SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTIST: Jan Johnson

As a child I always loved to explore outside and then once inside draw and color whatever I’d
been occupied with. Eventually my favorite subject became drawing horses. Over the years I
became pretty good at knowing the facial structure of a horse’s bones and muscles. As I grew
older, I learned there were other animals and objects to draw and in college I’d intended to
become an art teacher.!
But, alas, when married I quickly realized that being a permanent resident of a small farming
community didn’t oer many opportunities to become an art teacher. So I switched my major
to elementary education and taught second grade till my retirement. During those years I was
too tired when I arrived home to do much of anything except collapse. Once retired I
unearthed my art supplies and began with simple pencil drawings and eventually began
working with pastels. Many pastelists first complete a watercolor underpainting before layering
pastels over it while allowing some watercolor to show through. I was never successful with
this but decided I needed to also learn to work with watercolors.!
I am someone who likes to control their art eorts and watercolor resists that urge. I am
learning to allow it to do its own thing with minimal control and we’re both getting along better
with one another. Another watercolorist once told me that when I began painting with
watercolors I would never go back to pastels. I responded with “No”, but I have found that I
am working less and less with pastels. I am an introvert and both mediums allow me to be
alone with something relaxing that I love to do.!
Trying to decide on a favorite tool is hard. I have had several brushes recommended to me
which I’ve purchased and tried and now have way more than I need, but I do have to say that I
purchased one brush Joyce Hicks said she used and immediately fell in love with it so
purchased a second size. The Princeton Round Aqua Elite are light and hold lots of liquid. !
I have always been fascinated by the human face. There are so many variances in features and
the way a subject’s features change in various lighting and thought. Animal faces oer the
same inspiration. In Stan Miller’s workshop I learned lots on painting the human face. Most of
my animals have been done in pastel but probably my favorite watercolor painting is of a
Snowy Owl I saw and photographed at Gavin’s Point Dam two winters ago and completed in
batik.!

I never seem to know when a painting is complete and always overwork some area so I guess I would have to say my dream project is to complete a painting without overworking it.!

Three artists whom I admire work in various mediums. Robert Bateman is probably top of my
list. I remember spending hours in the Joslyn Museum in Omaha many years ago staring at his
enormous wildlife paintings and how each small stroke transformed into something so life like
from a distance. Deb Copple is a local artist from Homer, NE, who is a fantastic wildlife painter
in oils and pastels. Linda Kemp’s negative paintings are a puzzle to look at and try to
determine the steps she went through to accomplish her amazing abstractions. Someday I
may be able to produce a small piece…!
By |2019-09-02T07:59:24-05:00August 23rd, 2019|Categories: About Us/Newsletter, SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTIST|Comments Off on SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTIST: Jan Johnson