Friday, 18 July 2008

Portraying Essence and Emotion - Paintings by Steve Johnston

("Rainy Day" by Steve Johnston)

Here at Artery Gallery, we are proud to introduce the paintings from renowned artist Steve Johnston.

Born in Glasgow in 1956, Steve grew up in Dumfries before attending Art College in Carlisle. Whilst in his second year, he opted for a change of medium preferring photography to painting. Upon graduating, he moved to London to work as a freelance photographer working for magazines such as Vogue and I-D. His work was published in various books and magazines and was included in the 'Lives' exhibition at the Haward Gallery, London.

In 1991, when photography no longer became inspirational for him, he started painting seriously again concentrating once again on the medium that he had originally embraced. He says, “It was then that something clicked and I have not looked back since……painting is my life.”

He is always drawn to figures that create a great shape. Details such as ‘how’ someone is standing or ‘what’ they are doing come into play afterwards. It is the graphic shape of the ‘body mass’ that inspires the first ideas. Certain images can unlock powerful emotions which are separate from what the actual content of the picture could create if focused on in more detail.

He adds, "I approach my 'backgrounds' very much as an abstract painter - colours, composition etc are chosen instinctively rather than being pre-planned. Certain images can unlock powerful emotions which can be separate from the actual content of the picture....the aim is to portray and essences and emotion rather than a precise person or specific location.'

Steve always takes the shape of his figures from photographs, generally using side or back views to create a more anonymous character. For this same reason he prefers minimal backgrounds. Using a mixture of oil and acrylic on the same canvas, he likes to experiment and play with colour to draw as much emotional response from the image as possible. The backgrounds are always in acrylic, whilst the figures are always in oil. This is so the oil figure can be worked on in a way that will make it stand out from the background.

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