Category: The Story Behind The Art
| 02 April, 2016 14:28
Advice from a Sunflower
Advice from a Sunflower: Turn your face to the (Son). Be fruitful in life. Bring joy to others. Don’t be afraid to stand tall and shine.
Clara Johnson’s artwork will be shown at the Dallas Arboretum’s Artscape Event April 22nd to 24th. Johnson, a Texas native and 24 year resident of Midland, moved to East Dallas to be near her only child three years ago. Johnson’s newest artwork, the ‘Advice from a Sunflower’ series, will be featured at Artscape. The series is dedicated to her first grandchild, who is due to be born in April. The inspiration for the series comes from Johnson’s sweet childhood memories of her father and grandfather tending their respective sunflower gardens in the open fields of rural Mississippi. As a child, the sunflowers towered over her, seemed larger than life and filled her with joy. Each time she visited her father’s and grandfather’s gardens, the sunflowers celebrated her homecoming like old friends. Even to this day, when she sees a sunflower, she feels joyful and gets the sense she is being welcomed home. If there are sunflowers along the road when she travels, they assure her she is on the right road, both physically and spiritually. A calm comes over her when sunflowers are growing around her. Just as the sunflower positions itself to face the life giving rays of the sun, Johnson looks to the heavens for spiritual energy from God. The sunflower reminds Johnson that God has this old crazy world in His hands. You might be surprised to know that many other cultures are drawn to sunflowers in much the same way. For example, in Native American culture the sunflower is a symbol of the sun, and is likened to the life giving force of the Great Spirit.
Johnson is a mixed media artist and enjoys working primarily with acrylic pours, collage, silk dye, and watercolor. Her artwork is expressive. She likes to just let the creative juices flow and see what happens. Johnson said, “We are all different so why shouldn’t art be the same way … a little mixed up, a little crazy, but beautiful in its own way. “
By Amy Lewis, March 30, 2016
Artwork by Clara Johnson ‘The Master Bedroom’ www.artbyclarajohnson.com
| 25 February, 2014 19:23
This 2012 painting is not a painting at all as no paint was used on this canvas. The artwork was inspired by my love of tulips. In December of each year the Dallas Arboretum is planted with thousands of tulip bulbs which bloom in March and April of the following year. This blooming season is commonly referred to as “Dallas Blooms”. The last week in February is the official kick-off for Dallas Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum and during that time the flower garden is covered in tulips of all colors and sizes. Frequent trips to Dallas, Texas over the last few years and visits to the Dallas Arboretum inspired me to start painting tulips.
This piece of artwork was my first torn paper collage experience. From a distance most viewers believe the artwork to be an oil painting. However, as the viewer is drawn in they discover there is more to this piece of artwork than originally imagined. All of the torn paper used comes from recycled magazines. What a wonderful way to repurpose magazines!! This process is much more time consuming than you can imagine and tends to be very messy. By the time this painting was finished my home studio resembled the streets of New York City on New Year’s Eve after the ball drops. The time spent finding the right magazine, and the right page, that has just the right value and texture … for an area that would normally be covered with a one second brush stroke, is extensive. Much time is also spent reading … or at the very least fighting the urge to read an article in the magazine that looks interesting or that you have read and want to read for a second time. All in all the thrill of the hunt easily becomes spell binding and the results are well worth the effort.
The thrill of the hunt is something the viewer experiences too. There are many hidden images in the collage that a painter might not normally think to put into a painting. This surprise element keeps the artwork exciting. In this “painting” you will find words, and flags, and even little people hidden in the flower garden. The longer you look the more secrets you may uncover. The painting brings the viewer to a magical place …a secret garden …and isn’t that what a flower garden should be?
This process is very different than anything I have done before but it allows me to express myself in a new way while still providing the mystery, color, and excitement that I long to see in a piece of artwork.
Although I continue to save special magazines I have not attempted to do another torn paper tulip collage. I expect there will be more popping up in the future though. With each new spring there should be a fresh crop of magical tulips in the flower garden … don’t you agree?
| 23 February, 2014 22:56
This 2012 painting is the first in the Huginn and Muninn series. It is painted with latex house paint, on canvas. This series was inspired by a photo that was taken by my nieces’ fiancé on his trip to the Grand Canyon and by their upcoming marriage. As a wedding gift I was asked to do a painting about their story and their connection with the ravens in this photo …. Huginn and Muninn, (a sweet inside joke for the couple). After doing research on ravens and the story of Huginn and Muninn I decided to play … to let the feelings simply explode on canvas and see what happened. The painting developed and the thoughts running through my head poured on to the canvas, Huginn began to take form. It must be noted that this painting was not always a raven. The under painting is layered. The original painting on this canvas was of a female figure which lacked the emotional element and mystery that are important to me as an artist, as M. Douglas Walton, a very special artist and teacher might say “the painting failed to reach its potential.” Although the female figure is now painted over her presence is still there and a part of the final painting. The second layer was applied as an exercise in color combinations. I explored putting colors together that I enjoyed and let them mix together, building values and textures along the way. Each step of the painting was a process and an exercise in experimentation. With this process came the realization that we as individuals are going through a process of development too. We are not always reaching our true potential or our best self. The journey is a necessary part of the evolution. After all, Michelangelo’s ‘David’ was once just a hunk of granite.
Huginn sits on a hint of a perch, high in the sky; he is timeless and knows no limits in space. He watches and studies the domain below him, not resting but deep in thought. You may eventually notice the mountain far into the distance. Like Mount Ranier its summit is so high that the atmosphere clouds your visibility. Notice, Huginn is perched higher still.
The layering of blues and darks and building of texture keep Huginn interesting to look at and alive while the use of texture used in his feathers show the wear and tear of time. The warm colors in the background hint of landscapes and figures that are more lost than found … they sneak up on you as you spend time looking at the painting. Are those the fiery furnaces of hell and tormented souls you are seeing or simply past generations finding their way through time? The mystery is there and the emotional statement made. It is up to you, the viewer, to enter the painting and have the painting tell its story. The story changes with each new day and each viewer’s insights. The conversation between the viewer and the painting are never the same. It is this ever changing conversation that keeps this painting fresh and timeless.
| 28 January, 2014 11:06
This painting was a very emotional painting for me to do. I am wondering if it speaks to you in an emotional way as well? I wish I had better photos of this work .... The original will be shown for the first time at Artists' Showplace Gallery in north Dallas on February 14th at the Arts for the Heart reception that will be held that evening. I hope you will come and we can discuss this piece. I would love to hear your thoughts!!
| 14 November, 2012 15:23
'Ball Park Dreams' is a painting that I painted as part of the Rockhounds at Play series. When I go the Midland Rockhound baseball games I go with camera in hand. I look for opportunities to capture the feeling of being at the ballpark and the excitement of watching the game. Often I take a walk around the ballpark while the game is going on in search of "the" shot that captures that feeling. It is there that I saw a little 5 year old boy doing the most amazing thing.
He stood in the breezeway near the last row of seats and was pitching the game. Not just any game but HIS game and believe me when I tell you his head was very much in the game. I stood for some
time taking pictures from a distance making use of my long camera lens. I did not want to go near him because I did not know what would happen if he saw me. He could get embarrassed and stop the game or start looking and posing for the camera.... and the shot would be gone.
As I watched him I was captivated by his every move, his concentration as he nodded to the
imaginary catcher and as he gave the signal that would let the catcher know what pitch he would throw to the batter. He would move his mouth as he pretended to chew on whatever it is baseball players
chew. ... look around to first base before he threw the ball, and then give that pitch all he had to give. Glove in hand, hat on his head.... but then I noticed.... he had no ball in his hand. He even had to pretend he had a ball to throw!!!
After a while I saw him go to talk with his parents about something and then return to his game. When he was not looking I went to talk with his parents and told them what I was doing and why. I wanted to make sure that they were okay with me taking pictures of their precious son and got their permission to take more. As I moved in closer, this little boy's concentration never broke. He continued to keep his head in the game. I don't know if his team won that day but watching this little boy ‘play ball’ at the ballpark has been one of the most amazing baseball experiences I have had. I would put it right up there with seeing Ozzie Smith fly through the air as he caught the ball when I went to see the St. Louis Cardinals play for the very first time. There is no doubt in my mind that this little boy was on the mound at "The Show" that day or that he will one day be living out that dream!! His parent's eventually saw the painting that I did of their son and I am honored that they approved of the way I captured that moment. They have purchased this painting, it is one of my favorites, and although I hated to let go of it I am so proud for them to have it.
| 15 August, 2012 21:06
It has taken me a month but I just finished the latest piece in my 'Women In Hats' series. As I worked through the process I became aware that the black haired beauty was searching, but for what? Then I discovered that both women seemed to be looking for someone... but who. How many of you remember the old comic book with Veronica, Betty, and Archie? Well Archie's girls are a little older now and Betty has gone red but it appears that they are still good friends and still on the hunt for Archie!!! Good luck girls I hope you catch him soon.
I know this seems like a silly story but often my paintings do tell me their story as I paint them. Now this does don't mean that my story is the only story to be told .... it is very possible that the story you hear will be quite different. It is the element of mystery that makes art so personal and exciting!! So just listen .... I wonder what story you will hear?
| 30 May, 2012 10:16
I always find it interesting to know what the artist was thinking and the process that went behind a painting. I wanted to share some of this information with you. 'In The Beginning' did not start off as a statement about creation really. The beginning was simply and exercise in finding a photo and using it as a jumping off place or inspiration for an abstract painting. I had not worked with oils much and had not worked this small before so I was not in my comfort zone and that was kinda the point of the exercise. I started with a photo of an orchid and looked at the photo for areas of interesting design. I chose colors that I enjoy working with and put a simple compostion on canvas .... then off I ran. At some point in the process the painting took on its own personality. One stroke lead to another and in the end I ended up with a very moving and exciting painting. What's that saying about small packages .... This painting named itself as often happens when I paint. Much of what happens during my process is self discovery. I do not seek to control the outcome ... it is much more exciting to let the outcome happen. When you do the end result will be mystery.
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Calendar Of Posts
- Advice from a Sunflower
- Southwestern Watercolor Society 52nd Annual Member Exhibition Opening September 20th 6-8pm
- Artscape 2015 Dallas Arboretum
- Artscape 2015 .... April 24th-26th at the Dallas Arboretum .... look for me at booth 55
- Walton's Garden Center --- What a beautiful setting for wine and art! Thursday - Sept. 25th 5:30 - 7:00.
- Tall City Blues Fest 2014 - 'Hang Up'
- Wearable Art ....everyone wants one!!!!
- Artscape 2014 at the Dallas Arboretum .... a few pictures from the Friday Night Preview party!!
- Dallas Arboretum . Artscape 2014
- Art from the Heart Exhibition at Artists; Showplace, Dallas, Tx 2014