LAURA JOHNSTON

•••••• artist ••••••

New Paintings - Scribble Paintings

Artwork, Finished WorkLaura JohnstonComment
Laura Johnston Scribble 1 11x14" mixed media on paper 2016

Laura Johnston
Scribble 1
11x14" mixed media on paper
2016

Earlier this year I was going through a rough time mentally, and on one particularly challenging morning when I was feeling really heavy and frustrated, I turned on some music, grabbed my favorite oversized black marker and a pad of paper, and went to town dancing and scribbling on one sheet after the next until there was no more paper left. My energy went back to zapped afterwards, but for the elongated minutes it was happening I felt amazing and alive. If depression feels like being under the weight of boulders, this felt like flying. 

Months went by before I did anything else with the scribbles. One day I picked them up and decided I’d make self-portraits of sorts out of them, selecting two from the stack and drawing one eye in pencil on each. I put down a tiny bit of color and added little by little over the next couple of months, pulling from my 30-day mixed media project back in 2014. Cliché sidenote: I can’t believe how quickly the last two years have passed. It makes me feel a little frantic, like, oh I hope I am making progress fast enough. (Fast enough for what, cheetah? Slow down. All in good time.)

I am trying to silence all the ‘voices of should’ that tell me what I should be making, how it should look, or what my process should feel like. Those voices are picked up everywhere and they are plentiful and hard to shake. There’s also been a paralyzing overwhelm of possibilities more recently, which tends to happen when my mood picks up. These scribbles are a way of cutting through that and just starting somewhere - doing what comes naturally and taking it from there. So many things I could do, so many things I should do, so many things I would do, so many things I want to do. Experience so far has taught me to go with my gut and find clarity along the way.

Plus... they're fun.

These two are on paper, which feels really natural and easy. I was talking with a friend the other day and she suggested trying them on canvas, which had never even crossed my mind before (I tend to keep my practices very segmented from one another in my mind - acrylic abstracts are on canvas, mixed media is on paper, etc.). It seemed like a fun challenge, so I started one on canvas yesterday. I'm trying to use some of the same materials, even though I've never used them on canvas before (like markers, pencil in finished areas, pen...). I've already learned a few tricks for next time, if I decide to make more on canvas. Obviously the canvas one isn't an original scribble from my flurry of dancing scribbles earlier this year, but I took the same approach. I love the feel of working on paper, but canvas feels so finalized and official. I think it's the cradled edges: perhaps I should try mounting my paper pieces to panels and see how that feels. On any note, expect to see more where these came from soon.

Laura Johnston Scribble 2 11x14" mixed media on paper 2016

Laura Johnston
Scribble 2
11x14" mixed media on paper
2016

Tidbits (of Late)

Tidbits, Creative ProcessLaura JohnstonComment
"Bananapanada" - 4" spontaneous embroidery for a friend

"Bananapanada" - 4" spontaneous embroidery for a friend

I've got so much energy back and have been up to a lot lately, most of which I keep contained to Instagram. If you're into these little peeks at what's going on, follow me there! That'd be awesome.

Yesterday I wrecked myself* by deciding I just had to get this lingering urge to embroider something out of my system. I spent literally all day making that bananapanada, named such because when I showed my boyfriend he said, "Oh, that's cute! Is it a banana? Or an empanada?" I'm like, that's fair. Lol! Had I taken the time to sketch it out first it may not have turned out so fat, but sketching just isn't my bag most of the time. I like to get right into it.

*By 'wrecked myself' I mean I could barely walk this morning because my SI joint was so out of whack. It was all I could do to tear myself away from the embroidery for long enough to get a drink of water yesterday, and the sitting hunched over my project for however many hours sure didn't fair well for my body! Good news is that I'm feeling 80% better now.

Excuse my language but how this happened is honestly still a mystery to me. The paintbrush was INSIDE the inside of a pen?!

Excuse my language but how this happened is honestly still a mystery to me. The paintbrush was INSIDE the inside of a pen?!

LOOK AT THAT GNARLY INK BLOTCH ON MY MOUTH! Are we serious right now? That'll show me not to hold paintbrushes in my mouth. (Probably not.)

LOOK AT THAT GNARLY INK BLOTCH ON MY MOUTH! Are we serious right now? That'll show me not to hold paintbrushes in my mouth. (Probably not.)

Fast forward to a hilarious mishap from this morning. I was actually painting on the envelope of a letter to a friend, or preparing to paint, when I realized my left hand was wet and looked down to see what I thought was purple paint everywhere. Only I wasn't using purple paint. Two investigative seconds later and I realize this is not paint, but ink, because my paintbrush has somehow become lodged inside of the plastic inner part of a purple pen. HOW?! Ok, I understand that I may have set it into my utensils holder and it got stuck that way, but the mystery is that the only purple pen I can think of was fully housed in its pen shelter. With a clicky button end and side clip and the whole nine yards; there was no random ink cartridge of purple ink anywhere. What? Who is pranking me?!

So that was fun. I managed to nearly clear the ink off of my face but my hands are still a bit purple. Rather purple. I'll finish them up later.

I took these photos recently (with my iPhone) and I really want to go back to that spot + wander to others for a photo session with my actual camera, but I haven't done it yet. I really miss shooting so much sometimes, but it usually passes when I remember how cumbersome carrying a camera and equipment around is. Maybe this weekend?

Giant poster of a project that's been going on behind the scenes.

Giant poster of a project that's been going on behind the scenes.

See here! This poster is laying on a people-sized couch, for size reference. It's huge! This image comes from a collaboration I am doing with my friend Sarah, whom I know from my photography days when she was modeling. We talk nearly everyday now and earlier this year decided to embark on a project together that would inspire others to loosen up and laugh a little. Her photography + my painting = a collaboration of silly proportions. Our first finished piece (this image) was inspired by a poor roadkill stuffed Spongebob I passed on the highway one evening. There are more in the works, and each original is being created on an 11x14 photo print. 

Other bits:

My new cheetah painting from Kelzuki, surrounded by Mexican folk art and alebrijes in my kitchen.

My new cheetah painting from Kelzuki, surrounded by Mexican folk art and alebrijes in my kitchen.

A little water vessel I painted at SoFa Sketch night here in San Jose (hosted by Frances Marin) + a peek of mixed media pieces in the background.

A little water vessel I painted at SoFa Sketch night here in San Jose (hosted by Frances Marin) + a peek of mixed media pieces in the background.

My favorite tote (that Devon Sioui made!), rocking the Mickey yin-yang pin.

My favorite tote (that Devon Sioui made!), rocking the Mickey yin-yang pin.

Brothers! My new journal from Ashen Fire Originals matches the card pouch she made me previously. I love her work.

Brothers! My new journal from Ashen Fire Originals matches the card pouch she made me previously. I love her work.

Aforementioned mixed media pieces (in progress). These were started with scribbles I made one frustrated morning earlier this year.

Aforementioned mixed media pieces (in progress). These were started with scribbles I made one frustrated morning earlier this year.

My Disney pins + my corgi pin for le animalé! I love small awesomeness.

My Disney pins + my corgi pin for le animalé! I love small awesomeness.

And finally,

Pieces from a creative free-for-all session a couple of weeks ago with Lucia Dill.

Pieces from a creative free-for-all session a couple of weeks ago with Lucia Dill.

creative free-for-alls! This is something I've been back-burner wanting to do for a long, long time now. Since before I moved to California, and more strongly since I got to California. When I got here, I wanted to create some sort of creative meet-up where anyone interested could come hang out and make something, in a more organized way than just chillin' (although sometimes maybe just chillin'). I made some attempts, but my vision wasn't quite clear, and I could feel myself holding back. I feel much more clarity now! Creative free-for-alls are a fun way to bust creative block, let go, and tap into a child-like sense of creating without the nagging need to be in control, or to overthink things, or to know what's going to happen, etc. Now that I am feeling more in my body and have some energy back, I've gotten the ball rolling on this and it's been great so far. There is a lot for me to figure out and learn, of course. I love sharing projects and creative energy with other people, and encouraging them (and myself) to be in the moment and just enjoy the process. There will definitely be more development on this moving forward (and if you're in the bay area, feel free to get in touch about it!).

Mmk! That was a fun update. Now it's time for lunch before I get all hangry. I hope everyone has an awesome 4th of July weekend!

New Painting - Sun's a Crowd (Let's Go Home)

Laura JohnstonComment
Laura Johnston Sun's a Crowd (Let's Go Home) 16x20" acrylic on canvas 2016

Laura Johnston
Sun's a Crowd (Let's Go Home)
16x20" acrylic on canvas
2016

Bright, shiny sun.
Too bright.
Too shiny.
People all over the place going this way and that way.
Red light.
Hot, shiny sun.
Someone cutting me off. Someone not using their signal.
Circling to find a place to park.
Sun in my eyes.
Burning my skin.
People walking in the middle of the parking lot.
Red light. Stop. Someone crossing. Stop.
Slow slow slow.
Stop.
I just want to get home.

Or, maybe one day:

The sun is shining. The sky is blue.
I have a car to go run errands. A post office nearby. Traffic lights.
Money to buy candy.
A community.
Yay.

Or, maybe:

I should eat something.

My First Mural - for Palomacy Pigeon & Dove

Bay Area Adventures, Adventures, TidbitsLaura JohnstonComment
Nearly finished, sprinkled with late afternoon shadows.

Nearly finished, sprinkled with late afternoon shadows.

Instagram is an awesome place for discovery. Since moving to California I've discovered more through IG than anywhere else, from artists to events to restaurants to hiking spots. Sometime last year I stumbled upon Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions and was so excited to see such a group. As a bay-area newcomer it seemed to solidify something about the area. This is an amazing place with so many passionate people working in many different disciplines; within arms reach you can find an expert or enthusiast for pretty much anything. I'd never heard of a pigeon rescue group before, probably because there aren't many, which speaks to another wonderful aspect of the area - an entrepreneurial spirit that if it doesn't exist, start it. 

Shortly after discovering Palomacy they posted a call for mural artists and ideas. My interest in murals was already piqued from all of the colorful art in the area, and that coupled with my desire to get more involved in the community meant it came with perfect timing. 

My final sketch for the mural.

My final sketch for the mural.

I expressed interest and pitched a design to the group. The mural was to be on two separate (corner-connected) surfaces, so I designed the sketch as two parts linked together by the flying pigeon and landscape. Each segment was about 5x8' for a 10x8' total wrapped mural. Everyone loved the design and after a few tweaks we scheduled a Saturday to paint.

Me working on the hills. I freehanded the design in light yellow paint and we just worked from that + my sketch reference.

Me working on the hills. I freehanded the design in light yellow paint and we just worked from that + my sketch reference.

Ruthie painting in the black chalkboard section. They'll be able to use this for quotes and news/info... how fun!

Ruthie painting in the black chalkboard section. They'll be able to use this for quotes and news/info... how fun!

At one point the founder of Palomacy, Elizabeth, came by to see our progress and said she admired how fearless I was with my art. It struck me as a particularly fabulous and unexpected compliment, as I don't think of myself as fearless and was certainly feeling nervous about the mural beforehand. I had never even worked on a mural, much less designed and led one. How was it going to go? I tried not to think about it too much and chased the thought away with "Just show up and take it from there" each time I started to worry. I figured once I was there it would be great fun and go fine. And it was - everyone I met was kind and calm and ready to help as much or as little as I needed, which was comforting because I am not used to delegating my art. In fact, it was an awesome lesson in that, because there is no way I would have gotten as close to completing the mural in one day had it not been for everyone's helping hands!

Debbie, Ruthie, and I standing in front of the mural about 5 hours in. Ruthie was smart to wear long sleeves! I got burnt (but luckily the sun was only out for part of the day!).

Debbie, Ruthie, and I standing in front of the mural about 5 hours in. Ruthie was smart to wear long sleeves! I got burnt (but luckily the sun was only out for part of the day!).

Earlier on in the painting when Ruthie and I tag-teamed the gradient in the blue sky. If you paint, you're probably aware that creating a smooth gradient in a quick-drying medium is pretty tricky. Add to that a giant space and by myself it would have been a real challenge!

Earlier on in the painting when Ruthie and I tag-teamed the gradient in the blue sky. If you paint, you're probably aware that creating a smooth gradient in a quick-drying medium is pretty tricky. Add to that a giant space and by myself it would have been a real challenge!

Debbie and Ruthie working on the sky and sun rays! It was tricky getting the lines straight on textured wood.

Debbie and Ruthie working on the sky and sun rays! It was tricky getting the lines straight on textured wood.

Seeing it start to really come together with the addition of the flowers around the bottom!

Seeing it start to really come together with the addition of the flowers around the bottom!

The mural is located on Palomacy's main aviary in Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda, CA. I'm so excited to say that now you can see a bold pop of color from the street as you drive up - it's incredible the excitement and life that color can breathe into a space, even a space already filled with beautiful plants and birdies! Elizabeth and Debbie even decided to paint the benches in front of the aviary as the mural was in-progress, which really makes the whole space so inviting and fun.

Finished!

It ended up taking a Saturday and a half, and I'm really happy with how the mural turned out. Best of all is that the awesome folks of Palomacy love it! I learned a lot about the process of creating a mural, how long it takes to tackle something this size, a better idea of how to delegate tasks, and a lot about pigeons, too! I even got to hold a few of them. :) I'm not sure how much mural-ing is in my future, but I think I do want to at least create something colorful for my own garden. And if another opportunity falls into place, who knows! #seewhathappens

New Painting - A Different Shade of Past

Artwork, Finished Work, PaintingLaura Johnston1 Comment
Laura Johnston A Different Shade of Past 16x20" acrylic on canvas 2016

Laura Johnston
A Different Shade of Past
16x20" acrylic on canvas
2016

This year, until recently, I've been wrestling with an episode of depression. It's not something I talk about much, but it's no stranger to me. I've been dealing with depression and anxiety for nearly two decades now, but it had been a while (a few years!) since it had such a strong hold over me.

Normally I am able to satiate myself a bit with painting; I've turned to my art throughout my life as a way to cope. But this time I felt stuck. I couldn't paint my way out of it, and it was confusing and frustrating. Yet, even though painting was not bringing me the clarity or release it usually does, I painted anyway. I knew the cloud would pass, but knowing that doesn't really make it easier to flounder around feeling lost. In these down turns (whether it's depression or just a plateau/dip in progress), there's often a part of me saying, "Is this it? Can I not paint anymore? Could I ever paint? WHAT IS ANYTHING?!" I'm working on it. Based on chats with my artist friends, this is par for the course. I have lofty goals to learn to embrace the dips.

This painting is a more recent production. There is another, larger 30x40' canvas that represents my true struggle-busing through the beginning of this year (it is not quite finished yet). This one was started within the last month as an attempt to dislodge the kink. I started going to therapy with a new therapist here, and she helped nudge me in the right direction. I felt freer with this piece than I have with any in a while, so I am hoping that this is the beginning of a new phase. I am happy with this one.

I’m glad to report that at this point I’ve mostly got my energy back, and I feel pretty good and pretty ambitious now, but boy! Earlier this year it was all I could do to keep my life afloat as I felt like everything was too much. I don’t exactly have my spark back, but I feel it coming.

New Work - #bitchseries Collaboration

Finished Work, Creative Process, CollaborationsLaura JohnstonComment
 #bitchseries level: completed

 #bitchseries level: completed

My friend Devon and I worked on this collaboration from last October until now, trading 10 paintings back and forth between San Jose, California and Guelph, Ontario, adding more layers on each pass until they felt finished. I'm so pumped about what emerged from our very simple project parameters:

• 9x12 watercolor paper
• 10 pieces total: I start 5 (as portraits) and Devon starts 5 (as abstracts)
• Ship them back and forth however many times it takes until they are done

That's about it, I think. No media restrictions, no specific idea of the finished pieces or how they'd fit as a series, no title for the collection. Luckily our interests were fairly aligned at the time (which, they often seem to be, at least somewhat). For example, we were both enjoying working on paper, each have an ongoing interest in pink, and were all about payne's gray. So, even though we didn't coordinate it, the pieces ended up feeling very cohesive.

Me adding the first portrait layer over Devon's initial abstract layer.

Me adding the first portrait layer over Devon's initial abstract layer.

After the first trade we talked about how we both felt nervous working over the other's work. That got easier as the project went on, and in a way it was kind of nice practicing feeling less attached to what I was adding. It started that I was responsible for the portraits and Devon was responsible for the abstract side, but that melded a bit over time to the point where I honestly sometimes forgot whether it was me or Devon who had added something. I was inspired by how gutsy Devon's layers often felt and it pushed me to be more open and less uptight. Haha.

The freedom of this project and the push to open up was really welcome at a time of struggling with overthinking my own work and having a lot of work-related projects tied up over a period of several months (to a year!). Plus it was such a treat each time the envelope of paintings arrived back to my house so I could see where they'd headed while they were with Devon. We each worked on either set of 5 at a time, never all 10 at once, so it was a continuous flow for both of us.

My very first layer before sending out to Devon.

My very first layer before sending out to Devon.

One of the things I love most about these pieces is how much character developed in the artwork AND the paper itself over time, especially with the addition of the typewriter text on the back (title, date, and name info). Most of it was really off-the-cuff and unplanned. After a few journeys back and forth the paper really started to feel broken in and the backs beautifully imperfect, revealing glimpses of the process: a small wrinkle from shipping, fingerprints from chalk pastel, or bits of paint and gold foil that managed to permanently plant themselves. Now, all finished, they feel weathered in the way a well-loved old book does, and I LOVE IT.

Of course the bitches morphed over time, too. It's exciting working on a collaboration like this because it's always a surprise. You can never be certain which turn the piece will take next, then it's a fun exercise bouncing off what the other person was feeling. This was the first time I'd done such a collaboration 'behind closed doors' so to speak, and it was interesting having the dichotomy of complete freedom while the piece is in your hands, and then being in the dark once the piece leaves you until you get it back again.

"Ghost Face" in progress.

"Ghost Face" in progress.

Devon adding the typed info on the backs.

Devon adding the typed info on the backs.

Five Tidbits

  • The title #bitchseries was born from a spontaneous poem over Facebook messenger as Devon and I were feeling stuck trying to name the paintings.
  • I went with referenced portraits for the 5 pieces I started and decided to do made-up portraits within the abstracts that Devon started.
  • The piece dubbed "Ghost Face" gave us the most challenge throughout the process. It started as an awesome blue and yellow abstract then went through several face variations (from BOTH of us) before landing where it did in the end. It has the most history, and you can feel it in the layers.
  • These pieces racked up almost 30,000 travel miles going between San Jose and Guelph several times.
  • Two of the pieces contained bird imagery during an earlier stage of the process that was later covered by new layers.

We decided to make the originals from the series available for purchase. They're framed in simple, natural wood frames that allow the bitches and all of their layers to shine through. Each piece is $225 with free international shipping. You can find the entire collection here.

"Bitch Please, Bitch Thanks" - framed

"Bitch Please, Bitch Thanks" - framed

bitch 1, bitch 2

bitch red, bitch blue

bitch yes, bitch no

bitch stay, bitch go

bitch please, bitch thanks

bitch pets, bitch spanks

lol

bitch is, bitch isn't

bitch free, bitch prison

bitch under, bitch over

bitch drunk, bitch sober

bitch catch, bitch throws

bitch thorn, bitch rose

#bitchseries

 

A Banana for Your Thoughts

Creative Process, PaintingLaura JohnstonComment
Laura Johnston Banana Four 8x8" acrylic on wood 2016

Laura Johnston
Banana Four
8x8" acrylic on wood
2016

Since every time I come to write something I end up not posting it, I thought I would try to approach this a little differently. Here's my lately in 5 sentences:

I started painting bananas earlier this year because I realized there was just too much serious going on and not enough silliness.

A couple of weeks ago I went on a much-needed romp around Cornwall (England) with my good friend SL, and we had the most lovely time trying local foods, oogling the turquoise blue coast, working on our collaboration, and shopping a bounty of local crafts and artwork.

I have been wrestling with feeling down a lot lately, partly because I have been putting a lot of energy and work into projects over the last year that either haven't panned out or haven't manifested into a physical product yet or continue to present roadblocks. 

My sweet sugar Chloe and I have been having a much easier time lately understanding one another and working on her training, so she's making really great progress being out in the world and around other dogs.

The #bitchseries collaboration Devon and I have been working on for about 8 months now is nearly complete after traveling back and forth across the continent just under 30,000 miles!

Well that was fun. Next up: #bitchseries.

New Painting - Did You Try Magnetizing the Blankets?

Laura JohnstonComment
Laura Johnston Did You Try Magnetizing the Blankets? 18x24" acrylic on canvas 2016

Laura Johnston
Did You Try Magnetizing the Blankets?
18x24" acrylic on canvas
2016

I started this piece while watching art documentaries on YouTube and painting in my living room. I tend to have grand visions of a backyard studio with beautiful windows and at least one whole side opened up completely so that it feels like I’m outside even though I’m sheltered under a roof with my work. My plants would be all around me and paintings and paints all set up for efficient work flow. I could play and work without so much concern about dripping paint on the floor or tidying up constantly. But sometimes I wonder, is that my dream studio? I’ve always worked in my living space. Always. My abstract paintings are very driven by rushes of inspiration and emotion, so it's convenient to have them right there. I'm not one for tedious processes, and my casual nature leads me to just paint on my lap or on the floor or whatever other part of my environment happens to be nearby at the time. Still, the backyard studio sounds dreamy, doesn't it?

This piece felt light. I think I am slowly drifting back into a more normal space from the overthinking I wandered myself into last year. I've also been way too serious lately, which is a drag, so I'm after my more humorous, silly side. Thank goodness for friends who are in touch with theirs and like to share it. One of my friends and I have been sending hilarious FaceSwap videos back and forth, and the title of this painting actually came from her in a once-removed type way (thanks, Sarah!). We were on the subject of sleep-talking, best ever, and she told me the story of her brother asking his wife, "Did you try magnetizing the blankets?" in his sleep after she told him she felt cold. I knew immediately I wanted to use it as a painting title, I've just been waiting for the right one. Below is a framed print she is gifting to her brother so his awesome sleep-talk can be remembered forever. Haha! Long live sleep-talk, friends, and being silly.

New Painting - Disagreeing Quietly to Myself

Finished Work, Artwork, PaintingLaura JohnstonComment
Laura Johnston Disagreeing Quietly to Myself 12x12" acrylic on canvas 2016

Laura Johnston
Disagreeing Quietly to Myself
12x12" acrylic on canvas
2016

I’ve had a lot of little breakthroughs lately, one being that I often feel unheard because I don’t speak my opinions. One of those funny things that seems obvious yet somehow evaded me for so long. I hold my tongue so much for fear of being impolite, hurting someone else, or sounding stupid. I believe everyone has a right to their opinion and wrestle with seeing the point in trying to change someone’s mind, but I suppose there is a difference between arguing pointlessly and stating my position. I feel so strongly and have a hard time finding the words to really describe how I feel. It’s not even just face-to-face conversation, although that is harder and I am out of practice, I also second guess myself when I consider commenting on a post, or even posting something myself. So here's to making a point to speak up a little more.

These breakthroughs are helping me feel more confident that the cloud I’ve been in for the last little while is lifting and the next level will be starting soon. All of this keeps creeping towards me sharing some final thoughts on my 365 project, which I’m thinking March will be the perfect time to revisit.

New Painting - The Avocado Tree (So Much More to Say)

Finished Work, Artwork, PaintingLaura Johnston2 Comments
Laura Johnston The Avocado Tree (So Much More to Say) 24x30" acrylic on canvas 2016

Laura Johnston
The Avocado Tree (So Much More to Say)
24x30" acrylic on canvas
2016

I started this painting just after the new year. We’ve had construction at our house for the last several months and had to cut some large roots of our enormous avocado tree in the process. I was so worried when it first happened that I had nightmares for a few days that the tree fell over, or that all of my plants were broken apart and ruined. I feel guilty for not calling an arborist to come back out to assess again right before we cut. I’m trying to keep the mentality that what’s done is done now and have been keeping an eye on the tree, but guilt is the hardest to get over. It seems to be hanging in there and doing ok so far, though.

On top of that, our sweet dog Cody passed away a couple of weeks ago, which felt so unexpected for us. I miss him a lot; he was really the SWEETEST dog. Every person who met him loved him and wanted to take him home. His energy was just special. I’d been staring at this painting in a state of limbo for at least a week at that point, and after he passed I felt pushed to finish it or destroy it with a bold move in black.

Coming off the 365 project hasn’t been easy for my creativity either, so I’m just trying to feel my way through and find my bearings again. Lacking clarity and confidence with my work always feels so tough. At the same time, this is a cycle that I’ve gone through my entire life, so it is somewhat comforting to know that it will pass sooner or later. I hope that one day I’ll be able to embrace these downturn periods somehow, rather than stress over them.

Even though the process feels so rough sometimes and this piece came from a lot of heaviness, I actually really like it. It will be one of those that is hard to part with if the time ever comes. 

The Circles Continue

Artwork, Creative Process, Photography, PaintingLaura JohnstonComment

This is a post from October that I never published. Today is #tbt, so what the heck!

Still obsessed. Last weekend I went out to see the super moon, which I mostly missed because it was cloudy, but I came out with these beautiful images of the clouds at sunset so I didn't mind too much. I decided to order a print and try my black and white circles on top of it, and although this first one was a bit of a learning curve, I am excited to give it another go. This one will live at my house, and if the next one turns out I'll be submitting it to an upcoming art show dedicated to water-based works on paper.

Instax

Creative Process, TidbitsLaura JohnstonComment

I've been trying for days to write a post about my newest painting, and the words just aren't coming. Or, they are, but I keep second-guessing myself, deleting, rewriting. 

I received an Instax camera for Christmas, and I love it for this very relevant reason: over-thinking. There is only so much you can control about the outcome of what you're shooting, and retakes are not exactly limitless. You point, you shoot, you don’t digitally edit. It captures things as they are, and both includes yet glosses over the details in a way that makes everything look really beautiful exactly the way it is.

This morning I am up extra early painting on my make-shift easel, on account of losing sleep over the health of our avocado tree whose roots we had to cut for a construction project. That painting-in-progress is on the left.

I'll be sharing my new piece soon, my final one for 2015. For now, perhaps some pancakes + writing on paper is in order.

New Painting - 28 (But Who's Counting?)

Artwork, Finished Work, PaintingLaura JohnstonComment
Laura Johnston 28 (But Who's Counting?) 30x24" acrylic on canvas 2015

Laura Johnston
28 (But Who's Counting?)
30x24" acrylic on canvas
2015

I've been working on this beast for months, and it feels good to finally call it finished. Most of the time with my paintings I have this intense emotion and energy that flows freely onto the canvas; this painting felt different. More like a puzzle than a dance. More mental than intuitive. It took me longer to get there, but in the end I feel the same sense of satisfaction that all of its pieces are in place.

I believe my 365 project caused the shift in scales from intuitive to cerebral. I am curious to see how the two balance out over the next year or so when I won't have the same daily habit of sketching and sharing. I still plan to make good use of my sketchbooks, and I feel like I understand how to use them more effectively now.

My hair is 28" long. I am 28 years old. It is not a competition. Be careful with sensitive information.

New Painting - Bang, Bang Forever

Artwork, Finished Work, PaintingLaura JohnstonComment
Bang, Bang Forever 9x12" mixed media on paper 2015

Bang, Bang Forever
9x12" mixed media on paper
2015

I made this piece for a friend a few weeks ago. I've been working on a larger canvas for the past couple of months, and doing these smaller pieces in the meantime helps keep me motivated. I can't believe it's been over a year since I started doing this style of mixed media on paper (in my first sketchbook project), but I have made very few finished pieces outside of my sketchbooks. This one felt easy, like it just wanted to exist and helped me make it happen.

New Painting - A Never-Ending Joke About Oatmeal

Artwork, Finished Work, PaintingLaura JohnstonComment
Laura Johnston A Never-Ending Joke About Oatmeal 8x8" acrylic on canvas 2015

Laura Johnston
A Never-Ending Joke About Oatmeal
8x8" acrylic on canvas
2015

I have been working on my abstract paintings recently, getting a set of them ready to display at Collector Art Shop in Berkeley later this month, and starting a couple of new ones. I finished this small one over the weekend for my friend Sarah, who is awesome and creative. I love her sense of humor. Lately I've been sensitive about who I am surrounding myself with and how they make me feel. It makes a huge difference, and I am grateful for supportive friendships. 

"Understand the difference between someone who speaks to you on their free time, and someone who frees their time to speak to you."

May all of your pizzas be cheesy and free of oatmeal.

Obsessions

Laura JohnstonComment

I've been hooked by black and white. It snuck up on me and now I'm just ... obsessed. Right now it's being manifested in circles like abstract yin-yangs. I want to sit in my house and make these nonstop for days. They've even taken over my sketchbook pages!

Days 266 + 267. Don't stop til you get enough.

Days 266 + 267. Don't stop til you get enough.

Days 264 + 265. Smitten.

Days 264 + 265. Smitten.

I've also been obsessed with Lana Del Rey's new album, ESPECIALLY Salvatore. I listen to this song over and over again. It's so beautiful.

Current arrangement in my studio. A poster from my trip to Palais Ideal in France, a portrait entitled "Laura" from Christina Romeo surrounded by two Berber instruments, a watercolor painting by Ellen Wilberg, a small mountain on cedar by Cathy McMurray, my le animalé sign, a blue-haired portrait by my sister Kayla, a ceramic plaque from mbartstudios that reads, "always do what you're afraid to do", newest painting from my friend Devon, and an interior painting from my friend Frances' 100-day project.

Current arrangement in my studio. A poster from my trip to Palais Ideal in France, a portrait entitled "Laura" from Christina Romeo surrounded by two Berber instruments, a watercolor painting by Ellen Wilberg, a small mountain on cedar by Cathy McMurray, my le animalé sign, a blue-haired portrait by my sister Kayla, a ceramic plaque from mbartstudios that reads, "always do what you're afraid to do", newest painting from my friend Devon, and an interior painting from my friend Frances' 100-day project.

Yesterday was an amazing mail day, and I am obsessing over my new painting from Devon Sioui. Devon and I became friends online in 2011 after I messaged her about one of her paintings, and I now own 4 of her originals, one of her books and just pre-ordered her newest (which is a full look at her 100-day sketchbook project!). It's like her soul just bleeds through her work. Photos never do it justice (often the case with art, I guess).

Along with the new painting came this awesome original tote!

Along with the new painting came this awesome original tote!

A Silence Like Her's - Devon Sioui /SWOON

A Silence Like Her's - Devon Sioui /SWOON

I hope you have a healthily obsessed weekend. I'm going to go see what happens if I try to paint something that is not black and white... I'll let you know! ;) 

New Painting - Deliberation (The Palm Reader Was Right)

Finished Work, PaintingLaura JohnstonComment
Laura Johnston Deliberation (The Palm Reader Was Right) 18x24" acrylic on canvas 2015

Laura Johnston
Deliberation (The Palm Reader Was Right)
18x24" acrylic on canvas
2015

Lately when I paint it almost feels like I am taking apart all of the pieces and learning how I want to put them back together again. I am trying to be more deliberate and still maintain an intuitive approach. I look at my work over the last few years I can see a progression where slowly the bits within a painting are drifting apart versus being more blended. It's like the energy has transformed from highly vibrational and rhythmic to more choreographed and rhythmic?

I've been going through a lot of personal changes this year, and being so connected to my work it only makes sense that those would be reflected within it. I've been thinking a lot about the first palm reading I ever had (only a couple of years ago), which was totally on a whim and pretty short, but the one thing that stood out to me most was being told that things I have been hoping to resolve are going to start coming to a head around my 28th year. Another friend mentioned it may be the effect of my first Saturn return, and it's quite possible that California is helping move things along, but whatever it is, it's definitely happening. All good & welcome changes.

I am trying to hone in on what it feels like to be done with a piece - stopping before it's overworked but also feeling like I did enough so that it looks purposeful. So many delicate balances to strike. I remembered to take some progress shots as this piece was coming together (below). I find that I can see a painting better through a photo sometimes than just with my own eyes - if I get stuck, usually taking a photo can help me figure out where to go next.

I'm going to display this piece at Collector in Berkeley from late October through November. More details on that show will be coming very soon! It would be great to see some of you there. If you'd like to stay in the know about these sorts of things, I send out details through my newsletter