As far back as she can remember, Kelly Johnston has always enjoyed creating things, especially with paint. Having grown up in Seattle, she spent countless hours outside, boating with her family and exploring the natural beauty of her surroundings. As she told me, “I am so inspired by nature, especially where we live, and the pull to share that beauty is really what fuels my painting. Water and skies are my favorite things to paint. I have lived in the Seattle area and near water my entire life and that has made a lasting impact on me.”
Although she dabbled in various mediums growing up, by high school her focus turned to painting. As a student at the University of Washington, she studied graphic design for a short time before refocusing on painting and drawing, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing. “Landscape painting feels most authentic for me personally,” she said.
After college, she worked in an interior design showroom in Seattle. Although her role at the showroom was mainly in the logistical and business side, she enjoyed the exposure to beautiful high-end furniture and textiles. However, she missed expressing her own creativity. After a few years, she left the showroom with the intent to paint more seriously. It wasn’t to be, at least not right away. Kelly and her husband decided to start a family, and she stopped painting for almost 10 years. When their youngest started kindergarten, Kelly rented a small studio space near her home in West Seattle in 2013. In 2014, they moved to Bainbridge Island where she continued to grow and build her painting practice. Now Kelly has a studio/gallery in Winslow where she continues to hone her craft, creating beautiful paintings.
I asked Kelly how her art guides her day-to-day life, especially over the last year-and-a-half. “Because of our societal dependance/obsession with technology and screens, to me, art feels more important than ever. Work made by hand feels so much more special and personal.”
She finds the painting process to be meditative and stress relieving, which was very helpful, especially during the pandemic. “Being in the zone, or a state of flow, is a great way to escape for a few hours, especially when the world shut down and travel was out of the question. I feel so fortunate to have my work to get me through stressful times and it also creates connections with other people, which I find very rewarding,” she explained.
Using water soluble oils and gouache, Kelly combines fluid brushstrokes and both bold and bright colors in her landscape-based paintings. Her abstract style represents the wondrous movement and depth of light on the water and the playful nature of the clouds in the skies. In addition to her water, sky and land series, Kelly has an abstract series full of cheerful color and extreme movement.
When visitors stop by her gallery, they are often surprised at how different her paintings look when viewed up close as opposed to from a distance or on a computer screen. The combination of bold color and loosely applied brushstrokes are much more impactful in person.
Kelly’s work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the Pacific Northwest, winning numerous awards. In addition, her paintings have been featured in several magazines, including Luxe Interiors & Design, HGTV Magazine and Domino Magazine.
Most of Kelly’s pieces are available for purchase at her gallery and on her website, with the exception of:
• Limited edition giclee prints are available here
• Individual and boxed sets of notecards are available at the gallery only
• Prints are available at Minted
Commissioned pieces are also available, click here for details.
Kelly Johnston Art Studio & Gallery, 270 Madison Avenue South, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, (206) 383-6976, firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.kellyjohnstonart.com/
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ABOUT MARGARET MILLMORE. Margaret Millmore is a supernatural fiction author and blogger, living on Bainbridge Island with her husband, Bryan. Her first published works were flash fiction, The Welcome Home and Untitled – Luke N. Goode, which were featured on Bay Area artist, Kenny Mencher’s blog. In 2011 she published her first full length novel, since then she’s published a three book series, another novel and her current series (via Next Chapter Publishing – formerly Creativia Publishing) What Haunts Me (Ghost Killer Book 1); The Edge of the Cemetery (Ghost Killer Book 2), which was awarded the August 2016 Book of the Month award by Long and Short Reviews; and What Hunts Me (Ghost Killer Book 3). The majority of her books are set in San Francisco where she lived—previous to island life—for over 26 years. Her preferred writing genre is supernatural fiction, with the exception of her time-travel novel, The Dragonfly Door. In addition to her novels, Margaret writes a blog, called The Island Wanderer – which focuses on people, events and businesses on Bainbridge Island: https://theislandwanderer.com/blog/. All her books can be found on her website and her Amazon Author page.