Walking in the hills and natural spaces of Santa Cruz is my starting point. I begin with observation, and the images I create are portraits of individual trees or groups of trees. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of visitors at Open Studios who share this love of nature and how often they recognize these trees and recall the exact places where they are growing.
When looking at trees my eye is drawn to their gestures and to their underlying structure and geometry of forms. As the images develop in my studio, light and color define the shapes and spaces as multiple layers appear. My paintings use the traditional materials of oil on linen canvas and the woodcuts are printed with multiple colors on a 1947 Vandercook hand press. The process takes patience, but encourages a slower, more contemplative way of looking at life’s interconnections.
My first try at oil painting was at age five while living in Sequoia National Park. My early introduction to art and nature probably led to my decision years later to study art at UC Santa Cruz, where I focused on painting, printmaking and drawing. After receiving my BA, I returned for the Fifth-Year Program. During that time I also served as the studio technician and teaching assistant for the intaglio printmaking program. After college, I gained experience in letterpress printing and design while working for over fifteen years at The Yolla Bolly Press in Covelo, California. I was the pressman for about thirty limited-edition books, and the big press that we used for proofing metal type is the same one I now use for woodcuts in my studio.
In 2002 I moved my studio to Watsonville and in 2011 to its current home in Live Oak, Santa Cruz. Most of my exhibits are local, with the next one planned as a solo show at the Scotts Valley Library when it reopens in 2022. Out of town my work has been exhibited at Stanford University, Triton Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art, and Monterey Museum of Art.
Open Studios returns in October 2021 and I will be participating on the 2nd & 3rd and 16th & 17th, 11am to 5pm. Stop by for a visit, it will be great to see you!
And my new website just went live: aaronjohnsonstudio.com
1305 Chanticleer Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA, USA