M. Jane Johnson

Recently, I was honored to have been chosen for a 2017 solo show slot at the Art League in Alexandria, VA.  I had tried a couple of times before and was not chosen which just proves you have to keep plugging.  I felt really good about the pieces I submitted this time and the theme around the paintings.  I had a theme that was close to my heart, the death of one of my very dear friends from lung cancer.  Thankfully, my friend’s spirit had helped guide me a long and my submittal was a success. 

I am a process driven mixed-media painter who builds their paintings from layers and layers of acrylic, collage, oil pastel, and stenciled textures.  As each painting builds, it starts to reveal images to me.   All the paintings go through the same process ending as either abstract, figurative or flowers.  Not long after my friend was diagnosed with cancer figures that reminded me of geishas started showing up in my work. 

The geishas kept showing up painting after painting dressed in their beautiful kimonos that I created from layers of collage, texture, drawing, and dragging in various metallic and interference paints.  As I worked on them I decided to try and make an abstracted version of a kimono and to create a luminous surface that would represent silk.  I wanted the paintings to have a glow about them.  I have a very strong understanding of color and strove to make the colors unique for each painting but still in compatible palettes. 

Each painting had its’ own story to reveal to me.  As the layers built and showed me the way to progress.   I had to pull the chaos of all the layers together to create a beautiful finished image that allowed the layers to shine through creating the kimonos.  Most paintings have at least 30 layers that need to be pulled together.  I want the viewer step in and look closely at the painting and see all of the deep, rich textures and layers, then step back and see the over all simplicity of the overall shape of the figure.  While the painting is extremely complex on an intimate level the figure is kept to a more stylized form using positive and negative space.

purple parasol

The geishas were my “hidden muse” as they kept popping up in my work.  My friend Beth, was my real muse in her very short fight against cancer.  She was gone in 6 months.  We got to spend some time together while she was sick and while she was struggling she was still our beloved Beth with her inner glow.  To me, the geishas reminded me of Beth and her beautiful inner spirit.  No matter what is going on around them, the geishas are always seen as beautiful and elegant wrapped in their stunning kimonos.  They stood for women who face all sorts of difficult situations but still put on a brave face and strive to remain beautiful no matter what. 

You can find my work at my studio in Building 10 at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA.  My solo show at the Art League will be in Oct. 2017. 

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