Inspired by Kauai, Cheryl Johnson captures the beauty of the island in this series. "This is as close to the Garden of Eden as one can find. Magnificent beauty, energy, color and light. The only thing that compares to the beauty of the island is the beauty of the people. The color changes continuously as the clouds move endlessly. Everything is alive and verdant. Beautiful shades of green are a myriad of hues and as lovely as the varied transparent turquoise colors of "she the sea," Cheryl enthusiastically explains.
 
Cheryl Johnson's studio located in Kauai is on the north shore in the center of the Wainiha valley. The studio is nestled a few miles "as the crow flies" from the east side of Mount Waialeale considered the wettest spot on earth. Kauai is called "The Garden Isle" and here one can enjoy days filled with colored clouds and beautiful, clear moments of sun.
 
For me said Johnson, "There is a drama and energy that is not found in any other place on this glorious green ball we call earth. In this beautiful place, one can hold hands with a rainbow and walk up the road to meet the mountain, or stroll down thru the valley to embrace the sea. Some days you can lose yourself and find yourself at the same time as you explore tropical forests. You will find views like no other. Colors and vegetation are luscious as they are watered by the frequent rain. Mist hangs gently in the air. It is a place where one can celebrate life. It is alive. It is a perfect place to create and paint. My studio is in an open-sided lanai which catches the tropical and sea breezes. Here, I feel the energy of this island as I hear the Wainiha River rippling by. It is a place that is constantly growing and changing. In this place, I want to create and paint freely. Kauai is filled with great beauty that I draw from; I hope to create works that challenge and push me to look deeper within myself. I approach the painting process with respect and thoughtfulness.

Illumination: Size 60" x 40." Oil - Mixed Media on canvas
 
As I paint I strive for a "painterly automatism" which is about emotionality, spirituality and spontaneity.
Being "Painterly" to me is allowing an unrestricted loose, free movement where you will see visible brush or palette knife markings. I enjoy this technique of painting which accentuates and serves as a means of my expression. I love the texture the paint can make and freely add natural elements from, sea salt to sand to enhance the texture. "Automatism" is like a dance of the brush and refers to the intuitive and spontaneous aspect of painting. I strive to allow the act of painting here to be in synch to the beat of my inner music.
Each painting evolves on its own. I am often amazed at how a painting can change energy in a matter of a few strokes. It is more than creating a painting that consists exclusively of color, line and textures resulting from different methods of paint application. How does an artist represent things that aren't visual, such as an emotion, sound, or a spiritual experience? Abstractions are simplifications or enhancements of reality, where specific detail is eliminated or embellished from recognizable objects. The result is that only the emotion remains."
"My work is about the place in between celebration and joy. As I paint there is an exhilaration I feel. I am filled with excitement and there is an internal adrenalin or electrical charge in my spirit that can only be called passion. It is a place of excitement, charged with energy that is both supernatural yet familiar that must be expressed. I am compelled to create. Then I wait for the magic and the fun."
Naming
"I have to admit that naming a painting is often the most difficult. I do not want to limit the work or confine the viewer to a word or a description. My goal is to present a painting with few words to name or explain it. I want the painting to speak for itself. rather than attempt to describe or create a feeling with a word.
In this series, I am using words rather than numbers to name the paintings. Awakening, Emerging, "Beckoning." I asked my Hawaiian friends for the translation of the word "awaken" and now I share it with you. "E ala mai."
Awakening: Size 30" x 40." Mixed media on canvas.
Emerging: Size 30" x 40." Mixed media on canvas.
Technique
Technically accomplished and conceptually clear Cheryl Johnson's work pushes compositional boundaries as she uses common materials in uncommon ways. Johnson builds up cumulative layers of nonrepresentational line and color in her works. The paintings evolve in stages, based on the mood the environment and the inspiration. She simply responds to the picture's progress and allows incidental details and patterns to emerge. Throughout her process, she uses techniques of glazing, shadowing, blurring and scraping to obscure and expose prior layers.
Johnson's abstract work is unique for the illusion of space that develops. Often an accumulation of spontaneous, reactive gestures of adding paint and color and then moving, and subtracting paint creates an area that evolves.
Johnson's abstract paintings often seem like windows or portals through which we see the azure foaming sea, lush landscape or changing skylight found in Kauai. Johnson exalts spontaneous, intuitive mark-making and color building to a level where each area and space is beautiful and meaningful in its own right.
"Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colours, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential." -- Wassily Kandinsky.
"Why do you try to understand art? Do you try to understand the song of a bird?" Pablo Picasso
Beckoning: Size 30" x 40." Mixed Media on canvas.
Transforming: Size 30" x 40." Oil - Mixed Media on canvas.

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