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Johnson’s paintings punctuated by images of nature, abstract emotion

By Staff | Nov 18, 2009

With an introspective sense for her surroundings, a flair for creative use of color and just a hint of whimsy, artist Krista Johnson has spent her entire life living in the Sunshine State, surrounded by a diverse blend of lush, natural wildlife.

However, she hadn’t always considered herself an artist.

“My husband is a painter,” said Johnson, currently a resident of Fort Myers. “I spent years watching him paint and helping him with some of his backgrounds. Over time, I developed a real love for artwork. I became very passionate about it before I began doing it for myself.

Johnson, who has been married to artist Leo Johnson for 32 years, has worked at Art For The Alliance as an exhibitions coordinator for the past 12 years. But since 1990, she has been creating acrylic paintings featuring all sorts of elements seen amongst her Southwest Florida surroundings – birds, reptiles and vegetation are frequent subjects – on canvas, wood and paper.

Her works are almost instantly recognizable: Johnson prefers to employ strong primary colors and dramatic lines, filling her space with whatever faces, icons and images sum up her emotions at that moment.

“I usually have an idea in mind… most of the time it’s what I see around me,” she said. “But what I sketch before I begin a painting doesn’t always come out from my original idea.”

While her figurative works only features peoples faces, which seem to look the viewer in the eye and await an emotional response, Johnson’s favorite subject is admittedly birds.

“I’ve owned my own birds for years and I’ve taken in sick birds and nursed them back to health,” she explained. “I’d definitely say that they’ve been an important part of my life.”

The first exhibit of the 2009-10 season at Watson MacRae Gallery, called “Myth and Metaphor,” features three artists – Johnson, contemporary sculptor Jim Krieger and abstract painter Hollis Jeffcoat – who use their selected mediums to abstractly express ideas and feelings about music, freedom and home. Gathered together, the artworks play off each other creating an atmosphere of bold beauty.

Peering across the gallery’s space, Johnson’s colorful contributions instantly draw the viewer’s eye from the moment they step inside.

“I really love using color… bright, bold colors,” Johnson added. “It appears to make me very happy, depending upon how they will work together.”

The exhibition will run through Sunday, Nov. 29.

Watson MacRae Gallery is located at 2340 Periwinkle Way #B3 in The Village Shops on Sanibel. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For additional details, call 472-3386.