings. He developed his interest in painting and drawing in parallel with his primary career until, gradually, these activities gained more importance and in 1992 he left public service in order to spend more time painting. He now paints full time, working from his studio in Coulsdon, Surrey.
He is passionate about buildings and architecture from all periods (ranging from the historical vernacular to the great buildings of modern times) and has been influenced by many painters, periods and schools. The English School of watercolour painting is of particular relevance and painters of particular significance to him include Turner, Canaletto, and Graham Sutherland.
John Chisnall has painted in various media throughout his life and now works mainly in watercolour, finding this medium well suited to catching both the atmosphere and the detail of a place. Largely self-taught, although he did spend three years at Sutton School of Art studying life drawing, his paintings are direct celebrations of visual pleasures and ignore the darker sides of modern life.
John Chisnall has travelled extensively throughout the United Kingdom and Europe and is a frequent visitor to the United States where he has a family. He has also travelled in India, Nepal, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana and always has painting materials with him.
Exhibiting extensively in galleries throughout the UK, he has had six one-man shows in the last 15 years and has illustrated several books on local villages and parishes in Surrey. His pictures are held in collections as far afield as the USA and Australia. He is also a regular cartoonist with several magazines.
Outside of painting and traveling his main interests are music and dinghy racing, in which he competes regularly at his sailing club in West Sussex most weekends whilst at home.