Artist Profile: Elizabeth Johnson of JEPortraits and WindandHoneyCreations


Welcome fellow creators to 2010 and our first Artist Profile of the new year. Over the past few weeks we've had several new members join the Melange Team, and over time I would like to introduce you to each of them and their work. If you recall, our last profile featured one of our new members, Heidi Rand of GardenDelightsArts and her scrumptious textile beauties. However, this month I step back "in time", so to speak, and reintroduce you to one of our long time family members. This is a trend I'd like to continue: a bit of a criss-cross with the old and new. Sound familiar? Perhaps like a trend many of us follow in our work? Ah ha!

Now, without further ado, please help me welcome our good friend, Elizabeth, pictured here with one of her many fur-babies:



Elizabeth & Tara


For those of you who already know Elizabeth, you know that she is a great lover and advocate of animals and that she uses this passion to fuel her artwork. This is clearly seen in works displayed in both shops she curates on Etsy: WindandHoney and JEJohnsonPortraits . WindandHoney is primarily her collection of mixed media and collage work, and JEJohnsonPortraits is a newly curated shop where she has set aside specific space for the incredibly intricate and life-like animal portraits at which she is so gifted. Let's take some time to get to know this wonderful asset to our team a bit better:


*Where do you call home? Are you married? Do you have children?

I live in a small community outside of Oklahoma City.  My husband and I have been married over 30 years and we have 2 children. Our son is 27 and makes his living as a chef in a high end Japanese steakhouse. Our daughter is 24 and is in graduate school studying sculpting.

*When did  your “artistic life” begin?

I can look back and see a thread of artistic expression running through my life from a very young age. But I was not really aware of it at the time.  Here is a little mixed media piece I did at 11 years old. I was bored and my mom handed me a junk box and told me to make something. 




Tiny Kitty Collage © Elizabeth Johnson



There was a time in my early adult years that I did feel a calling toward something different, something more than what I was living at the time.  I found that unusual because I was not really dissatisfied with my life.  After some time of soul searching  I realized my niche was to be art that centered on animals.

*Have you had formal art training?


No I have not had formal art training.  I am almost completely self taught. So, of course, I do not feel conventional schooling is necessary for one to be a “true artist”.  However as I have watched my daughter complete her BFA and now go on to graduate school, I can definitely see the benefits of the opportunity for that formal training.

*You have a very distinctive style in animal portraiture. When and how did you find this to be the primary subject and focus of your work?

Animal’s faces have always captured my heart and they were the first thing I wanted to paint when I began.  I have never grown tired of looking into their eyes.  

*I would imagine it is quite a daunting task to transform an often “flat” photo into a viable, lifelike rendering of a loved one’s companion, especially considering the emotional connections and attachments of the clients. Can you share some of this process with us?

It is definitely a challenge because the client knows their beloved pet’s face so well. Occasionally I do portraits for someone who is close enough that I can go and see the pet in person.  That always helps. The first thing I do is to create a much larger photograph so I can see the intricate details of the eyes and the unique quirks of the way the coat grows. Then after sketching out the basic outline and getting all the parts placed where they go, I completely finish the eyes.  Once the eyes are done, the portrait has become a “someone”. For the rest of the face, I just follow what those eyes tell me to do. 



  
Domino © JEJohnsonPortraits

 
  *Besides the Melange Mixed Media Team, you are also a member of Etsy For Animals. It’s obvious your love of both the arts and animals goes beyond the palette. In what ways do you hope your work makes a difference/impact?  

As a member of EFA/Artists Helping Animals, a percentage of the profit of all of my sales goes to an animal charity.  My chosen charities are listed in my shop profile.  I absolutely love that the sale of something I have created produces money that will help a needy animal to have shelter, food, and kind care. One of my artistic goals is to show the delights of life.  We have so much darkness and sadness around us.  I choose to focus on what warms our hearts and feeds our souls.  My hope is that when someone looks at something I have created they will be reminded of or perhaps see for the first time, some of the wonders of creation and animals.   And I hope it will make them smile and just perhaps even change their day.



 
7th Day © WindandHoney

 

*Do you work outside the home and if so, what do you do?

I teach art classes to children and to adults.  I enjoy watching the kids experience the freedom of creativity.  Most of my adult students have no previous training.  I love watching their faces when they realize they have accomplished something they thought they could not.

*When do you find personal art time, and how do you balance both aspects of your life?

Well, that’s always a challenge.  One of my goals for the new year is to actually take a day off each week.  That would be when I would have the opportunity to do personal projects that are just for fun. I have started keeping an art journal and that is also helpful in providing some personal creative time.

*Where and how does Etsy fit in?


Etsy was my first serious adventure into online marketing.  My daughter is the one that told me about it and insisted I join.  I am very thankful.  I have learned so very much in the last year.  I’m not sure I’m experienced enough here to be giving too much advise.  But as an artist in the marketing world, I’d say to find your voice and stick with it.  While it is good to be attentive to the colors and trends that are popular, I would say don’t produce just for the market.  It will crush your creative soul.
  
*What does a typical “art day” look like from the outside?

I am so fortunate that the house we live in now has a wonderful corner room upstairs that is my studio.  I have windows covering 2 walls with oodles of natural light.  When I look out I can see the treetops and the backyard where my Great Pyrenees might be playing if she is not sleeping in the studio.  My 2 cats are usually in the studio sleeping in the window, a basket, suitcase, drawer, MY chair, or on top of me.  If they are awake they are watching out the window for one of the squirrels to run by on the outside ledges.



 
Dare 2 Be Free © WindandHoney



I love so many kinds of music.  I listen to different kinds depending on what I am working on.  If I am doing a portrait, I like to listen to something soothing like the soundtrack to Finding Neverland.  If I am working in collage I listen to music that is more energizing.  Often my choice is Nicole C Mullen.  And lately I’ve been listening to some CDs I found of African music.  I really love that.

*What are your long term goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?

I want to find ways to incorporate my portraits more into my mixed media collage work. I’m interested in publishing some of my mixed media work.  And I am slowly working on writing a book.  It is not an art book.  But I hope to incorporate some of my art into it. Some children’s books may be a spin off from it too. I have so many creations in my head. I think my overall goal is to become more focused and get those things out of my head and onto the canvas.

*Tell us something we don’t know about Elizabeth.   

I like to watch movies that were produced in the 1930’s and 1940’s and watch the background.  I like to see what items they used to decorate and how they placed them on the wall or table.  It isn’t always how we stereotypically think they did it then.



Before I close this interview I'd like to add a personal note on Elizabeth's incredible work. Months ago I approached Elizabeth about doing a custom portrait for my Honey as a Christmas present. You see, he'd lost his beloved Shepherd (and best friend) of 15 years just days before last Christmas. I sent Elizabeth several photos of Sierra ranging in ages and physical stances not realizing how difficult this had made her job. Had I sent just one photo and said, "Okay, draw THIS", she'd had a much easier task. But, as is her way, Elizabeth went diligently to work, and through a few interactions with me along the way, produced a portrait that captured all of Sierra's attributes from playful pup to wise older mate, and my Honey and I couldn't have been more pleased (nor teary-eyed) with the outcome:


 
Sierra © JEJohnsonPortraits


(Insert grand applause here!)


Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking time from your busy schedule to spend a little time with us at the beginning of this new year. We all hope for you the very best in the year ahead!


For more on Elizabeth and her work, please visit:

Elizabeth's Website

or her Personal Blog


Our next Artist Profile will be featured on Monday, February 1st. The very best to you and yours in this spring of grand new adventures!




10 comments:

  1. Bren, thank you for a wonderful interview. It's a treat to get to know Elizabeth better. I always scramble to check out her new listings and sit in awe at her animal portraits. She captures their spirits so well. I didn't exactly applaud; I was teary-eyed as well over Sierra's portrait.

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  2. Another incredible interview. These are just wonderful for us to learn about our fellow members and share our art passions. Big thanks to Bren and to Elizabeth.

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  3. Wonderful interview with a talented and compassionate artist and teacher, we are so lucky to have you in EFA, Elizabeth! :0)

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  4. Wow Bren, this is a great interview. A wonderful beginning to the new year... Elizabeth, you're an incredible artist. Thanks!

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  5. Wonderful interview of someone who is an exceptional artist and tremendous asset to our team!

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  6. You guys are so nice. And thank you Bren, for handling this interview graciously.

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  7. Wonderful to get to know you bettter! Great interview, Bren =) Lovely portrait, too!

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  8. What a great way to get to know people. Thank you Bren & Elizabeth. You are so talented, Elizabeth! Lovey our work.

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  9. Great interview with a talented artist & kind soul! Well done !!

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  10. Thanks everyone for stopping by!

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