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“Capturing a portrait puts a human face to history; it makes concrete a reality that didn’t exist on the flat plane of the paper or canvas before this moment. It’s as if the face is there, all along, and we only draw it out, by magic. It’s the greatest challenge an artist can attempt. So many nuances, such subtleties, between an image that somehow manages to look nothing like the subject though it may have all the right features, and one that captures that indefinable something though its parts are imperfect. Light and shadow, glowing translucence, and the spark of life in an eye...I love the difficulty and the beauty of it. And when I manage to capture something of a beloved face, it brings tears to my eyes. I know how Pygmalian felt.”


Johnson has explored the human face and form many times--for the sheer pleasure of it, as well as in her books and articles and by commission. Many of her portraits appear in her North Light books of art instruction. Her latest venture is creating 18th century style portrait miniatures.

Click on art for enlargements.



These two little miniatures are of "Dr." Mike Williams and a delightful young lady named Madeline; both were commissioned works.


Martha Lafite Thompson founded the nature sanctuary in Liberty, Missouri, which bears her name. Johnson was commissioned to paint her likeness from an old black and white photo.



A closeup of a pencil drawing shows that fantasy and reality can merge in a single portrait.


An acrylic portrait done from a small .jpeg sent to the artist via the Internet.


Portraits in pencil, pen and ink, watercolor or acrylic (sorry, no oils. Ms. Johnson is allergic to them), on acid-free, neutral pH paper or canvas. Modern clothes, period garb, regimental uniforms, or even fantasy like our young model, on request. It is helpful but not imperative to have a color photo as a resource, black and white are workable with good notes, but your photo must be a good quality one. Please write to discuss the details of commissioning a portrait.




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