John "Mac" McWilliams was born in Virginia and grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He received a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University before going on to Purdue University in Indiana for an MFA in Painting. He worked many years in Hollywood as a set designer, art director and prop master. He became a member of the Carmel Art Association in 1996.
Mac has participated in a number of 'plein air' painting competitions, winning awards in both Carmel and Tucson. His exhibitions include: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Chrysler Museum, Gallery of Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, Georgia Museum of Art, and California Art Heritage Gallery.