If you ask prolific portrait artist John Wismont if he paints other things, he can’t help but crack a joke.
“Yes―the house, the shed,” he quipped. “Sorry, I couldn't resist. I love to paint landscapes for serenity and seascapes for movement and action.”
But faces are what landed Wismont in the Guinness Book of World Records, when he painted 45,000 watercolor portraits in five years as Disneyland’s official portrait artist. He was also the first portrait vendor at the San Diego Zoo for 13 years before leaving in 2005.
For his noncommissioned pieces, Wismont says he enjoys drawing a range of people―from celebrities to the elderly, whose facial lines “have much to tell.”
“Last but not least is the common face, because there is no such thing to a good portrait painter,” Wismont said. “Every face is a painting waiting to happen.”
Wismont says he’s been painting and drawing since he was given a crayon “somewhere in the ’50s.” It wasn’t until he was accepted into New York City’s High School of Industrial Arts and later asked to work for Disney that he knew he was good.
Of course, earning the Guinness title (1978-1987) as "The World’s Most Prolific Portrait Artist" was a life-defining moment, too.
“It felt like winning the lottery,” Wismont said. “What I don't understand is, where is all the money?”
Wismont lives in Poway and is available for private art lessons. He can be reached at 858-748-3603.