MARY C JOHNSON
I am, for the most part, a self taught artist. I took art classes in
Junior High and High School, of course, and those were always my
favorite classes. It was like an escape from the uncertainty that
my life held into a world where I knew exactly who I was and what my
place in life was. I need to create. I hunger to use my
hands, my mind and my spirit in conjunction. In this way, I
realize my full potential and am true to my being.
These things said, I lack
confidence in my art. It always astonishes me when someone else,
especially an artist who I see as being incredibly talented compliments
my work. I work from instinct. I have no formal training to
fall back on, so when I draw or paint, I find myself slipping into this
trance like state where no one or nothing else exists. For this
reason, when I became a mother in the year 2000 at 26 years of age, my
life as a visual artist basically came to an end. I knew that if I
was absorbed in a painting or a drawing I would not be able to give the
attention to my children (my husband and I have 4) that I would need to.
Instead of focusing my creativity into the visual arts, I turned to the
kitchen. For ten years I poured that same devotion and thirst to
simply create, into food. This past September, in 2009, our
youngest daughter started school on a full time basis and for the first
time in what felt like forever, I found myself reaching for a pencil and
In this space of time, roughly 6
months, I have become extremely prolific. I spend every free
moment lost in creative flow. I love to paint freely, with no
plan. I love to start laying down color and see what will happen.
I now use realism as a form of penance. It is still enjoyable and
I benefit greatly from the discipline that working in realism instills.
However, I have learned that my spirit sings the loudest when I allow
myself the freedom to simply express myself and my joy in creation with
no boundary and no rules. For me, my art is joy, even when the
emotion that I am releasing with the strokes of my brush is pain or
anger or loss. With nearly every piece that I create, I at some
point in the piece find myself in tears. In this way, art is an
essential form of therapy for me. It allows me to unconsciously
slip into memories that perhaps I had suppressed because they were too
painful and to gently explore them, ponder them, and release them.
In this same way, I find myself bursting into laughter of pure,
unadulterated, childlike glee at times while I paint. I will
remember the silliest, most unconventional things and sometimes I'll
simply without intention paint something that delights me in a way that
nothing else can!
Through practicing my craft, I learn more about myself. I am
learning to love myself and trust myself more and more. I have
succumbed to this creature that I am. I will never allow myself to
go without art again, even if I lose all of my limbs. I will paint
with my lips or with my hair. Dipping it in the paint and wielding
my head to make the strokes. My soul is dripping with color.
Mary C Johnson,
watercolor, 53 x 74 cm