Artist of the Month
Johnny Johnson is a Fredericksburg favorite. Originally from North Carolina, the artist is now one of the key artists in our growing community. He came from humble beginnings, in what he describes as an “unsophisticated background”. From an incredibly young age, he was frequently caught doodling in church bulletins, an action that he continued into his adulthood. Throughout his young life, Johnny had no art teacher in school, but a mentor that encouraged him to go to an art school despite the negative stigma on the major in those days.
His work today features bold strokes of vibrant color, frequently in acrylic paint, though mixed media is a favorite of his as well. In the past, Johnny commonly painted with watercolors and sketched in pen and ink. He uses canvases, mixed media boards, paper, wood, and pretty much anything he can get his hands on out of which to make a work of art. A unique aspect of Johnny’s paintings is his use of additives and other materials to add texture to his work. Sand, for example, adds a gritty texture once combined with paint and applied onto a surface. Mica powder is another common substance, adding an illustrious sheen to the painting.
Johnny cites people as his biggest inspiration. A mother and child is a favorite subject matter of his. Social matters are also issues to which Johnny reacts in his pieces. He explained that growing up in a segregated school system give him insight into racial matters, and wished to respond to those issues in peaceful manner.
Johnny mentioned his first piece sold as his favorite moment in his artistic career, entitled “The Drummer.” It sold for $90 to a fellow member of the Council of Relations, which was a grand feat at the time. It originally had started as a plain sketch he had made on the meeting bulletin. He also remembered his time spent in Africa painting with indigenous painters, and the effect their mentoring had on his work
In his life, Johnny has always wanted to make art that makes an impact, be it personal or social. To him, making art has never been about the money, but about the reactions people have to his work.
Frame Designs Gallery is Johnny’s chosen local gallery,but is also a member of the artist co- op, Art First. He also loves the Van Gogh and Reichs Museums in Amsterdam. He also frequents the museums in DC, including the Hirshhorn and the Corcoran.
If awarded an $10,000 art grant, Johnny decided he would purchase art supplies to donate to those in his community who wish to make art but don’t have the means to.