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 James Ralph Johnson  (1922 - 1997)

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Lived/Active: New Mexico      Known for: historical-cowboy genre, animal

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Ad Code: 4
James Ralph Johnson
from Auction House Records.
The Regulars
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from an anonymous collector:

On the reverse of one of my paintings titled "No Raincoat", there is the following information in the artist:

"If you cannot live with a painting, and enjoy it daily as a close friend, then there is no point in having it around."  This is the principle behind James Ralph Johnson's paintings and is why he loved to paint the clean, sunny scenes of the Southwest and Africa.

A Southerner, he and his wife moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico, in 1964 to write and paint.  The two have written 43 books published by firms such as the Oxford University Press, Follett and their main publisher, David McKay Company.  Three have been filmed by Walt Disney Productions, and three have been Junior Literary Guild selections.

However, painting was the big thing to Johnson.  He has been busy with it since the second grade, and his files of sketches include many from World War II's Iwo Jima operations where his map crayons recorded air and artillery attacks, as well as the fighting of his Marine Infantry companions.  His scratchboard illustrations (over 500) appear in several dozen books, and he has transferred some of the technique to many of his acrylic paintings.

He was enthusiastic about modern acrylics because of their durability. "They seem to get out there and help you paint." He believes the old masters would have been ecstatic over this medium.

He studied art for four years under Alida Townes, a product of the Chicago Art Institute, as well as shorter courses with various artists. He has never met such illustrators as Robert Kuhn and Dean Cromwell, but has studied and admired their work for years.

James Ralph Johnson has an eight-page feature in the March 1982 issue of Southwest Art Magazine detailing his background.  Included are seven color plates of his paintings and various sketches.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:

The following information ws submitted in August of 2006 by Leah Kunkle:

James Ralph Johnson was born May 20, 1922 in Fort Payne Alabama, he died July 20, 1997, and is buried at Sante Fe National Cemetery.  His wife, Burdetta Fay Beebe Johnson, was born February 4, 1920 and died June 24, 1996. She is also buried at Sante Fe National Cemetery.  They did not have any children together, JR had three children from a previous marriage to Betty, two sons, David and Glen and a daughter JoAnn. 

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