John Gordon Macdonald was born in Portsmouth 7 April 1909.
John was trained in London before obtaining the post of Art Master at Chorlton High school in Manchester, where he taught from 1931 until he left to join the Royal Navy on 2 September 1941.
We know from contemporary newspaper cuttings kept by his wife, that he exhibited a number of watercolours at the Manchester Athenaeum Graphic Club in 1935 and 1936. The Art critic for the Manchester Evening News made a point of favourably mentioning his work in both reviews he made for the paper.
John also illustrated a book that was published in 1940 by Cambridge University Press titled “Animals All” by A.H.Body.
The book is full of woodcuts by the artist, a printing technique he obviously relished which, also displayed his ability to create a scene with the utmost economy.
From the obituaries in the Chorlton school magazine, he was a highly respected and well-loved teacher. Colleagues wrote of his ability; “how we used to admire and wonder at his skill. Those deft strokes of the pencil, those crisp strokes of colour that brought the scene to life before our eyes and made the paper bright with sunlight or cool with shade.” and…. “how many little tricks he showed us –tricks of perspective, colour and light and shade. But above all he taught us to appreciate beauty; beauty in everything, in the everyday things of life.”
John met his wife Elsie Scholefield in the Café de Paris in Manchester in 1933. She noticed a man who kept glancing at her. She went over and asked him what he was doing only to find that he had been sketching her.
They were married on July 27 1935 and spent their honeymoon on the Isle of Man.
He was a member of the Home Guard, after his call up to active service he served on the Destroyer H.M.S. Hurricane, a ship that was heavily involved in escorting convoys to and from Russia. It was on just such a mission that JG Macdonald was lost at sea join 11 April 1942.