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JOHNSON / ORIGINAL PAINTINGS OF WILDLIFE

: EARLY ARTWORK 1990-1996






978-468-3286
jjlmjohnson@comcast.net

EARLY ARTWORK
1990 - 1996


1990
 

Kit Fox at White Sands, 12 X 20
My initiation to painting full time began in 1990 when I completed my first wildlife painting titled "Kit
Fox at White Sands," which was immediately accepted into the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum's
"Wildlife: The Artist's View" Exhibition and national tour.  (For those who aren't familiar with this
museum: it is located in Wausau, Wisconsin and has developed a reputation as being the foremost
location in the world for promoting excellence in wildlife art.) 

My approach was from the point of view of a naturalist.  I had graduated from Cornell University with a 
degree in natural science, and had embarked on a 10,000 mile trek to explore the natural environments
of the United States, spending 16 months hiking, paddling, and bicycling through our remaining
wilderness areas.  As a child I had been intensely interested identifying bird and insect species.  The
world of Nature was paramount to my life.
      I had always been able to draw really well, and gradually I became interested during the 1980's
(through magazines and books) in artists who actually earned a living by painting pictures of Nature
(particularly Robert Bateman whose paintings were very popular during this period).  By the late 1980's
I was growing more informed about this "wildlife art" genre through images of John Seerey-Lester,
Carl Brenders, Bob Kuhn and others.  Not having picked up a paint brush since college ten years before,
I decided to give it a try myself with
"Kit Fox at White Sands."  This painting required several months
of effort as I attempted to capture the scene as I had envisioned it from a visit to White Sands National
Monument in New Mexico a couple years prior. With its acceptance into the Leigh Yawkey Woodson
Museum's national exhibition I decided to pursue painting further.  That same year, 1990, my mork
was also accepted by jury into the "Society of Animal Artists," an organization composed of selected
members from around the world.
  


1991

Wings Over Niagara, 24 X 48, Oil - 1991
  
In 1991 I started working on larger compositions like this one. 
(close up from Wings Over Niagara)



Eider on the Mussel Ridge, 19 X 42, Oil - 1991
 
Exhibited at the "
Birds in Art Exhibition" at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin.  It was based on my sea
kayaking experiences along the foggy summer coast of Maine.  A few miles out from Rockland is a chain of islands known as the Mussel
Ridge, hence the name "Eider on the Mussel Ridge."  There really is a boulder that balances like that.

 

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Reflections, 9 X 12, Oil - 1991
Exhibited at the National Museum of Wildlife Art's "Western Visions" show in Jackson, Wyoming, a
fitting location since the painting is based on my observations of swans just north of the town of
Jackson.  I continued to exhibit each year at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in this "Western
Visions" show for the next ten years, til 2001.


 

Early%20Oil%2055%206X100%20A.jpg
Hidden Moose, 9 X 12, Pencil & Acrylic - 1991
While most of my work during this early period was in oils, I experimented sometimes with other
media to achieve different effects.

 



Owl on Burl, 16 X 12 - 1991
A pencil & acrylic sketch I did for a gallery show in Carmel, California.

 


1992 - 1996

Wolf Creek, 24 X 48, Oil
 - 1992
Just one year after showing my first wildlife painting, "Kit fox at White Sands," I was signed on with
America's leading print publisher (The Greenwich Workshop).  This painting, "Wolf Creek," was the
first painting I completed for them.  It was released as a limited edition fine art print in 1994 and sold
out within two months. 


Early%20Oil%2095%20WEB%207X98%20B.jpg
Bear at Salmon Falls, 28 X 22, Oil - 1995
I was taking fine detail to the limit with paintings like this one.  The process was very slow, taking as
long as 2 or 3 months for a single painting.  From a naturalist's point of view every detail has meaning
and importance - the lichen growing on the rocks are a fascinating combination of plant and fungi
living as one organism, the fungi dissolves the rocks surface while the plant capures the energy of
sunlight; together they grow so slowly it may take decades to cover just a few inches.  I also considered
the process of leaves turning colors in autumn to be far more important than how I, as an artist,
applied paint to convey them.  My attention during these years of detailed paintings was set on the
living subjects, not showing off with lively brush-work.   
      The location of this falls is near Mount Katahdin in northern Maine where I started my "
ten
thousand mile round-the-country trek"
back in 1981. 
(close up) 
Early%20Oil%2095%20WEB%20close%20alt%207X100%20A.jpg

 



Sea Treasures, 13 X 29, Oil - 1994
Detailing more than two dozen species of shore creatures helped make this Greenwich Workshop print
a popular one.  I had made a hundred mile solo sea kayaking trip along the coast of Everglades National
Park where I was thrilled to visit uninhabited islands where the shores were strewn with shells like these. 
Very few people visit these places where shells still rest on the shore after being washed up months before.


 


Desert Sunset, 33 X 36, Oil - 1992
 
One of my favorite places in the U.S. is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument south of Phoenix on the Mexican border.  It was the
inspiration for this painting in which a coyote stands among the blooming red ocotillo.  No pebble nor prickly thorn escaped my
attention here.  This was another long project involving several months work. 
(close up)

 


Early%20Oil%2085%20WEB%207X100%20A.jpg
Cougar Cascade, 22 X 40, Oil - 1993
(close-up)
Early%20Oil%2085%20WEB%20close-up%205X100%20A.jpg 

 


Early%20Oil%2093%20WEB%207X100%20A.jpg
Wolf Ridge, 28 X 22, Oil - 1995




Early%20Oil%2065%206X100%20A.jpg
Kit Fox Resting, 7.5 X 12, Pencil & Acrylic - 1992


 

Early%20Oil%2044%206X100%20A.jpg
Reflection Mountain at Bear Lake, 9.5 X 16, Oil - 1993


During this period I completed more than one hundred paintings.  More images will be added in the future. 

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