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 L. Diane Johnson  (1951 - )

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Lived/Active: North Carolina/New Jersey      Known for: landscape

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An example of work by L. Diane Johnson
Copyright by Artist
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
L. Diane Johnson has been painting for a lifetime — professionally since 1981.  She is most widely known for her series of intimate painterly landscapes whether of the pure landscape, with architecture or figures particularly in the U.S., as well as worldwide.  A native of New Jersey now living in North Carolina, she graduated from The Ohio State University in 1973, and studied under American master painters giving rise to her own painterly style and vision of land, sea, and sky en plein air.

Johnson is the Founding Editor of Plein Air Magazine, primarily written for the art collector, and has instructed painting in the U.S. and Europe during her entire career – a career which began as a classical portraitist.  However, she made a change to concentrate her efforts in landscape painting in acrylic, pastel, and oil working primarily en plein air, or French for "in the open air" - which is her passion.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Johnson has since lived in many locations along the Eastern seaboard.  Her father and uncle who were extremely creative first inspired her. As an only child she spent hours playing with anything she could get her hands on – from natural mud and shells to man-made glitter and paper.  Diane found it inspiring to concentrate on stage scenery and art class during her formative years.

In college, she set out to become an artist via an Art Education major.  However, during the late 60s and early 70s most universities were not teaching classical drawing and painting.  Therefore, she admits, "I came out neither as an artist nor a teacher. I was told to throw paint and 'hope it comes out as a painting' rather than learning the fundamentals of art. I tried to become an abstract painter, which was the norm at that time.  But in my heart of hearts, I knew I wanted to paint reality."

Post college, she taught school K-12 while on the side seeking training with masters in the fine art field rather than academia.  She was propelled not by her previous training in the studio but from the historic masters she studied in art history classes.  She knew there was more to art than merely throwing paint, and realized the difference between college art training and that of mentoring under master painters.

She was first inspired by Degas and his use of pastel woven and layered on paper; then to Renoir, Monet and other of the Impressionists while having simultaneously avid appreciation for the Barbizon School and Classicism.  All of these contributed to Johnson's desire to learn about what these artists did – not to copy – but rather, to their experience as a springboard to expressing her own way of painting.

Starting with one instructor, she painted portraits. In college, she was terrified to draw the heads on her figure drawings perceiving it was too difficult. Nevertheless, she dug-in her heels. On her first attempt at a portrait painting, it "sang". Not only she, but also her instructor was taken-aback.

Her next teacher, Daniel Greene NA, advised during a group critique, "I do not usually recommend to students when to begin selling their work, but in your case, I would start now."

Thus, the portrait career of L. Diane Johnson was launched.  However, within a few short years requests came for more than boardroom or formal portraits.  Her clients were asking for garden and landscape portraits.  Although Johnson knew how to paint, she was less familiar with landscapes even though she had painted many of them.  She felt a "gap" in her capability and turned to study the landscape.

As the owner of her own graphic design illustration company for 20 years including architectural renderer for clients as her "day job" Johnson had to render with tight realism for corporate clients.  So turning to landscapes offered flexibility for direct observation and interpretation Johnson could exude her own vision that could not be achieved with commercial work.

Since 1989, Johnson has devoted her full attention to the land and will for the rest of her days. Her goal is to continue growing with each rendering just as the land does - in beauty, in harmony, aging with time, engaging, and most importantly, how the landscape brings about personal contact with the individual viewer.

In addition to painting, Johnson has lectured in many conferences/symposia, juried art exhibitions, and was invited to participate in the first-ever White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy at The White House, Washington, D.C., November of 2000.

Special Awards:
2006     Epcot Center, Orlando, Florida, Plein Air Invitational
2005    Artists Choice Award - Best Painting; Plein Air Painters of Hawaii
1991    George Innes Memorial Award for Pastel, The Salmagundi Club, 14th         Annual Non–Member Show, NYC
1988    Top 100 Emerging Artists, American Artist magazine
1988    Finalist, 1988 Emerging Artist Competition, American Artist
1987    1st Place, First Annual Spring Arts Festival, Lynchburg, VA
1989    International Readers Association, Children’s Choice Award, If I Had Long, Long Hair, by Angela Hunt

Association Exhibitions:
13th Annual Carmel Art Festival                              Juried: 2006
International Society of Acrylic Painters, WA           Juried: 2005
Callaway Gardens Exhibition (SLAC), GA              Group: 2005
SunTrust Bank Exhibition, FL                                  Group: 2004
Southern Ladies Art Conference (SLAC), GA         Group: 2003
Art Alliance of Florida, Gainesville, FL                     Group: 2002
Maymont Foundation, Richmond, VA                      Group: 1994
The Salmagundi Club, 14th Non–Member, NYC      Juried: 1991
Lynchburg Art Center & Area Show, Lynchburg, VA Solo: 1991  Juried: 1985, 1989 Lynchburg Art Club, Lynchburg, VA                          Solo: 1990

Memberships in Art-Related Associations:
Pastel Society of America, Full Member
International Society of Acrylic Painters, Signature Member
Plein Air Painters of Hawaii, Signature Member
National Acrylic Painters Association (UK), Signature Member
International Plein Air Painters, Honorary Signature Member
Plein Air Florida, Invitational Member
Southern Ladies Art Conference, Full Member

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