Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cynthia Farrell Johnson, Painter, Tells Her Story

I feel driven to create art -- it’s like breathing – I can’t live without it! There has never been a time in my life when I have not been drawing or painting ideas that popped into my head. That these images provide joy and comfort to others is a bonus.
Brooklyn Sunset, India Ink, 9 ½" x 7 ½”

My earliest “art” memories are of my mother keeping me quiet in church by drawing something on a pad she kept in her purse. Then she would give it to me, indicating that it was my turn to draw. By focusing on the drawing, I was transported to another realm; a wonderfully peaceful place. When my late father would ask me what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday, the answer was always the same, a paint-by-numbers set. But that became frustrating because I always seemed to run out of paint before filling in all the numbers. 

Isaiah 58:11, Mixed Media, Gouache,
India Ink, Collage, 
10 ¾" x 8 ¾”

Eventually, thanks to friends and relatives, I received lots of art supplies and drew and painted to my heart’s content. When it became clear that I was interested in a career in the arts, teachers helped me create a portfolio for my application to the High School of Art & Design in New York City. The school which is located in mid-town Manhattan’s advertising district, trained students for commercial and theatre art careers. That is where I was introduced to gouache paints, in my advertising and illustration classes. It has been my preferred medium ever since.

In the Zone, Gouache, 8" x 10” 

Over the years, because of my use of bright colors, I realized that art could also be healing. In the summer of 2001, I was busily working on a number of pieces for a solo show at the former Parish Gallery in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. The opening reception was scheduled for September 21, 2001. Then 9/11 happened. I asked the late Norm Parish if we should still go ahead with the opening. He felt that it was needed. And he was right! Some of my friends from New York attended and said that they were so glad I did the opening. The artwork was so vibrant and cheerful; it was a much-needed tonic for that difficult time.  From that day forward, creating work to lift the spirits of others became my mission.

Many Thousands Gone, (from the Spirituals Series),
15" x 20”

Our world is full of rich, beautiful colors. My goal as an artist is to record beauty. In the process, I hope my art will bring joy to the viewer’s life.

Nature’s Bounty II, Mixed Media,
Gouache & India Ink, 
11" x 14 ½”

Most of us are looking for ways to make life better for future generations. And while we all may be facing challenges, we live with the faith that tomorrow will be better. So, day in, day out, we seek ways to build bridges of understanding. We must also deal with those who are bent on destruction and discord. Daily, we are bombarded with reports of unspeakable horrors, caused by forces of nature or by human frailties. Yet even in the midst of this chaos, one can find beauty, peace and comfort. 

Ecclesiastes 9:4a, Gouache, 8 ¼" x 11 7/8”

My mission is to record as much of life’s beauty as possible, using the richest color combinations I can devise. My goal is to remember that every day there are more individuals acting out of love and kindness than hate. In telling their stories, I hope to inspire or comfort others. 

Gimme Your Hand, (from the Spirituals Series),
Mixed Media: Gouache & Collage, 
16 ¾" x 10 ¾”
This is Week 47 of Artists Tell Their Stories. Thank you for reading and sharing Cynthia’s story today. To connect with her and see more of her work, please visit the following links:

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