John Montoya started out by painting on ceramics while
in his teens. He shared ideas with his cousin, Robert Montoya as they
each advanced their skills. During the mid 1970's, he served
his country in the US Navy and then returned to Albuquerque and Sandia
Pueblo to continue his artistic progress.
When he arrived at the point where he wanted to learn
the methods of traditional pottery, he approached a potter from
another Pueblo with the customary gift of tobacco.
However, the potter held personal beliefs that the knowledge of
pottery should be a privately developed skill and that the
Clay Mother is the best teacher.
This turned out to be a good lesson for John since he
was able to develop his own style, with only the knowledge of
tradition to guide him. So he set out to learn this skill for himself.
Using commercial clay at first, he started to make his first pot. It was
thick and crude, but he continued to practice and then started using
local clay and paints.