John Haines, Summer 2009

Faces are what really fascinate me.
If you look closely, you can see the country’s
culture and history reflected there.
– John Haines


John Haines was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1941, and during his youth resided in six different states.  He graduated from Punahou School in Honolulu, HI, from The Citadel in Charleston, SC, and from the University of Virginia Law School in Charlottesville, VA before being sent as an Army officer to the Republic of Panama in 1967.  Following his discharge in 1969, he worked for 31 years for the United States Government agencies which operated the Panama Canal until the waterway’s transfer to Panama on the last day of 1999.

Although he never formally studied art, Haines has been drawing and painting since early childhood.  During the last half century, he has exhibited in the United States and Panama and has won prizes for his works in both countries.  Two Panamanian newspapers have published feature articles on his paintings.

Haines paints primarily in oils and his works usually focus on the men, women and children of Panama as they go about their daily lives.  Many include detailed studies of the faces of his subjects.  “Faces are what really fascinate me,” says Haines.  “If you look closely, you can see the country’s culture and history reflected there.”  Recently, he has also produced a collection of landscapes depicting a sampling of the diverse scenery found in this small but beautiful country.

Although he receives many offers for his work, Haines continues to consider his painting a hobby–“I am, after all, retired,” he notes–and thus rarely accepts commissions. “Mostly, I like to paint what catches my eye, and that might be a little different from what others consider to be the perfect subject for a painting.”

Occasionally, Haines paints miniatures, using acryllics, on sand dollars found on the beach. Several years ago, using these “crustacean canvases” he painted 18 different scenes of the Panama Canal in operation which were presented to members of the Canal Authority’s international advisory board.

Haines and his wife of 40 years, the former Esther Maria Ortega, live in Coronado, a beach community on Panama’s Pacific coast. They have five grown children and, at last count, ten grandchildren.