Thursday, January 12, 2012

Artist Sonya Johnson: "Life is short, it's important to live it fully, engaged in the moment"

Today we have the pleasure to interview the American artist Sonya Johnson. Her painting style ranges from colorful expressionist depictions of landscape elements to a more representational style for figurative and still life subjects, with the majority of her work falling within a looser, impressionistic style, particularly her plein air landscapes. We were attrached by the spectacular colors of her paintings, as well as by the feeling of blissful serenity and quite joy of her landscapes.   

Please tell us which are the five most important things to you. 

Spending as much time outdoors and traveling as possible. I'm lucky to live in what I feel is the most amazing and beautiful part of the US, and I try to take advantage of that by spending time outside, whether that is hiking or camping in remote areas, or walking or trail running along the many urban trails here in Durango, Colorado.
Winter's Reflections
12x12 inches - pastel on black cardstock
© 2012, S.Johnson
Learning new things, whether that would be a new skill, painting technique, or about almost any subject, particularly if it is science, nature or the arts. I'm an avid reader and collector of books, magazines and anything that will expand my knowledge base about subjects I'm passionate about. 

Always working on improving my craft and skill, whatever discipline that may be. I'm often reminded of my favorite quote from author and surgeon Atul Gawande, in his wonderful book titled Better: "Betterment is a perpetual labor". It is an important reminder that there is no finite endpoint in the pursuit of excellence; it is really about the journey. 

Spending time with friends and colleagues that have a positive attitude and influence on my life. This includes the local plein air group I paint with, along with the wonderful network of artists I've met through blogging and other social media sites. 

Taking the time to see the beauty in the small things, and finding some positive in every situation possible. Life is short, and it's important to live it as fully as possible, engaged in the moment. 

"Serenity"   -   12x18"
Pastel on Strathmore 400-series paper

What inspires you?

Nature. The southwestern landscape. Works from the Old Masters, as well as countless contemporary artists and photographers. The artists whose blogs I follow.

Riverside Trio
9x12 - pastel on Artagain
© S.Johnson

Your favorite subject to paint or draw?

Definitely the landscape, and even more specifically, the landscape of the Colorado Plateau where I live.
Towards Hidden Valley
9x12 inches - pastel on Artagain
© 2011, S.Johnson

Impending Storm
11x14 inches - pastel on w/c paper with Golden pumice ground
© S.Johnson

What you are working on?

I'm loving painting the winter-themed landscapes at the moment, and plan to continue a series of those. I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head it can sometimes be overwhelming, but I also have been growing an idea for a series of studio-based stlll lifes that I'd like to try while waiting for plein air season to resume when warm weather returns.

11x14 inches
pastel on acid-free construction paper

Read more about Sonya and enjoy her fantastic landscapes on her blog, join her studio on facebook, or visit Sonya Johnson etsy store.

Images Sonya Johnson.


  1. Antonia and Fabio - thank you both so much for this feature article!

    The best to both of you, and here's to a new year of great blogging,


    1. Thank you, Sonya, we are glad to have you here!

  2. Wonderful work from a very talented artist! Great interview!


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