Stages of Eric Johnson

Stages of Eric Johnson

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My First Painting Ever

There always has to be a first time, right? It was around 1970, and somewhere a piece of paper torn from a notebook describes the exact circumstances by which it came about. All I can guess is that someone donated a canvas and a couple of tubes of oil paint, which makes this not only my first painting, but my first oil painting, and my only oil painting. Quite a lot of significance for one picture to carry!

first painting

It looks like shit with that glare, and one day I’ll crank up PhotoShop and do a reconstruction job on it.

The idea was inchoate at the time, which is probably why I felt such a strong need to paint it. Later on expressed in words it came out like this: The most highly developed form of human is the mentally androgynous person. Miriam says it better. “In Praise of Androgyny

When I left town, I gave the painting to Jim Perry. If you’re out there, Jim, I hope you’re still taking good care of it, and yourself.

Dream Sun, aka Dream Cliff

In my early 20s there was a breakup with a husband – again – and I was sleeping at my grandma’s, when I dreamed this. It’s kind of amazing that even as a couch-surfer, I had a sketch pad and watercolors at hand. That was the start of the picture I call sometimes “Dream Sun” and sometimes “Dream Cliff.”
day_after_sketch

A whole lot of years later, when I belonged to an artists’ co-op, I painted the square version in acrylics and someone bought it.

dreamsquare500

The next one is of course a collage, with pieces cut from magazine pages. I made it for a Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics theme issue on the topics of Love, Sex and Relationships. Since our process was straight photocopying, I knew it would only be seen in black and white so the colors didn’t matter. I did the lettering with typewriter correction fluid that comes in a bottle with a little brush attached to the lid, because it was easier than finding white paint and a regular brush. The words say,

“The ancients glorified the instinct and were prepared on its account to honor even an inferior object; while we despise the instinctual activity in itself, and find excuses for it only in the merit of the object.” ——Freud

salon_collage copy

Somewhere around that time, I was looking at a book of microphotographs and found this picture of the crystalline structure of basalt, which immediately reminded me of the look and feel of the original dream vision.

basalt

A lot more time went by, and the next iteration of the idea must have been my first rudimentary attempt at using a drawing program on a computer and it exists only as an electronic chimera, never having so much as been printed out.

dreamnew3

A few years ago I decided to have at it again, partly as therapy for some emotional upset. I still like this one (acrylics, 18” x 24”) but might give it another go some time.

dreamcliff400

Dream Sun can be found at Etsy.

Braggin’ on Theresa Rose

An essential thing for an artist to have is a gang of brilliant artistic friends. And do I ever! One of them is Theresa Rose. I became a fangirl way back when I first moved to town, and read an article about Theresa and the guy she used to be married to. I exclaimed, to the guy I used to be married to, “We gotta meet these people!”

What with one thing and another, Theresa and I eventually were members of a co-op art gallery, and this is us getting ready for a show.

Area Artists

Here’s Theresa with one of her life-size rock star portraits:

A Rock 'n' roll artist
She did a couple of covers for Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics, which I used to publish, and also contributed several segments of her gorgeous graphic novel “The Dragon Priest” to various issues of the zine.

Here’s one of her drawings from that period, “Khordan the Guitar Hero.”

Khordan the Guitar Hero

And now she has written a novel that is everything a novel ought to be. Plus, Golden River has made it through the first two levels of a major writing competition. Here is the soon-to-be-renowned author, just a couple of months ago.

Theresa Rose

In another role, Theresa is a muse. At a site called Cache La Pottery, you can see some of the artworks by sculptor and ceramicist Dan Slack, that she has inspired. And Theresa’s own work in the ceramic medium just knocks my socks off.

BonomapakLite#1

Using Other People’s Stuff

A lot of people give their stuff away for free these days. Some of the best things ever said, by some of the most brilliant contemporary thinkers, turn up on Facebook and Twitter. And podcasts  – don’t get me started.

Online, people give their stuff away without even caring that anyone knows who made it. Like all those clever “memes,” the pictures grabbed from pop culture, or newly created. The words range from moronic to excellent. We make these objects, and unleash them upon the world as freebies.

meme examples

But there are times when a person wants credit. For instance, any time when they didn’t give permission for their material be repurposed for someone else’s benefit. If you publish another person’s words, pictures, or thoughts, it hurts no one to give them credit. Plus, then you have class.

When I edited a zine, Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics, it used to drive me crazy, and not in a good way, to run across something that would fit perfectly in one of the theme issues – and not be able to trace who did it. So they could be credited. I’m still uncomfortable with sharing things I think are cool, because “Did the person really mean to pass it around for free, or did someone else make that decision for them?”

Joshua Tree Paintings

JT dreamings

The Dreamtime is a temporary autonomous zone where anything goes. Change is the only constant. Things are consistent through their very inconsistency. Symbolism can be traditional and shared throughout the culture or it can be very personal and subjective.

Joshua Tree Dreaming 3

The Dreamtime reconciles opposites. In the Dreamtime it can be day and night, past and present, simultaneously. Sun and stars, moon and rainbow, can coexist. Things can be seen from inside and outside, from level ground and from the sky above. Abstract and representational; spiritual and material; in the Dreamtime all dichotomies are reconciled.

Joshua Tree Dreaming 8

These paintings are called Urban Aborigine because I’m a contemporary American city-dweller who possibly used to be an Australian Aborigine in a past lifetime. I don’t know what else could explain it. The paintings are done while listening to didgeridoo.

Joshua Tree Dreaming 4

Joshua Tree Dreaming 5

Like the aboriginal art which inspires them, the paintings have no up-down orientation but can be hung any way. Also like the work which inspired mine, most of the paint was applied with twigs from trees.

Joshua Tree Dreaming 12

Joshua Tree Dreaming 10

Joshua Tree Dreaming 10 detail

Joshua Blossom Dreaming

Turtle Rock Dreaming

Joshua Tree Dreaming 11

Joshua Tree Dreaming 6

Joshua Tree Dreaming 9

Joshua Tree Dreaming 7

Joshua Tree Dreaming 13

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