John Maginnis was born in New England in 1943. A self-taught artist, Maginnis had worked as an engineer prior to deciding to work as a mostly itinerant artist throughout the Southwest and Arkansas. His work is mostly in pastels, having produced fewer oil paintings. After having lived in Sedona, Arizona for several years, Maginnis returned to New England to teach seminars on working with pastels and commissioned portraits. He died sometime after 2000.